Let’s take a trip down my memory lane, shall we? I’m going to do this stream-of-consciousness style, so you get what I get… good, bad, big, or small!
1. getting murder books for Christmas
Okay, I know this sounds weird. Let me explain… I’m into true crime, something for which I lay the responsibility at my father’s feet. He was a lawyer, and he’s the one who got me into it. To that end, for years, he gave me true-crime reads every year for Christmas, always wrapped in non-holiday paper. It became a thing. He died in 2015, and when Christmas approached, it was a tangible reminder that he was gone, knowing that the tradition was over. Imagine my surprise when I found a gift that first Christmas without him, labeled to be from both my father and my husband. I opened it, only to find a big stack of true-crime reads. My lovely husband has taken that on for me, always including my dad on the label. <3
2. summers with Amy
Every summer for most of my childhood, my family and I would head to Higley Flow to spend the summer at camp. My cousin Amy’s family also had a summer place along the same section of river. Summers were spent on the water, tooling around in my dad’s boat, hanging out with friends, waterskiing, enjoying the freedom of youth and our teen years!
3. getting goosed by Donald Duck
Again, weird. I was at Disneyland in 1991, on the way to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas from the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey, just after graduating from Polish school. My friend and I drove together, stopping to spend four days in LA. One of those days, we went to Disneyland, where the Donald Duck mascot grab-assed me. I was horrified. Still am.
4. that time I was stalked by a 26yo man
When I was 13. He lived on my grandparents’ street and had seen me around, going in and out of their home. I spent a lot of time there, so he thought I lived there, too. Flowers and gifts began arriving at their place… with my name on them. My grandfather, also a lawyer, and my dad were up in arms about it and quickly figured out who he was. He’d been following me, taking photos of me, etc. It turned out he had a record of harassment, both the general kind and the sexual kind. And, yeah, of minor and adult women alike. This was in 1983, long before stalking laws came into place in New York, which didn’t happen until 1999. So he ended up with more harassment charges.
5. nights dancing at The Wave
The Wave was a club in Waikiki that closed in 2006. I spent a lot of time there in the mid- to late-nineties, dancing the night away on Friday or Saturday nights. Those nights had a “freaks come out at night” vibe. Lots of alternative music, heavy beats, the occasional house music. It was a great time!
Sucktastic. This was the year that I lost my parents within five weeks of each other. My mom passed at the end of April after a fast and hard bout with Stage IV lung, liver, and kidney cancer. My dad passed at the beginning of June from a rare version of melanoma. My husband and kids were in Arizona, while I spent most of the year, until July, in New York, living with my brother to caregive for my mom, help settle her estate after her death. I went back to Arizona for all of a few days before my dad collapsed and I had to go back. He died while I was with him, just hours after getting back. His estate was complicated, so I spent weeks in New York, dealing with that.
7. also 2015
A bright spot of the year… the weekend I got back, my husband and kids arranged a surprise for me. I’d missed my college graduation, due to taking care of my mom. Unbeknownst to me, when my eldest son Donovan came to Arizona for the summer, he brought his graduation garb from college and his recent Master’s with him. On Saturday, they sent me to my Lady Lair, telling me I couldn’t come out. When they came for me, I was blindfolded and someone dressed me in what I later discovered to be my own graduation cap and gown that I hadn’t used. I was led, still blindfolded, through the house to the back door where they’d set up a graduation ceremony. They all wore robes… Donovan in his Master’s, Corey (my hubby) in Donovan’s college robes, Ka’lani in his high school robes, Scott in Donovan’s high school robes, and Tyler in my old high school robes. There were speeches, and then Donovan (as the one with the highest level of education) bestowed my diploma upon me. And then we toasted with white zinfandel. It was lovely!
8. the day I found out I was on a hit list
Long backstory short, when we were stationed at Fort Drum, we lived in privatized housing halfway between post and my hometown. Bully Mama was the wife of another soldier, who , like my husband, was in Afghanistan at the time. She had a daughter who was roughly 13 and a son about 8. They were nightmare children. The daughter routinely harassed and assaulted my then-10yo son. She was much bigger, vicious, and violent, and extremely predatory. The son wasn’t much better. He shivved my youngest, who was about his age but smaller, on the bus with a broken piece of plastic. It was bad enough to require several stitches. The mother admitted her daughter had problems but refused to do anything about it. She told me we should just let her do what she wanted, including hurting my children and continuing the vandalism she’d begun by then. The kid even came after me with a pipe. Mind you, this abuse took place when none of us were even trying to interact with her. We could be in our own space, our own yard. She was, as I said, predatory. So was the mother. She came after me, to the point where I almost wished she’d hit me so I could trounce her. She even sent men after me to intimidate me. It didn’t work. At all. We were in and out of court getting protective orders, and we ended up prisoners in our own home.
Fast forward to 2013 when I found out she’d been arrested in Virginia for murder. She’d had an affair and arranged with the boyfriend to kill his wife. She even roped in her estranged husband to help her carry it out. I found out during the course of the investigation that a hit list was found, and guess who was #1 on that list? Yeah, me.
She has her own Snapped episode, a dubious distinction.
9. the day the dynamite went off
3rd period English, senior year. Some d-bag put a small stick of dynamite in a toilet in the boys’ room across the hall. It went off, blew out the windows, and caused a lot of injuries. I was by the windows, covered and cut by flying glass. It was terrifying.
10. Def Leppard with my boys in 2018
I took my two middle kids (17 and 21 at the time) to Def Leppard in 2018 when they came to Waikiki. We made a day out of it, spending the day downtown, having dinner at a great Vietnamese restaurant before the concert. And the concert was amazing! The vibe was decidedly Gen X, some of whom went in HARD for the 80’s nostalgia. We rocked, we danced, we sang. It was fantastic!
11. the time I found a brick of cocaine in a garbage can
This is the short version of the story; you can read the long version here, if you want. I worked in the Initial Receiving Branch at Fort Jackson back in 2000. This is where the new soldiers come to process into the US Army, or for prior service soldiers to process back in. Either way, they are required to go through an amnesty room that very first night. The purpose is to get rid of contraband without recrimination. They go into the rooms one at a time, and each space is equipped with a garbage can and a slot in the wall. The garbage can is for contraband they can’t have but isn’t illegal. The slot in the wall is for illegal stuff… weapons, drugs, etc. After every few rounds, one of us had to go in and clear the garbage cans for the next group. One fateful night, I went into clear the can and discovered a brick of snow. Who the hell thinks bringing coke to basic training is a good idea?!
12. that time my dad’s office was full of shedded newspaper
My grandmother and dad had a long-standing prank-off. It went on for literal decades. And neither of them had an issue with bribing others to help. Grandma Ethel was good on a long con, too. For the better part of two years, she saved every single newspaper. (This was the 80s!) She shredded them every week and put the shreds in boxes, the boxes stored floor to ceiling in her basement storage room. True dedication. She waited until my dad went on a three-week vacay, and my grandmother planned to do her dirty deed and invent a reason for him to come in so there would be time to clean up pre-clients. I spent the weekend at her house, and we spent the time filling his office to the ceiling with shredded newspaper. His secretaries were in on it, as was my grandfather, with whom he shared the firm. My father guffawed when he discovered it! Good times.
13. meeting Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry
In 1981, Roddenberry got an honorary doctorate from Clarkson University, which is in my hometown. He came to graduation that year, when I was 10, to receive it. I don’t remember the circumstances, but somehow my dad arranged for us to meet him after the ceremony. My dad and I were Trekkies, so it was really cool to be able to meet The Big Guy.