Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Other Woman

R and I ended our romance, if that's what it can be called, July in that magical year, 1987.  The way I remember it was, on 4th of July the whole lot of us were at the fireworks at Edgewater Park in Cleveland.  He disappeared and was found later with the other woman, A.  That was the devastating end.   I was beyond shattered.  I was so in love with him.  He had that bad boy thing going for him and he was super hot.  Chicks always dig the bad boy, especially when they're young and stupid.  And possibly when they're old and stupid too.  Anyway, it wasn't long after that we talked and I asked him if he would still be my date for my brother B's wedding, which was July 18.  He promised me he would and gave me the "I still want to be friends" speech.  And he did, still want to be friends that is.   We still hung out together and went places together.  The big difference was, at the end of the night we didn't spend an hour in my driveway making out.  He just dropped me off and left.  It sucked!

July 18 arrived.  B's wedding (his first of three, but that's a different story).  It was a pretty big fancy affair at the place to have a wedding in the Cleveland area.   At least one of them anyway.  It was elegant and classy and my mohawked dude was supposed to meet me there.  Being in the wedding party, I had agreed to clean up for the occasion and dyed my hair black, solid, all one color.  The one and only time I ever agreed to such a thing.   Anyway, the reception got underway and my brothers friend D, who was also in the wedding party but not my partner, kept coming around by me.  I wasn't really noticing at the time it was happening because my eyes never left the door to see if/when R would walk in.   As the night went on and I got more and more drunk, it became very clear that he wasn't going to show up.  I went out into the lobby to call him at a payphone and he wasn't home.  It was official, I had been stood up.  And I was devastated all over again by him, cried and drank some more.

D swooped in.   He didn't leave my side all night.  He was sweet and understanding and in retrospect, had an agenda.  But I was drunk.  I was young.  And I was stupid.  D was someone I knew and trusted.  His sister was one of my best friends.  His parents and my parents are best of friends.  We were lifelong friends.  I'd known him for as long as I have had memory.  Having him there to lean on helped, a lot.  It was such a long night.   After the wedding, we went to a bar at a nearby Holiday Inn and partied some more.  And then after that, we headed back to my parents house and partied some more.  And that's when things between D and I shifted from concerned friend to something entirely different.

Back on my home turf and still in my hideous cream colored bridesmaid dress... seriously the thing was a monstrosity of tulle and embroidery... my drunkenness went from happy partying to sad and angry and I ran outside to cry and "woe is me" myself to death.   But, there was D.  He followed me outside and comforted me.  He told me all the right things.... "the guy is a jerk,"  "how could he walk out on you?  Look at how gorgeous you are!"  "he doesn't deserve you"  He hugged me and held me close while I cried and before I knew it we were making out leaning against a car in my driveway.  He took my hand and lead me to the backyard.  And then we were on the lawn and he was doing things to me that up until then no one had done to me!  He was making me forget being dumped, at least for that night.  And before I knew it we were fucking on my parents back lawn, with that hideous dress bunched up around my waist.  And it was great.  It was exactly what I needed.  People went in and out of the house, and I have no idea if anyone saw us or heard us.  I'm not exactly quiet when I'm having sex and that fucking ugly cream colored dress wasn't exactly camouflage!

And all the while, I knew... I knew D was involved with someone and had been for a long time.  I knew it and I didn't care.  Some other woman stole my man so it was only fair.  At least in my drunk addled brain it was.  So there it was, I was the other woman.  And he knew he would have me that night.  It's the only reason he didn't bring his girlfriend to the wedding.  While he was consoling me, he was probably thanking R for standing me up.  Ahh the best laid plans, literally!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We Want Your Kid's Spine

