September 14, 1960

Sweet lil baby Me

Sweet lil baby Me

Masita - Copy

Masita at age 16

I was born that day to two parents who had moved from the Hell Mouth, away from family, and all that they knew in order to provide their children with a life that would not include migrant work. I’ll tell the story of my maternal grandparents rise and fall from poverty, to prosperity, back down to poverty on another day. But today, I’ll focus on Masita  and Chico. Young, uncertain, and leaving a life where everyone was Mexican-Catholic to the land of W.A.S.P. and prejudice.

Chico at age 18

Chico at age 18

My mom learned English at age 12. Although I could not hear it, everyone (including her) said she spoke English with a Spanish accent, her syntax and semantics were flawless but darn it, she never did get the difference between “ch” and “sh” down, and was good natured about her grandchildren exclaiming “Grandma! It’s potato CHips! NOT potato Ships!” My dad learned English at a much earlier age and speaks it flawlessly.

I was fourth born, but the third living daughter. The story of my older sister’s fatal birth is also a story for another day. There were to be a total of nine children in our family. Seven girls and the last two boys. It was a crowded, noisy household filled with silliness and dysfunction. But, in spite of all of that dysfunction there was always a sense of connectedness. A sense that if you got into trouble, there would be family right there to bail you out and make you eat crow simultaneously. Time passing has driven us further apart, rather than closer together. Too much pain, betrayal and incrimination to be healed at this late date. I had made efforts to heal the rifts in the past and came out bloodied and bruised, so I’ll not go there again.

But, as I sat  home on Monday, receiving calls from my beloved spawn, brother and from Chico, an overwhelming wave of sadness rolled over me and I’ve not been able to shake it off. Tears come and dry but the crushing pain in my chest has not lessened, so I turned to prayer and the Holy Mother seeking solace and comfort and wisdom.

Mother Teresa Prayer to MaryIn my prayer, which was swiped from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, it was revealed to me the cause of my sadness. I no longer have a life of connectedness. At this time, with the great difficulties in my marriage, my children leaving the faith and pursuing personal decisions which break my heart, I find that I don’t have a sense of me, a sense of this who I am and this is my tribe.  I know I am loved. I know I have two IRL friends whom I can count on without reservation as well as very nice acquaintances who are happy to socialize. But, in all of this I feel like my ship has become unmoored and I am alone and isolated.

Thankfully, at this time my connection to Christ and the Blessed Mother is blossoming. My prayer life is rich, and my sense of knowing God is greater than ever. But, as I go through my day and my familiar path my heart is aching with a loneliness and sense of isolation which is crushing.

I wish I knew why.


Marriage 9-1-1

Marriage 911

You may remember the previous post where my husband asked me to leave. I can’t say this has been the first time, and I must be honest that I’ve left before (with Vitya) when the toxicity was in full-mushroom-cloud poison. My prayer life has been blossoming and in asking Him for guidance He answered.

I was listening to Patrick Coffin on his Catholic Answers Focus podcast. He was interviewing Greg and Julie Alexander, a couple who were just as screwed up as me and my husband. When I read this passage:

“I couldn’t understand how it had happened.

I had stood at the altar with this man and said, “I do.”

But now if he walked past me and touched me,

I wanted to throw up. I felt chilled on the inside.”

I knew I was going to read a story that was honest and relatable. Greg and Julie do not hide their skeletons or make excuses for their behavior. Although infidelity is not a part of our story, many of the issues Greg and Julie faced are the same as we are struggling with on a daily basis.

So, I sent my husband the link to the book and we are now both reading it to see if we will allow ourselves to heal and improve our marriage.

Pray for us.

Thank you.


A looooong time ago….in a world that no longer exists….at a time of innocence…24 years ago, I purchased a MakIt kit from the school’s book sale fundraiser.  My sister was there and so we sat down with the kiddies and created these plates. Well, as a young mom – ok, I was 31 at the time – my good intentions fell by the wayside and this packet was put in a box and forgotten. WELL GUESS WHO JUST FOUND IT???!!!???  YES! ME!!! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!!! And better yet, the company still exists and I can still have the plates made!

I’m just happy as can be…


Vitya and Miso. V was about 8 years old, just broken his arm skateboarding!

Vitya and Miso. V was about 8 years old, just broken his arm skateboarding!

