Monthly Archives: October 2014

Down a Dirt Road

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I miss the south. Yes, I said it. I miss the little house next to the cotton field, the crickets in the living room, the crooked stairs in the bureau building in ‘downtown’ Thomasville, the long drives to Apalachicola, and the slower pace of life. I miss needing a wristband to get into the bar at Applebee’s. (I speak the truth ….)  I was only there for eleven months, and while it was hard in so many ways, when I think back, I’m glad I was there to experience it all. (I could have done without the palmetto bugs, but I slept with a big jug of bug killer next to the bed and was ready to attack whenever necessary.)

I have a collection of stories I can share from my time there and I will spread them out over several posts. Working in a small market newsroom is an experience in itself and there is a camaraderie among those of us slaving away, barely making more than minimum wage, that I think is unlike any other bond that co-workers might have. I met some amazing people, most of whom have moved onto bigger and better. When days were tough, and many were, with excruciating heat, impossible deadlines, and pitbulls waiting in the front yard of the house your boss wanted you to go do a door knock at, it wasn’t uncommon for us to call each other up, sometimes in tears, from the side of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere in search of emotional support. For those of you who have heard the stuck in a ditch in a blizzard story, it should be noted that during the ten hours I was in that News 8 SUV, it was a meteorologist friend from my Tallahassee days that kept us updated on what to expect. He told me when the heaviest squalls were coming. He was in Alabama at the time.

One day I was sent to cover a homicide in a very small town in North Florida. We were beat reporters, meaning we covered certain counties all the time, and this wasn’t my normal territory. The homicide had happened the day before and the reporter, Garin, who covered that area hadn’t had any luck getting people to talk to us. For some reason my boss thought we should try again, this time with me going door to door, by myself, in a neighborhood where one of the suspects was still on the loose. When I called Garin, who was off that day, to ask where the exact location was, he was very concerned for my safety and drove out to meet me. He stayed with me as we continued to get nowhere with the story and then we ventured to a little hole in the wall lunch spot where we ate southern food and quickly learned the victim was a regular there. Our joint effort resulted in a great interview and a heartfelt memorial to a man who was a victim of a senseless crime. It was Garin’s day off ….. that would be unheard of up here in Connecticut!

One of my first stories in Georgia was about copper plaques that had been stolen off of the graves of veterans. The Thomas County Public Information Officer told me to grab my gear and he would drive me out to the site because I’d probably have trouble finding it. We hopped into the D.A.R.E. mobile and off we went. He gave me a little history lesson, helped with the shoot, drove me around to the schools to introduce me to officials, and we ended up having lunch at a Kiwanis Club meeting where I Pledged Allegiance to the Flag, prayed, and sang God Bless America. I went home feeling like I had spent the day in Mayberry.

I miss the deputies and detectives that were a constant source of entertainment for me. By far, one of my favorites was a certain vice commander with a twangy accent and a fondness for reporters. He is the one who familiarized me with southern expressions and hunting terminology I had never heard of. If I needed details on a drug arrest at 4 in the afternoon, there was a good chance he was out of the office and in a deer stand. (I didn’t even know what a deer stand was until I moved down there.) Once we were well passed cordial hellos, he would usually abruptly answer the phone with a “whatcha want?” or “I’m in a bush.” In a bush?!?! I didn’t know if that meant he was hunting, on a stake-out, or if his wife needed the name of a good salon!

Small town Fourth of July Parades, Victorian Christmas, sipping bourbon on a front porch in Monticello at 2 a.m. under the willow trees, driving a Gator and watching my boys pole fishing at a picnic on 36 acres at the end of a dirt road ……. the memories are priceless, the experiences unlike any I’ve ever had. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed ….

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Dating ….. According to an 11 Year Old

Aidan has a girlfriend. This is not the first time he has been in a relationship ….. last year there was Cayden who conveniently lived at the top of our street. (He was also quite the lady killer in preschool.) We went out and bought Cayden Valentine’s gifts, Christmas gifts, and souvenirs from our vacations. Rumor has it they kissed, this according to his younger brother, but I’m told it didn’t involve tongues. Yes, this is what it’s like to be 11 and dating.

