Rebel Girl’s Daughter

I woke up sobbing this morning like a little girl. It took me a minute to wake up and realize that I was a little girl and I was crying because I was talking to myself. It’s something I tell clients to do a lot when we are talking about trauma they went through as a child. I do it to myself when I think about the mistakes I made as an awkward adolescent, too immature to make better choices and too out of place to find proper guidance. I think it’s because I took my daughter to see Bikini Kill last week who took the time between songs to talk a little about what it’s like to be a woman, what it was like to be a female band in the punk scene in the 90s and how we can be better to each other today and make all people feel safe and at home at punk shows. It got me thinking about just how unsafe I felt so often at shows as a teenager, afraid of getting punched in the head, too close to the pit at a hardcore show, or having some guy think it was okay to stick his hand up my shorts while I was on top of the crowd.

I love being able to take my kid to shows like that so she can see women like  Kathleen Hanna on stage, so incredibly comfortable in her own skin, doing what she was put on this earth to do. I love watching this woman dance and then describe her own dance moves as “the cringy mom” knowing that my daughter is standing next to me soaking it all in while some of her classmates are passing around a video of her in cosplay calling it “cringy”. Ironically enough, I was driving my daughter to school the next day telling her all about what the punk shows were like for me as a young female and how to defend against a crotch grab while crowd surfing at the same time the rest of my daughter’s classmates were being told that one of the girls was not coming back to school for the rest of the year. The classmate was a friend of my daughter’s until very recently when she started being mean, lashing out at friends for her own inner wounds. Later, while my daughter was showing me the texts from her classmates speculating about the reasons this girl won’t be returning to school, all I could think about was how grateful I was for the education I was able to give my kid the previous night in being okay with who you are. I was grateful that my daughter knows that validation needs to come from within, not from her peers, or boys, or even her parents. 

I watch my tween navigate the world being a little different than her counterparts and I think about how much different I was than my classmates at that age. I think about how I gravitated to the other girls that didn’t really fit in and how I was the girl who welcomed them knowing what it was like to be the new kid and I watch my daughter do the same thing. I also watch as the new girls start to fit in a little bit, as they gravitate away from my kid, sometimes becoming the same girls that pass around videos of my daughter in cosplay trying to secure their place in the popular group by being a mean girl. And when I see it, I silently thank my dad for being the parent he was and reminding me that fitting in is never the most important thing in life. I thank my mom for teaching me that kindness is a greater quality than leadership. And I thank women like Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Aimee Interrupter and Alison Mosshart for being role models for me and my kiddo navigating our way through the world of Kardashians. 

*I wrote this post listening to some of my favorite Riot Grrrls Bratmobile



Face To Face

Way back in November 2022, I won an overnight stay at a waterpark and promptly forgot about it because it was Christmas. When I found the envelope again I remembered that I had just assumed that it would be a trip for me, my husband, my kid and my parents because it was an overnight stay for a family and 5 waterpark passes, and we have been there together already. Plus, I’m a little co-dependent and bring my parents everywhere, like every normal 50 year old woman does, right? I think my parents probably assumed the same thing because my Mom seemed a little surprised when I told her I was going to take my daughter and two of her friends for a girls weekend after my husband prompted me to do so. It was a fun time and I got to see how three tween girls interact with each other when being partially supervised by the mom who was trying to hop on the floating lily pads with nobody noticing and going down the slides first to make sure they were “safe” for the girls. Nobody drowned, nobody got sick, and we were not asked to leave after I let the girls fly an airplane through the lobby, so I chalked up the trip as a success. I also need to send thank you notes to the girls’ moms who actually entrusted their kids to me for a weekend, because they have in fact spent time with me, and know what a risk that was.

