On Loving Her

Written by Eve Greenlow

I am in love with a girl.
She is kind and strong.
I know what she deserves, which is so much.
She is beautiful and black and proud
and she struggles taking care of her 3c curls
but she knows it's worth it.
She has an unhealthy relationship with crunchy corn puffs
but they're very tasty, so it's ok.
She thinks binge watching british baking shows is all she needs to do to prepare for studying abroad in England.
She is wrong. She knows this.
She has curves and not all of them are in the right places
But because they are her curves
they are in the right places.
Every morning when I look into her
hazel eyes,
the brown from her black father
the blue from her white mother,
I am thankful to have the opportunity
to have another day with her.
I didn’t always feel that way.
Growing up and learning to love
a black girl in a society
screaming at you not to love black girls
is difficult and sometimes, no,
always painful.
Painful the way Stephon Clark was murdered in
my own backyard.
Difficult the way it is to watch a non-black actress
dance around an apology for
singing along to a rap song.
It is even more difficult when the voices
telling you you aren't good enough
are bouncing off the walls of your own house
or are coming from your own friends
who, now that you are physically and temporally
separated, you realize were never actually your friends.
Friends wouldn't tell you your hair looks weird when it's curly,
that those clothes don't really look good on you,
that you're not really black.
It has taken years for me to understand her
to treat her with the care she needs
to reach out for help
when she is drowning, gasping for breath
in a world that seems designed to crush her.
I am there for her.
I will continue to be there for her
to appreciate her
to, hopefully, guide her in the right direction
to love her
to accept her.
Because her love will always
matter the most.
Eve Greenlow is a poet currently living in NYC, writing for Ars Poetica. She is originally from Sacramento, California and studied at Pacific University in Oregon.

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Mum who ‘avoided mirrors for years’ hits back at evil trolls after getting £15,000 makeover

Written By Hannah Dodd for JamPress UK

Mum unrecognisable after £15,000 ‘mummy makeover’ – with two LITRES of fat drained from stomach

A mum who “hated” her belly and avoided looking in mirrors due to her weight has shared the results of a “mummy makeover” – which set her back £15,000 ($17,800). 

Annie Anderson, 49, a maternity nurse from Sacramento, California, US, had long been unhappy with her body, weighing 17st 5lbs and wearing a size 18-22.

Sharing her story to help others – and to fight against stigma around plastic surgery for plus-size women – the mum-of-two reveals her transformation.

She’s had three surgeries: tummy tuck, liposuction and breast reduction – also known as a “mummy makeover”.

“The recovery process was brutal,” Annie, who has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), told NeedToKnow.online. 

“But I’ve gone from having a huge hanging belly that made me hate my appearance to finally feeling my hip bones.

“I can finally see my feet!

 “I used to avoid looking at myself in the plate glass windows I walked by and avoided mirrors, because all I felt when I looked at myself was disgust. 

“For years I tried to hide in tunics that hung like tents over my upper body. 

“I have learned this body type is often associated with PCOS. 

“After the surgery, I don’t have the burden of all that weight holding me back.

“I like what I see in the mirror now and clothes shopping is fun.”

Annie, who has had two caesarean sections, went under the knife for her first two procedures in January 2022, before returning in March for the breast reduction.

Surgeon Dr Yamahata removed 17lbs of skin and subcutaneous fat and a further two litres of fat via liposuction.

During recovery, Annie was in an “extreme amount of pain” but doesn’t regret the operations.

The mum, who has kids with husband Robbie Anderson, 52, said: “The tummy tuck surgery started with me positioned on my belly while they worked on my back and flanks and then they flipped me over onto my back to work on my abdomen. 

“I woke up in the recovery room where I was monitored for 90 minutes and then my husband picked me up and took me home.

“Truthfully, that was the worst night of my life. 

“I was in so much pain that I passed out twice while trying to go to the bathroom.

“The first week was a drug-induced blur. 

“I focused on sleeping, showering, good nutrition and slowly walking a little more each day. 

“Getting up and down from bed or chair was brutal and I couldn’t do it without help. 

“By the end of week two, I felt human again.”

Annie, now a size 10-12, had spent years unsuccessfully trying to lose weight and keep it off, when she came across TikTok videos of plus-size women sharing their surgical journeys.

She worked additional shifts to earn the $17,800 she needed to pay for the pricey tummy tuck surgery, which was not covered by her medical insurance. 

Annie said: “No clothing could hide how I felt inside. 

“Now, I feel lighter. I don’t have the back pain I once had. 

“This body wants to be active, and exercise has become a daily part of my life.”

While she is happy with the outcome, the mum doesn’t consider her surgery a “quick fix”.

Despite her improved confidence, Annie still faces tough questions about her decision to opt for surgery as a plus-sized person. 

She said: “Technically, I didn’t have ‘weight loss surgery’. 

“Most plus-size people have gastric bypass surgery or weight loss surgery, and then later have plastic surgery to repair the damage caused by the weight loss. 

“I skipped that part. I had plus-size plastic surgery.

“People think the ‘right’ way is to lose the weight through diet and exercise before having skin removal surgery. 

“No one close to me has been negative to my face, just some people on the internet in the comments.

“The beauty of it all is that those comments don’t hurt me anymore. 

“The opinion of strangers doesn’t matter if I love myself the way I am.

“I feel strongly that whatever it takes to help you find a way to love yourself, you should do that. 

“Even if the world thinks you did it wrong.”

In a bid to inspire others, Annie has shared her progress on Facebook and TikTok (@anniemd007) and on her blog (http://www.anniespeaks.com/).

A TikTok clip that has been viewed 21,000 times shows the mum before her surgeries, posing in underwear before flashing forward to a post-op picture of her in a skimpy black swimsuit.

Many viewers were desperate to find out more.

One person said: “I need to know where and how much plz.” [sic]

“You look great what doctor?” said another fan.

Someone else commented: “Here I am self conscious of my tummy tuck after pics. You look fantastic by the way and I think the confidence is what makes you even more beautiful.”

“Awesome,” agreed another user.

Someone else added: “Kicking a**.”

Before Annie’s Plus Size Extended Tummy Tuck with repair of the diastasis recti and liposuction to the flanks done by Dr. Wayne Yamahata in Sacramento, California.
Before.
After. 11 months post-op for Plus Size Tummy Tuck and 9 months post-op Breast Reduction done by Dr. Wayne Yamahata in Sacramento, California.
After.
One year later. 🖤

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Cut. Cut. Cut.

I write poems when I sleep. I woke up to words flowing in my dream, but I didn’t write them down in time. They flew away on gossamer wings and then they fell from the sky in cement shoes. Is it worth getting out of bed for this?

My grandpa visits me in my dreams. He talks to me and I know it’s him when I wake. He’s there already. Waiting. My dad is in the in-between, paying for the things no one knew about. I want to tell him to get in line for the wings, it’s never ending, that line. You can choose between feathers and gossamer, both take you where you need to go. Just lose the shoes, dad. Cement. Birds of a feather.

Cotton candy clouds don’t wait for you, but if you get there in time…

I will see you in my dreams.