Back in September of 1987, otherwise known as the Glory Days, the Best of Days, Those Were the Days, or the OMG How Did I Get This Fucking Old Days, it was a typical Friday night with a bunch of guys in my less than rockin car, an Olds Calais.  Stuffed in the car that night were R, E, Butthole, B and BFF, and me driving.  BFF was sitting on B's lap (her boyfriend) in the front seat, and the rest of the guys were in the back.  We were driving down Mayfield Rd. in South Euclid, the reason why we were in the area escapes me at the moment.  Butthole and R wanted to stop to get something to drink at McDonald's so I pulled into the parking lot and let them out.  Why I didn't go to the drive-thru, I don't know.  Bad move.  Things immediately looked off.  Butthole and R went inside... R about 6 feet tall, mohawk, leather, hot.  Butthole about 6 feet tall, leather, crazy, loud, probably shooting off his mouth somehow.  Outside in the car, the rest of us started to feel very tense as swarms of high school kids who were there after a football game paced back and forth outside my car, giving us far more than just the stinkeye.   We were pretty used to being stared at, made fun of, harassed and whatever and apparently there wasn't a big population of punks in South Euclid.  But this, this was very different.  This was menace.

Suddenly Butthole and R came out of McDonald's, VERY QUICKLY, yelling at me to start the car.  They jumped in, I peeled out and the chase was on.  Three car loads of teenage boys followed us.  The guys in the back were screaming out for me to go faster, to cut down streets, to try and lose them.  B held onto BFF tight as I raced through the streets of South Euclid trying to ditch these assholes.   And then I made a big mistake. I turned down a street that had it's lanes separated by a median.  This enabled the chasers to block us in.  One raced in front of me and skidded to a stop, forcing me to stop.  One stopped on the side of my car and one in the back.  We were seriously fucked now.  The boys all got out of their cars and I locked all my car doors.  R, Butthole and E were screaming at me to let them out but I wouldn't, there were too many, I was afraid they'd get really hurt.  And then it happened, baseball bats came out and suddenly these asshole kids were beating on my car, breaking headlights, making dents and then the loudest crash I have ever heard when they bashed out the rear window. 

I completely stopped thinking at this point, threw open the locks on the car, jumped out by myself because the guys in the back couldn't get out yet, and started screaming my lungs out at those fucking pieces of shit.  R, E and Butthole finally got out as did L and B and the guys started to go after the attackers, but they were already jumping in their cars and taking off.   I collapsed on the median strip in some kind of hysteria and R jumped on top of me and tried to calm me down.  L, always the cooler head, was trying to get license plate numbers.  Once R effectively snapped me out of it, we started knocking on doors to see if someone would call the police.  It was pretty late in the night but we did find people who were willing to help us.

The police came to where we were, still on that street, and took our statements and immediately began rounding kids up.  That same night, on that same street and then back at McDonald's, we positively ID'd several of the culprits.  And wouldn't you know it, one of the assholes was the chief of police's son.  Isn't that always the way?  What a douche.

Police reports, court dates and all that happened, but in the end we didn't have to appear in court.  I don't even remember what happened to those kids, probably nothing.  But I did get a letter from the parents of the kid who broke out the back window, with a check for the damages.  She apologized for her son and yadda yadda yadda.   I posted that letter on my refrigerator at a party I had about month later, so everyone who was with me that night could see it.  And this is the reply E wrote to her that night...

In case you can't read it, it says... "Dear Mr & Mrs. Whatever (he used their name but whatever), We don't want money, we want your kid's spine in a bottle of formaldehyde or at least his stomach lining in a bowl of Campbell's soup."  Obviously, since I still have it, we never sent it.  Maybe we should have.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I dig the dudes.  Always have.  And in my younger days I had way more male friends than female.  It was the norm in the punk scene.  We all just hung out with each other.   And I didn't sleep with any of them.  Fooled around with one, had a crush on another, one had a crush on me, two tried to sleep with me and one I kissed, deeply.  I'm still friends with several, two have died, some I have minimal contact with and several I have completely lost touch with.