Cayden still tries to facetime Aidan several times a day. Apparently she isn’t taking the months old break-up well, and I’m sure this new girlfriend is going to send dear sweet Cayden over the edge. (It already seems like her text messages and calls have increased.) The new girlfriend is named Morgan, and she lives about 6 houses away from Cayden, and 4 houses away from Aidan. (Apparently keeping your exes/currents close is a popular thing to do in Killingworth ….. please refer to my previous blog post for a similar scenario.) When Aidan told me he was going to ask Morgan out he was sitting next to me in the car, glasses taped with pink duct tape on both sides, and I told him to wait until his new glasses came in. When I saw him next, new glasses on, I asked if he asked her out and he said he did and that she had said yes.

Me: How did you do it?

Aidan: I just asked.

Me: Ok, did you kiss her yet?

Aidan: Mom!

Me: You know, kissing before you’re 16 stunts your growth.

Aidan: (devilish grin and eyes) No it doesn’t.

Me: Look at me.

Aidan: Good point.

I actually didn’t have my first kiss until I was 15 …. and a half. I guess that makes me a late bloomer. (I had glasses and wore a back brace for my scoliosis in middle school …. that made the awkward stage even more unbearable.) I remember being popular in kindergarten because we used to play Dukes of Hazzard and I was the only girl who ever got to be Daisy. I remember play dates with a kid named Ari and I had a crush on a little blonde boy with glasses and a funny thumb. (I don’t remember his name.) In third grade things got a little more serious and I think we could safely say my first boyfriend was Garret Nash. His mother worked at Sassoon’s Boutique and so I was bestowed with lots of clear plastic jewelry boxes, decorative plaques, and pencils all decked out with my name on them. (Back then it was JACKIE.) He moved somewhere down south in the middle of the year and I was devastated. In sixth grade I went on a double date, Melissa Simone and Robby Panagrossi and me and Michael Epstein. I made it very clear to Mr. Epstein we were not on a date, just there for moral support. We had pizza at DiMatteo’s and then went bowling. A few weeks later Michael wouldn’t tell anyone who he liked, and the girls wouldn’t leave him alone about it, so he said he would only tell me and proceeded to tell me it was me. I whacked him with my bright orange lunch bag, which I think still had one of those hard ice thingies in it. I never dated Mr. Epstein, but I did date his best friend in high school, and he walked off with something very special of mine. (There mom, I said it……sort-of.)

Being 11 now seems so much more complicated than it was for me. We obviously all had the same thoughts about crushes, but the execution was so different. Kids now cannot escape grown-up content and I think it is up to us as parents to make sure they’re handling it the best they can. My rule is his phone is my phone and subject to search and seizure at any moment. I monitor the texts, I look at the pictures, and should I ever find anything disturbing there would be swift action. For the most part this is how his conversations go:

Aidan: Hey

Random friend: Yo.

Aidan: Whatcha doing?

Random friend: I just pooped.

Fortunately, the same conversation would be had with the girlfriends, so for now I’m pretty sure it’s nothing but kissing without tongues and gifts at the holidays.

The little boy with the funny thumb was Jamie.

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What Comes Next?

I have been trying to write a little something in an attempt to explain all of the parts that make up my family and how I got to this moment. It is not easy. It seems so complicated on ‘paper’ yet so simple in my mind. When I am talking to someone new and trying to describe my family dynamic I usually smile, laugh a little, say I know it’s confusing but we all get along and life is great. Here’s a sample scenario:

Scene: A park somewhere in Fairfield County …. Me, George, 3 blonde kids, two black kids.

Random stranger: What a beautiful family you have. Are they all yours?

Me: That one over there is my boyfriend’s son but the rest are mine.

Stranger: So you’re not married?

Me: Not anymore.

Stranger:  That must be tough, single parenting 4 kids?

Me: Well, I have the twins most of the time but right now the older two are living mostly with their dad cause I didn’t want to have them switch school systems just yet.

