Day 120 – Sleepwalkers unite

So we’re going on day 3 or so of Stevie making fun of me for my latest sleepwalking episode. Well, there wasn’t so much walking this time. Instead, I was dreaming that Stevie and I and the kids were out somewhere together. It was some sort of performance or maybe even a church serve. The kids were getting a little restless and starting to make some noise so I caught Cadence’s attention and gave her the signal to quiet down.

That lasted all of a minute or two, and then the little boogers started to get loud again. There were two empty chairs between us, so I reached out, tapped the chair next to me and then snapped my fingers twice to get their attention and give them a very stern “quiet down or you’re going to be in trouble” sort of Mom look.

But at the sound of the snapping, I was suddenly awake, lying in bed, and Stevie was looking over at me asking what I was doing. Apparently I’d tapped him firmly on the chest and snapped my fingers in his face.

There’s seriously nothing more embarrassing than waking up the person next to you with your weird sleepwalking antics. I’m never going to live down the 4-5 consecutive nights in a row this past August when I woke Stevie by getting up out of bed and trying to lead tour groups around the house and speaking in my best game show host voice.

Hey, at least he can never say that life with me is dull, right?

Day 118 – Twelve years and a day

Twelve years and one day ago, everything I owned had been thrown in boxes to save it from the rainwater that flooded my Yonkers apartment. My waterlogged furniture had been hauled out to the curb for the garbage men to collect. And Stevie and I drove out to Long Island for our own private wedding in Pastor Schenkel’s office, before heading to the Candlelight Inn to celebrate with hot wings and beer.

In some ways, that chaos seems to have set the tone for our lives together. I can’t say there’s ever been a dull moment since. Ups. Downs. Twists. Turns. Moments when all we could really do was just hold onto each other and wait for the hits to stop coming (life has a way of throwing some real sucker punches, you know). And in the midst of it all, there have been a whole lot of really beautiful moments too.

And you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Twelve years and a day of marriage, and this August we’re coming up on 21 years since we first met. I tell ya, it’s getting harder and harder to remember what my life was like without Stevie Romano in it. And I think that’s pretty awesome.

Can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Day 3 – Texting & Parenting

I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where I don’t feel like a liar saying I’m an open book. Ask me anything and I’ll tell you what I think, even if it’s not a popular opinion, even if it’s uncomfortable. I think I’ve just gotten to a point where it’s far too exhausting not to speak my truth or own my opinions. I’d much rather people know what I’m thinking or where I stand than to come across as “hard-to-read” or ambivalent.

On the flip side, I appreciate matter of factness. I sometimes think living nine years in New York had something to do with it. I’ll go to my grave arguing that New Yorkers get a bad rap. They’re stereotyped as being mean, overly aggressive, loud, obnoxious, any number of adjectives that basically translates to people generally believing all New Yorkers go out of their way to be assholes.

(Okay, so maybe I can’t really argue that New Yorkers aren’t loud, but come on, in a city with that many people and that much traffic and that much noise, they’ve simply evolved to have a baseline volume that’s closer to rock concert than bedtime lullaby. We really can’t fault them for that, now can we?)

In my experience, New Yorkers are some of the kindest, most attentive, and most delightfully down-to-earth people I’ve met. That being said, they’re busy people, and they have a low tolerance for bullshit. They’re going to tell you exactly what they think. Direct. To the point. And then move on. Call it aggressive or abrasive if you want, but I’d choose that simple blunt honesty over an intricately choreographed dance to soften the truth any day.

We’ve got such a limited amount of time to spend on this planet–why waste it trying to be something or someone we’re not?

One of my friends texted me this week, not exactly seeking advice, but I could tell she had things weighing on her mind and that always spurs me to speak. She’s at that point in her life where she’s married, progressing well in her career, just bought her first home, and she’s thinking about kids. She understands what a monumental decision it is to bring a new little life into this world. She knows that a baby changes the course of everything.

Her text opened a vein of thoughts, so I took a few moments to type a reply.

**Disclaimer to anyone who ever decides to text me–While I use and greatly appreciate emojis, GIFs, and a well-placed meme, you will never get a short, cursory LOL, TTYL, or OMG-filled response from me. If full sentences and paragraphs via text bother you, it’s best not to engage. You’ve been warned.

Friday

The kids are in bed. I’ve got some Empyrean Carpe Brewem Peanut Butter Porter (which is officially my new favorite beer), a Gilmore Girls binge happening on the TV, and I’m about to get some writing done. The only thing that could make this Friday night better is if Stevie were home, but let’s face it, I made him sit through Gilmore Girls once, I doubt he’d indulge a second marathon. I mean, he loves me, but even our friends-for-five-years-before-dating, married-twice, we-have-a-no-return-to-the-dating-pool-clause relationship must have its limits, and that might just be it.

Nine Years and Nine Months

Nine years ago there was a massive rainstorm, a flooded apartment, a frenzied move, and an impromptu wedding in Pastor Schenkel’s office on Long Island. Stevie wore shorts and his blue flame Converse. I wore jeans and my flowered Doc Martens. We celebrated at the Candlelight Inn with hot wings and beer.

Drummer Boy

Anyone who knows Stevie and me has probably heard the looooooong story of how we met and how looooooong it took us to actually start dating and eventually end up where we are today–married in this house full of mayhem, with hound dog and kids and a whole lot of laughter.

I won’t say it was love at first sight. I believe that falling in love with someone is eventual, something that happens over time. It can happen quickly for some. For others, it might take years. But love, real love, isn’t just a feeling that can wash over you the first moment you lay eyes on someone. Instead, it is a deep and unbreakable bond that forms with that one person who just seems to fit into your life in a way that no one else ever could.