I wouldn't say I regret not sleeping with any of them, but looking back I wonder how I didn't. Opportunity often presented itself.  Hell I lived with T for five years and not only did we never sleep together, we never even kissed.  It was never thought about, not on my part anyway.  I'd be willing to bet it wasn't on his either.  We just didn't have that kind of chemistry.  But living together was easy.  I never had to worry about him taking my clothes.  If he wanted to borrow something,  he asked.  He never ever went in my room uninvited or without knocking.  And I couldn't get him to eat my food.  I wanted him too!  The boy ate so poorly I really really wanted him to eat a damn vegetable every now and again.  But alas, he would not.  For 5 years T's diet consisted of blueberry pop tarts, blueberry waffles, blueberry bagels, macaroni and cheese (that he made with Velveeta), frozen ravioli with Ragu bottled sauce and Kool Aid by the gallon.  I didn't cook as much then as I do now, but I ate way better than that!

But no, no fleshy fun time with T.  Interestingly, in the time we lived together he had several different girlfriends and at least two of them were real screamers.  That should have peaked my interest in finding out what he had going on, but no, it didn't.  I guess there are just people in this world that, as John Bender (from The Breakfast Club) said about women, "some I consider my girl friends and some I just consider."

Nowadays, I have less male friends than female and at first it was strange.   I guess I just think men are easier to talk to, especially when the subject is sex.  Something I love to talk about anytime, anywhere.  My hormones are in such overdrive that I think about sex all day sometimes... well not every minute, but a lot of minutes in the day and some of my female friends don't get it at all.  Not long ago I broached the subject with a female friend, about how I want to have sex daily, more than once a day, how I am so fucking horny all the time and how much I love it.  She looked at me like I had sprouted wings and turned green.  It had been quite awhile since she and her boyfriend had had sex and she really has no interest in it at all. I've been there, in that no interest place.  I like horny better.  MUCH better. 

But when I talk about sex with my male friends, they get it.  Oh do they understand where I'm coming from!  They've been there, they are still there.  What is that stupid statistic?  Men think about sex every 7 seconds?  I don't believe that.  But a more realistic one, like men think about sex every day, several times a day is believable and I think it applies to women too.  This woman for sure.  I wake up horny.  Throughout the day, I just become horny.  It's crazy and funny and kind of interesting and at first it was disturbing but not anymore, now I love it.  I just become aware that I'm horny.  I don't have to be thinking about anything, consciously anyway, I just am horny.   And I think, wow, this is cool.  I love being horny.  It feels good and I feel sexy.   It carries over into other areas.  I smile more.  I notice men notice me.  Maybe I'm giving off pheromones.  I don't know.  I feel more confident with myself.  Whoever said sex is power was right.  I feel alive and ready any time of any day.  It totally kicks ass!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You and Me, We Disagree

My brother B and I are less than a year and a half apart in age and world's apart in every other way. When we were at dear old St. W grade school, he played the part of the big brother and he stood up for me when I was picked on.  And in high school, when he started driving, I got rides to school with him.  His friends were nicer to me than he was by then.  In fact, I dated one of his friends for awhile.  It didn't work out.  D was as possessive as they come and even at the tender age of 16, I knew damn well no guy was going to control me.

So we fast forward to our adult lives.  You've already read some about my path.  His was completely different.  Out of all four of us siblings, he was the only one to finish college.  He majored in Theology and became a religion teacher in Catholic high schools and has since worked his way up to Assistant Principal at the high school he works for in Florida.  Yes, a much much different path than me.  He's also on his third wife.

When he was married to his second wife, T, we shared a duplex.  They lived on the bottom, N and I on top.  I can't remember how long we lived there, two years maybe, and not once did we go out to dinner or have movie night together or do anything at all socially.  Not once.  When T was away, B would make a beeline up to our place to hang out and talk.  So yeah, I guess T didn't like us... well me.  There is no reason to dislike N.  I can come up with lots of reasons to hate me, and apparently she did.  It matters not, chick turned out to be a total psycho anyway.  She may get her own blog post someday.  Ahh the stories!