I’m sensitive, you know. I feel you before I see you. I know you before you know me. I hide and I seek and I know things. They come to me in my dreams. Maybe that’s why I can’t sleep. I wake when it gets too real and I try to keep my eyes closed, to keep it going, but then I know it’s not real anymore.

So I open my eyes. And I carry it with me, if I’m lucky. It flowed better in my half-sleep. In my half-sleep, it was beautiful. The words flowed and made sense and painted a better picture than this. But I will keep trying and hope that someday someone will put all the pieces together and then they will know me. And then I will exist not only in my dreams and then I will take off my wet clothes and my cement shoes and I will float.

The things no one knows about keep you in the in-between. Cement flows through your veins. Get in line for the wings, dad. And lose the shoes. Not much you can do about the veins. Get the feathers, they hold more weight. And be sorry. For so much.

But know you are already forgiven.

And I float.

Like the last time I rocked my baby to sleep or carried her to bed, I can’t remember the last time we drove the cars at Scandia. Or the last time I wasn’t angry. Or hurt. Or sad. Only my sunshine memories of you felt happy. The days that the sun shined on us and I still didn’t know all the things. Even now, I don’t know all the things. Only some. And they are enough.

This one is more for me. Just getting it out. Uh, oh. She’s blathering again. Keep scrolling. There should be a warning label. She’s writing in her half-sleep again. It’s not for you.

He said he will send me a butterfly when he gets to where we are all going. But he didn’t say what kind. I wonder if he will send Golden Lemon Pucker Trucky Ducky. Oh, you haven’t read that one yet? That one makes more sense than this one. To you. But not to me. Or will he send the Spanish Luna Moth I have tattooed on my skin? Too rare, I’m sure.

Or is it?

Do you like the stories with the details? They need to be unraveled, you know. It’s all in the details, so

When I was in 1st grade, or maybe it was 2nd, at a school I can’t remember the name of with a teacher whose face I remember because she made me cry and I was scared of her, we made a construction paper snowman. The instructions were to tear up the thick white paper into small pieces and glue them onto the blue background like a mosaic snow man. The torn edges were meant to make it look like snow. I panicked. I can’t do that. I begged to use my scissors, the ones with the rounded tips that only sometimes cut. My tears and chaos convinced her. While everyone else was tearing and glueing without a care in the world, I cut a hundred tiny squares of thick white snowman through my burning eyes fresh from hot flowing freak-out tears. Maybe that was my first panic attack. Irrational.

So my mosaic snowman had sharp edges. My crisp edges somehow protected me. The corners overlapped and stuck out and mine was the only one. I can’t blend in. That feels like panic to me. I had to be different, not because I wanted to be, but because there was no other way for me. 29 mosaic snowmen, with fluffy, billowy, uneven, imperfect, snow-like edges. And only one with crisp, sharp edges and corners that can make you bleed. Always different. Special. Gifted. Burdened.

In the end, she let me do it my way. She probably sensed how important that was. How a single moment in time can haunt your dreams 40-something years later. Maybe she knew that I needed the sharp edges of protection to keep me safe. Maybe she knew she was teaching me a life skill of adaptation and when one way is too hard you should find another way to make it work. To get through it any way you can, even when everyone else does it with their bare hands. It’s ok to use scissors.

Cut. Cut. Cut.

And burn, burn, burn.

And I float.

My Papa Ding.
He visits me in my dreams. 🖤
My Spanish Luna Moth.
They always fly towards the light.

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Do Work, Son

My friend Jesse died 2.5 years ago, at age 48. I met him during my freshman year in high school, age 14. He was a year ahead of me at CKM and he was larger than life. His energy filled a room, even then. Especially then.

He was funny in a pee your pants kinda way. He was silly, and goofy, and sweet. He was kind. He was sensitive. He was a lover and a fighter. He was a survivor. He was loud and he was hairy. He would laugh at that. He would laugh with you, never at you. He would give you the shirt off of his hairy back, all while having your back. He was a friend that was family.

Familia.

I dated his friends and he dated mine. Several of them, whether either one of us wants to admit that or not. He fell in love, he was good at that. Angela, Lucy, Christina…those were the ones that stuck. The ones that meant something to him when he was sober. I know there were others, but I wasn’t part of everything.

Just some things.

He was everyone’s best friend. The kind of person that makes everyone feel loved and liked and wanted. If you were in his circle, you were familia. He was loyal, forever. If you were sad, he would make you laugh. If you were happy, he was happy, if only for that moment. He built you up and he held you up. And he made you food.

We spent so much time at his apartment our Senior year. Greenhaven was our playground, remember? He taught me how to 10 run roll ‘em and how to play Techmo Bowl. We played Nintendo and drank Keystone Lights until the sun came up. We partied. A lot. We played slosh ball. We danced. We drove around and did nothing and everything. When he moved to the apartment on 43rd Ave, just a few blocks from our Greenhaven Lake Apartment, we would ride our bikes or jog over to his place late at night. No curfew.

Always laughing.

And talking.

I didn’t know what Tourette’s Syndrome was back then. I didn’t know it was a thing. We all thought he just had funny habits. He whistled and made clicking sounds and winked, but honestly, that stuff usually just fit right in with the conversation. Like an exclamation point. Larger than life.

We used to mimic him, not knowing. We made fun of him in love, not to belittle or be mean. We didn’t know. You can still cause damage to people you love when you don’t mean to. We would never have intentionally hurt him. I think a lot of his friends didn’t know back then. We didn’t talk about it. It was just part of his personality that everyone loved.

One night, we were chillin at Jesse’s apartment with Darin and Darren and probably Derek, playing Nintendo and shotgunning beers and avoiding the pet tarantula that was often on the loose. Really high. I wore my sunglasses at night so I can see. They had Barbie cereal that was like Lucky Charms and all of Barbie’s accessories were the marshmallow thingys. I sat on his couch waiting for my turn to 10 run roll ‘em and/or rock the turtles and I picked out all of Barbie’s marshmallow thingys from that box of cereal. Then I put it back in the cupboard for Darren to find the next morning when he ate his cereal. That was high-larious to me. Like pee your pants funny. Like remember that night like it was yesterday when you are 49 years old funny.

Our kids were close in age and we rekindled our close friendship as parents at LdV. Dylan and Jacob were in Mrs. Brown’s kindergarten class. Our boys became best friends when they were little. K-6. It was a beautiful thing to have your children choose each other as best friends when you were also best friends. He was everyone’s BFF, remember. I get to claim him, too.

Familia.

Life got to him, on a level. Christina tried really hard to make it work. I witnessed that. Sometimes, love isn’t enough even when the love is always there. They split, and he was all over the place. Fall down seven times, stand up eight.

Stand the fuck up.

He used to say I saved his life. I didn’t, but he was insistent. He had a brutal shoulder surgery and they sent him home the same day, in excruciating pain. They should have never sent him home like that. He took too much pain medicine. Christina called me. They weren’t even a couple, then. But she was there, supporting him. I grabbed my stethoscope and rushed over. The boys were at Cokie’s, cuz she was a lifesaver, too. I was just a new grad nurse at that time. I knew enough to know he needed narcan. He was lethargic and his respiratory rate was maybe 4. He didn’t want to move. We somehow got him into my car and I took him to the ER at my hospital, MGH. His O2 sat was like 82%. He got several doses of narcan. His pain was unbearable, but he needed to breathe! If you know what narcan does, it knocks the pain medicine off the receptors that affect your drive to breathe, so you don’t die of respiratory depression. But you want to die cuz the pain is that bad. They stabilized him, and I left.

