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What’s The Big Deal? December 5, 2013

Changing your profile picture.

I see people do it every day. I see people change their pictures several times a week, and I think if they can do it why can’t I?

Well the answer is simple to me. It might seem irrational and ridiculous to you, but I can assure you as I sit here writing this, it is not simple. It’s gut wrenchingly painful.

Then you might say to yourself, what the hell is she talking about? Stephanie has changed her Twitter and her LinkedIn profile picture this week, and I would look at you and say, you’re right I have, but not my Facebook picture. In fact there have only been a few variations of my Facebook profile picture over the last four and a half years. You might recognize them.

Image Image Image Image

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Ok, so let me stop you right there. In your mind, if you don’t know me, hell maybe if you do, you’re thinking c.r.a.z.y. To me it’s not, I’ll explain. Twitter is where I go to blow off steam, have some fun. I’ve seem some crazy stuff on twitter, and I’ve been a part of some of the crazy on twitter…I’ll be the first to admit that. LinkedIn is a business page and I treat it as such. I share information and updates about social media, hardly ever about my personal life. I mean if you were stalking me LinkedIn is probably the last place you’d want to go. I’ve even been quiet on my blog, not intentionally, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to actually sit and think about things like this. 

The other night I was writing a blog about social media and resolutions for 2014, which made me think, what should I change next year? The thought came almost immediately to me, like my Dad was screaming at me. I ignored it and pressed on, I have deadlines you know. Then again, like he was standing right in front of me saying “enough already, change the damn profile picture.”

I stopped, looked around, and started to cry.

Facebook is where I reside now, it is where I spend most of my time. I do most of my work on Facebook. Facebook is also my personal space. It became really personal a couple of months ago when I found out that my space had been violated.

But I’m Stephanie right? I like challenges. I thrive on variety and change. Dullness and routine is the quickest way (if you’re trying) to get rid of me.

So why can’t I change my profile picture?

Because it’s the last thing.

I have changed the picture, but it’s only been variations of Dad and I together. If I change that profile picture it’s almost like (to me) I’m saying goodbye to my Dad forever.  If my Dad were here today he would say “isn’t that the dumbest god damn thing you’ve ever heard?” If it were someone else I’d say “hell yes.”

The problem is it’s not someone else, it’s me.

So I tried this week. I had Angela take a picture of me in the office this week with my new “geek” sweater on, saying it was to “prove to my sister” that I had a sweater that actually said “geek” on it. Then I tried again, until I found out it was “Unselfie Tuesday” or some kind of crap like that. So I figured it just wasn’t time for me to change it. Until I racked my brain trying to think of a blog to write last night and came up with “Social Media Resolutions.” Clever I thought; until I started thinking about my own social resolutions and the Dad interference.

First on the agenda for 2014, a new profile picture for all of my social media platforms, including Facebook (GULP). I can’t do it because I take terrible pictures of myself and Mr. D is pretty much useless with a camera. I need a picture, and I know exactly what it looks like in my head, and my Dad would be proud of it, and of me, I think he would be proud of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Wonder If It Will Burn Down October 1, 2013

The church I mean.

Tonight will be the first time I’ve gone to church since my Dad’s funeral.

It’s not for a funeral this time, it’s for a celebration. Kameron is getting confirmed tonight. Although, I still don’t know what the hell that means.

Kameron went to a retreat last Saturday to talk with his fellow classmates and other ministry type adults about confirmation. When I asked him about his day he was pretty nondescript. I went through the usual questions “Did you have a good time” “What did you guys do” – you know the typical questions any parent might ask. He mentioned that they broke into groups to talk about confirmation and what it meant to them. I asked, what does it mean to you? He sighed and rolled his eyes at me and said ‘they asked me why I wanted to get confirmed.” Looking at him, I could tell he was annoyed, but I pressed on, “what did you tell them?” He said “I wanted to get confirmed because both of my parents are confirmed” (sidebar – parents meaning me and Mr. D for anyone that might be confused.) I asked “is that all you said?” Knowing that the catholic church or their ministry type people probably wouldn’t accept that answer. He said “NO” sounding frustrated, “they asked me why I wanted to get confirmed.” (Here comes the big eye roll)….”I told them it was because I wanted to strengthen my faith.”

