I have said it before, and I will say it again: I fucking love the Olympics. I love the idea of over 200 countries sending athletes to one location to celebrate sports, sportsmanship, and history together. I watch the Summer and Winter games religiously, and I watch nearly any sport that I can find on TV. I get misty eyed during the Parade of Nations, love watching the little athlete stories that NBC throws into the programming mix, and always get a bit philosophical thinking about how my life has changed since the previous Olympics. It’s true. Every two years I really take stock of my life and marvel and what things (both good, bad, and ugly) I have experienced and wonder where I will be in two years. I have reached a point in my life (I’ll be 34 next month) where I am absolutely gobsmacked at how fast time has flown. Some days seem to drag on forever, but the years of my life have flown by. I am a hormonal mess right now thank to “that time of the month,” and thinking back over my life thus far has really touched me and made me tear up.
Since I have started this blog sometime in May I am on my way to 200,000 pageviews (well….I was before I changed servers due to being hacked) and have made so many friends from all over the world. People read my blog from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Japan, and a few other countries I’m sure I am forgetting to mention. While this blog has been a wonderful experience socially and creatively, I have, sadly enough, also opened myself up to criticism and hate–especially regarding my struggles with drug addiction, my nursing career, some comments I have made on MWOP, and even my own bankruptcy filing. This blog goes along with the good, bad, and ugly in this life of mine that I have been reviewing in my head so I thought it only appropriate to share more here on the blog. Here is, so to speak, my life in Olympic increments:
I am two years old and live in my small GA hometown with my parents. My Mom is pregnant with Brother Snort who joins our family in June 1981. We live in a mobile home, and my Dad works on the railroad. My Mom is a homemaker and spends her days taking me swimming, to the park, and occupying me. I have a bowl haircut. My very first memory is of Mom waking me up from a nap for my 2nd birthday party–a cookout attended by family and friends in our front yard. I am grumpy. Dad borrowed my uncle’s video camera (a Super 8 perhaps?) and recorded the birthday party. We go to my grandparent’s house every Sunday for lunch; they live on a small farm about 20 miles from us. I like playing with my Maw-Maw and watching her cook; my uncles and cousins also play with me a good bit. I like watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and am a happy little girl.
We start the year still in our small hometown, population 4500 or so. I go to preschool, but the teachers tell Mom to take me out because I’m way more advanced than the other kids. My teachers talk to the owner of a private kindergarten in town, and she agrees to let me attend just for fun (it won’t count toward my education because I am not eligible to start kindergarten until September of that year). I like to swim, play on my swing set, and spend the night with my very best friend. My little brother is fun to play with for the most part. That year Dad gets a promotion on the railroad and has to start his new job in Atlanta right away. Mom and Dad sell our trailer, and me, Mom, and my brother move in with Abuelo, my Dad’s father, until Dad is able to find us a house in Atlanta. We live with him what seems like forever, but I’m sure it is only for a few months at the most. Abuelo, or “Wello” as me and my brother called him, is from Cuba and speaks just a little English; he is short, thin, balding, has a deep dimple on his forehead from where he was shot in Cuba, and has a job at a local factory. He is quite handy and has a shop behind his house, and I like to go in there and watch him tinker around with things. I really love him, and I love that he has an honest-to-God cuckoo clock in his house. I play with the girl next door frequently, and she is 3 years older than I am. I remember watching the Summer Olympics in Abuelo’s living room, and I decide that I want to be like Mary Lou Retton. Instead of gymnastics, though, I take tap and ballet lessons. I also remember watching Carl Lewis run fast and Greg Louganis dive. I go through a phase where I (don’t ask me why) am fascinated by and collect colored toothpicks, and my Maw-Maw brings me a container of them whenever she does her grocery shopping. Dad eventually settles us into a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house in an Atlanta suburb, and my brother and I have a giant playroom. My Abuela, who is separated from Abuelo, travels frequently, and she stays with us for a month or so whenever she visits. I love her, and I try to teach her English words. She teaches me how to play cards. I learn to ride a bike without training wheels, and for Christmas that year Santa brings me a tape recorder that I use to record anything and everything. I love Saturday morning cartoons, mainly because I get to see Menudo videos! I finally start kindergarten, and I ride the bus by myself like a big girl.