B and I though, we have nothing in common, other than the fact that we come from the same family.  We argue about politics, about abortion, about religion.  He is self righteous and a pompous asshole.  He is always right.  He is the golden boy who can do no wrong in the eyes of our parents.  When he speaks, they listen.  That shit really frosts my ass because it's me who's here, doing everything for them.  When we had to have a ramp built onto our existing deck to accommodate dad's wheel chair, we couldn't afford the $1800 price tag.  We had already bought them a bed, a TV, had the driveway paved and the bathroom modified.  So I went to my brothers and sister for help.  At the time, my sister was struggling financially but she said she would do what she could.  J, as always, was more than willing to help.  B flat out said no.  He said this was my parents responsibility and he would not contribute.  I was pretty stunned, but not as stunned as I soon would be.  This is when B gave me "the speech."  It went something like this... "Mom and dad are now your responsibility.  If they need something, you have to take care of it.  It's not my problem.  Don't come to me."   That's mom's golden boy.  Mom ended up getting the money from Grandma for the ramp. 

I spared my mom the knowledge of this conversation for a long time.  I figured she wouldn't have believed me anyway.  Case in point... many years ago, I was out of work.  It was getting to be Christmastime and I didn't have any money so I bowed out of gift giving that year.  In previous years, and in years since, other members of my family have done this.  When one of us bows out, we all bow out.  That is, unless it's me bowing out.  Then they just skip me and buy for everyone else.  If my sister bows out?  No one buys for anyone.  If either of my brothers bow out?  No one buys for anyone.  But yeah, when I bow out, oh well... too bad so sad.  I guess it has something to do with being youngest?  I don't know.  So it was one of those years where I bowed out.  Admittedly I was sad, not because I wasn't receiving.  I don't care about that ever.  But I love buying something unexpected and seeing the look of surprise and joy on someones face.  Fuck your lists, if I can't figure out what to buy my own damn sister, then I'm pretty lame.  So I was sad.  I had to sit there and watch everyone give and receive (I had a few things from parents, parents always buy no matter what).  I wasn't crying, I wasn't making any kind of fuss.  I was just a little sad.  B grabbed my arm and pulled me aside and said words I will never ever forget, "why don't you just fucking leave.  Nobody wants you here."  I looked at him like he was nuts and said, "what?"   He said, "you heard me, get the fuck out."  You don't have to tell me a third time, I turned around and started for the door, tears rolling down my face.  My mom asked where I was going and I said, "leaving." She freaked out and tried to stop me.  I told her, "your son told me to get the fuck out, so I'm going."  She didn't believe me.  Her angel would never say such a thing!  He did.  And I left.  I went to N's house.  We were dating at the time, and had the breakdown of all breakdowns.

A month later it was my birthday and that was the first time I saw the whole family again after that hellish Christmas.  B was there.  He came over to me, looked at me and then punched me in the arm playfully and walked away.  That was apparently my apology since I never got a verbal one.  Seriously, is it so hard to say you're wrong?  To say "I'm sorry I hurt you"?  To say, "geez I was such an ass and I'm sorry"?  To say anything that would make it better?  Resentment can last a long long time so why not make the effort to make things right?   I know I've had to eat the proverbial piece of humble pie now and then.  And while I don't enjoy it, it's infinitely better than damaging a relationship irreparably.  If I'm aware of a hurt I've caused, I do try to make it right if that person matters to me at all. And if I don't know, or seem oblivious, I hope the hurt party will tell me so I can make it right.

B and I will probably never get along, but we do talk to each other now and again.  He likes to call me if he has a question about food or if he's made something he found particularly good.  He likes to call me if one of his friends did something really really stupid and we get a good laugh.  We talk maybe four or five times a year.  I'm fine with it.  In the end the fact is, he doesn't know me at all and would rather make his assumptions about me and my life.  Maybe I'm doing the same thing, but after being on the receiving end of the two incidents I just told you about, I don't think I am.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Me Myself I

