Family Affair
Sunday, January 23, 2022

Hey There! 

I'm back to tell you another story, but today's post is not so much a story as a True Confession. 

And straight up, if you're offended by everything and anything or if you don't have a sense of humor or if you're one of those people who feels the need to school others from your keyboard because you live to tear others down in order to make yourself feel better, please stop reading right now. By the way, if I'm describing you, know that everyone in the world thinks you're an asshole. 

Just sayin'. 

But if this is you, seriously, do not proceed any further. 

So, here goes. 

I was never the type of mom who played Kidz Bop style music in the car when my girls were little. 

My car, my tunes. 

And since I LOVE music, all music, my tastes cover a wide spectrum of genres. My kids were exposed at a tender age to pop, indie, rock, Broadway showtunes, bluegrass, opera, alternative, hip-hop, classical and everything in between. 

And even though I played a vast and varied amount of music in the car when my girls were small, I always used discretion. If the song was too adult for their precious, innocent ears, I would skip right over it. 

Until the third one came along. 

By the time I had my third daughter, I was tired. 

Those of you with multiple children understand that deep to the bone fatigue, the one where you constantly find yourself saying to the other kids, "Just let her win."

Suffice to say, the rules were rather relaxed by the time my youngest showed up in the family. 

If she wanted to wear a tutu to preschool, I let her. If she jumped on the bed, I would just wearily tell her to jump carefully. If she kicked in our shower wall while playing Karate with her sister in the shower, (true story) I shrugged and told her sister to finish washing the baby's hair quickly so the water wouldn't seep into the wall.

And yes, the six-year-old was washing the three-year-old's hair. 

To my credit, she was almost seven. 

It's one of the secret benefits no one tells you about when you have multiple children.  On occasion, when you're at your wit's end, you can demand the older ones parent the younger ones. 

      This pretty much sums it up.

The youngest stayed up later than her sisters because by that time I was done wrangling three-year-olds into bed. I'd just stick her in bed with me and we'd watch TV together. 

Our favorite show was The Sopranos. 

She loved the theme song and would climb out of bed and dance when James Gandolfini showed up on screen, cigar firmly entrenched in the corner of his mouth, cruising down the Jersey turnpike. Wearing only her little Pull-Up, she would sing with gusto that famous last line, "Got yourself a gun. Got yourself a gun. Got yourself a gun." 

The memories. 

      Angel Baby

      Badly Parented Angel Baby 

Since she only went to preschool a couple times a week, she and I rode our trusty steed of a Honda Pilot through many hours of the day together. 

And we would crank up the jams. By that time, I didn't care about bad words or iffy lines. Heck, I didn't care if she was playing outside in only her Disney Princess underpants and cowboy boots. It was 90 degrees. There was no chance of frostbite. All good. 

Like me, my baby loved some of the brightest talents of that time of the 90s. We both loved Eminem's music back then especially his most excellent song, "Without Me."
"Guess who's back, back again. Shady's back, tell a friend." 

To my credit, I only played the censored version of that song. I had to draw the line on bad parenting somewhere and that song, definitely went over the line.  

We also loved Snoop Dogg, U2, No Doubt and Mary J Blige, just to name a few of the many. 

We didn't listen to just 90s music though. Some of our other favorites were the soundtrack from "Oklahoma", Stevie Nicks, "O' Mio Bambino Caro" by Maria Callas, (we could not get through that one without shedding a tear), Bob Dylan, The Beatles, especially their song "Julia." And yes, I told her it was written for her. We loved Patsy Cline, the Bee Gee's, my beloved Prince, Hall and Oates, before they sold out to cheesy pop, the Boss, anything by Dolly Parton. The list goes on and on and on. My girl learned about the wonders of music in that Honda Pilot as we drove the miles and days away. 

But we reserved a special place in our hearts back then for Queen Mary J. She was simply and splendidly  IT with her album, "No More Drama." Mary J's voice is a marvel. You can feel her heartbreak, her pain, every nuance of what's she's going through in her voice. This album was a confirmation of the pain she'd endured and the reclaiming of a life she deserved. It is an utterly dazzling body of work.  And I cannot tell you how much my girl and I loved that album and Mary J. 

The year before, I'd been to Italy and while there, I'd bought this magnificent black, velvet floppy hat. It was perfect for Italy, but in Florida I didn't have much use for it. My baby, however, loved that hat. The minute she saw it, she claimed it, telling me it was her Mary J. Blige hat. And that girl, who was born with glamour queen style, always made sure I had her Mary J hat tucked in my tote bag everywhere we went. 