He called me the next day to thank me for saving his life. He said he would have laid there like that until he stopped breathing entirely.

All I did was drive the getaway car.

And why do we do that?! Why do we drive them?! Call 911! Do not drive them! Lights and sirens get you treated on the way, precious minutes, and they get you first in line in the ER. Chest pain? Call 911. Slurred speech and droopy face? Call 911. Respiratory rate of 4? Call 911. Nurse Annie here. Do not drive them!

Anyway, he survived that. And he survived a lot of tough things. Things that knock you down. He always got back up. Until the one time he didn’t.

He had a bad heart. The one with the biggest heart of all. I like to think he overworked his heart cuz he loved so hard. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for love. For his boys, Joshua and Jacob. For Christina. For Christopher. For Richie. For Karina. And Vicky. And Darin. And Troy. For Tenley. For Derek and LT.

For Conrad.

For all of us.

Familia.

I miss him. Hearts were broken all over Sacramento the night that he died. I can still hear his laughter. I can still see his face when I look at his boys. They were his world, you know. Everybody knows that.

The only games or matches he missed were when he got kicked out for being too much. For yelling. For saying the things everyone else wanted to say but didn’t. For being larger than life and all the things we loved about him. Otherwise, he was there. Cheering those boys on to greatness. To championships. To be who they were meant to be.

Do Work, Son.

Too much. And not enough.

Now I feel like I can’t breathe.

Maybe I did save his life. Once.

But I think he was one of the ones that saved mine first.

You should all be so lucky to have a friend like that.

Jesse Matthew Edwards

July 10, 1971-May 27, 2020

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Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

I have been making videos on TikTok for months. It filled my time during my surgical recovery and my walking updates motivated me to get up, brush my teeth, put on something presentable and to get my ass up and walk. I had a few viral videos of the day that me and a few friends drank champagne and made plaster casts of our breasts, before I had my breast reduction.

At first, I was a little uncomfortable with the nudity, even though I bare my soul to those women, I never walked around without a shirt or at least a bra in front of anyone except my husband. I spent most of my life hiding, remember? So Kristi and Jolanda did it too, as fun gifts for their husbands. Jolanda cooked for us, like she always does, and we celebrated and said goodbye to my giant boobs. Amanda gets the video creds.

I already told the story of how the mammaries have served me well. But it was time. Our relationship wasn’t going anywhere. We needed to part ways.

Sayonara, Sweets.

Hasta la vista, baby!

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na

Hey, hey, hey

Goodbye.

And in the last few days, after posting some of the very same videos I posted on TikTok intermixed with new videos made only for Facebook, I went viral again. Really viral. At the time of this writing, one of my videos has over 16 million views. Several others are over 100K, 200K, 300K…and I went from having 800 followers, most of which are people I actually know in real life, to over 16,000 followers, most of which I do not know in real life. And brands are reaching out to me to try their products and as a digital creator on Facebook, you can make some side gig money. I need some side gig money. Who doesn’t, these days?

Most of all, I’m having fun with it. I always used my Facebook page as a place to write about the things that meant something to me. It was my therapy. My backyard and my dog and a good Facebook post to my 800 friends is what got me through the pandemic isolation and brought me to processing some of my childhood trauma. PTSD, they say.

Plus, if I’m the one putting it out there, I’m in control of it. It’s not gossip at Track 7 on a summer night if everyone already knows.

For years my friends have been telling me that I am a good writer and that my life story is compelling. I have been told to write a book, but that is too daunting for the inattentive ADHD that I carry. Then they said I should start a blog. I can do that. Small chunks. Bits and pieces. And here we are.

After years of sharing my guts with those 800 people for free, I decided to take some of my Facebook posts and turn them into blog posts at http://www.anniespeaks.com

And then I took the 6 pages of my slow start attempt at writing a book and I turned that into a few blog posts. And then I started to write about whatever came to mind. To go where my thoughts led me. Where I start is not always where I end up. Some call it blather but I write about my real life. From my perspective, of course. And not necessarily in chronological order, in part because telling a tale from just your memories is imperfect. Sometimes we block stuff out when it’s traumatic and it takes another memory to remind us of the other stuff. I write about motherhood, being a nurse, married life, being a plus size woman that had a tummy tuck and breast reduction and liposuction that then took 4 months off from work to focus solely on me for the first time in my life, and my childhood and coming of age in the 70’s-80’s. I’m told it’s relatable. And here I thought I was the only one.

We were the neglected generation. The latch key kids. Chain around the neck. Don’t lose it. The mac n cheese in the yellow box with black lettering kids. The ones that raised themselves by taking the best of everyone around them. Fake it til you make it. Be who you needed.

The blog post titled “Jack-In-The-Crack” is the first post about my childhood. I come in and out of that stuff cuz it’s hard for me. I dig deep and the tears flow while I write. It’s all true. None of it is fiction. I lived that life.

And then I became a mother. Everything changes when you become a mother, if you do it right.

“Take my apples, Boy…

…and the tree was happy.”

And then both of my babies left. We became empty nesters. With a NOC nurse’s schedule. And with inattentive ADHD, supposedly caused by PTSD. Avoidance. I am much happier on my days off when I am outside making a video than I would be inside doing housework. Or feeling sorry for myself. Or focusing on the things that weigh me down.

I’d rather have fun on Facebook.

And so I am just going to keep doing me and having fun making videos sometimes. And my life story will slowly flow in between plastic surgery recovery tips and weight loss on Mounjaro posts. Cuz I think it’s helpful to my plastic surgery sisters and other people that relate to me to share my experience. I have found great support and validation in my online community.

And so far, there are way less trolls on Facebook than TikTok, just sayin’. I wonder if that is because most people use their real names on their profile or if it’s because it’s an older demographic than TikTok…or if Facebook is just better at moderating that stuff. Or maybe I finally love myself enough to not be hurt by someone else’s opinion of me. Like water off a duck’s back. Strong like Mulan. You do you, all 16 million of you, and I’m going to keep doing me.

Sometimes I’m fun. But at the very least, I’m always real.

Sit back and enjoy the ride. I know I am.

🖤💪🏼

Me and my purple shacket. 💜

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  • On Loving Her
    Written by Eve Greenlow I am in love with a girl.She is kind and strong.I know what she deserves, which is so much.She is beautiful and black and proudand she struggles taking care of her 3c curlsbut she knows it’s worth it.She has an unhealthy relationship with crunchy corn puffsbut they’re very tasty, so it’s…More
  • Mum who ‘avoided mirrors for years’ hits back at evil trolls after getting £15,000 makeover
    Written By Hannah Dodd for JamPress UK Mum unrecognisable after £15,000 ‘mummy makeover’ – with two LITRES of fat drained from stomach A mum who “hated” her belly and avoided looking in mirrors due to her weight has shared the results of a “mummy makeover” – which set her back £15,000 ($17,800).  Annie Anderson, 49,…More
  • Cut. Cut. Cut.
    I write poems when I sleep. I woke up to words flowing in my dream, but I didn’t write them down in time. They flew away on gossamer wings and then they fell from the sky in cement shoes. Is it worth getting out of bed for this? My grandpa visits me in my dreams.…More
  • Do Work, Son
    My friend Jesse died 2.5 years ago, at age 48. I met him during my freshman year in high school, age 14. He was a year ahead of me at CKM and he was larger than life. His energy filled a room, even then. Especially then. He was funny in a pee your pants kinda…More
  • Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride
    I have been making videos on TikTok for months. It filled my time during my surgical recovery and my walking updates motivated me to get up, brush my teeth, put on something presentable and to get my ass up and walk. I had a few viral videos of the day that me and a few…More

Fragile. But not.