Within 24 hours of our return, my parents informed me that their basement was flooded. I’m fairly certain they were trying to make their own water park to get the girls to come play at their house. Or maybe the universe was just trying to make sure I keep taking my parents with me everywhere I go, like every other normal 50 year old woman. Either way, it was a mess that needed my attention (co-dependency and all). I promptly pulled my husband out of his office to run over and help (unprepared and overdressed), and as usual he asked questions like “have you contacted the insurance company?” and “have you taken photos and called a restoration service?” while I took off my shoes and headed for the Beatles albums on the lower bookshelves. My Dad was of course MIA throughout this process picking up supplies at the other house where flooding occurs regularly, since it’s on a lake. He called a plumber to fix the sump pump and went straight for the power tools for the inevitable clean-up. Within an hour my husband had helped my Mom make phone calls, I had soaked my socks and pants while determining that a drain was not working and we had 3 shop vacs ready to pick up whatever water the plumbers couldn’t remove. 

It’s now a full week later and the basement is mostly dry, the carpet is gone and the Old Man has cut out half of the walls after returning with a carload of power tools from the lake house. What I have found most interesting about the whole thing is that my Mom’s first text to me included “I guess God is telling me something” in reference to her tendency to save things. I would have expected her to be more upset, and apparently she knows even God is like “hey, lady, do you really need to save the program from your daughter’s 4th grade play?!?”  I have for years made fun of my mother and called her a hoarder, but I have to say, going through some of the old things in the basement has been enlightening. My parents had an entire rubbermade storage bin full of photo slides from the 70s and what appears to be a bin stolen from the Post Office full of empty binders. Of the 27 plastic storage totes full of holiday décor, they only lost one, and it was for Thanksgiving which was fine since nobody has time to notice if there are turkey shaped dishes holding my Mom’s once a year greatest ever stuffing in the universe. 

As my parents worked their way from corner to corner of the basement, they have rediscovered items I’m sure they haven’t thought of for years. And some of these items have made their way back to my house. I’m fairly certain that my child has the hoarder gene after she returned home with a poly mailer full of my high school papers and a grocery bag of beanie babies. But the best item was a picture of me at the age of two. The Old Man discovered it while cutting paneling out from around a built in bookcase full of an encyclopedia set from 1982 and bobbleheads of the Russian Five. Apparently in the seventies and eighties, artists just hung out at malls selling portraits, and my dad was the guy that stopped to have me sit for them, on a fairly regular basis, because they have a few of these framed masterpieces in their collection from various ages. The weird thing is the face on the child in this portrait is not even me, it’s so clearly my daughter at the age of two. I have a picture that her father took for her two year photo-shoot with the exact same face sitting on the bookcase in my bedroom.

I’m not sure if it was worth the thousands of dollars in damage for my daughter to see, but when I saw the portrait of myself and my daughter’s face appeared, I cried like either one of those two year olds would if you grabbed their favorite stuffed animal. I was looking at the little girl that was so well-loved that her parents stopped in the middle of a mall for an hour to capture her face every chance they got and seeing the face of another little girl with half of her bedroom on the living room floor after her parents tried for an hour to get a smile while cutting teeth. I’m grateful that my Dad always made the effort to capture those moments on film and canvas the same way my husband does now, and I’m grateful that my mom saves it all, even if it takes multiple houses to store the memories. I haven’t opened the poly mailer from high school and I don’t know if I want to at this point. I might just sneak it into one of the color coded plastic storage totes I keep by year of my daughter’s steps through life for her to find years down the line when she comes to rescue me when my basement floods. I just have to make sure to keep it away from my practical husband who brings the industrial sized fan to dry out the carpet because he is the guy who keeps asking me why I am saving the proof that she at some point thought I was superwoman, as evidenced by a first grade art project. Just when I was convinced I am turning into my Dad, the universe comes along and shows me I might just turn into my Mom too.

**I would like to say I wrote this while listening to the Beatles, but I am a riot girl at heart…. please read while listening to the one and only Bikini Kill

Punk Rock Jock

I promised my Dad I wouldn’t write about him anymore. But here’s the thing – he is the star of most of my life stories, and I’m a liar. He can’t even really be mad because he’s the one who taught me to lie. He taught me to tell a good story, and sometimes that means the truth is a little fluid. So sorry Old Man, but the readers love you, and when you have been raised by Peter Pan, there are no rules. I will stick to the good stuff though and not talk about you almost dying four months ago. That’s totally off limits (for now!!)…

My kid is an athlete. This is kind of weird for my husband and myself because we have never been particularly gifted in this area. I played lacrosse and field hockey as a kid only because I had to at school and in the 7th grade I was politely asked to leave the team after I walloped one of my own teammates with a lacrosse stick. I’m not going to say this was a good move, but she had it coming. From there I moved to sports with wheels, picking up speed skating at the roller rink and then skateboarding.