Stranger: You gonna get married again and have more kids?

Me: I’m all set in the kid department.

Stranger: But you get along with their dad?

Yes, people feel they can randomly ask such personal questions …..

Me: (In my head) Of course, we all get along but the kids have different fathers. The older two are from my first marriage, the twins were adopted in my second. I married young, had two kids, and realized I probably should have never gotten married to him in the first place, but no regrets because I have two beautiful children as a result, and I left him and divorced when I was 29. By 31 I had allowed my financially strapped, struggling single parent self to be saved and remarried. Long story short, that didn’t work out and 6 years later I was single again. My ex-husbands live eight houses away from each other, an hour away from me, and really, we all get along great. Fabulously, actually, as long as we aren’t fighting. Sometimes it’s hard to be a single female, like when I can’t open my vitamin water because it’s super sealed or the light bulbs need to be changed and I really can’t reach, or there is a giant spider in the shower that needs to be killed ….. but I just keep telling myself it’s all okay and then a friend shows up and changes the light bulbs, George feels bad the friend is the one who changed the light bulbs and so he opens the vitamin waters, and Aidan, Zach, Cam and Cass and I join forces to kill the spider through a series of funny attempts involving shrieks, brooms, paper towels, screams, and sneakers.

Me: (Out loud) Yes, we all make it work.

Sigh. I smile, I laugh, I say I got this. Truth be told, never in a million years would I ever have imagined life like this but life usually doesn’t work out according to plan. There are days when I am angry, some at myself, some at my second ex-husband. (I’ve chalked up the first failure to the simple fact I was young and didn’t know any better. That relationship just kind-of dissipated, nothing tremendously wrong other than we weren’t right for each other.) The second marriage/divorce, with kids from previous relationships involved, was much more complicated. As a teenager I joked that I would beat Liz Taylor in the husband department, but I really hope that is not the case.

So, here I am, less than two weeks away from 38, and no, life is not even close to being what I had wanted it to be. (Please note, I am only 38 in this post, in all others I will be 31, rich and 5’6″.) I see ‘perfect’ families all the time, laughing, playing, grocery shopping together and parents attending school conferences as a joint force, then going home and being together after the kids are sound asleep. I wanted those things. I miss those things. I will never have those things. Perhaps, at times, I will have those things separately, but never together as a whole package. Accepting that is hard at times, and feeling like you need to constantly tell the world you accept it can be exhausting.

I anticipate having to make a rather big move in the near future. The career thing, while hanging on by a thread, is not what I need and deserve it to be. I have stayed here in Connecticut, tried to stay close to family and friends and make it happen, but it’s a brutal business and the pieces are not falling into place. I am good at what I do, I miss doing it full-time, and I have four kids I’d like to take on some great family trips that need to be funded. (They also need to eat, be clothed, and play sports ….. )

Change is never easy, but as someone who has never shied away from it, I will embrace it when it comes. My children will be told it is an adventure, we will make it exciting and smile and cheer it on as it is happening. We will make a playlist of our favorite songs and belt them out as we drive away. They are amazing little people and they are why I have been through what I’ve been through and why I am going to accept whatever comes next and make the most of it.

Back to the conversation at the park, only now it’s not a park, it’s some random person I am interviewing or working with for the day who just got the condensed version of my ‘until now’ autobiography …..

Random person: Wow, I don’t know how you do it but kudos to you for getting it done.

Me: (In my head) I never get it done. It’s not simple, I am tired, I am ready for the real reason why …..

Me: (Out loud) Thank you.

I have done it all before, and I can do it all again ….. but wouldn’t it be nice to know that this is the last time?

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Strangers on a Plane

I am a what-if-er. I constantly second guess, always wonder if the grass is greener on the other side, and have a plethora of old boyfriends that continue to send the occasional, “Thinking of you” text that sabotages my current state of happiness. I believe life is short and should be lived. I always think there is something bigger out there for me, something waiting, something that can only be described as an “aha” moment. I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day with me. I have a field day with me. I’d like to think I’m not the only one out there living her life in this fashion. I’m like an episode of Hoarders, but with thoughts and doubts and an extremely overactive fairy tale princess wanna-be side I can’t seem to control.