I am a woman but I have never roared.
I'm horny.
I think you're awesome.
I love zebras.
I want a dog.
I'm working for the Clampdown.
I'm the fifth Ramone.
I'm pretty cool.
I'm a huge dork.
I love artichokes.
I am creative.
I'm Italian.
I'm Polish (but we don't talk about that)
I love my hair.
I love my tattoos.
I never went to college but I'm still fucking smart.
I need you in my life.
I love Halloween.
I hate looking at myself.
I want you here with me.
I have secrets even my BFF's don't know.
I need more sleep.
I need more sex.
I can't stand liars.
I have no idea if this feedburner thing is working.
I love to cook.
I'm painfully honest, always.
I will not leave you.
I am beautiful.
I think you're a tool.
I secretly really dig my big tits.
I want to succeed.
I want you to succeed.
I think vampires are sexy as hell.
I think the Exorcist was the scariest thing I ever saw.
I can watch The Stand over and over and over (and read it too).
I'm tired.
I'm an orgasm addict.
I want you to be healthy.
I hate oranges.
I am happy.
I love Peter Murphy.
I am sad.
I am confused.
I am self confident.
I can be really stupid sometimes.
I am self conscious.
I think of you often.
I am an artist.
I love baseball.
I love Joe Strummer.
I hate football.
I'm sorry.
I wanna be sedated.
I have cold feet... literally.
I hate myself for loving you.
I love Mike Ness.
I think this is getting too long.
I want to go to Italy.
I hope you know.
I think you're an asshole.
I wish I knew.
I want to stick to a diet.
I have asthma.
I miss my Grandma.
I love my sister but she never has my back.
I wish my parents didn't need me so much.
I want to travel more.
I try not to hate people, but some people make that difficult.
I want more work.
I am going to end this now.
I love you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Orlando Airport Fun

You've read about hell at the airport in Cleveland.  This is about an experience I had at the airport in Orlando.  I was on my way home, for good this time, after my dad's illness.  I had to get home and get my house ready because he and mom were moving in.  I was, as I had been before, on stand by.  It's a little trickier in Orlando.  Tricky maybe isn't the right word, but there are a lot more people all trying to get home from Disney or whatever, so stand by could have you sitting there for who knows how long until you finally get on a plane.  I checked in without incident and found a seat to wait out my fate.

I was just sitting there, kind of daydreaming about all that had happened in the last eight weeks when an older gentlemen sat down next to to me.  I glanced over at him.  Then again.   And then again.  And finally I said, "excuse me, but are you Bob Feller?"  He looked at me with a smile and said, "yes I am" and put his hand out for me to shake.

If you're not from Cleveland or not a big baseball fan, you may not know who Bob Feller is, so let me enlighten you.  Bob Feller is the winningest pitcher in Cleveland Indians history.  He is a Hall of Famer.  He is a living legend.  And he is my mom's all time favorite player ever and I've been hearing about how great he is my whole life.  In the days when mom took the bus to the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium and sat in the bleachers for 25¢.  If I heard that once, I heard it 5,000 times.

Bob fucking Feller!!!   I was pretty excited.  He is known nowadays as a curmudgeonly old coot who remembers ever single stat he ever put out.  But to me, he was nice as could be.  Not the least bit cranky or curmudgeonly.  We talked for a good 10 minutes.... about my dad, about his son he was visiting and the speech he had made while in Orlando.  About my mom being his biggest fan and about how I may or may not get on the plane.  He was so kind and very content to sit and talk to me until the plane started boarding.  He was in first class so he was called to board first.   And as he got up to leave, he turned back to me and said, "I hope you got on the plane."  I thanked him and resumed my wait.  I was so taken with just talking to him, I never even thought to ask for an autograph or to take a picture.  Doh!

A woman sitting nearby, who apparently witnessed my excitement at meeting him, turned to me and said, "Who was that?"  I looked at her with an "are you kidding me look" and said, "That was Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller!"  She replied, "well I guess that made your day."  Damn right it did!  Coming off the worst eight weeks of my life, and probably the most horrendous airport experience I will ever have, hunkering down next to a legend is pretty fucking sweet! 