When we lived with Doc, we were artsy. We went to see movies at Tower Theatre. Movies that I think are cool now, but not the ones I wanted to see then. We saw El Norte, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Out of Africa, Raising Arizona, The Legend of Greystoke, The Black Stallion, and I can’t remember what else. At least they included me. A happy family. Only not.

We moved in with Doc, into his little house on 45th Street. Not Lady Bird 45th Street, remember. 45th and G. Artsy. A step up for us, not a leap. And what goes up, must come down. That’s the law. He wanted out. So he cheated. She caught him. We left.

Onto the next. There was always a good reason. I see that.

I’m not sure where I was going with that, since I already told you about the Doc into Larry era. Then the Freshman year era. But did I tell you about the Take 2 era of Tony? Yes, Tony #1. The drug dealer. The one she divorced when I was 6. Cuz he was a bad man.

And she was naive.

Then. When I was 6.

This time I was 14. We lived in that yellow house on Sutterville Road. The one right next to Ford’s Real Good Hamburgers and across the street from the park. I don’t know how they reconnected. I just remember her saying “he was the love of my life.” The drug dealer. The one that beat her while I watched.

Except he wasn’t a drug dealer anymore. I wonder if he was still a wife beater. Good thing she wasn’t his wife this time. Those images never go away, you know. Not when you are 14. And not when you are 49.

That visceral memory of him dragging her down the hallway by her hair, intentionally banging her head against the wall. Yelling and screaming and me frozen in my twin bed with the Holly Hobby bedspread. Please leave the door open and the hall light on, mama. I get scared when you turn the light off. Better to watch him hurt you, mama.

Oh, so you are getting back together with him? He’s changed, I’m sure. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? We never stopped loving him, right?

Yes. We fucking did. Fuck that guy. Angry Annie has Girl Power. Manic Mama, not so much.

He was working as a mechanic for a trucking company. Big engines. Starting fresh. Up and up. Now she was his sugar mama. Oops, he cheated. She caught him. Then she was done. But not before I was forced to try and love an abuser. To trust him and to forgive him and allow for it all. That’s what therapy was throughout my childhood. Justification for my mother’s repeated poor life choices. Brain washing. Don’t be angry anymore, Annie. When you forgive them, you release it. Forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you.

Bullshit. I am full up of psychobabble bullshit. It was never ok. None of it.

I’m telling you right here and now, if you ever find yourself contemplating giving your abuser a second chance, it is never the right choice. You cannot erase those images and replace them with love and forgiveness. You just can’t. That’s not my brokenness speaking. That’s my badass bitch that sits in her girl power speaking. The one that will fuck your shit up. The one that doesn’t need a got damn mother or father to survive. The door closer. Some things don’t deserve forgiveness and second chances and don’t you fucking dare try and teach your daughter that moving your abuser back in with you 8 years later is the right thing to do. Did you ever ask me if I remember that one night? Or all the nights? Or the early mornings when he was still asleep. I’m 49 years old and sometimes I can’t sleep. These are the reasons why. Like a TikTok or Facebook Reel, those videos play over and over again in my head. Even now. At age 49.

It’s all just distraction, you know. Even this. Especially this.

Alone. But not.

Just feels that way in the wee hours. All alone.

But not.

Nobody helped me decorate the Christmas tree this year. The kids are gone and it was never Robbie’s gig. I’m not bitter about it, it just is. Empty nest, but not empty thoughts. Every Christmas ornament has a memory attached and so many of them were given to me by my mother. So the most wonderful time of the year is also the most sorrowful. If I let it. I mostly have glass ornaments. I prefer the ones that look like they could be from the 1940’s just as easily as they could be from the 1980’s. Hand blown glass. Fragile. Like me.

Like her.

Like mother, like daughter.

Careful, they shatter when you drop them.

I remember Christmas shopping with her in Spokane, and the two of us literally broke 3 of the same ornaments while waiting in line to pay for them. They were so delicate. Thin Italian painted glass. Beautiful. Oops, get another one. Oops, it happened again. Go grab another one, Annie. Over and over again. Like men. I carefully hang it up high every year. I don’t know how this one has survived when the other three didn’t last through the line. This one must be stronger than the others. The proof of it’s strength is in it’s fragility. When Christmas is over, I will carefully place it in the storage bin and hope it survives to next year. Like me. Like this life I have created.

Alone. But not.

There is the antique looking Santa that she bought me at Disneyland, when we took my baby sister to Mickey’s house for the first time. And the yellow rubber ducky, made of glass, cuz I got all my ducks in a row. The pink and blue baby shoe that she gave me when I was pregnant with Dylan, her first grandchild. And the airplane, don’t know when I’ll be back again. Oh babe, I hate to go.

There is a glittery pale pink one, for Cassidy. Fragile. I always hang that one near the top, too. The fragile ones would never survive a fall. No second chances. No do-overs.

Shattered.

But whole.

And so every year I decorate the tree in melancholy silence. I play Christmas movies and try really hard to be present. I want the Christmas spirit to flood my heart and my mind and my soul. I want it to block out all the other things. The things that still hurt. I keep hanging those ornaments afterall. I want the joyful memories of my children opening their Christmas presents and searching for the pickle ornament to be more powerful than the others. They always forget about the pickle until the end, after all the other presents are open. I broke that pickle ornament a couple years ago. Robbie found me a new one. He made a special trip to Old Sac before the Christmas store closed up for the season and he bought two of them in case we break another one. It’s the back-up pickle. The safety pickle. The always there pickle. The beautiful glass pickle of stability and love. That’s what he brings to the table, if you didn’t know. His pickle. Rock solid. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I set myself up for that one, lol.

Robbie’s pickle.

So when you don’t hear from me much in the month of December, now you know why. I’m stuck in my thoughts, trying to survive my memories. Trying to remind myself why the door is closed and my mother estranged, all the while also remembering how much I was loved.

Even when love wasn’t enough.

Merry Christmas to all. Find your joy and hold onto it, whatever it takes. And when Christmas is over, carefully pack it all up in tissue paper and put it away for next year.

Fragile.

But not.

🖤💪🏼

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It’s a Wonderful Life!