We are living in Orlando, Florida now; Dad got another promotion in early 1985 and this is where we ended up. I live in the same neighborhood as Casey Anthony and regularly play with the neighborhood kids right by where little Caylee’s body is found so many years later. I skipped the second grade and am now the youngest one in my class. During 1987-88 I am in 4th grade and 1988-89 the 5th grade. I have given up dance lessons and am a roller skating fanatic; I am the best, and fastest, in the neighborhood. I have lots of friends, posters of Corey Haim cover my wall, and I have my own phone and black and white TV in my room. I have braces, wear a bra, learn to shave my legs, start to have crushes on boys, and have long hair that I love to wear crimped. I am obsessed with space and want more than anything to go to Space Camp and grow up to be an astronaut. We go to Miami several times a year to visit Abuela and to see various aunts, uncles, and cousins (the Cuban side of our family). I start learning to cook simple things like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and spaghetti. Every night I watch the news with my parents (Dan Rather on CBS) and have to go to bed at 9:00 pm. I now have the same size feet as Mom and like sneaking into her closet and wearing her high heels. For the first time in my life I am noticing that I am just a little bit heavier than my friends. I weigh 90 pounds in the summer of 1988 and weigh myself every single day that summer to make sure I don’t gain weight. I turn 10 right after 5th grade starts and am in the gifted program at school. I watch the Summer Olympics in Seoul on the color TV in my parent’s bedroom; I remember watching volleyball, diving, swimming, gymnastics, and track and field. The names Janet Evans, Matt Biondi, Carl Lewis, Greg Louganis, and Karch Kiraly are burned into my head. There is a big brouhaha over Ben Johnson being stripped of his gold medal in the men’s 100 meter sprint, and I can’t figure out why people would want to cheat.
I am now a teenager! We are living now back in our hometown after Dad decided to leave the railroad. During 1991-92 I am in the eighth grade and am captain of our middle school’s academic team. I am also a cheerleader, have perfectly straight teeth, permed hair, wear a little bit of makeup, and try to dress like my friends. I have kissed a boy and had a couple of boyfriends. I am an atheist but try my best to hide that fact from everyone because I live in the Bible Belt and fear being made fun of; I go to a Wednesday night youth group at a Baptist church with my friends to fit in, but I refuse their invitations to attend Sunday services. I am absolutely freaking obsessed with gymnastics, and on our trusty VCR I record the compulsories, optionals, team finals, and all-around competitions in women’s gymnastics. I watch diving, swimming, track and field, and, for the first time in my life, watch the Winter Olympics too. I am fascinated by the luge, ski jumping, speed skating, and everything else that takes place in Albertville. I have fallen in love with “Saturday Night Live” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.” I start high school that fall, turn 14 shortly thereafter, and join the academic team (we win the state championship!), math team, science team, and appear on a televised high school quiz show. I am self-conscious about my weight (145 lbs); most of my friends are rail thin, but I am a comfortable size 14 and quite curvy. Some people make fun of my size, and it makes me cry.
1994 finds me in the tenth and eleventh grades. I have my first “serious” boyfriend, learn to drive a car, and join the flag corps and tennis team in addition to the academic and math teams. My boyfriend cheats on me after six months of dating because I won’t sleep with him, but he tells everyone at school that we did sleep together; I am devastated, gossiped about, turn to food for comfort, and put on 25 pounds that year. I get my first job and open a checking account. I have stopped attending the youth group with my friends at church after my best friend, who is gay, is banned from going on a weekend youth retreat because some of the parents are afraid he will get inappropriate with the other boys. I watch the Winter Olympics a ton and wish I knew how to ice skate. I have decided that I want to be a geologist or a chef when I grow up, and I spend many summer evenings playing tennis with friends. I have a hard time believing that by the time the Atlanta games roll around I will be a high school graduate and on my way to college.
I graduate from high school ranked #3 in my class; I am accepted to Yale but chose to go to school locally because I have a full scholarship. Everyone thinks I should be a doctor, but my heart really isn’t in it; I decide to major in nursing even though I don’t really know anything about the profession. I am in my first adult, long-term relationship, get on birth control, and say, “I love you.” Dad gets a promotion and is given the choice of moving to Texas or Iowa; he chooses Texas and leaves us that Spring to get acclimated to his job and buy a house. I fly on a plane for the first time, and Mom gives me her 1993 Toyota Corolla. I have a job working at Roosevelt’s Little White House (FDR’s vacation retreat in GA where he died), and I move in with my aunt and uncle right after high school graduation as Mom, Dad, and Brother Snort (now 15) move to Houston. That summer I get to hold the Olympic Torch as it passes through the grounds of the Little White House; I watch the Olympics in my boyfriend’s basement every night, and we watch incredulously, holding hands, as Kerri Strug lands her vault. We break up at the end of August after having dated for 14 months, and I nurse my first-ever broken heart. Combine that with missing my family, and I am one depressed teenager. That summer I attend the wedding of two of my high school classmates, and, in the wedding of another classmate, I get to be a bridesmaid for the very first time. I turn 18 right before college starts, commute daily to school (40 minutes each way), work full-time on the weekends, and make the Deans List my first quarter with a perfect 4.0. I get a butterfly tattooed on my left ankle, start wearing my bangs swept to the side, weigh 179 lbs, and wear a size 16.