I did get on that plane and when he saw me boarding he gave me a big smile and said, "you made it" with a thumbs up.  Bob fucking Feller!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


(inspired by "Hope")

I wish you were still here.
I wish that I didn't cringe whenever I saw a picture of myself.
I wish my vacation had cleared my head.
I wish you could read me better.
I wish someone could hear me.
I wish we could play together.
I wish I could help you.
I wish I were a better writer.
I wish I could take away the pain, yours and mine.
I wish I could rid you of cancer.
I wish things weren't so complicated.
I wish you could be honest with me.
I wish I didn't cry so much.
I wish you knew.
I wish I had more sex.
I wish I had money to invest in my business.
I wish you could see what is in my heart.
I wish I didn't have so much anxiety.
I wish you would come to see me.
I wish you didn't depend on me so much.
I wish I didn't have to hide so much of what I feel.
I wish you were over her.
I wish you were here more.
I wish I could touch you.
I wish there was an escape hatch.
I wish I could see the future.
I wish I hadn't wasted years of my life on you.
I wish I knew my path.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


When?  When will my business become the success I know it can be?  When will I lose the weight I want to lose?  When will my parents realize that I can't always be at their beck and call?  When am I going to get more sex?  When will my needs be a concern to anyone, including myself?  When is there joy?  When is pain released?   When do I get to live?

The answer is within me and only me.  My business becomes a success when I work harder to make it one.  I lose the weight when I stick to the plan before me.  When I exercise.  When I do what I have to do to make it happen.  It's not a difficult concept.  It's just one that I overlook sometimes.  Taking care of me?  Why that's just crazy talk.

My parents, well that's a different story.   For the most part, I am all they've got.  My brother and sister bailed on the situation before it became a situation.  Now they are both happily out of state where they can call me and bark out orders about what they think I should be doing to help our parents and I get to tell them to shut the fuck up until they are back here again and living my life.  They wonder why I'm not doing more.  They wonder why my dad is so sedentary.   They wonder why my mom is such an enabler.  They can wonder until the fucking cows come home.  Until you are here, walking that mile in my shoes, you have no fucking say.  My other brother, the one that lives here still, he's got his hands full with two kids and a terminally ill father in law that lives with them, so I cut him some slack on picking up my slack with our parents.

The reality is, my dad lost his leg and in turn lost his interest in anything other than sitting on his magic lift chair in his living room staring at anything on the TV.  I go there every Wednesday and he's watching fucking Bonanza on TV Land!   His mind is turning to mush because he has zero stimulation of any kind and my mom would rather let him do whatever he wants to do because if she pushes him he gets angry and she can't deal.  When he got sick and was in Florida, I did everything.  I talked to the doctors, I asked questions, I prompted them for different meds, I took notes.  My mother was in shock and if she hadn't been, she would have sat there passively like she was doing anyway.  She comes from a time where doctor knows best and you just accept what they are saying.  But I come from a time where I question everything.  One thing I said over and over to my mom then was, "you have to be your own advocate" and it never sunk in.  She still needs everything explained to her, over and over again.  She cannot figure out the simplest things on her own.  She refuses to wear her glasses when I take her shopping so if I'm not there, she's buying the wrong item, she's using an expired coupon, she's buying moldy strawberries.  It's like having two almost 80 year old children in two very different ways.

My dad's three favorite words are "I can't" and "no."  He is perfectly capable of many things but he would rather not do them.  Until recently he would sit in bed and my mom had to bring him a basin, a cup of water and his toothbrush so he could brush his teeth in bed.  He refused to stand at the bathroom sink.  Why?   No one knows because he has no answer other than, "I can't."  Yes he can.   He has a prosthetic leg and he can stand, he can walk.  He does this now because he was forced back into physical therapy and was made to do it there.  But he still won't stand at the bathroom sink to shave.  He does this at the kitchen table.  My mom won't do anything to change it and quite frankly, I refuse to get involved in it.  They don't live with me anymore.  They have to do these things and figure stuff out on their own.

