Frozen Memories

My sister Dani and I are the first and second children out of five. Since we’re essentially just one year apart, we always came as a package deal. We were basically one kid more commonly known as DaniandSuzy.

“DaniandSuzy, come inside!”

“DaniandSuzy, clean your room!”

“Where are DaniandSuzy?”

“DaniandSuzy, take your bath!”

We pretty much did everything together. I’m sure at this point everyone in my family would want the audience to know that I bossed her around and she always happily acquiesced to my myriad demands. Me the bossy britches, Dani the pleaser. I guess some things never change. Whatevs.

As children, we spent almost our holidays at our Nanny Sally’s small, brick house on Henderson Road. It was homey, loud and crowded with a colorful cast of characters who weren’t all blood related.

We loved Nanny’s house. It was lively and so comfortable. I loved the way it smelled of stale cigarette smoke and food cooking. There were collector’s bottles of Wild Turkey whiskey lining the family room shelves, and ribbon candy in a glass dish on top of the console television. We were allowed to drink Diet Pepsis out of the outdoor fridge. We had so much fun there. So many happy memories were made in that house and yard.

We had a lot of cousins to play with on holidays at Nanny’s. Some were older, some younger, but we had hours of fun with them. We also had two older step-cousins named Jimmy and Larry whom we didn’t really know that well and only occasionally made an appearance. Their feathered hairstyles were so rad. In stark contrast to our Catholic school girl naïveté, they were totally edgy and a lot more worldly. Let’s face it, though. It wasn’t that hard to be more worldly than the Clark girls. We couldn’t have been more sheltered if we lived permanently in a farm cellar in a one-horse town in Oklahoma. Bless our hearts.

On one particular holiday at Nanny’s in 1988, things got a little weird for us, the easily shockable cellar children, DaniandSuzy.

When Larry, one of the step-cousins, appeared after a multi-holiday hiatus looking a little like Alice Cooper (that may or may not be a slight exaggeration), we were equal parts fascinated and terrified.

Larry proceeded to tell us he had joined a “death metal” band. This was quite the revelation to us, as “death metal” wasn’t exactly in our wheelhouse crowded with Debbie Gibson, Wilson Phillips and the like. We had no idea what “death metal” actually meant, but the sound of it kind of gave us the urge to clutch a rosary and give ourselves a little holy water spritzer.

I wondered silently how “death metal” might differ from “heavy metal”; how, exactly, the musical metals were differentiated. For the record, I’m still unclear on that in 2019.

Larry treated us to a sampling of his band’s signature song which I immediately classified as “devil music” due to all the anti-Satanic videos Catholic schools were peddling in the 80’s. The song was quite memorable, and, I dare say, a little disturbing.

I would pay big bucks for a still picture of our faces during that performance.

After that all-day holiday affair in 1988 no doubt consisting of eating dry turkey and delicious scalloped potatoes, trying on Nanny’s jewelry, using her adding machine, doing “routines” and watching the dads and uncles play poker with nickels and dimes, we went home with those experiences—and the death metal revelation—filed away in our cache of childhood memories.

We reminisce often about all the good times we had at Nanny’s house. It’s interesting how our perspectives and memories differ. Dani probably doesn’t remember that I wouldn’t eat Nanny’s cheeseburgers because they always seemed to taste like tin foil, or what it sounded like when Nanny’s heels stuck with each step to her wedge “slippers” as she walked. And I’m sure there are things tucked in Dani’s memory that have escaped mine.

But even more interesting is how some of those memories are frozen in our minds in exactly the same way, to be thawed out on a random Tuesday night while I fold laundry.

Which brings me back to Larry, whom I don’t think we’ve seen or heard from since that holiday in 1988, so I’m unsure about how things went for the band (but if I was a betting gal, I would say not great).

Last night, Dani suspected she found Larry on Facebook under a different name. When she texted to ask if I thought she was right, the death metal band memory immediately floated to the surface. I mean, obvi.

I asked Dani to jog my memory for the name of Larry’s band. I immediately received this text back:


Bingo. It all came flooding back at once.

I guffawed, furiously typing a reply that surged through my fingers as Dani’s gray text bubbles blinked simultaneously:

I looked in the freezer,

And what did I see?