1998 starts off with me as a sophomore in college and working, full-time, as a front desk clerk at the local Howard Johnson’s Inn. I apply for entrance into the nursing program and am accepted. Since I work tons and have an evening biochemistry class I miss 99% of the games in Nagano. My great-grandmother dies a few days after having a stroke and falling into a coma. I date a bunch of different guys and have discovered my love of beer. I now have three tattoos and a pierced belly button. I dye my hair red. I live in the dorms at school which are actually 4-bedroom, 2-bath apartments. I room with three other girls: two who are in a serious relationship together and one who is quite religious; she wears a veil and answers the phone, “Praise the Lord, hello!” She also likes to tell me I’m going to hell. I get sick of hearing her tell me that and one day snap at her, “Why don’t you just come in here and help me pack?” I pack up my car that summer and take a weekend trip up to northern Virginia to meet up with a friend (who stands me up!). I decide to take advantage of the situation and visit Washington D.C. on my own and drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I visit underground caverns too. I turn 20 right as my junior year of college starts, and right away I decide that I fucking hate nursing school.
I am a college graduate! I graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and a GPA of 3.2. My parents help me financially to get into an apartment of my very own; they pay the rent and utilities for two months until I pass my boards and make a nurse’s salary (which I have done by the end of June). I am engaged to my first husband, a man I’ll call Asshole. While I don’t yet realize it, I am in an abusive relationship; I just chalk the bad times up to his being moody and me being a bad person. I get the hang of working as a nurse; I work night shift at a local hospital on the cardiac telemetry unit. My co-workers and I are overworked, don’t have enough help, and often end up in tears before the shift is over. I watch the Sydney games as much as I can but not as much as I would like since I work night shift. I can’t believe I’m a grown-up now with my own place, my own career, and have a ring on my finger. I seriously wonder where I will be when the Salt Lake City games roll around in 2002.
As the games in SLC roll around I am at the beginning of a divorce and am living with Mother and Father Snort at their home in a suburb of Houston, TX. I eloped with Asshole in the summer of 2001 only to find out shortly thereafter that he was a drug addict (yes, I get the irony) and was being unfaithful. He had also become physically abusive, and even though I (naively) loved him I decided that I loved me more so I left. The ensuing depression has left me with a 20 pound weight gain, and I enter my new single life at 215 lbs and a size 18/20. I have a job as a travel nurse and spend a few months working at a large hospital in Houston before spending the summer working in Anchorage, Alaska. From there I go to Las Vegas, and it is in the late summer of 2002 when J and I reconnect at Classmates.com. We went to high school together and on two or three dates in college. He is at the beginning of a divorce; our e-mails lead to phone calls, phone calls lead to him visiting me in Las Vegas, and I fall in love.
J and I are married and live in Tucson, AZ where I still work nights as a travel nurse. We have two chihuahuas and buy our first ever brand new car. For the first time in my life I am a blonde. We watch the games in Athens day and night, and J starts grad school in the fall to work on a master’s degree in electrical engineering. I am starting to think I’m ready to have a baby, but J isn’t. We wonder aloud where we will be in 2006. Will he have a job? Will we have kids? Will we still live in Tucson? Will I still be a size 20?
During the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Torino J looks at me and asks, “Do you remember when we wondered what our lives would be like when the next Olympics started?” And then he laughed. We were parents! Footlong was born in the fall of 2005, and we are positively smitten with our bald little man. I stopped working as a nurse in early 2005 after my depression started getting bad, and I realized that I was getting burned out. We still live in Tucson, and J is finishing grad school. He starts an internship at the place that will later employ him as an electrical engineer. In the late spring of 2006 I return to work, and Footlong starts daycare. He promptly gets sick–I mean really, really sick. There are multiple trips to the ER, more doctors visits than I can count, prescription after prescription, he loses weight, and I can’t work because I have to take care of my little man. We wind up with a ton of credit card debt caused by living expenses and medical bills. We start to really hurt financially, and my depression gets a bit worse. Footlong, however, slowly gets better.