Me not being an All-American was by no means due to lack of trying on my dad’s part. I vividly recall the Old Man dragging me out of bed at the butt crack of dawn on Saturdays in the 4th or 5th grade to go play basketball with some professional basketball player who was running clinics because his kid was in school with me. I hated those Saturdays. I think my dad was disappointed because he was an athlete, and basketball was one of the man games he knew well. He had also been shooting hockey pucks at me since I could stand up on my own and I had my first football as a teething toy while I was still in a baby walker. The man wanted an athlete to pass his skills onto and I was just never going to fill his cleats.

The Old Man gets his do-over with my mini-me who is a stelar athlete. She’s focused, smart on the field or court and accurate as hell. The only thing she lacks as an athlete is aggression, which is a little ironic since I birthed her. She plays lacrosse, field hockey, and the Old Man’s favorite basketball. At the end of field hockey season the buzz at school was there were no basketball coaches. Last year all of the middle school teams were coached by a college team. This was great except all of the games and practices revolved around the coaches’ games and the schedule was a hot mess. I think the parents were a little annoyed with this lack of consistency. Two weeks before the start of the season, there was one coach for three teams. That is until I got a call from the Old Man asking if the position was still open. Somehow at 75 years old he is ready to become Phil Jackson. I contacted the athletic director who said they would love to have my dad coach. He started a week later, which was about the time I began to lose my mind.

Here are the highlights of the coaching experience….

  • My Dad doesn’t have an e-mail address so he uses my mom’s which she checks once a week and is full of coupons and spam. I had to direct all of his e-mails to one of my e-mail addresses so he didn’t miss anything.
  • The Old Man had to complete a bunch of trainings on CPR, allergies, concussions, etc… which means I also learned all of these skills while I sat with Mr. Technology while he talked to the computer like it was Alexa. That is 10 hours of my life I’ll never get back…
  • The girls all learned that their cores are not nearly as strong as they thought while they watched a 75 year old lie on the floor doing leg raises and scissor kicks.
  • The Old Man is almost deaf and couldn’t remember names so he fairly consistently called the players by the wrong name and then couldn’t hear them when they corrected him. He told all of the girls to correct him when he called them by the wrong name, but I don’t know how well it worked, nor does he since he couldn’t hear a word they said. 
  • Sarcasm is a language we speak in my family. My Dad speaks it fluently. Unfortunately, only about 5 of his players understood him when he said things like “you’re a point guard, not a a linebacker” or “you can defend her, but you can’t mug her”. 
  • The Old Man knows that learning by failing is the best way to learn so he set the girls up to fail in practice a lot. He gave them a play and watched while they all tried to play the game solo and work themselves into a corner and then made them do it over and over again until they followed his direction. The team actually played like a team by the middle of the season which is the first time I had seen these girls do that in three years.

The girls didn’t win a single game. It was not for lack of skill or effort, they somehow ended up playing teams that were two years older than them and a foot taller. They did learn a lot, not only about technique, but about playing hard, not taking themselves too seriously, and never giving up, even if they have to restart your heart three times at the free throw line.  

I wrote this while listening to some good old fashioned punk rock shamrocks…

Beat My Head Against the Wall

My last computer was a Dell and it lasted me almost 10 years. Recently, my husband decided he was sick of hearing me whine about how bulky it was and how my camera was fuzzy, so he bought me a brand spanking new HP. It lasted not quite five months. Last month, the machine revolted and started operating on it’s own. The mouse took over and started randomly opening windows and menus. I couldn’t even check my e-mail without the window resizing and task bars popping open all over the screen. The thing was possessed.