I’ve shared some stories about my beloved boy. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The abuse he suffered in the Russian orphanage was horrific, unimaginable for most people, and most of it he has blocked from his memory. But with this blocking, came blocking of almost ALL memories. For example, this photo did not immediately stir up his heroic tale of breaking his arm at the Boys & Girls club in TX. In the Rio Grande Valley, there is a high level of poverty. There is no YMCA, and outside of country club membership the Boys & Girls club is the only place where young folk can come together to safely hang out. His favorite club had a pretty nice skateboarding section. He was *dying* to try it. So, we signed he appropriate waivers and I gave him my MommaBear lectures about safety. Fast forward 60 minutes to a frantic call from the club. It seems my little Russian had watched the big boys on the ramp, and after safely navigating the tiny ramps, decided he too could go down the six foot slide and do a mid air flip! Except…he couldn’t, and broke his arm, was rushed to the hospital, had surgery, and got that nifty orange cast.

A few years later this memory could only be stirred with photos and lots of story telling to try and prompt him. Frustrating.

A few years after that, back in MI, memories *did* start coming back. Dark and horrifying memories of pain and humiliation. Memories that had no context, and so he placed that context into his life here in the U.S. Stories of me standing by and laughing at him, taunting him, while larger boys pummeled him and sexually abused him. Memories that extended to both parents and although he could intellectually understand that these memories couldn’t have happened after coming to live with us, he was not emotionally able to process that as fact.

These memories then started a cycle of him protecting himself by doing unacceptable acts of revenge against his dad, which then triggered my husband’s own past of child abuse, and set up a life of living torment. Vitya now big and strong waging war against his dad who reacted humanly and poorly. Me in the middle. The only safety point for each of these males. Daily calls, while I was at work, from both citing new incidents, new chaos, and stress that made every waking and breathing moment a nightmarish burden.

We went to therapy. Lots of worthless therapy.  Even though they have battles worthy of a video game as they keep reliving awful childhood terrors and “protecting” themselves from each other, they love each other dearly. And this love keeps pulling them back together and keeps me on a teeter-totter.


pulled in two

What is a friend?


Me & A

This is a topic I have been deeply pondering over the past few months.  I’ve wondered if my definition of friendship is parochial in this new, fast paced world I’m living in these days. I’ve always felt that being present, supportive and available is the most sincere indicator. And I think that indicator has been proven valid as that friendship test has been passed, over and over and over again, by my BFFL A. We met as undergrads at MSU; both of us older than most of our classmates, married with kids, and generally just non-traditional students. We bonded almost immediately.  This is a friendship that many feel very unlikely for the following reasons:


  • 100% conservative Roman Catholic
  • 100% pro-life
  • Mexican-American


  • 100% liberal Methodist
  • 100% pro-choice
  • WASP

She is the only real-life friend I’ve ever had who I can sit down with and have fascinating, in depth conversations about our differences in beliefs with NO judgements, NO insults, NO mockery but with great RESPECT, HONESTY, and OPEN MINDEDNESS share our thoughts on why we believe what we believe.

In the seven years I’ve lived in the Hell Mouth and in the last couple of years living back up in Michigan, our contact has been sporadic due to the busy craziness of our lives. We use to work for the same school district and had many opportunities to chat during the week. But now I work in the medical setting, she is still in the schools and our schedules rarely mesh.

I invited her to my oldest son’s book release party last night. Of course, the invite was via text message and I immediately received a regretful response that her family would be at their vacation home for the long weekend. Imagine my delight when I turned around last night and in strolled A and her too-good-looking husband J (who is frustratingly refusing to age as she and I are so easily doing!) When she had mentioned to J that they were going to miss Jake’s event, his response was “oh hell no! We’re going to support Jake!” and they delayed their get away.

Instantly, the time apart vanished and we laughed, talked, drank as if we had just seen each other yesterday. No awkwardness, no fumbling for words. Just laughter, love and delight.

THAT my dear reader is what a real friendship is all about. A knows my skeletons and hell, she probably has the key to the closet where I hide my most unattractive personality traits. She has never betrayed me with gossip, has never uttered words which would undermine my confidence, and most importantly, she has honestly told me that my current hair style needs a serious update. We may not be able to see each other again for a few months but the bond we have will not tarnish or rust.

BFFL: Best Friends For Life