She wore it whenever she felt it was an appropriate time for a black, velvet floppy hat, which some days was to the grocery store and other days it was to Sunday Mass. But mainly she wore it whenever we turned on Mary's "Family Affair." 

She would call out from her car seat, "Mama, give me my Mary J Blige hat." And she would slide on my big Target sunglasses which she had also claimed for her own and she'd tilt her Mary J hat just so and she and I would sing, 

"Let's get it crunk upon
Have fun up on, in this dancery
We got y'all open, now ya floatin'
So you gots to dance for me..."

I can still see it like it was yesterday, my little three-year-old with her Renaissance princess curls cascading down from that big black hat, car seat dancing with all her sass as she and I belted, "Mary J is in the spot tonight and I'ma make it feel alright."

Those were the sweetest of times. 

In a matter of seconds, that little girl grew up. And remarkably, even with my bad parenting, she did not go to jail. She did not end up on the pole. She did not feel the need to join the Mafia of New Jersey. 

She did not even become a Kung Fu Fighter. 

She did, however, fly high. She left high school in Florida and set out on her own for college in California where she majored in Enology (winemaking) with a minor in Chemistry. (She did not get that part of her brain from me. The glamour queen is all my doing, but Chemistry? That's some hard shit.) She now works in production in the wine business, learning the ropes to become a winemaker. She has beautiful Henry, the best cat I've ever known. And she has a good, kind man by her side who just happens to be a bona fide cowboy. Seriously, a real calf-roping, rodeo cowboy. 

                          Fun With My Girls

      She really did turn out alright, I promise you. 

                          On The Ranch

      She works in a cave. 

      And she climbs way too tall ladders. 

In short, she has a lovely life in California. So, I don't know, I guess I did something right along the way.

Along with all of that, she is my kindred spirit when it comes to music. She loves all music, modern and decades old—all the genres. If it's good music, if it speaks to her, she loves it. We share our music finds all the time and her choices please me greatly. 

Now to shift the story for a half a second. 

I am not a sports girl. I do not follow football, hockey, soccer, etc...

Baseball, I like a bit and boxing, MMA, anything to do with hitting, I love A LOT. I'm not sure why, maybe it was my obsession with Rocky and Sylvester Stallone back in the day. 

But for the most part, I am meh about all the sportsballs. 

But I do love a good Super Bowl party. Mainly, because I love parties, I love snacks and I love the halftime show. And if you have Queso at your Super Bowl party, well, I promise you, I will attend if I'm invited. 

The other night my daughter, my little bad-parented, rock star of a daughter texted me late at night. 
I didn't see it because of the three hour time difference between us. This one fact often makes my heart ache. 

In the morning, I saw her text. It was a link, so I opened it. 

I hadn't even had my morning coffee yet but I was so pumped, I jumped out of bed with a yelp. 

It was a trailer preview for this year's Super Bowl. It begins with a chess game and the pieces being moved into place. 

And Eminem is there writing out rap lyrics in the air. Across from him, his alter ego Slim Shady is doing the same while Eminem's masterful rapping is in the background. And then Eminem's phone dings. 

This segues into another chess piece being moved and the iconic song "The Next Episode." If you are not familiar with the song, one of my favorite jams, it starts out like this: 

  It's the mother**** D-O-double-G
  (Snoop Dog!)
 You know I'm mobbin' with the D R E"

I do not care where I am when this song comes on, I jump out of my chair, white girl scream, throw my hands in the air and commence to dancing. I hope it is never played at a church service or a funeral that I'm attending, because I don't know if I can refrain myself. 

And then, there he is, Snoop behind the wheel of one of the most bad ass lowriding cars of all time. Seriously, I want this car. 

Little known fact, if you are not fully aware of Snoop's talents, he is not only a talented rapper and songwriter who drives cool cars, he is a Renaissance man. 

He is a rapper, an actor in both film and TV, with his own reality show. He is a game show host, a certified football coach, a boxing commentator where he famously said during a Mike Tyson fight, "This is like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue." 

He is also clearly hilarious. 

He is a licensed medicinal cannabis grower. He has his own wine label and he is a cook with several cookbooks to his name. He is a partner in a restaurant and word on the street is, he has a fantastic fried chicken recipe made with barbecue potato chips. 

He is also one of Martha Stewart's best friends. They bonded over cooking. And almost every year at my favorite music festival, BottleRock in Napa Valley, Snoop is there. Not to rap, mind you, but at the cooking expo with his bestie, Martha. And at BottleRock a few years back, he set the Guinness World record for largest cocktail. 