Sounded pretty good to me, I guess they bought it.

My memory of confirmation was my mom threatening me – “if you don’t get confirmed you’ll go to Broad Ripple High School because I’m not paying the tuition at Chatard unless you get confirmed.” I can remember that conversation like it was yesterday. I’ve never told Kameron that he had to get confirmed or he couldn’t go to Roncalli.

I hope tonight is more about a spiritual thing than a threat. About a year ago I promised Kameron that “we” as a family would go to church more often. I haven’t kept up my end of the bargain. It’s been too hard. I’ve told Mr. D that I didn’t want to sit in the back of the church and cry. I still haven’t found the answers as to why my Dad isn’t with me anymore, and even if someone gave me answers it wouldn’t be good enough.

Maybe I should just sit in the back of the church and cry, someday, but not today.

Today is Kameron’s day, as it should be.

`

 

It’s Wicked August 22, 2013

Tonight I was chatting with my best friend Brandy that is celebrating her 18th wedding anniversary this year to her husband Lonnie. I introduced them by the way… I should get some kind of best friend credit for that.

Anyway, while we were chatting she mentioned that “Wicked” was coming to town and tickets will go on sale in September.

August and September are sketchy months for me because of my Dad. I’m over the top emotional, I take everything personally. I smile, and hide my emotions. Honestly, I just do the best I can, for everyone I can, until after September 15th.

Anyway, this was not supposed to be a “feel sorry for Stephanie moment” because there are times I can laugh about my Dad. I can remember things about him and appreciate the times that we had, and the times that were especially funny. Which brings me back to Wicked.

You see Johnno was never a “let’s go to dinner and see a show” kind of guy. He was always “there’s a football game on, and where is my damn beer and onion dip” kind of guy. So when my mother started buying tickets to Broadway shows like Wicked, well, my Dad was less than enthused.

There are many moments with my Dad that I won’t forget, and this is one of them. (If you never met my Dad you could never really appreciate this, but you could see the humor in it.)

Wicked was at the Murat, we (Dad, Mom, Mr. D, and I went.) The conversation after the performance went like this….

Mom:  Wow, what a great show!

Me:  It really was great.

Mr. D:  It was awesome!

Johnno: Yeah…

Mom: (Asking everyone) Did you cry at the end?

Me: Yes!

Johnno: I cried too..

Mom: Really? You did? (more interested in my Dad’s response than anyone else.)  (Sounding hopeful..)

Johnno: Yeah, I cried…. I was just so happy it was finally over.

Mr. D said tonight that was one of his favorite memories of my Dad.. “Johnny Carson couldn’t have written a better script, that was one of Johnno’s all time greatest lines.”

That’s a memory that still makes me laugh.

 

I Am My Father’s Daughter August 14, 2013

johnno volume

I caught myself today driving with the top down in my car, listening to a “Wings” CD thinking to myself what a great moment, then reality (the bitch that it is) sunk in.

My appreciation for music, the “British Invasion”, and why I turn the volume all the way up in my car and pretty much embarrass Kam while I dance and drive in my car came from my Dad.

My Dad loved music, he loved it so much.

I don’t imagine my Dad ever being a musician, he never wanted to be a headliner. He was much happier behind the scenes. Truth be told, my Dad always wanted to be a DJ.

I’m not kidding.