Someday I am going to write a book. (At least this is what I tell my friends and various strangers when I’m unemployed and self-doubting once again.) My book will be about possible missed chances, moments in time, the connections we feel with total strangers, and an attempt at understanding life better by seeing it through the eyes of others. Maybe this is the start of my book…….

Is This Seat Taken

The airport bar ….. if ever there was a place to people watch, this is it. Angry, agitated business travelers who want nothing more than to be home with their families mixed with vacationers thankful their flight was delayed so they can have a few more drinks before heading back to reality. As I sit waiting for a beer and a sub par burger that will inevitably wreak havoc on my thirty-seven year old digestive system halfway through my flight, I am looking around and analyzing my fellow travelers. In the corner, a couple of business men laughing obnoxiously while attempting not to let me see them looking at everyone else in the bar. (They know I’ve seen.) At the table behind me sits a couple who are animatedly talking about getting home to their children. I smile, tell them I am the mother of four, and they respond with stunned looks mixed with sympathetic eyes full of wonder. As the bartender continues to ignore my empty glass, a man walks up behind me and begins to wait for someone to take his order.

 

“If you want to get a drink I suggest you get closer to the bar. Service here sucks,” I say with a clever smile.

“I see. I guess that’s ok. I have a two hour delay,” he replies, his smile a little less clever but intriguing nonetheless.

“You going to Hartford?” I ask.

“I am. Are you from Connecticut?”

Thus begins the initial exchange between two people who, until this point, have gone about their lives without knowing the other existed. Sort-of.

In the next few minutes it is discovered that this “stranger” and I grew up two blocks from each other and attended the same elementary school. (He was four years older so the name rings a bell and there is a familiarity there but other than common teachers and a mutual fondness for the crossing guard, we can’t recall ever actually having met.) As luck, or chance, would have it, my travel partner went home early and I am aware that the seat beside me on the plane will most likely be unoccupied. As my newfound “stranger” lingers behind me when the boarding call is heard, and ultimately pays for my drinks and burger, we decide if the seat hasn’t been rebooked he will sit next to me so we can continue laughing about the good old days we didn’t experience together. Seriously, what are the chances?!

Once on the plane we are happy it is just the two of us in our aisle. We talk non-stop and I learn he has been married for more than a decade and his wife is expecting their third child. He learns about me, my inability to find my path in life, and we both are envious of the other for different reasons. I applaud his stability and commitment. He sees the wild spark in my eyes and wonders how his life would be different had he been more like me. We eat peanuts, Terra Blue Chips, mini chocolate chip cookies and there are a few empty nip bottles and beer cans on our trays.

As we begin our descent he leans over to look out the window and his hand brushes against my leg. He starts to pull it back as our eyes lock but quickly changes his mind and rests his hand on my thigh. For some reason I am nervous. I am happy in my current relationship and am looking forward to getting home. He has a wife and almost three kids. We are in a moment, his moment, and what he is about to say will haunt me forever.

“I haven’t touched another woman’s leg like that in fourteen years,” he says, quietly and with reflection.

I begin to realize I have become something to this man I will most likely never see again in my life. I am moved by his honesty and the heaviness it seems to carry. Suddenly, I want to be a part of his moment, if only to let him know it is ok. He takes his hand back.

“I’m sorry,’ he says. “I shouldn’t have.”

“It’s ok. I get it,” I reply, but really I don’t get it. I can’t imagine only having touched one person for fourteen years.

He looks at me, eyes full of wonder. He places his hand back on my leg and takes my hand into his. For the next fifteen minutes we stay that way, hands clasped, not speaking. As the plane lands we slowly let go and I feel the need to kiss him softly on the cheek.

“Thank you,” he whispers.

As we walk quietly down to the baggage claim we smile nervously. Earlier in the flight numbers had been exchanged under the pretense we would reconnect on the ground and get together with kids and significant others for pizza, but now, we both know we will never speak again.