I weighed 245 lbs. on the morning of my Extended Tummy Tuck in January of 2022. Dr. Yamahata cut off 17 lbs. of skin and subcutaneous fat during the procedure and another 2200 mLs of fat via liposuction to my back and flanks. That’s approximately another 5 lbs. off. In one day. My diet changed significantly after my tummy tuck. With repair of the 4 inch gap of my diastasis recti, my abdominal cavity has less room for all the organs, including the stomach. Eating large portions is extremely uncomfortable, which means my binge eating was forced out of commission. I focused on getting 100 gms of protein in each day, a lot of that from protein shakes, just because it was convenient and also hydrated me, even when I didn’t feel like eating much. My body needed extra protein to heal from my surgeries. When you are practicing loving yourself, you realize that it includes nourishment. Walking and activity is so important for post-op recovery, so I also focused on getting at least a 20-30 minute walk in each day, even when my pace was very slow. Some days, that just meant a trip to Costco. With the time off from work for recovery, 4 months in all, that daily activity became a habit that I enjoyed. I probably could have gone back to work at the 10 week mark after my tummy tuck, but that is when I had my breast reduction, so my leave of absence was extended another 8 weeks. I’m lucky to live in California where any surgery is covered under State Disability, they do not ask if it was “cosmetic.”

I managed to maintain the weight loss that Dr. Yamahata gifted me, all this time. You would think with decreased portions, better nutrition, and increased and consistent activity that I would continue to lose. I did not. Even so, the maintenance and body changes afforded me from my surgeries completely changed my body shape and sizing. Body dysmorphia be damned! It took a few months, but I was really starting to feel good in my own skin.

After years of yo-yo dieting and trying every diet medication and program under the sun, I decided I would never starve myself again. I was done putting my body and mind through the highs and lows and right back to the highs all over again. Failure. Judgment. Self-hatred. I had been between 240-265 lbs for several years, since making that decision. I was lucky and did not yet have any other diagnoses that put my health or surgical recovery at greater risk. Not yet anyway. Obesity is a chronic disease, and I will battle it for the rest of my life. Years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS. And now, at age 49, I believe I am starting to go through perimenopause. This part hasn’t yet been diagnosed by my MD, I am self-diagnosing the menopause part based on symptoms I am having. Difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, brain fog, occasional hot flashes, etc. I should probably talk to my OB about all of this, but I haven’t yet. I know nothing about hormone replacement therapy…maybe next year I will deal with it. I have enough on my emotional roller coaster plate right now, lol. In any case, PCOS and menopause makes weight loss and maintenance extra hard. That’s science, not excuses.

A few months ago, I started seeing TikToks about a new medication called Mounjaro or tirzepatide. It is currently only FDA approved for Type 2 Diabetes. It is a once a week injectable that studies and clinical trials have found to also aid in weight loss, specifically for obese patients without a diabetes diagnosis. And anecdotally, I have noticed a trend of particular success among patients that also have PCOS. Mounjaro works on two receptors in the brain, where most of the other weekly injectables target just one receptor. It is my understanding that Mounjaro lowers your A1C (thus preventing diabetes in those of us that are prediabetic with an A1C of at least 5.7) and it affects satiety in the brain, so an obese brain can work normally so you stop eating when your body is satiated. A whole new concept for those of us that have been in this battle for most of our lives.

So, I jumped on the bandwagon. I presented the medication request to my primary MD. He had not yet heard of the drug. So he researched it, read the studies and published clinical trials, and decided it was very promising for someone like me and he ordered it. We knew my insurance would not approve it. At the time, Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Mounjaro, offered a discount coupon for patients whose private insurance denied coverage for it. With the coupon, the cost to me is only $25 per 4 week dosage. This coupon will apply for me until the end of June 2023. After that, I do not yet know what will happen.

Mounjaro is currently being fast tracked through the FDA (much like covid vaccines were) for approval for Obesity and Weight Loss. I am hoping that it will be approved before June of 2023 and that my insurance will see the benefit of covering it for people like me. For the improvement of my quality of life and prevention of diseases related to obesity. It would save the insurance companies a lot of money in the end…fewer hospitalizations, fewer heart surgeries, fewer daily medications for heart disease and high blood pressure, etc. We will all be crossing that bridge together at the end of June 2023.

Obesity is currently defined by having a BMI >30. I’m sure many people don’t even realize that they are technically obese. What I wouldn’t do to live in a body with a BMI of only 31 for all these years! Obesity is a chronic disease that really starts in the Hypothalmus, deep inside the brain, so it won’t be “cured” by this medication. It can only be “treated” by this medication. It is possible I would need to take it for the rest of my life in order to maintain the weight loss and other health benefits. There are so many unknowns right now. Despite all of that, I started taking Mounjaro two months ago.

I started on the 2.5mg dosage and stayed on that for four weeks. After four weeks, I was down 11 lbs. without making any intentional changes to my diet or activity level. I was just living my life and letting the medicine work it’s magic in my brain. Yes, my appetite was curbed and I did occasionally have short-lived, intermittent mild nausea, usually on day 2 after the injection. Never actually barfed. Day 2 is usually accompanied by fatigue, as well. I did experience some mild constipation, and occasionally take Magnesium Citrate or Miralax to help with that. One of the effects of the medication and how it helps to curb your appetite and induce satiety is that it slows down gastric emptying, so the food stays in your stomach and intestines longer, making you feel fuller. I also have had an increase in heartburn, despite taking Pepcid twice a day. So all of this makes sense. The science backs it up. Side effects and all, still worth it.

Then on Week 5, I jumped up to the 5mg dosing. By the end of week 8 I was down a total of 16lbs! I weighed in at 208 lbs. with a BMI of 35.7! I started this whole journey with a BMI of 41! I can wait to have my labs drawn next month to see what my A1C is!

Currently, I’m on Week 9. I was planning to titrate up to the 7.5mg dosage, but that particular dosage is currently on backorder, per the staff at CVS, and they were not able to fill it in time for my next dose. So my doctor and I decided to stay on the 5 mg for now, while Eli Lilly works out the kinks. I’m sure I’m not alone, so I bet next month the 5mg will be on backorder since many of us stayed on it another 4 weeks. We will see how the manufacturer and/or suppliers keep up with demand.

Let me list the ways this 16 lb weight loss, combined with my plastic surgery, has made my life better/easier:

  • I can jog and my knees don’t hurt while I’m doing it! The combination of having the tummy tuck and breast reduction with the weight loss allows me to comfortably be more active on a daily basis. I have more energy in general and want to move.
  • The weight loss has enhanced my tummy tuck and liposuction results. My apple-shaped belly seems flatter and my waist is a little more defined. I do not have loose skin.
  • I have had to size down to size 12 petite in pants/jeans. I may have to size down again soon. I can’t keep up financially with my new clothing needs…will make TikTok videos for free clothes! Please send, lol! Before my surgery, I was wearing anywhere from a size 14W to 20W in pants! I haven’t been a regular size 12 in at least 20 years! My top size has gone from a 3X to a Large or XL. I am no longer Plus Size. That is crazy to me!
  • I finally know what it feels like to love the skin your in. It’s actually fun to shop and try on new clothes. I don’t feel the need to hide under a tunic anymore. I walk around naked all the time now that I am also an empty nester. Ask my husband…he doesn’t object.
  • I wear bikinis! Flaws and all! Nobody said I was going for perfection! The self-loathing has been replaced by self-love. Not conceit or vanity, just acceptance and knowing that loving myself means so much more than liking what you see in the mirror. *
  • When you don’t hate yourself and you stop beating yourself up for the years of failure, it makes room for happiness and light. I’m not so angry at the world. I hope that translates to how others perceive me at work and in my personal life. Maybe more people will see the funny, kind and loving Annie instead of fat, angry Annie. Even though angry Annie was just a defense for years of other people’s judgment of me and their perception of why I was fat. I still can’t tolerate stupidity, though. So if you still think I’m a bitch, you might need to take a look at yourself, just sayin’
  • Renewed love life with my husband. It may not be as often as it was in our 20’s-30’s, but going into our 50’s is going to be a whole lot more fun, lol.