So no, I didn’t fall in love with Stevie the first time I saw him. That was a gradual (albeit quick) development over the course of my freshman year. But from that very first moment I watch him jump up onto the stage in Schoenfeld Campus Center and start heckling the Orientation crowd, I was completely in awe of him. I didn’t even know him, yet somehow it felt as though I’d known him forever.

And by the time he sat down to treat the audience to a typical Steven Romano badass drum solo, I was hooked.

Drums were always a big part of my life. My Uncle Tim was a drummer, and I remember always feeling drawn to his drumset in my grandparents’ basement. I knew I wasn’t supposed to touch them, but I couldn’t help myself. I’d sneak a pair of his drumsticks out of the bag and tap them on the drum heads and cymbals, lightly so that no one upstairs could hear me.

Band started in 3rd grade at Cheylin Elementary, and the students had a chance to try out different instruments over the course of a few weeks until the figured out which one caught their interest.

There was no “trying out” for me. I picked up a snare drum and never put it down again.

By 5th grade, I’d played every percussion instrument there was, and was saving up my lawn mowing money to buy my own drum set. If memory serves, I bought it from a high school kid named Jason Elijah for $350. It was damn near perfect, didn’t even need new heads. I set it up in my room immediately and, much to my sister’s dismay, took to practicing regularly.

Through middle and high school I was in marching band, pep band, jazz band. I even played with a few groups at church when they needed a drummer. I played bass, snare, cymbals. I marched with tenor drums in parades and field shows, earning my nickname Tenorchick from a guy named Jason who came through town with the traveling Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. Music and drums were always a major part of my life, so sitting there in the crowd, watching Stevie lose himself in an epic drum solo that rattled the windows of the gym and made my heart feel like it was skipping beats with every BOOM…BOOM…BOOMing echo of the bass, it felt for a moment like I might be getting my first real glimpse of heaven.

Take my love of drums and music and double it and you might come close to understanding Stevie’s obsession. For me, playing in bands steadily declined when I left my set behind and moved 2,000 miles to start college. For Stevie, Concordia opened up an endless line of doors. He was one of the only drummers on campus, and was always up for any jam session, performance, or gig anyone threw at him. One year, at a Band-Aid event, Stevie played for 12 hours with something like 7 different bands, only sitting out for one set when one of the other bands actually had their own drummer. In his years at Concordia, he played everything from tympani for a symphony orchestra and pit percussion for on-campus musical productions to covers of Fleetwood Mac and Type O Negative.

He’s played in bands called, El Pollo Loco, Foerthcore, John Stamos, Kelly and her Friends, The Phantom Menace, and various other groups that may or may not have had names. To this day, there are rumblings of a Foerthcore reunion, and who knows, maybe one day we’ll get Jay, Andy, Kuder, Josh, Scott, and their namesake Foerth out here to Lincoln for an epic event.

You all don’t even understand how much that would rock.

Since moving to the new house, Stevie has been itching to get his drums set up and start playing again. He had both of our sets all set up in the basement, right before the freak summer storm left us with water seeping up through cracks in the concrete floor. We quickly moved the drums to higher ground, and there they’ve sat.

I can’t even tell you when Stevie made the passing comment about the awesome set of miniature drums our friend Tracey had made and posted pictures of on his Facebook page. I know it was shortly after Henry was born, because I was still very much in the newborn fog, running on little more than instincts and adrenaline. But somehow that comment made it through and a little light bulb lit up in my brain that this might be a fun gift to surprise Stevie with for his birthday, and a few days later I found myself searching around on Facebook and trying to find where Tracey got his replica set.

I finally tracked down a page for ANT Mini Drums, and by November I was reaching out to the fellow in Indonesia to inquire about ordering a set for Stevie.

Keeping the secret was difficult. I spent a couple lunch hours poking around in the basement and trying to take pictures of all the pieces of Stevie’s set, and then putting the drums and the hardware back on the shelves just like he had them, so I didn’t arouse suspicion. Then, I scored Stevie’s facebook and some of our old photo boxes for pictures of his drums actually set up to play. I even drew a sketch of the setup and emailed them to the guy, wanting to make sure I got everything right.

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Now paying for it, that was a bit trickier. See, way back when Stevie and I first started dating, he let it be known that if we ever got married, he would be solely in charge of our finances. It’s not really a control thing…it’s more the simple fact that the way I do my banking and budgeting makes the blood vessels in his brain bulge and threaten to burst and, well, I love him too much to be the cause of his aneurysm.

See, I’m the type who always knows approximately what I have in the bank. I round everything up, and make sure I have at least $100 spare dollars sitting around at all times in case of an emergency. Stevie, on the other hand, is the type who needs to balance everything down the last penny. The first thing he does each morning is log onto our bank and credit card accounts to reconcile and account for every dime that we spend, save, and donate. Most times, he knows how much I charged at the store for groceries before I even have a chance to get home and empty the bags. And while I absolutely love that he has taken full responsibility and I don’t have to worry at all about dealing with the finances, it does make buying surprise gifts for him rather difficult.

I managed to squirrel away the amount I needed in my Paypal account and sent off the order in mid-November. The artist assured me the drums would arrive before Christmas, and I would be able to surprise Stevie on his birthday. Unfortunately there were a few delays, and I’m pretty sure that Stevie either gave up on a gift from me this year, or thought I was lying every time I told him his gift was on its way.

Then yesterday, it finally arrived, and boy was it worth it! Stevie’s face lit up, and I watched as he carefully inspected each piece of the tiny drums, saying, “Hell yeah, this is awesome babe. It looks just like my set!”

Mission accomplished. Thanks ANT Mini Drums! You rock, almost as much as my husband.

Happy belated Birthday Stevie!

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