We had shared a moment like no other and that is all it would ever be.

Until this point I have only told this story to two of my closest friends and my mother. I know some will judge, some will call us names or say even the simple act of holding hands was dishonest and hurtful. I have chosen to disagree and believe anyone who breathes has at some point locked eyes with that handsome stranger, stood a little too close to that attractive young woman, or spent an afternoon thinking about what life would be like if they just ran away.

My airport ‘stranger’ and I did nothing wrong. I believe I was there for a man who, for some reason, felt a connection and a need to escape into a world of what-if, and who, at the end of the day, went home and kissed his wife a little sweeter and held her a little closer. I went home and wanted nothing more than to only be touched by one man for the next fourteen years.

How To Get Blocked

Social media ….. such an interesting phenomenon. Email came about just as my generation was entering college so most people my age never had to “reconnect” …. we never really lost touch. Classmates.com, My Space and Facebook connected us with classmates we were never really truly “friends” with …. but suddenly, as adults, cliques no longer mattered. Everybody is everybody’s friend…… until you cross the line.

So what constitutes crossing the line? Why do we unfriend someone? Do the rules for unfriending vary depending on the “real” connection we have with someone? For those of us working and living in the public eye, how do we balance connections with the community and privacy?

I have one simple rule……..

Anyone who repeatedly uses the word ‘moist’ in any messages or communications will be blocked. Ew. What a horrible word. I wish I could talk to the person who came up with this word and ask what the hell they were thinking. I don’t want a moist cupcake ….. I want a yummy one. Betty Crocker ….. take note. The word is so repulsive, not only to me but to millions of other English speaking people. I just did a little googling ….. here is the translation for moist in several other languages. (This is according to google ….. they seem to have a lot of fun at work, perhaps from drinking or eating a lot of sugar so take it for what its worth……)

Filipino …… basa-basa

French …. humide

Spanish ….. humedo

Italian …. umido

German ….. feucht

Creole …. Imid

and my favorite ….. Swedish ….. fuktig.

Moisture …. fine. Moisturize ….. go for it. Moisten ….. ummmmm …… no. Moist ….. never. If Ms. Crocker wanted to give me a basa-basa cupcake I’d say sure! (I don’t think I’d want a fuktig cupcake but to each his own.) I once had a viewer private message me poetry several times a day. This in itself was a little too much to take but throw in that all of the poems used the word moist, several  times, blocked. My children know I despise this word and will often start singing it in the car. (I just turn up Drunk on a Plane and belt it out louder than they are singing …. parenting at its finest.)

I think that is really the only time I unfriended someone. The lesson to be had here is simple: I’m easy going, I share my experiences and many of my thoughts with friends, acquaintances, and friends I’ve never met. I appreciate all of my ‘friends’ be them new, old, gently used, or social media based only. I DO NOT like the word moist.

Understanding Jacquie and Wine 101

Wine ….I enjoy it. Anyone who knows me, be it on a personal or impersonal social media only level, knows that I like my wine. (Or at least I like to talk about it.) I have the mother of all wine racks which I searched months for and had delivered from California. (Lofgren’s ….. great modern furniture store.) I do not have the mother of all wine cellars because I forgot to marry rich, have yet to bring in the big bucks myself, and my attempts at dating superficially for money failed because I just couldn’t be that superficial. Someday.

I didn’t become a wine fan until I was 29. (I also never drank coffee until I was 29…..there are other things I didn’t particularly enjoy until I was 29 but until comedy becomes profitable, we’ll keep this clean so as not to offend the easily offended…..but watch out when it does.) My ex-husband, the second one, is to blame for me picking up my drinking habits. We honeymooned in Napa and it was all over from there.

I love red wine, especially Cabernet, Rioja, Pinot Noir, Brunello, Syrah, Zinfandels, Malbecs, Shiraz, chilled Merlot, Sangria, spiked grape juice …. you get the picture. There is something so elegant, so deliciously sophisticated and tranquil, about sipping a glass of red while sitting by a fire with that special someone after the kids are tucked peacefully in their beds.  Problem ….. I am now a single mother who dates a beer drinker who can rarely sit still.