So you see, this whole journey to loving myself is worth every struggle. Worth every extra pandemic shift I worked to pay for my tummy tuck. It was worth all the pain of physical recovery, all of the time off of work, all of the selfishness of the last 10 months, and all of the $$ spent on new clothes.

It’s a wonderful life, friends.

I have said this before, but the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I strongly believe that whatever it takes to get you to a place of loving yourself, you should do that. Even if the world thinks you are doing it wrong.

🖤

Recent jeans purchase, size 12! Linked in my Amazon Storefront!

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Doorbell Ditch

So I haven’t felt like writing lately. I’ve been stuck in my head with thoughts that hide, even from myself. Unidentified tears sting but don’t fall, because if I admit why they are there or where they belong, it’s too much.

Overwhelming.

Sometimes, it’s all too much.

And as you all know by now, never enough.

It’s chaos, really. A jumbled mess of reasons, just pick one. But, if I pick one, then it has a name. And a face. And a story.

So what story shall I tell today? Choose Your Own Adventure, remember those? C.S. Lewis before the movie. One thought triggers the next. If you choose to open the door on the right, where the sun shines and everyone smiles, turn to page 26. If you choose to open Pandora’s Box, turn back to page 1 and start over and think again and never get past the chaos.

I was baptized in a Catholic Church. I have God Parents, I spent time with them. But not at church. Billie and Danny. They lived in Dixon. I used to go for visits to their perfect home in their perfect neighborhood. The kind of neighborhood with cul-de-sacs and stucco, and street lights so you know when it’s time to go home. Doorbell Ditch where the neighbors don’t get mad and backyard campouts. HBO and MTV. Stacy and Justin and Boba Fett and C-3PO. Stacy always let me be Princess Leia. I remember Steve Miller Band, over and over again.

Black panties with an angel’s face.

Abracadabra. That’s the magic, right?

I remember pancakes and sleeping bags in the living room and family portraits that included me. I wish. For some reason I keep thinking about marshmallow fluff, but I can’t remember why. This was yet another home that made me feel safe and wanted and happy. The kind of place a kid like me wanted to grow up in. Yet another mother that taught me how to mother my own. Billie was always there.

If I was lucky, I was there for a week or two in the summertime. And Christmas break. I remember Christmas presents and neighborhood New Year’s Eve parties, walking from house to house, banging pots and pans in the street. In the summer, we played Hide and Seek in the dark and Danny would BBQ with a beer in his hand after a long day at work, feeding all the neighborhood kids and their parents from the cul-de-sac. They lived on the corner. Coca-cola. Danny worked at the place where they made the cans. Ball 4. It made him seem famous to me. Look for Ball 4 on your soda cans, that’s the place.

We walked to the high school with towels hanging around our necks to go swimming. Justin had lessons. He cried. He was afraid. I wasn’t, at all. There was nothing in Dixon that scared me. Not one thing.

Summers went from playing with literally ALL the Star Wars figurines to kissing blonde boys in tents. I remember a cutie with no name. I was novel. Only there for the week. Exciting. We were coming of age. I liked the attention, when everyone else was asleep in the tent. Why are secret kisses always more fun?

For the record, my mom was always good at finding people to take good care of me. She was good at finding ways to show me what life could be like, if only…even if she didn’t realize she was doing that. Or maybe she did, I just don’t know.

Have I told you that sometimes, I get really sad and I feel sorry for myself and for my mother that neither of us got what we needed or what we wanted from each other? Sorry that sometimes it feels too damn hard to be ok? Sorry that the pain has crippled me into silence and avoidance? Into chaotic thoughts and unidentified tears with so many words unspoken. Yeah, me, silent. Shocking, I know. But that’s why I write. So I don’t have to speak.

Lo siento, Mama. I know you loved me. I know it was never your intention to cause so much damage.

But the sorries are not enough to keep me from drowning in the water under this burning bridge.

And so,

I remain silent.

But not because I have nothing to say.

🖤

Stacy, me, and Justin. I think I am 9 years old here? I never realized how much my oldest child, Dylan, and I looked alike at this age, but I see it now…🖤

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Ride or Die

1, 2, skip a few, 99, 100.

Remember, we don’t have to go in order. I reserve the right to go back in time at any time.

It was the summer of 1990. I was 17 and I had just graduated from high school. My roommates, Cynderella and Ten, also recent graduates, were in Hawaii on their grad trip. Mine wasn’t until the following week, so me and Feli were left alone to wreak havoc on Greenhaven.

Feli didn’t actually live with us, but she had first dibs on the couch. The living room at Greenhaven Lake Apartments was her bedroom. If she wasn’t at Rita’s, that is. Her mom liked her to come home. We were all ok with that, cuz she mommed us all and we needed it. Her tacos were the best. She fried each one by hand. She taught me to use toothpicks to hold them closed, so you could fry them with the meat inside. She can be in my cookbook, too. Recipes of a Neglected Childhood. She fed us and asked us questions. Where are you going? Who are you going with? What time will you be back? Do you have gas? Be home by 12:30. Or at least 1. I want the house clean before you leave tomorrow. Lines in the carpet from the vacuum. Did you do your laundry? What about homework?

Like a real mom.

She taught me that you should always fill your tank up on payday. She taught me that you gotta live your life the way you want to, you gotta take risks, and you gotta have a safety net. Nobody gets to hurt you, and if they do, you can leave. You are strong enough to stop the cycle of abuse. You can stand up for yourself and the ones that matter will still love you. She taught me that good moms will do anything for their kids. They will work two jobs if they have to, just so their kids can have new shoes. So their kids can jump off and go wherever they want in life. They ask questions and they are present. They make sure there is food in the fridge and they treat their kids friends like they are family.

Familia.

And so, Feli and I had been somewhere that night, I can’t remember if it was a party or just hanging out at Jesse’s. That’s another one I want to write about, my friend Jesse. It’s easier to write about dead people, you know. You can’t hurt them by telling the truth. It’s the living you have to be careful for. Choose your words wisely. I will get there. But not today. Today it’s Feli’s turn.

So we were already lit. It was late. We went to Ernie’s and got 40’s. I can’t remember if I used my fake ID to buy them. Part of this memory is a blur. We were rarely sober. My ID said I was 27 and blonde. I looked nothing like the photo. I can’t remember what happened to that ID, I might have lost it at Fanny Ann’s. They were the only ones that ever gave me a hard time about that ID. The only bar in town that didn’t let me and my tits in, using that ID anyway.

