Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Last Week My Children’s Dad Died

Candle and flower

We married in Las Vegas in 1997, eight days after we met. I was 26, he was 50. Twelve years and two children later he was sentenced to ten years in prison for a violent attack on me. He served half the time and was then deported. He carried out what I can only describe as a hate campaign against me, beginning in prison, and continuing from afar following the deportation. Last week he died.

I finally understand what people mean when they say “I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.”  The usual response to that is “There is no supposed,” and of course that’s true, but it’s nevertheless an accurate reflection of where I’m at.

This isn’t a post where I want to say bad things about him – I was just giving the background so that you can understand why I would have conflicting emotions about this. My overriding emotion of course is for my children; I know what to feel for them, but I don’t know what to feel for myself. I’ve tried to focus on the fun times we had during the early years in Vegas, before everything went very bad, because holding on to negative feelings helps nobody. What’s the point in any bitterness now?

My children have been through such a lot. They were 9 and 6 when it happened, they’re 17 and 14 now. While he was in prison here in England they visited him many times, but since he was deported they’ve only seen him once. They still kept a close relationship though – emailing, messaging, speaking, a few times a week. Whatever he did, he was still their Dad and this is incredibly hard for them.

The news came early last Tuesday morning. We spent most of the day just sitting on my daughter’s bed watching the TV, interspersed with me messaging people to tell them the news, and leaping up to do little bits of housework which is my default when I’m not sure what else to do.  Every so often I would ask them a question, or share a memory about their Dad, just to give a prompt if they wanted to talk about him.

During that afternoon my daughter decided she wanted to go out with her boyfriend that evening as a distraction. So I asked my son if he wanted to go out too. He did. He chose the cinema. I took him to Five Guys for a burger first, and we were served by an extremely friendly and enthusiastic young man. After taking our order, he looked at us with a huge grin and asked “So, have you two had a good day?” and then stood there beaming at us, waiting for an answer. My son and I stared blankly at him for a couple of seconds and then both instinctively laughed. In my family we’ve always had the ability to find humour, even in the gloomiest of times, and it was nice to have that lighter moment then.

Saturday was the funeral. He had been living in the Philippines after remarrying a young woman there, so there was no way we were going to be able to travel out there. Instead we lit a candle for him at home.

It was crazy marriage from beginning to end. I wasn’t simply a blameless victim, I made plenty of mistakes too along the way, and at times I behaved badly. But we have two wonderful children out of it, and that’s the most important thing. As you can imagine there’s far more to the story than I’ve summarised here. But right now there is nothing more to say.

 

Awards, and Tag, and Questions! Oh My!

Since my last award acceptance post back in March – The Versatile Blogger Award, I have been given several more blogging awards, and have also been tagged and questioned (in a blogging way, not a police arresting me way). I have been very remiss in acknowledging all these, so thank you very much to everyone, and here we go…

I was given the Versatile Blogger Award by They call me Betty, Craig Hallam, and Jennifer M Eaton

Versatile Blogger Award

I was given the Sunshine Award by Robin Coyle

Sunshine Award

I was given the Blog on Fire Award by Kasia James

Blog on fire Award

I was given the lovely Daisy Award by the lovely Subtlekate

Daisy Award

I was given the Ask Me Anything Award by mskatykins

Ask Me Anything Award

The point of this Ask Me Anything Award is that you can ask me anything (within reason!) in the comments below and I will answer honestly in another post – this may or may not work depending on whether anyone does actually ask me anything! So if you have any burning questions to ask me then ask away below, and if you don’t then we’ll just pretend this never happened.

And Finally, also from mskatykins is the question tag. Mskatykins tagged me to answer eleven questions of her choosing. So here they are, with my answers:

1. What is your favourite ice-cream flavour and why?

I couldn’t possibly pick just one, or say why. I like ice-cream that has lots of chunky bits of things in it, I don’t really like chocolate flavour ice-cream, but I like it to have big bits of chocolate things in it, maybe some marshmallow, some toffee, pralinated nuts are good, ooh and more chocolate things.

2. Do blondes really have more fun?

Well I’m not a natural blonde myself *gasp*, but I would say that there is something about being blonde that makes me feel good about myself. I have had a number of different colours over the years and even though a lot of people say they prefer me with my natural dark hair, I just feel more vibrant with blonde. So if vibrant = fun then yes.

3. What is the weirdest dream that you remembering having? (I’m talking sleepy dream here.)

Most dreams are pretty weird aren’t they, but one particularly strange one I remember is that I was staying in a mansion house for a weekend, and a murder took place, but instead of it being awful, it was as if it was part of a staged murder-mystery event. Everything I was doing was being described by a narrator whose voice I could hear loudly and clearly. Within the dream I just couldn’t work out if things were real or not.

4. Did you grow to become/do what you always dreamed of as a child? If not, why not?

I dreamed of being a dancer. At 16 I was offered a place at a good dancing college in London and was all set to go, but over the summer prior to starting I moved in with my boyfriend instead and had to start working and so gave up the dream.

