Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Untwisted Sister

June 15, 2014

Friday June 14th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

This was my Facebook post today, and what made me decide I should start blogging again:

Yesterday was a rare day all around. Not only was it Friday the 13th AND a full moon, I got together with my sister Tammy at her house to celebrate her birthday which is actually Sunday the 15th. We had not spoken or had contact for a full TWENTY YEARS until all three of my siblings and I got together this past March for a reunion meal.

Family relationships can be infamously and notoriously delicate, and I know I’m not the only one that has been estranged from siblings or parents for years. I will say that our wayward tribe is at the top of the extreme list though, but the crackpots and wackadoos it all trickled down from are now dead and we are left and doing our best to ‘break the chain’.

There was a touch of awkwardness in March, but it didn’t last long. We had a really fun time that night, and it was a tremendous start. Last month I cautiously asked Tammy if I could take her out for a birthday meal, and she suggested we get together at her house to have a barbecue instead.

I had never seen her house, and she bought it with lottery winnings. She won a nice chunk of money 19 years ago – and then paid off the rest of the family so they wouldn’t tell me she won. It was very hurtful then, but we were both able to share a hearty laugh about it in March, and any pain or ill feelings are long gone.

There was also a time when I was 17 and lived with Tammy and her husband Jake when they were newly married and I needed a place to live. The rampant dysfunction in our family made it necessary to leave my grandparents’ house where I was raised because our grandfather had died and our grandmother was an icy cold German who had her own severe childhood issues. She passed a heap of them down to my father, and he in turn passed them on to us. The chain needed to be broken.

Tammy didn’t have to take me in but she did, and it was a very tense time for everyone. I used to bitch about her cooking constantly, but she was 21 and newly married and the last thing she needed was an asshole brother in the mix. I didn’t see that then, but I see it with crystal clarity now. I never felt close to Tammy as a small child, and sure didn’t at that time either.

Last night, Tammy grilled out a delicious feast of steak and chicken, and made a homemade pasta salad and cake that were probably the most delicious home cooked dishes I have ever eaten. The company helped, and I savored every scrumptious bite and every minute of conversation with her and Jake. We sat down to eat and before we knew it five hours had passed.

She hauled out a giant plastic storage tub of photo albums and we looked at all kinds of family pictures I had never seen before – and many that I had. Twenty years away is a long time. There were several pics of all of us as kids, and from the time when I lived with her. It brought back a flood of memories good and bad, but I think we needed to look through them together and just let a healing process take over. There were some deep thoughts exchanged between the three of us about topics that have been festering in all of us for decades – but not ONE cross word. We were intelligent adults discussing painful memories.

Our mother left when I was five months old, and Tammy was 4 1/2. She has her own pain and issues with it, and it’s different from mine. She is the only girl, and has been dealing with her pain the best she can all these years. She and Jake raised two very sweet kids and now they are grandparents of four more. They live a quiet peaceful life, and are doing a great job breaking the chain.

The four of us siblings could NOT be any more different people, but we all came from the same genetic cesspool. Our brother Larry was scheduled to come, but had a last minute emergency and had to back out. Our other brother Bruce Dobrient lives in Florida. I was sorry we couldn’t all get together again as a group, but I think it was important for Tammy and me to get some one on one time after all these years apart. I didn’t feel even a hint of any negative energy.

I never felt close to Tammy as a kid, and it felt like she just didn’t like me. All I wanted was to have a chance as adults to sit and air our feelings intelligently so we could both see where the other was coming from. We totally did that last night, and it went exactly as I hoped it would.There is no lingering anger on either side and I think we can FINALLY start to build a sibling relationship after all the pain and insanity we have both had to face. I know it will end very well.

What a one of a kind surreal day it was on so many levels. If it took a full moon and Friday the 13th to do it, so be it. I know there are others that have been apart from their families for years. I thought I would NEVER get a chance to reunite with any one of my three siblings, but now I am on good terms with them all and I know it’s not fake or temporary. We all realize the delicate nature of life, and despite where we all came from we are solid people and I’m proud of us all.

All four of us could easily have gone off the deep end and been serial killers or habitual criminals and nobody would have blamed us, but we have all chosen to fight it out and do our best. Getting together with Tammy was a highlight of my life, and at the end of the night she gave me a hug and invited me back any time I want to show up. I have a comedy show at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee on July 19th, and she and Jake are planning on coming out. Larry and Bruce will be invited too. I am just overjoyed to have this happen. Even if they don’t make it out, I’m sure we’ll all get together again.

I have no idea if anyone even read this far, but I had to get it out of my system. I think I’m going to start up my blog again because there is so much happening I can’t keep track of it all.

The point of this post is – patience DOES pay dividends. I will cherish last night’s visit for the rest of my life, and I know Tammy got something from it too. If you have a rotten or even slightly shaky family situation, HANG IN THERE because I am living proof it can totally change – and for the better.

We’re not the Cleavers and never will be, but we’re not the Munsters anymore either. What a relief! Miracles do happen, and this is something I’ve been asking for my entire life. It was without a doubt the best Friday the 13th of all time.

I still have a mountain of problems to climb, but this was a great healer of my inner turmoil.

This was THE best Friday the 13th I could ever imagine.

This was THE best Friday the 13th I could ever imagine. I would love more like it.