So we got our 40’s of Old 8, and we drove around Greenhaven doing Chinese Firedrills. Please don’t cancel me, I know that’s a racist thing to say. But that is what we called it then. I don’t even know why it was called that, to be honest. I would never use that term today. I’m learning as I go.

There was no one else on the road. It was late and the streets of Greenhaven were our playground. Everyone was asleep or parented in Suburbia. Feli would stop the car and we would each get out, run around the car and switch drivers. Then I would stop the car and we did the same. Each time we added new challenges. “Ok, this time, run around the car, do 5 jumping jacks, shout Fuck the Po-leeece, and get back in your seat.”

Done. Laugh so hard you almost pee your pants.

Next, we were in front of Greenhaven Cabana Club South. Where the pedestrian overpass thing is. By the green belt. “Ok, this time, take your beer with you, run around the car, up over the overpass, pass each other and “cheers” as you pass and take a drink then run back down to the car and whoever is last to get to the car has to drive. Ready, go!”

So we go. And it is fucking hilarious. Still no people or cars to be seen. While running as fast as I could, I drop my 40. Glass everywhere. My shoes are in the car. Barefoot, with momentum. Can’t stop. No cheers. Drunk brain doesn’t think to swerve to avoid the glass.

I ran over broken glass with bare feet.

I am bleeding, we are dying laughing, and we get in the car. Feli drives cuz it hurts and I’m bleeding everywhere. Bloody footprints everywhere. In her car, on the pavement, all the way into the apartment, on the carpet, straight into the bathtub.

Feli hand picked the glass out of the bottoms of my feet and then we soaked them. You can’t really use bandaids for this type of thing. Feli helped me hobble to the couch, put a towel under me and the she cleaned up the murder scene. I wish we had taken pictures of the bloody footprints. It was a lot of blood. They eventually did stop bleeding, we avoided the ER and the popo, and we survived another night drunk in Greenhaven.

I could hardly walk for that whole week. They were mostly healed by the time me and Nadia left for Puerto Vallarta for our grad trip. I did have to clean the sand out of the cuts and gouges, though. Mas cerveza por favor. That grad trip is another story, lol.

10 out of 10, do not recommend drinking and driving at any time. What’s done is done and we can’t change the past. Nobody was permanently hurt and it’s one of my core memories of friendship, survival, comedy, and proof of how stupid we were. And how fucking lucky we all were to survive those years, unparented and unpoliced.

But it is highly recommended that you get you a friend that makes you laugh until your belly aches, is by your side in good times and bad, doesn’t leave you while you are bleeding in the street, gets you home safely no matter what, picks the broken glass out of your feet and cleans up the mess aka gets rid of the evidence while you lay on the couch contemplating your life choices.

That, my friends, is the definition of ride or die.

🖤

1996ish, Manhattan Beach, at some bar. Feli, Cynderella, and me.

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I Need Love

I texted Sara S. to warn her I was writing about us and she reminded me about some of our highlights. I can’t believe I forgot about this one. Idiots. Lucky to be alive and walking.

During the summer after 9th grade, me and Nadia went with Sara S. up to her family cabin in Tahoe for the 4th of July holiday. The cabin was across the street from the lake, and a short walk to Homewood Ski Resort. It was summer. No snow. Used to wandering neighborhoods on foot and with time to kill before watching the fireworks at the beach, we wandered over to Homewood and found it deserted. We climbed up to one of the chair lift platforms and we thought maybe we could get the lift going by climbing up to the engine and cranking it. The three of us climbed the ladder up to the engine and I remember pushing the ignition button and the engine turning over but not firing up. Like it had a kill switch just for this reason: unruly teens trying to live on the edge. Edge of what, I don’t know. Stupidity? So of course we couldn’t get the chair lift running and we started to climb down the black metal ladder attached to the lift tower. Sara climbed down first, followed by Nadia. Then me. I don’t know what happened, but the next thing I knew I was falling. From the top. In a split second I thought if I land on my back it’s going to fuck me up and knock the wind out of me and I hated that idea. So in mid-air, I turned. Sara said I looked like a spider falling from the ceiling. Spread-eagle. I landed on all fours, like a cat. Kept my breath, good plan. Oops, broke my left forearm. Both bones, right below the wrist/growth plate. Shaken up, we walked back to the cabin. Mrs. S said go to the nearby Fire Station. They splinted my arm and said go to Truckee ER. It was the late afternoon of the 4th of July! In Tahoe! Do you know what traffic is like on the 4th of July, one lane around the lake? Everyone trying to get to where they were going to watch the fireworks. It’s nuts. So I ruined everyone’s 4th. But did I?

Mr. And Mrs. drove for hours around the lake to take me to the ER. We got there, got xray’d, Doc said yep, it’s broken. Here’s some Vicodin and follow up with an ortho in Sac. So back to the cabin we went. No one made me feel any worse than I already did.

Shenanigans.

I hate that word.

It was late when we got back, and we were in our LL Cool J phase. We were camped out in the loft and we played I Need Love over and over again on an old cassette tape player, to learn the lyrics. Play. Stop. Rewind. Play again. Over and over again, writing down the words, high on Vicodin, creating core memories for the three of us. Forever bonded.

When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall

And in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call

Telling me I need a girl that’s as sweet as a dove

For the first time in my life, I see I need love.

Those words are engraved into my brain. At age 49, I can still recite it all. I’m sure all three of us can. Maybe we should start an old lady rap group. The Dumbasses.

I need love.

We used to call Nadia Nad-Mom cuz she was a rule follower by nature. But we were trying to be naughty by nature. Not cuz we hate ya. So Nad-Mom was frequently herding cats. Good thing cats have 9 lives.

Nadia’s momming probably kept us alive. But don’t get it twisted. That girl became an expert at flying below the radar. Fun, but smart. Like Kermit the Frog. The smartest muppet of all. I was Fozzy Bear. Buh dum bum.

Eventually, the triangle drama won and we migrated to other friends. Never a big blow-out or betrayal, just a slow fizzle with overlapping circles.

I started hanging out with Katie, 24/7. My new best friend. Naughty by nature. Katie had her driver’s license before I did. Hell, everyone had their driver’s license before I did. I was at least a year younger than all of them. I was put up a grade and did 4th and 5th in the same year. They said I was smart. They never said I wasn’t a dumb teenager, though.

Me and Katie became inseparable. Both of us part of several circles by that point, but not into girl drama. So we hung out with the boys. Yep, those boys. You know them. Everyone knew them.

I have thought about changing some of these names for the sake of privacy. But I realized that the only people that would care about who they are in real life will know exactly who I’m talking about anyway. If I describe them well, that is. So fuck it. I’m naming names.

Our crew became me and Katie and Cam and Brandon, Matt and Brad (when he wasn’t with Amy), Joe D., Larby, J-Dog, Rich and Jeff and anyone else hanging out on Vallejo Way. Beto and Peter and Sam and John B. and Danny and Joel and Danilo and Todd x2 and Ray (when he wasn’t with Jenny, that’s a theme, too) they were all mixed in. And me and Katie. All the other girls didn’t matter. We were the ones they kept around. Cuz we didn’t bring the girl drama. La Di Da Di, we like to party, we don’t cause trouble we don’t bother nobody…

We walked to the twins house for lunch nearly everyday, poor Toby. I don’t know how she kept those boys fed, cuz everyone ate there. She always seemed to have tortillas and cheese. A staple. She was an artist, with beautiful paintings covering the walls of their home. She would take a favorite photograph and turn it into a life-sized moment in time. My favorites were at the ocean. She knew how to paint the sea. I always wanted her to paint me, but I didn’t make the cut. Kari and Mashari did. Did Lucy?