A frozen amputee staring at me!

LITERALLY, as I hit send, I received this message back:

I looked in the freezer,

And what did I see?

A frozen amputee staring at me!

You guessed it: those were none other than the lyrics to Frozen Amputees’ 1988 (not so) smash hit, coincidentally titled Frozen Amputee.

Y’all probably heard us laughing all the way up and down the Atlantic coast. We cried with laughter. CRIED TEARS.

We both had some explaining to do when we startled our husbands with the sudden howling. How does one even begin to unravel, completely out of context, the story of a step-cousin in a death metal band called Frozen Amputees who sung in the 80’s about hacked up bodies when she can’t even catch her breath to get any words out over all the hysterical laughing? I tried my best. Maybe you just had to be there.

Clearly, cousin Larry, his death metal band and his jolting song lyrics were indelibly imprinted on both of our very impressionable young psyches. We both held that memory tightly in the back of our 40-something year old minds until a random weeknight on which I needed a good laugh. It really hit the spot.

You see, even though now we are grown-up moms with families of our own, living very different lives and separated by several hundred miles, these treasured memories that marked us, and the belly laughter they evoke, are really the fibers that will always hold DaniandSuzy together.

DaniandSuzy circa 1977. She was smiling even though I was probably pinching her thigh.
DaniandSuzy many years prior to being exposed to the death metal genre.
No caption necessary.


My girl is 13 today. I am the mother of a teenager. Someone please hold my purse while I take a long pull from a stiff drink.
Before I gave birth to her, I had big plans to leave the hospital dressed in the cute outfit I had pre-selected with blown out hair and a little makeup to make myself look presentable. But 24 hours after the utter shock and awe of labor and delivery and all that comes with having a human being pulled from your body—including zero winks of sleep for 48 hours—that mission was aborted.
Instead, I plopped myself in that departing wheel-chariot dressed in a pair of huge gray Nike sweatpants that said OREGON across the booty (and partially exposed my mesh undies because in 2006 we were still wearing the stupid low riders), a light pink nursing pajama top stretched over my huge boobs, a pair of untied tennis shoes on my sausage feet and a head of ratty, greasy hair on which you could have fried a dozen chicken wings.
I was blindsided by new motherhood. I was panic stricken over my new job title. I didn’t think I could do it. I looked and felt like I had been hit head-on by a truck which then immediately backed over me. It wasn’t pretty. The inside or the out.
Well I’m here to tell you: thirteen is the return of the Mack.
Just when you think the hardest stuff is in your review mirror because you can sleep in on the weekends and read books poolside without worrying about anyone drowning, think again. BAM. Thirteen hits you right in the mouth.
Today might officially be her first day of being thirteen, but trust me when I tell you, “thirteen” doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a state of being that develops in middle school and we’ve been parked here for a minute.
Sometimes I still feel like I can’t do it. On some days, thirteen has me right back in that wheelchair feeling like that drained, exhausted, clueless, brand new mom all over again (minus the low rise pants because of my current muffin top situation).
Thirteen is a a shit show of wild emotions, a clash of wills, mind boggling irrationality and what seems like some sort of hormonal psychosis. She is the star and we are the supporting cast. God help us.
But you know what? Thirteen is also looking through the peephole at her future. It’s getting a glimpse of what she will become.
She’s as stubborn as a mule, but she knows exactly what she wants and she goes after it.
She’s a real bossy britches, but she’s not going to let anyone push her around.
She’s as loud as a freight train and suffers from severe voice immodulation, but there’s no mistaking what she has to say.
She usually looks like a hobo and I suspect rats have taken up residence in her hair, but she couldn’t care less about what other people think of her appearance.
She NEVER. STOPS. TALKING, but she’s confiding in me.
She’s as argumentative as the day is long, but she’ll stand up for what she believes is right.
Her backpack looks like the bottom of a rotten city dumpster, but there’s a method to her madness and she’s a self-motivated, straight A student.
She’s super opinionated, but she possesses strong faith and convictions.
She’s fiercely independent and shuts me out at times, but she rightfully owns all of her accomplishments.
She’s a bull in a China shop with her almost 6 foot wingspan and size 12 flippers so put away your breakables when you see her coming, but she’s free spirited, carefree and has a positive body image.
Really, she’s becoming everything I ever hoped for right before my eyes: a smart, confident, driven, principled, kind, happy, secure, independent, God fearing young lady. I’m very proud of who she is so I’ll grit my teeth and embrace it all: the good, the bad and the holy-shit-who-is-this-kid?
But she may just drive me to drink while I’m hanging on for dear life.
So, cheers to thirteen.