My husband repeatedly made adjustments, installed updates and did whatever other techy things he does to my devices when I complain. But a few weeks later, the computer was still acting like a rebellious teenager. He finally contacted HP support for assistance and this is where the wheels completely fell off the bus.

The “support specialist” informed him that he would need to jump through approximately 843 hoops before they would take over and fix their defective computer. He proceeded to jump through every hoop, including a factory reset of the computer, at which point the computer was worse than it was prior to him contacting support. He couldn’t even get to a start screen after the “support specialist’s” expert assistance. When my husband asked if he could drop it off at one of their many authorized repair centers near us he was informed that he would need to ship the computer to Texas for repair (because that makes sense). He was told that a box would be shipped to us and it would take about 3 weeks to complete the repair. A day later I received an e-mail that a box was being shipped via FedEx to:

11500-11598 JENNY DR

That is not even an address. The middle line is part of my address, but two cities are listed and apparently HP expected FedEx to knock on a lot of doors on Jenny Dr. to find the right house. They may as well have listed my address as the blue house on the corner in a suburb north of Detroit. I received a call from FedEx 4 days later (HP guaranteed overnight delivery) stating that the package could not be delivered as addressed. No shit. When I spoke with someone at FedEx he actually said “that’s not an address, there are two cities listed”. I think the range of street numbers looked more like a sign in a hotel than a home address.

After finding out that they tried to ship an empty box to the wrong address even though I corrected them in two separate e-mails, I was finally fed up enough to call HP myself. And when I did, I understood why this was such a nightmare. Their customer service department is run by idiots. Not just run of the mill idiots, but full-fledged morons. It’s almost impossible to get an answer and when you do, it completely contradicts what the last person said. I talked to three people and each one had a different answer for why the unit had to be shipped to Texas. I was finally instructed to take it to a local repair center by Idiot #3 and given a repair ticket number. When I talked to Idiot #3’s supervisor, I was informed that I should wait for the box to ship it to Texas and that I should call FedEx to find the missing box myself. He said there were no authorized repair centers in my area.

The best conversation I had was with “John” from the Complaint Escalation Department, apparently located somewhere close to New Dehli. His title was pretty appropriate since he certainly escalated my complaints. He told me that the guy who gave me the local repair shop information told me where to bring it but that didn’t mean HP would be paying for it. He sounded like a con man trying to find the loophole to get out of taking responsibility as he told me I didn’t ask if I would have to pay for the repair myself if I used one of the authorized repair centers listed on their own website. He said for them to cover the cost I would have to get a quote and call him back to request a payment from HP that only he could approve. That is the worst pick up line I have ever had used on me. He actually said “we can’t just give you an unlimited budget!” as if he was doing me a favor. I could hear his smile through the phone when he said that of course his colleague could give me the name of a repair shop but that didn’t mean it would be covered under the warranty and that only repairs made in Texas were covered. I’ll bet he was wearing a cowboy hat when he said it too. When I finally asked for his supervisor I was put on hold while he ate lunch and went to the bathroom before being told that his supervisor would call me back. When I asked for the supervisor’s contact number he said he would love to give it to me but he didn’t have it. I’m not sure if this was another pick up line or not…

Since the time I got off the phone with “John” I have talked to two FedEx employees and the repair shop and all of these people have been helpful and friendly. The repair company seemed to have a lot of experience with HP and knew they were dealing with morons. They even said that the parts would take a little longer to arrive since they were dealing with HP. At first I thought maybe I was just being a Karen about the situation asking to talk to the manager repeatedly, until I talked to actual customer service representatives who understood that the title of their job meant to assist customers. I’m fairly certain every person we talked to at HP was under the impression they had no obligation or inclination to help us resolve an issue that was due to them selling us a defective computer. It was like dealing with the government.