All I got was a stolen teddy bear. Sneaky. Me and Cam were mostly on the DL. He was dating Amber, a Junior or Senior. And gorgeous. How could I compete? I wasn’t giving out what some of the other girls were, so maybe that limited me. Or maybe he felt guilty. Or maybe he just wasn’t that into me.

Not like Matt. My friend that always wanted more.

Matt drove me everywhere. He taught me how to drive a stick in his parents’ Vanagon. We went to the gym together like 3-5 days per week. He would come and push the buttons on the stairmaster and crank it up to max to try and kill me. Me, Katie, Matt, and Brad (when he wasn’t with Amy…this is a theme…he loved her before he knew he loved her. Later, he married her.) We went to parties together. We laughed and talked shit and drank and did drugs together. Mostly smoked a lot of pot. A. Lot.

The day I found out Matt like-liked me, I kissed one of his best friends. Cuz I like-liked his best friend more than I like-liked him. I feel bad about that now, but I didn’t then. It was fun to make-out with someone I wasn’t supposed to make-out with. Cuz when it’s bad, it’s good, am I right?

Somewhere mixed in there, my mom left. All that meant was we had another place to hang out, no parents. Where was everyone’s parents?! Like for real! We are truly the generation of latch-key kids. Neglected. Under the radar. Survivors.

Those friendships with the boys carried on through 12th grade. My friendship with Katie, did not. The sliding door of girl friendships and drama and lies and betrayal finally caught up to me and Katie and we went our own ways. I fell right into the arms of the ones I call ride or dies. My forever friends. My Ya-Yas.

I did reconnect with Katie, as adults, even our kids were friends. There was some more girl drama and subsequent separation. After a few years, we reconnected again when our friend died. Cuz we both loved him. I just can’t quit her. I’m her Foofer. And she was there for me when my mom left. Like really there for me. She did my laundry and took me grocery shopping. She got me high and she made me laugh. Cuz if you ‘ain’t laughin’ you cryin’. I drove her grandpa’s truck to take my driver’s test to get my license. No parent there with me. Just her. She got me Butterfinger Blizzards, hers with M&Ms. She made me salads with sprouts and cucumbers and tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese and 1000 Island dressing with bacon in it. She can be in my cookbook, too. She made me laugh until I peed my pants and she has a magic cooch. Yeah, I said it. She dropped Skittle and out came a Starburst. Like magic. A Sometimes Forever Friend. No matter what.

Nadia, never far away and always my friend, found her way into all of my phases. The glue. Then around the same time my mom abandoned me, Cyndi’s mom abandoned her. We both had our own apartments, so we became best friends. Kindred. Through Cyndi, I met Feli, and Ange seemed to always be there. Cyndi and Tenley knew each other from Cal Middle. Tenley’s parents kicked her out around that time, too. That’s when the three of us, me, Cynderella, and Ten moved into Greenhaven Lake Apartments at the end of 11th grade, none of us yet 18. This part deserves it’s own chapter. I will get there.

One autumn night we all got dressed up looking cute to go out. I had a brand new outfit on. Some cute green paper-bag shorts with a floral pattern and a white off-the-shoulder lightweight sweater. We went to meet those boys at the river. They were having a bonfire and kickin it.

We were late to the party. Everyone was already drunk. Matt was really drunk. Maybe wired, too. And I don’t know for sure how it began, but he was mad at me. I don’t know if he found out I kissed not one, but two of his best friends or if he heard about me and Teddy or if he just got tired of liking me without reciprocation. He was one of my best friends. He took care of me. We spent so much time together, just he and I. I can see now how that probably hurt him. I didn’t mean to lead him on. I loved him. As a friend. I didn’t want to lose him.

So that night, he got mad at me. Matt was larger than life. He picked me up and threw me in the river, kicking and screaming. Not laughing. It wasn’t funny to either of us. I was pissed. And soaked. My new clothes forever stained and ruined by the dirty river bank. While I was crying, Matt was yelling at me. “No one likes you! We all hate you! Why are you here?!” In front of all of them. The people that I thought were my friends. Quicksand. What I thought was my safety zone. He hit on my biggest insecurities that night. I was devastated. I just wanted to get out of there. Of all people, it was John B. that comforted me and told me Matt didn’t mean it. He was the one that put his arm around me and helped me to the car. Cuz I was hurt in addition to being wet. And ruined. My knee was bleeding. John being nice to me that night is something I will never forget. It was rare, to be real, but I was a wounded animal and he recognized that.

That was the end of my friendship with Matt. I kept waiting for him to apologize to me. He never did. He broke my heart and he humbled me. Perhaps I did the same to him. We were never ok again. And loyal to their core, those boys kept me at arms length from then on. Like I was the one. Like what Matt said was true. Logically, I know it wasn’t and you can’t take back those years of shared memories and laughter. I will always love those boys. All of them. They were mine, too.

Before they were yours.

And PS: I know it was you that tipped my red VW Bug on its side when I parked it at Nadia’s house. I lost count at how many times we would get home from a party and find my car on its side. We would just push it right back onto its wheels. No harm, no foul. What’s another dent in the fender of life?

Don’t get it twisted.

I ran into Matt around town now and again over the years. I saw him at Raley’s and Fuji, Melarkey’s and the fish store. Did I tell you Matt gave me a 40 gallon hexagon fish tank, completely set-up? Ask no questions on where he got the money for all of that. He was generous beyond anything legal. He once stashed a very large bag of I don’t know what in my closet in my apartment. Do not open it. Do not tell anyone it’s here. I will come back tomorrow for it. Don’t ask. That fish tank was badass and the center piece of my apartment. Someone stole it off the porch when we moved to Greenhaven. Easy come, easy go, right?

We kept it short and fake on the rare occurrences that we saw each other. Still, he never apologized for that awful night. Not until about a year and a half before he died.

Before he died he reached out to me in Facebook DMs. We first kept it light and he asked about my life, my kids, my career as a nurse. He shared that he had tried his hand in Med School and that he had spent a lot of time as a patient. He told me about his adopted son and how he was his pride and joy. He told me I was “the bomb.” We went back and forth for a few days, but it was starting to get uncomfortable for me and the last thing I wanted to do was lead him on in anyway. And that was it. Until I heard that he killed himself.

And I know I was one of his 13 reasons why.

I’m sorry, Matt. I’m sorry you were hurting. I’m sorry for my part. I’m sorry I hurt you, way back then. I’m sorry we didn’t know each other as adults. I’m sorry you never made me carnitas.

I’m sorry I couldn’t be what you wanted me to be.

I’m not sorry I loved you.

Whenever I am alone in my backyard there is this dove that flies close and sings to me. I never see the female.

I only see him. My long lost friend.

Matthew Jacob Heine

September 29, 1971 – April 16, 2017.

🖤

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