The pressures of drinking alcohol while single parenting are so daunting. Should I? Shouldnt’ I? What if I drink this glass and then one of the little buggers falls down, breaks a leg or needs stitches? Do I have to drive them to the ER? Do I call an ambulance? It’s only one glass …. one big glass ….. will the other parents judge? Do I care? How many kids do I have today? Matching socks are overrated and the common core becomes increasingly more difficult than it already is once you’re two glasses in ….. Why can’t I color in the lines?

I really don’t drink much. I just enjoy it when I do. I’ll open the bottle only to have one glass and then because I’ve become a bit of a wine snob I’ll have to throw the rest out because it never tastes right the next day. (Cooking with it the next day is ok …. but drinking, not so much.) I can pour one glass and sip it for two hours. I’ve replaced red with white, Sauvignon Blancs and Rieslings, something I would rarely drink when I was married, because one bottle can last three days and I think that is a socially acceptable amount of time for a single parent to consume a bottle in.

Wine Wisdom by Jacquie

If you find a bottle for $10-$13 that is delicious, buy a case. Once the rest of the world figures out it’s good the price goes up.

Don’t drink chardonnay….just don’t. You might as well just suck on a cork or lick an oak tree ….

When cooking with wine, have two bottles on hand. One is for the actual cooking and the other is for drinking. (Ok…. have 3 bottles …. one is for guests.) Start drinking when you start cooking, turn on some music, keep checking your recipe, sip a little more, sing a little, dance, cook a little more, sip again …. and should the food not come out quite right, you’ll be in that happy wine place and you just won’t care.

Good friends make wine taste better.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m single parenting this evening, alone, and there is a bowl of popcorn and a glass of OJ just waiting for me to have at it.photo (1)

Cheers!

Thoughts on the title …..

My oldest son, Aidan, is now 11. When he was in kindergarten the teachers held a Mom’s Muffin Day in May and the kids all drew pictures of their mothers and we had to guess which one our child had created. Some of the children were very artistic, and their moms were decked out in colorful dresses, had neat hairstyles, and were adorned with jewelry. Not me. I was a glorified stick figure with bushy eyebrows, multicolored short hair ….. and heels. (It almost looks like there is a tear on my cheek …. that or he had originally misplaced an eye ….) The other mothers, mostly wearing Birkenstocks and worn out sneakers, got a good chuckle out of it. In fact, five years later, as I attended another Mom’s Muffin Day with my youngest children, the teachers and two other mothers who could recall the picture, mentioned the famed portrait as we embarked on another ‘guess the mom’ journey.

I wear heels ….. all the time. (Well, 95% of the time.) Strappy sandals, high boots, classic work heels ….. I’m famous for pretty much always having them on. I’m 5’1″ so not only are they a passion, they are a necessity. I do not spend hundreds of dollars on them, I don’t have a huge collection. I just feel better about myself when I am in them. A sexy pair of shoes can do wonders for the soul when times get tough … be it if you’re the one in them or the one who enjoys looking at them. I can recall a day, shortly after giving birth to my second son, when I was sitting in my mother’s living room in comfy post-pregnancy clothes and sneakers. My brother in-law looked at my feet and said, “Jacq ….. you own sneakers?!”

Xanax ….. I have 4 kids, two part-time jobs that aren’t really paying the bills, two ex husbands, a boyfriend who drives me crazy, and a free spirit that wants to be able to fully express myself without worrying about the repercussions. When I am working I thrive on the fast pace and daily deadlines. I need constant change and can never imagine having a desk job. I may have a few stalkers. I am the poster child for a should-be Xanax popper.

Do I take it? HIPAA says I don’t have to disclose that information. In short, ‘high heels and xanax’ is a sexier, wittier title than say, ‘TV News Reporter/wanna-be Comedian/Mom Blog’ ……

Like a good mom, I saved the picture:

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