5. What is the most annoying fad that you’ve ever succumbed to?

The only annoying one I can think of was those little anklet trainer socks that had mini pompoms on the back, they were annoying because the pom poms would sometimes not get on well with the back of my shoes.

6. If you could steal someone’s identity for a day, who would you be and what you would you do as them?

I’m a bit unclear on this question, whether it means actually be them for a day, and therefore know what is going on inside their head, or just own their identity, but still be inside my own head. Maybe I’m over-analysing it, but it makes a difference and I therefore don’t feel able to answer it.

7. Where would you most and least like to visit in the world?

Most like – Any of these will do: Top 10 Most Amazing Tropical Islands

Least like – I don’t want to hurt any place’s feelings, so I’ll pass on answering that one.

8. What, in your opinion, is one of the best/most useful inventions ever and why?

Well ignoring things like the wheel, I’m going to go with a much more modern invention that has made a huge difference to me. It’s the satnav. I LOVE my satnav. I used to get lost all the time, and be trying to look at maps or read printed out route planners whilst driving, but then my Dad bought me a satnav and it transformed my travel. I’ve had it for a couple of years, and every time I use it, I appreciate it and am grateful for it.

9. If you could be any other species, what would you hope to be?

A dog (belonging to a good owner), they always seem to enjoy life so much.

10. If you could see one music act dead or alive, back stage, first class treatment, who would it be and where and why?

I think I’m going to go for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, back in their heyday in Las Vegas. My reason is that I lived in Vegas for a few years, and would love to go back in time to that era, hang out with those guys, and see if the rumours were true! You never know, maybe even be the subject of a few rumours myself 😉

11. Do you have any superstitions?

Well, to answer this one I shall just link to the post I did about superstitions a while ago: I’m not superstitious. But just in case…

Now I’m supposed to come up with 11 questions of my own and tag other people to answer them, I’m also supposed to nominate other people to receive the other awards I received, and some of them have other rules attached too. Sorry to be a party-pooper but I’m not going to do any of that. One reason is that last time I found it so hard to pick people, it took me hours and then I felt bad about some I left out. The other reason is that some people don’t like to take part in these things, and I’m not sure who they are, so I don’t want to thrust myself upon anyone who doesn’t want to be thrusted upon.

Sorry if I’ve missed out any I was nominated for! Just a reminder to finish off with – if you want to ask me anything, ask it below and I will answer questions in another post, if it all works out…

Getting older ain’t so bad

Vanessa standing in front of a mirror

I’m 41, and I will admit to being the type of person who does worry a bit about getting older. Not obsessively. Just a bit. Now I’m well aware that the age range of my blog readership is quite wide, and there will be people reading this who are 20 years older than me saying “41? You have NO idea what getting older is all about yet”, and there will be people reading this who are 20 years younger than me saying “41? Yeah, I can’t imagine how it feels to be THAT old!”. But whatever your perception of 41 is, we can all agree at least that I am older than I was when I was 21. And you know what? It’s not so bad. Like most women, sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and think “Hey, you’re not looking so bad for 41 girl!” and other times I look in the mirror and wonder who the hideous wrinkly is looking back at me.

Every time you roll over to a new decade it feels like quite a big deal. When you turn 20 and leave your teenage years behind, you realise that you’re now a grown-up. It’s quite a shock. When you turn 30 you realise that you weren’t as much of a grown-up at 20 as you thought you were, but now you’re REALLY a grown-up and had better start acting like one. Then when you turn 40 you give up worrying about being a grown-up. I was actually quite depressed about turning 30, it really felt like I was done being young. I was living in Las Vegas at the time and chose to go jet-skiing on Lake Mead for my 30th birthday. I had never jet-skied before, and it was the best choice I could have made. Just being out on that vast expanse of water, with the beautiful scenery around and blue sky and sunshine above, put everything into perspective and made me feel fantastic. Here I am on that day (don’t worry, I didn’t actually take my daughter out jet-skiing with me, that was just for the photo!) –

Vanessa ona jet-ski on Lake Mead

I was less worried about turning 40, I had done a better job of resigning myself to it leading up to the day. For my 40th I went for a weekend in London with my lovely partner Neil. We live less than two hours from London but we never get to go away just the two of us, so it was a real treat and that’s what I chose to do rather than having a party or anything (I’m really not a party person). Here we are enjoying our time away together…both on our phones; the picture is actually a reflection of ourselves that we are photographing in a strange mirror sculpture thingy they had there (Do you see? No? Never mind) –

Vanessa and NeilVanessa in hotel room

People often say that some of the good things about getting older are that you lose a lot of your insecurities, you become more confident in yourself, and you care less what other people think about you. All that is true, but what really made me write this post was a realisation I had yesterday. I went to an audition for a little part in a TV advert. The other people auditioning were all around my age, and whilst in the waiting room we smiled and said hello and goodbye to each other as people arrived and left, we exchanged a couple of compliments about clothing or hair, wished each other good luck, commented on the weather etc. Nothing major, but it was all quite relaxed. I have only just got back into acting over the last 6 months or so. The last time I properly attended auditions and castings of this type was in my late 20s, and attending auditions with people in their 20s was very different – the girls eyed each other up and down passing harsh judgments (or if they didn’t, then you felt that they were which was as bad!), girls were bitching amongst themselves about others, any pleasantries that were exchanged felt false, it was a brutal and scary place to be in an audition waiting room at that age.