I have been waiting for the Beijing Olympics for so long; I love China and am fascinated by the Chinese culture. This year finds us as homeowners, and both of us are employed. J is an entry-level electrical engineer, and I am working at a hospital across town as a documentation specialist. I work Monday thru Friday and spend nearly two hours a day commuting. I positively can’t stand my co-workers, and the feeling is mutual; they have been together for five years, and they have no problem letting me know I am an outsider. I sink deeper into depression, and my lovely doctor tries me on a different antidepressant. I start having panic attacks in the evenings and on weekends when I think about my job. Even though both of us work (we have a mortgage payment, car/life/health insurance, student loans, credit card payments, a car payment, daycare and utilities) we live paycheck to paycheck.
2010 is a hard year. I start my year working in the ER and battling a secret addiction to pain medication (which I rely on to help me relax and sleep after work). I am depressed, burned out, and have so many physical aches and pains. I work night shift, and my body is all fucked up from weird sleeping habits, lack of exercise, lack of sunlight, and a shitty diet. On my days off all I do is sleep and play with Footlong. That Spring my best friend from high school is killed in Los Angeles. My drug use escalates. One morning after work I am confronted by the nurse managers in the ER. I breakdown and confess everything, and while I am a wreck I am also relieved. I voluntarily go to rehab and start seeing a psychiatrist. My darling psychiatrist tries me on a cocktail of antidepressants and mood stabilizers, and later that summer I start to function again as a normal person. I know it sounds weird and pathetic, but I was able to do the simple things in my life again: I cooked, I cleaned, I was a better mother, I stayed awake during the day, and I slept at night. J and I had alot, alot of problems during this time, however. I was offered the opportunity by the state nursing board to go through their 3-year rehab program and keep my license in good standing; I was, after all, a first-time offender with a spotless record. I choose, after talking with my psychiatrist and rehab counselor, to walk away from the profession. We have been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for a few years—-one accident or major illness and we would have to file. J brought a ton of credit card debt into our marriage, and we also got heavily into debt when Footlong was ill as a baby. We are upside down on our mortgage now. J and I decide to bite the bullet and file for bankruptcy so that we can start over all the way around. I surrender a piece of property that my great-uncle left me in his will to our bankruptcy trustee so she can sell it and use the proceeds to pay our creditors. Footlong and I spend 6 weeks with my parents back home so J and I can have some breathing room. I continue to improve on my medications, and my baby turns 5 years old. As soon as I return home in November we conceive 6-inch. J figures out I am pregnant before I do—he has built in boob radar and can tell my boobs have grown. I am totally shocked when my pregnancy test is positive. For the first time in several years I am happy—-honest to goodness happy. I am a stay-at-home mom, my depression is under control, my family and friends support me in my recovery, I am clean, and I, even with having to file bankruptcy and face the humiliation that came with my drug problem, am blessed to be able to start over. And I enjoy the Vancouver games, of course. ☺
I am watching the games in London as I type this entry. J and I have made good use of our DVR and watch the games every night. The kids and I watch during the day, and Footlong has decided he wants to be a track star like Ashton Eaton or Usain Bolt. Father Snort has retired, and he and Mother Snort skype with us daily. And where are we? We are still in Tucson (LOL), and we are renting a modest home in a nice area of town. Footlong started the 1st grade yesterday, and 6-inch is now one year old. J has gotten a promotion and is doing well in his chosen profession. Our debts (except for our student loans and our car–we kept it and have paid it off) have been cleared. We pay cash for everything, and we have some savings. I am continuing to do well and am still chugging along as a homemaker and mom. My house is cluttered but clean. I am waiting for final approval from the insurance company for my gastric bypass surgery; despite many diets I cannot lose more than 10 pounds. My doctor says the antidepressants and my hypothyroidism are the main reasons I can’t lose weight. I am happy and calm, and I have learned to accept myself. I also blog now, mostly random crap that people seem to find somewhat amusing (or so they tell me). I have been critical of Jennifer “MckMama” McKinney on my blog, and I have decided to not blog about her again since I want this blog to be about my thoughts and experiences and not hers.
And where will I be in 2014 when the Winter Olympics in Sochi begin? I can’t wait to find out!