I wrote the book Concrete Boots 11 years ago based on my employment with a local construction company. I have been in the process of editing my book with hopes of eventually being published and getting future book deals.
However, the birth of the Chiquita and the subsequent post partum depression from which I suffered unfortunately led to my book being put on hold in order for me to get well. Now that I’m healthy it is my goal to get my book published this year.
Please enjoy an excerpt from the (hopefully) forthcoming Concrete Boots.
The stress of M.A. Crimson & Sons was getting to Jen; who was bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball between the Prairie Path Villas Sales Office, the field office and the main office. She was bouncing back and forth with orders from Michael, from Bill and even orders from Erin. It was unbelievable how much time she spent driving around during the day as opposed to actually working.
Jen had a lot on her plate between Michael’s personal life and professional life. She had never had a job like this before but the pay was so good that she was sucked into her new life. Her new life was designer clothes, weekly mani/pedis, weekly car washes, planning her destination wedding – complete with a designer gown which was being handmade for her by a designer out of Miami! She was spending money like it grew on trees, no well-vodka drinks for Jen anymore. She was drinking only good stuff – Grey Goose “skinny bitches” and Patron shots. She started to feel like nothing was out of her reach; she could have it all. She would have it all. Her house, her summer home, and even the BMW she always wanted since she was 16.
She was losing herself, and she didn’t know how to get herself back. She was sinking deeper and deeper, but couldn’t figure out how to get out of the hole she was sinking into. The hole was a lot of debt. It was a hole full of arrogance. She had everything she always wanted. She graduated college, she bought a condo, she bought a house, and she had nice cars, clothes and impeccable style. She was making a lot of money. She was rising to the top.
Michael and Jen had dreams of Michael building a bigger construction company with Jen running the office and acting as Michael’s right-hand-man. She would have several employees working under her and continue to make more and more money as Michael made more and more money. He even said it was silly to pay her a car allowance of $400/month, which was a car payment. Maybe he should just buy her a company car, “A BMW you’ve always wanted?” He had asked.
YES, YES, YES.
Jen’s car lease was up in a few months. Could she really be getting a company car? A BMW? And she was even due to get a raise in the coming months. It was a dream come true.
But, do dreams really come true? Maybe sometimes…maybe for Snow White and Cinderella. But, even celebrities say that with all the money and power they have they miss their privacy. Or the people who have anything they could ever ask for financially, but they don’t have their health. That’s how Jen felt. Yes, she had anything she could have wanted or needed. But, she was missing a big part of her life. And it was killing her.
She was able to push the feelings of loneliness, bitterness, sadness and anger so deep inside that it’s like they almost weren’t there anymore. She became selfish. She forgot to give to those less fortunate because she wanted a new pair of shoes. She started to get hard and cold saying things like, “I can’t depend on anyone but myself,” and “I don’t need anyone else except ME.”
Who was this person? What had happened to the Jen that was raised to be responsible and caring? The Jen that was a good person who cared about other people’s feelings and thoughts? The Jen who was full of love? She could blame it on several things – the money, Michael, her family.
Her family had abandoned her. When she chose to be with an older man, a man who was still legally married though out of the relationship, her family turned on her. They didn’t agree with Jen choosing to be with a man eighteen years her senior. They didn’t agree with her choosing to be with a man who was not “officially” divorced and who had two children.
Does Jen regret the way the relationship unfolded? Absolutely! Does she wish she could go back and change it? Every day. But she can’t. She was young, and she made mistakes. She should have known better, but she followed her heart. She met this man, and she fell in love. She knew he was the man for her. Of course it was difficult with his ex-wife and children, but Jen didn’t care. She knew they were meant to be.
Anyone who comes from a big Italian family knows the tight-knit bubble that Italians wrap themselves in. There is one patriarch – he makes all the rules – and everyone else obeys. You don’t leave your family. Blood is thicker than water.
The funny thing about Italians is they think they know everything and they do everything right. Jen knew that plenty of people in her family had made their own mistakes, yet she still loves and supports them. She looks beyond the not so good things they have done and knows that despite their mistakes they are good people. They didn’t do the same for her. They disagreed with her decision. They thought it was wrong, and they didn’t support her. If you be with this man, you are out of the family. Those words were never spoken to her, but actions speak louder. Jen didn’t feel welcome at family functions and no one called her to congratulate her on her house or her engagement. They had all left her. They had all deemed her this villain who went against them, who went against “the family”.
Jen wasn’t going against “the family”. She was simply trying to be her own person. She wanted to make her own mistakes and learn from them. She wanted to follow her heart. Jen was a romantic since first grade when she fell in “love” with a boy and went home and declared: “I want to marry him.” Jen was always the little girl who wanted to get married and have lots of babies. And when Jen was a freshman in high school her friends dubbed her the first one to get married. They always said she would get married at 20-years-old and would marry a 40-year-old doctor.
Somehow the tides had turned. She ended up going to college and concentrating on building a career mainly thanks to her parents who always pushed her to succeed. And while she was now marrying the older man they despised she was not 20, but would be 28. And she wasn’t marrying a doctor, but a blue-collar worker who took pride in his work and supported his family.
No matter how sure of something you are in life, when the people who are supposed to love and support you despite anything – anything! – don’t have your back it can cause doubt. Doubt is a scary feeling because the whole premise of doubt is uncertainty. Being uncertain in something as big and important as a marriage can really cause someone to lose grip.
Not only did Jen’s mom openly discuss her disgust with their union, but remember Erin had said that Jen was “just like her.” Then Michael started to put doubts in Jen’s head. He’d say things like, “Jen, you and I are a lot alike,” and “Jen, you and I are hard people to be in relationships with, we’re selfish,” and, the worst one of all, “I don’t think you want to get married.”
The last one sat with Jen for a while, scrolling through her head over and over. You don’t want to get married. You don’t want to get married. YOU DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED. “Yes, I do,” Jen told herself. Jen loved Brett. Didn’t she? Maybe everyone knew better than Jen? Maybe Brett was more like family to Jen, since she had lost her own support system. Brett became her support system. Brett was her rock; he took care of her. Maybe Jen loved Brett but wasn’t “in love” with Brett? And now Jen was blinded by the money. Now she wanted her BMW, and a bigger house, and, and, and….she wouldn’t have these things with Brett. That’s what Erin told her; that’s what her parents told her.
Jen felt everything around her crumbling. Why did she feel so lost and so unsure of herself? Jen always had her shit together. Between the wedding and her (lack of) family and Michael – who was practically the biggest stressor of them all – she felt like she was going to have a nervous breakdown. Jen doesn’t handle stress well. She should have seen this as a sign that it was time to get away from Michael, a boss that yelled at her and belittled her almost on a daily basis, a boss that had Jen completely wrapped up in his life in order for HIM to get through his days. But what about Jen? How was she to get through her days? The road that Jen had been walking on for the past 27 years had led her astray.
With Jen on the verge of losing her mind she actually lost her soul. She let a lot of people down, but mostly herself. She learned a lesson that lives with her everyday, which she will be ashamed of until the day she dies. She had hoped to die with this secret, but she would have to face it, overcome it and try to make things right.
The fine print:
“Although this memoir is based on real events in my life, I’ve taken a few liberties for the purpose of moving the story forward. In some cases names and places have been altered, characters combined, time compressed, and events taken out of sequence.”