Of course I’m not saying that every person in their 20s is bitchy and insecure, and every person in their 40s is kind and confident, of course not, there are all types of people in all the age groups. But my personal experience and perception is that generally, when you get to our age, you realise that life is much better if you’re warm and pleasant to others, and just accept yourself for who you are, warts and all. So for those of you who are still in your teens, 20s and 30s, don’t worry about reaching 40, it’s really not so bad. As for 50+, well come back and ask me in 10 years time.

P.S. The photo of me with the mirror at the top was taken last weekend at my friends Gretchen and John’s house. I shouldn’t just use a picture of their house without at least posting a link to their website which is all about the beautiful and unusual music they perform together: http://www.worldtreemusic.com/

My 10 on Tuesday

.Vanessa as Junior Miss Pontins

A bit of frivolity today. I’ve seen a few bloggers doing this ’10 on Tuesday’ thing. My understanding is that it started out with people asking 10 specific questions on a Tuesday, which others then answered on their own blog. Other people seem have adopted the theme of 10 on Tuesday by just doing their own random 10 things on a Tuesday. I may have completely misunderstood the whole thing, but I’m going to go with it anyway and do 10 facts about me that you probably don’t know (unless you’re one of my close friends, in which case you will certainly know some of them).

1) When I was 6, I lived for a year up in the French Alps with just my mother and another family. We were away from society, completely self-sufficient with no electricity/plumbing etc. I have a very good memory of my childhood and will probably write more about this experience at some point.

2) In 1982 I won Junior Miss Pontin’s whilst on a school trip, hence the photo at the top of this post. I’m pretty sure it was the socks that swung it for me

3) When I was in my late 20s/early 30s I lived in Las Vegas for four and a half years. During that time I appeared in a few TV adverts for casinos.

4) During an actual performance of a play I was in a few years ago, a fellow actor accidentally stamped on my hand on stage and broke my finger. I carried on through the rest of the play with my finger swelling, my fingernail hanging off, and blood dripping all over the stage (what a trooper eh?).

5) One day in the mid 90s, a big black limo pulled up to where I was standing and the driver got out to ask me directions. Whilst I was speaking with him, the windows of the limo rolled down and inside were the five Take That boys! They started calling out comments to me and laughing (not unkindly, just messing about). I turned into an absolutely pathetic girly giggling mess who completely lost the power of speech.

6) My Dad (an electronics engineer) taught me to wire a plug when I was 8 years old. I don’t think he knew that I used to go around the house unwiring and rewiring plugs to practise after that.

7) I am allergic to Quorn (yes that’s Quorn, not corn). Or I should probably say intolerant rather than allergic. This is a strange thing for me because I have a strong stomach and can eat anything. I have never been allergic/intolerant/sensitive to anything, yet if I eat even a small piece of Quorn I develop unbelievably excruciating stomach pains.

8) When I was working as a PA on the outskirts of NW London in my 20s, the Managing Director one day asked me to take his car to go and collect a VIP visitor from the train station which was a few minutes drive away (when I say VIP, it’s not anyone you would have heard of, but he was a VIP in the industry we were in). I was a bit nervous, partly because the visitor was a bit of a legend in our game, and partly because I was driving the boss’s big flashy expensive car. After picking him up, I took a wrong turn and ended up on an unfamiliar one-way system which then took me onto a motorway. We drove for many miles up the motorway, where I developed a nervous and slightly hysterical laugh that went on for an uncomfortably long amount of time. When we finally exited the motorway I was completely lost. Almost 2 hours later we made it back to the office. I’m pretty certain that at some point during the drive, the visitor genuinely became concerned that I was some insane woman who had kidnapped him.

9) When I was a child I used to share ice-cream cones with my cat. I would hold it and we would lick a side each for a while. Then I would twist it round so that we could each have a lick of the other side. She liked strawberry best.

10) When I was about 3 or 4 years old, on several occasions I stole a tub of margarine out of our fridge at home and then took it up to my room where I proceeded to eat my way through it with a spoon (I told you I had a strong stomach). It took my parents a while to work out where the margarine kept disappearing to. They eventually found a stash of empty margarine tubs in the wendy house in my room and soon after that a lock appeared on the fridge.

Oh, is that the 10 done already? And I was having such fun.