The Sanctimommy’s Guide to Being an A$$hole Blog Troll

1. Lose your sense of humor IMMEDIATELY. Humor has absolutely no place in the satirical blogosphere. Or in parenting for that matter.

2. Right out of the gate, tell the writer why she’s doing such a bad job at being a mom. Use shouty caps and emojis to grab her attention like retching sounds in the backseat of her minivan. Then immediately back it up with concrete examples of her utter failure as a mother. She is clearly unaware of her own ineptitude. Anonymously pointing out other people’s faults is a privilege of the internet. Take full advantage.

3. Declare that you and your kids are “far from perfect” so you seem credible and relatable, but then immediately qualify that by illustrating to the writer how you and your kids are actually superior because you don’t really mean it. You and your kids ARE perfect. Full stop.

4. Give specific, real world examples of how you are doing a better job as a mom. You never carried a screaming kid out of a store football style? Congratulations. Ed McMahon will arrive with your check and balloons in short order. But in the meantime, please advise. Otherwise, how will the writer know how to correct her inferior mothering style?

5. Use words like I, me, my, and mine. A LOT. Let the writer know what works for YOU ‘cause she definitely wants the scoop on your parenting secrets. Why else would she write about her infinite shortcomings? Her writing is really just a cry for help.

6. Be sure to point out the existence of a deep root cause of the writer’s “anger,” “sadness,” or “trauma,” and urge her to mindfully reflect on it because obvi she has zero self awareness. Suggest yoga or guided mediation. If you sell essential oils, tout them unabashedly (maybe she’ll even join your team).

7. Shame is the name of the game, ladies. Shame the writer like nobody’s business. Really hit a homer by using the phrase “her poor children”.

8. Judge the ever-loving SHIT out of the writer. But be sure to base that judgement SOLEY on those isolated 1000 words you read while you pooped this morning. Especially if it’s the one and only blog post of hers that you have ever read. With your extensive background information of never having met her or her children, assume whatever you please about them. You’re almost definitely probably right. Because, I mean let’s face it, you always are. (Shrug).

9. Generously offer the writer your condolences. Hide your harsh judgement in the form of patronizing pity. In your most condescending tone, apologize for her being so uninformed, damaged, or unhappy. Even though her kid has croup, she’ll sleep more soundly knowing that your self-righteous sympathy is with her.

10. Use cringe-worthy grammar and punctuation. This should be easy when you’re typing with such furious rage and superiority (but don’t forget to disguise it as sympathy).

11. Even if the piece isn’t about vaccines, relate your comment to your belief on vaccinating children. This will really stir up a shit storm.

12. GIF. IT. UP. with eye rolls, face palms, and head shakes. Remember the writer can’t actually see you so visual aids are most helpful.

13. Childless folks: ALWAYS be the first to comment and express your disgust at the writer’s inadequacy as a mother. Be sure to list all the things you would NEVER DO, lest your kids turn out like her devils. Remember, she can’t hold a candle to your hypothetical excellence, but just for shits and giggles, spell out your magic formula for how you WOULD create angelic/genius/athletically gifted/obedient/kind/healthy children right there in the comments. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

14. Never retreat from giving advice on a parenting stage you haven’t been through yet. You’ve got a solid plan for that stage and it is a surefire winner-winner-chicken-dinner. Don’t be stingy with it.

15. Make sure to include related credentials if applicable, “As a (psychologist, child behaviorist, guidance counselor, school nurse, teacher, lactation consultant, scientist, doctor, nutritionist), I can tell you…” Your down talk will be much more credible if your area of expertise is mentioned.

16. Whatever you do, do NOT allow yourself to think of the writer as a real person with real feelings, and friends and family who love her. Do not, under any circumstances, mistake her for a good mom—just like you—doing her best to laugh so she doesn’t cry because motherhood is sometimes just a son-of-a-bitch.