When “John’s” supervisor finally called me back she immediately tried to place the blame for the delivery on FedEx. I explained that I had an e-mail from HP which listed the wonky address. She tried making excuses for why I got different information from different customer service representatives. I asked if their policies changed hourly or why their employees did not know their own policies. She tried to disregard “John’s” rudeness as a communication problem. I told her that it was clear that he did not like my tone and was attempting to put me in my place. She made excuses for all of their mistakes and justified their abysmal customer service while telling me it was “my right” to have repairs performed on their defective merchandise at my own cost. At the end of the call she thanked me for my loyalty and I asked what the hell script she was reading from because I was not a loyal customer in any way. I also told her that I really didn’t need to hear her say she was sorry that I was experiencing this issue repeatedly. I needed her to do her job and resolve my problem. At the end of the call she said as a one time courtesy she would do me a favor and extend my warranty for one year. At that I laughed and said it was not a courtesy or a favor and that I would be selling the computer as soon as it was repaired.

I also informed her that my husband ran right out and bought me a brand new Dell the minute he heard this repair would take a lifetime to complete. You may fool us once, but never again. While waiting on hold multiple times to speak with several “supervisors” I came up with the real meaning of HP…. Highly Problematic. I have to say, I love my new computer and it is everything my HP was not. Most importantly, it works!

*I wrote this piece while listening to the angriest man in punk rock – Mr. Henry Rollins. Thanks for keeping me focused Hank. It’s been a week!

Kool Thing

Last month, I showed my daughter a new skirt I bought and she told me I looked like a homeless person. It wouldn’t have been so bad except she was kind of accurate. It’s an army green skirt made of nylon with draw strings. It does kind of resemble a Hefty bag. Now I feel bad about telling my dad he dresses like a hobo for the last 30 years. 

I have come to the conclusion no matter how cool I think I look, my daughter sees her mom as perpetually challenged when it comes to all thing fashion related. I’m pretty sure I felt the same way about my mother when I was my kid’s age. Granted, my mom was trying to put me in pink polos and plaid skirts while I was lacing up my combat boots and shredded band shirt, but I still wear combat boots and shredded band shirts and my kid is giving me a hard time while she stands in front of me in the same outfit.

Needless to say, the first day I wore my new garbage bag, I received more compliments on an outfit than I had in months, from colleagues to clients to the receptionist at my Mom’s doctor’s office. Even my husband said I looked like I should be on a runway, although I think he meant it in an ironic way. Either way, I’ll take it, and I’ll take my kid calling my skirt a trash bag every time I put it on. She’ll be sorry the next time she asks me to wear my combat boots!

**Writing is more fun with good music. Today it’s Mikey and His Uke doing Op Ivy!!


I Want Candy

I have a serious sweet tooth. Anyone who knows me, knows I cannot pass up anything sprinkled, drizzled or dipped. I also am known for doing everything a little bigger than necessary. I earned the nickname “double scoop” when my entire family went out for ice cream and instead of getting one scoop the size of my head, like everyone else, I opted for two scoops and proceeded to consume both quicker than anyone else finished their single serving. I should probably be ashamed, but it takes more than one of the seven deadly sins to instill that feeling in me.

One of the areas where I have always been a little extra is gifting sweets to others. For several years I gave boxes of Godiva chocolate to everyone for Christmas from our cleaning lady to my family. I bought so many little gold boxes that Godiva started sending me a corporate catalog. When I finally moved on to another obsession for gifting, Godiva customer service began calling me about my “corporate” account. It took several phone calls for them to understand that I was not in fact a business purchasing for multiple locations, but a married mom from the Midwest with a serious sweet tooth. I told them I had developed diabetes and requested they close my account. I still buy quite a bit of chocolate, but now mostly from local shops.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the mail yesterday to find a check from Godiva. Apparently there was a class action lawsuit at some point and I was in said class. I have received a few checks over the years like this, normally in the range of a few bucks. Imagine my surprise to find a check for close to $50. My first thought was now I had a reason to buy the sixth pair of Vans that arrived along with the check in today’s mail. My second thought was how much chocolate had I had to have bought over the years to earn such a substantial piece of the class action suit. I wish I could say that this thought brought about a little embarrassment, but alas, it did not. Sometimes Double Scoop just has to have a few thousand boxes of truffles apparently.

*Some good Halloween music to eat all my kid’s candy before she gets home from school today…