I remember when I was a kid him making tapes of “The John Eppich Show.” Transferring albums to cassette tapes, adding his own improvisation between cuts. I can still see him sitting on the floor at our old house on Norwaldo making those tapes, yelling at me and my sister if we stomped across the carpet covered hard-wood floors. “The record skips if you walk by like that, walk softer damnit.” I can still see him in his huge headphones hunched over his cassette recorder with his microscopic microphone recording his favorite songs. Maybe he was living out a dream he had for himself that never came to pass, or maybe it was just a fun hobby. Whatever it was, “The John Eppich Show” didn’t survive the several floods that we had on Norwaldo. At least that’s what I think. If there was a cassette that survived I would want to have one of them. I would find a damn recorder to play it.

I am grateful that I have my Dad’s albums, and that I have a record player to play the records on. Sometimes it makes me sad listening to the songs that are so familiar to me growing up. Wishing I could look at my Dad and hear him say “that’s a helluva song baby, some day someone will be impressed that you knew that song and who sang it.”

Truth be told, the only person I was out to impress was him.

 

What I Wish I Didn’t Wear June 17, 2013

necklace sA necklace.

If you work with me or know me you might have noticed I wear a silver necklace. It’s a longer necklace so the charm on it isn’t obvious unless I pull it out or it makes its way out of my shirt. What hangs from that necklace means more to me than most things do. It can’t be replaced. It’s my Dad’s thumbprint.

It’s hard to believe that my Dad has been gone for four years in September.

People leave memories with us that will last for the rest of our lives. Some of the memories my Dad and I shared were the best times of my life. Teaching me about football, and watching me learn to love it. Kameron being born, and what a great Pop he was.  Mr. D and I getting married, knowing that the third time really was the charm.  Going to Lambeau Field together, our first trip together! Watching the Packers play in Indianapolis, tailgating with those silly Indianapolis fans.  Sunday football, coming over to my house every Sunday to watch the Packers play. Catching my first fish.  Teaching me how to jump a car. The difference between a flat head and a phillips head screwdriver. How to check a breaker and change a fuse. How to buy a car. How to make home made french fries. That Mikesell’s Rippled Potato Chips work best with Dean’s French Onion Dip. And the way to his heart was through my deviled eggs. Those are just a few of the millions of things that he taught me.

The selfish part of me missed my Dad, even though I know he’s in a better place.

The worst part about it for me now is that I know he would be so proud of me (not that he wasn’t before.)  He would be so ridiculously proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. It really has been awesome, and I thank sincerely the people that have (REALLY) supported me (Firebelly Team – Duncan Alney)  -my gratitude and your belief in me is immeasurable. I sincerely from the bottom of my heart thank you. I’m so happy!

Without my Dad there is a space in my heart that can’t be replaced. I don’t get to tell him about the awesome day I’ve had. I don’t have that smile, or pat on my shoulder anymore, he was the one person who always believed in me, no matter what the circumstances.

Things aren’t the same without you Dad, I love you and miss you so much.

I’m kicking ass Johnno, I hope you know.

 

Dogs and Spirits April 22, 2013

Johnno at Lambeau

Johnno at Lambeau

While I was dishing about my Food Network addiction earlier on Twitter something else happened. Some of you might find this a bit bizarre and that’s ok. By now I’m use to the questions or comments I get sometimes after I spill my guts all over the social media world. Don’t mind me while I spill, again.

I’ve heard more than several times in my life that dogs can see spirits, or ghosts, whatever you care to call it. I don’t like the word ghost, especially after my dad passed away. I’m sorry, I just don’t see Johnno floating around in some Casper-like state. Whenever I think of him I always think of him in jeans and a Packers or green golf shirt. That was standard issue Johnno garb. Another thing I don’t see my Dad in is wings. I can just picture my Dad entering the gates of heaven and giving a big “Hell No” to St. Peter as he tries to give my Dad wings. Wings the group he liked, the feathery things, not so much.

I believe in an after life. I believe when our time comes that we will see the loved ones that we have lost in our lifetime. I have to believe that, I have to believe that A LOT. I also believe that every once in a while spirits like to have a little fun with those of us here on earth. Us and our pets.