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Slumped Over

March 25, 2014

Sunday March 23rd, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Three months ago, I was riding sky high on top of the world. I was in a groove like I’ve never been in ever before, and life was beyond good. I felt exactly like I had always pictured life to be like in a positive way, and I thought I was finally on my way to where I’ve always wanted to be.

Today, after a couple of rough nights this past week and not a lot of work on the horizon I’m in a big time slump, and I honestly don’t care if I live or die. That’s a pretty big change, and I’m not exactly sure what has happened. Either it’s a normal cycle of life, or I am a crazy bipolar maniac.

At one time I may have bet on the maniac, but I’m not so sure now. I have been satisfied with most of the decisions I have been making in the last couple of years, and it’s not like I’m a slave to booze or drugs or anything like that. For whatever reason, I somehow veered off course again.

I’m not going to lie, I’m really in the dumper right now. I’ve been here plenty of times before, and it’s never fun. I am trying to objectively figure out why I feel this way and/or what has gone on to trigger it and all I can come up with are those two bad shows this week. They scorched me.

Being on stage is by far the only thing that has ever given me any consistent satisfaction in my life. I love to entertain a live audience, and after decades of trial and error I have finally reached a high level of consistency. I know that far more often than not, I’ll be able to get the job done.

In my mind, I see myself working big rooms for big audiences night after night. I know in my heart I can pull it off, as whenever I have found myself in that position I have always been able to deliver at a high level. It excites me to think about it, and after all this time I feel I deserve it.

I guess the cosmos doesn’t agree, as for whatever reason it’s not happening right now. All I am asking for is a payoff for all of my hard work. I sacrificed everything to develop my skill set, and to be in front of 14 people in a sports bar or standing alone on a dance floor at a wedding talking to myself after all these years just crushes my dreams and stomps on my self esteem like an ant.

I don’t think I can try any harder, but apparently I have to. But when I get in these ruts the very last thing I want to do is get out there and start over again. I’ve done thousands of shows for tiny audiences and/or non attentive ones. I’m past that. Going back sucks all the humanity out of me.

One of those nights might have put me in a minor funk, but both of them back to back have put me deep in the mental toilet. I feel like hope is completely gone, and I wish I could just lie down and give my remaining days to anyone who wants them. I feel like I missed my bus, and it hurts.

All I think it would take to turn it around is some tangible hope. The hope of reuniting with my siblings was what gave me the super uptick I had three months ago, and it ended up going really well in the end. That’s great, but they don’t pay my bills. I feel great personally, but professional pain is pain just the same. The stress of the struggle is getting to me, and I feel it. What stinks is I just don’t feel like fighting it anymore. Is anyone else hurting inside this badly? I sure hope not.

Life is a series of ups and downs. I'm in a down. Am I crazy? Probably, but some hope would be nice.

Life is a series of ups and downs. I’m in a down. Am I crazy? Probably, but some hope would be nice.

2004 No More

February 1, 2013

Thursday January 31st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Somewhere in my scrambled rat race of a life there needs to be a master plan. I thought I had at least a loose one at one point, but I’m nowhere close to making it how I’d pictured. Life was on a steady path upward with a bright future in 2004 when I was working on the morning show at The Loop in Chicago. I was on the cusp of having everything I ever wanted – but life had other plans.

I still don’t know why we got so close to pay dirt and then had it yanked out from under us for no real reason other than the company got sold and the new owners were clueless hillbillies. That wasn’t our fault, but it sure did affect the futures of my partners and me. We’re all still suffering.

Granted, that was years ago and I know we all need to “just get over it already” like everybody keeps telling us but opportunities of that magnitude don’t come along every day. We were poised for a nice long run, and chances are we’d still be on the air today. That was the plan when we got hired, and it was starting to go exactly how it was intended until the sale happened unexpectedly.

Eric and Kathy is the biggest morning radio show in Chicago, and they were a sister station of ours. The plan was they’d get the female listeners and we’d get the males. Fine with us, but radio for the most part has about as much stability as a Kardashian marriage and we were out the door.

OK, fine. But what’s next? I’ve been through plans B, C, D and so many others that I’m almost through the alphabet and back to plan A again. I don’t know what’s more frustrating, not coming close to one’s life goals or coming within striking distance of achieving them all and not doing it.

All I have ever wanted in my adult life was to be a successful standup comic with enough fans that come out to see me that earns me a nice living. My standards are low, and it wouldn’t take a whole lot to make me financially secure for life. I know I have the ability, it just hasn’t hit yet.

I was well on my way in 2004. We were starting to get recognized on the air, and I could feel it at the comedy clubs in and around Chicago. I was getting on stage constantly, and Zanies wanted to sign me to an exclusive deal for great pay to work several times a year. The station was setting up a huge charity comedy event for New Year’s Eve of 2004 and I was going to be the headliner.

None of that ever happened, and here I sit with my education trying to scrape up enough to pay my rent every month and not drive a car I got for free from a friend of mine that keeps costing all I have to keep it running. That sure wasn’t what I was picturing I’d be doing now back in 2004.

The truth is everyone has their own 2004 somewhere. There’s always woulda, coulda, shouldas in all our lives, but it’s what we do afterward that defines who we are. As much as I hate to admit it even now, they’re not going to call me back and admit they made a mistake. That ship sailed.

But what’s the new one? I still like performing on stage and on air, but who’s passing out jobs these days? I’m still out there slugging, but the circumstances are a lot different than they used to be. I’m older and it’s getting harder to stay in the race. I hope the only break I’ll get isn’t my hip.