Gin and Juice, of course. 

He is also an amazing vocal coach. He was the surprise mega mentor coach this year on one of my favorite shows, "The Voice." He was fantastic, sharp and on point, gave insightful advice and charmed everyone. Seriously, the Voice fans fell in LOVE with him and I have a feeling most Voice fans are not very familiar with the works of Snoop Dogg. They started a petition to get him as a regular coach, but Snoop's got barbecue chip coated fried chicken and weed and music and Martha Stewart and all the things keeping him busy. Sadly, I do not think Snoop has time to keep us charmed as a Voice judge on a regular basis. 

Snoop Dogg also knows his way around wearing a fur. 

If I could pick anyone as one of my guests at a dinner party, Snoop would be in my top five. We could wear matching furs and talk for hours. 

But enough gushing. 

Snoop is driving his fancy, fine lowrider and it's hopping when suddenly his phone dings. 

This segues into another played chess piece and OMG! 

"Family Affair" starts up and there she is, Queen Mary getting all glammed up, walking a red carpet and posing in front of a very fancy car, when suddenly her phone dings and you see her speeding along in the fancy car in a fur, on her way to Los Angeles. 

Another chess piece and this segues into the song "Humble" by Kendrick Lamar and here's Kendrick at a desk furiously scribbling out lyrics. If you're not familiar with Kendrick's work, give him a listen. He can speed rap like no one's business, but most importantly, he is a poet of a songwriter. He speaks of Compton where he was raised and the futility and the loss that shaped him. His writing earned him a Pulitzer Prize, the first ever for a rapper. 

Chess piece, again which segues into a stunning visual of a keyboard in the ocean's tide with the one and only Dr. Dre walking on the beach. 

And then this incredible roster comes together as all of these talented legends meet up via their planes, cars and hilariously, Kendrick on his bike, while one of the best hip hop songs of all time, "California Love" by TuPac Shakur plays. They all walk in together to LA's stadium. 

And This. This, my friends, is the Super Bowl halftime show for this year. 

43 Grammys between them. 


I cannot think of a more epic group to play the Super Bowl.

I have not been this excited since the halftime shows of Prince, U2 and Bruce Springsteen, collectively. 

I hope to attend a Super Bowl party. I haven't officially been asked anywhere yet because people don't associate me with sportsball. But I know several football families who would welcome me, even though I am illiterate at first downs, Hail Mary's, blitzing and the rest. However, I do know of Tom Brady, because most of my friends are Patriot fans who live in Florida and as the world knows, now we have Tommy Boy. Who would have ever dreamed in our lifetime there'd be a pandemic and Tom Brady would be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer? Go freaking figure.

But enough of the sportsball talk, I am just hoping someone will have a Mexican themed Super Bowl party with lots and lots of Queso. 

I'll be the one at the Queso bowl for most of the night. But when halftime comes, I will be glued to the television, telling everyone to shush. 

And I will be thinking of my baby girl, miles and oceans away from me, watching these people, the ones that shaped our time together, perform as one. I might just search for that Mary J hat and send it to her before the show with just the note, 


I know she will. 

I hope you all watch these legends and even if you're not into this type of music, give them a shot. At its best, Hip Hop music is raw and beautiful and poetic, and these legends are the masters of their craft. 

I don't know who the chess player was behind these masterful moves, but I must say, splendidly done. 

I feel like this is our sign that the bad is all behind us. I feel like this show is the mark of better days to come. The light at the end of his very, long, dark, brutal tunnel is coming. I can feel it.

For as Mary J. says, 

"Oh, it feels so good
When you let go of all the drama in your life
Now you're free from all the pain 
Free from all the game 
Free from all the stress
So find your happiness
I don't know
Only God knows where the story ends for me
But I know where the story begins
It's up to us to choose
Whether we win or lose
And I choose to win"

Here's to choosing to win. Here's to the better days to come for all of us.

Check out this amazing trailer, right here. I cannot wait. 



Ann said...

I am so glad you are blogging again!

Jen said...

Please keep blogging! I love these little journeys of yours.

Cool Stuff said...

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
From The Sound of Music: I Must Have Done Something Good

Love this and all of your posts.
I even designed my own Laundry Hurts My Feelings poster and had it printed on canvas with a stock photo image of a woman falling into a washing machine at a laundromat- it hangs in my laundry room. I can email it to you, you can print your own but it makes me laugh. I have 3 kids too, laundry is real, ha!


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