I have a leather couch it seats three comfortably. When my Dad was over watching a Packers game everyone had their “assigned” seats. They weren’t really assigned, but you would have thought they were if you came over to my house every Sunday. I sat in the middle, my Dad to my left, and Mr. D to my right. I still sit in the middle, and Mr. D still sits on the right. We don’t do it on purpose, we’ve just did it that way for a number of years, I guess it’s a tradition. My dog Shayla takes up Johnno’s now empty spot. It’s where she crashes out for 18 hours a day. Seriously, I think my dog is part cat.

Anyway while I was confessing my Food Network addiction on twitter Shayla was nuzzled up right next to me, which is weird. She really only does that with Mr. D or Kameron, Sam when she’s home. I really hadn’t noticed she was there until her tail started the happy thump. Then she looked up in the air and started licking the air, like someone had put their hand in the air in front of her and she started to go to town on it. I sat and watched her thinking she had lost her mind, but she kept at it, for like two minutes. I said “Shayla what are you doing” she stopped to look at me but went right back to it. I thought of my Dad, he would always pet Sha-na-na (as he called her) when he sat down and she would lick his hand. I decided to put my hand above her to see if she would lick it, nope. When I took my hand away the tail thumping and air licking continued. I closed my eyes and placed my hand on the left seat of my couch, expecting it to be cool to the touch. It was warm, like someone had been sitting there. Then Shayla stopped her licking and put her head down.

I think my Dad can sense when I need him around. Sometimes it’s an unexpected penny. Sometimes the lights go off. Sometimes he plays with my dog. Whenever those things, and other things happen I smile because I know he’s with me. Someday we’ll be together again.

 

Ashley March 8, 2013

My relationship with my sister Ashley has always been different. I’m thirteen years older than her. By the time she was six years old I was out of the house starting my crazy life, she doesn’t remember us ever living together.

ME AND ASH (2)

There was a little while when we were somewhat close. Before I got divorced from Kameron’s dad and before she started playing softball in high school. After the divorce and softball started our lives just went in different directions. Being thirteen years apart didn’t help. She was doing high school things, I was doing more grown up things – like working 50 hours a week – paying house payments – fun stuff grownups get to do.

One thing we do have in common was my son Kameron. She loves him and he loves his Aunt Ashley. She is his godmother, his confirmation sponsor, acting supporter, WWE update listener, sushi eating buddy, along with many other things.

Another thing we have in common was love for our Dad. There is no question that my sisters and I almost competed for our Dad’s affection. What I think the three of us all came to realize and accept is that he loved all of us very much, but had very different relationships with us individually. There is no question though when my Dad died it drew a line in the sand between the three daughters he left behind. None of us realized how my Dad kept the peace in the family until he was no longer there to do it. Devastation sometimes can bring people together, in my case it drove me further and further away from my family. What was already a different relationship between Ashley and I became strained, and then nonexistent.

All of my relationships changed after my Dad died. It wasn’t just with Ashley. I was lost, so lost that at times I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it back.

Since I have made it back something unexpected and nice, very nice, has happened.

Ashley has been very supportive of me not drinking. If you would have told me she would be one of my biggest supporters I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have believed that. We also are big fans of The Bachelor. Ashley has come over to my house and we’ve watched a few episodes together. Next Monday (3/11) when Mr. D and Kam will be at the WWE Event, Ashley and I have our own little Bachelor Finale party planned. We’re going to cook a big dinner, talk at the t.v., and bask in all the drama that The Bachelor provides. I think we should bet too..I’ll have to come up with something. Not like bet on who he chooses, but bet on how many times everyone says “amazing” – an over /under thing on that might be cool.

It’s fun to have my sister to talk to and hang out with, who knew right?!?

I would just really like to say thanks Ash for being supportive, and watching The Bachelor smut with me. It means a lot to me!

I love you!

Ash & me