About a month ago, some family members were driving to Chicago to see my Great Aunt L, my Grandma's last remaining sibling.  They asked my parents to go and my mom was hesitant.  So mom's cousin says, "why don't you get Lalia to bring you guys?"  Really?  I'm just available at the drop of a hat to drive my parents to Chicago because someone else wants them to go?  Why didn't she volunteer to drive my parents, take care of my dad's needs, push his wheelchair, make sure everywhere we go is handicap accessible?   Why do people think I'll be able to just drop whatever is going on in my life and go?  It's things like this, that drive me crazy and fill me with resentment.

How does one step back from a situation that is so close to you but that is burning you out in every way possible?   In three years since this new chapter of life began, it has felt like the biggest part of my life.  When you're taken for granted, how do you get your life back without breaking all ties and hurting people you love?  I want my life back.  I want to work more, have more sex, have more fun, travel, meet people, see friends, go places.  I'm 44 years old and sometimes it feels like my life is over. 

The answers are within me.  I just have to find them.  Pity Party over.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Did She Really Say That?

Grandma was about 89 at the time.  She was living in the house she had lived in for well over 50 years.  The small bungalow that I have so many joyous memories of.  The tiny house with two kitchens.  It is a prerequisite if you're Italian to have two kitchens, the main one and a second one in the basement.  We do a lot of cooking.

On this particular visit, I was hanging out with Grandma after work and she had, of course, made me some fucking delicious dinner.  I don't remember what it was, but I know it was great because it was always great.  After we ate, we went into the living room to have espresso and talk.  She started to tell me about my cousin T and his wife G.  Gina was very pregnant with their first and they had come by for a visit a few days before.  Grandma was really put off because G was wearing a rather short skirt for someone in her condition.  G's also a big freakin whore, so you know, a miniskirt at 8 months pregnant isn't a big shocker.   It wasn't to me anyway.  But this was not something Grandma was down with.  She was disgusted by it in fact.  So disgusted that she said these words to me, "And there she was, sitting on my sofa with her legs spread and her pussy hanging out."  And I choked on my espresso!

It's not that I wasn't used to Grandma using colorful language.  Good Lord she could cuss with the best of them when she wanted to!   Hmmm... there's another thing I have in common with her.  But to hear an 89 year old woman saying "pussy," there was just something very hilarious and unsettling about it at the same time.   God love her.  I sure do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Two Years

It was two years ago today that I lost one of the most important people in my life, my Grandma Angelina.  She was only three weeks away from her 100th birthday but I don't think you would ever have known that by looking at her.  She had gotten ill in February of '08, suffering a perforated bowel, a complication for diverticulitis.  She was rushed to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning and had emergency surgery.  Perforated bowel is pretty serious, in anyone, and she was 99 at the time.  Many don't survive it.  She did.  But it's not a surprise really.  This is the same woman, who at 90 years old, had a triple bypass and valve replacement, earning her a spot in medical journals for not only undergoing that intense of a surgery at her age, but surviving and thriving. It was a stroke she suffered a few months after the perforated bowel, in September that ultimately claimed her.  And even when she couldn't talk and couldn't move one side of her body, I still thought maybe she would pull through.  She always did before, why not this time too?

She came to the United States from Palermo in April of 1909 when she was just a baby.  She arrived at Ellis Island on the ship called Columbia.  This is a picture of the actual ship she was on.

I want to share her with you.  I want you to know her, see her.  This is a family portrait taken in 1925.  Everyone in this photo (except for the 3 adults who are seated) are siblings of my Grandmother's.  In the front from left to right are Theresa, Lucia, the baby is Charles, and on the end, Nick.  Behind Theresa is Biago, then my great Grandparents, my Grandfather (Salvatore) and then Caroline.  Standing in the back is Carmella and Angelina.  My Grandfather is included because he was married to Angelina by this time.  An arranged marriage where he was about 14 years older than she was. 

Married at 15, a mother at 16 and so far ahead of her time.   She always worked, whether it be in a factory, in a beverage store, in a Chicken Delight (a place my uncle owned, kind of a competition of KFC some 40 years ago), a pizza place or any other number of restaurants she cooked in.  When she worked at my uncle's Chicken Delight, she got so sick of chicken she rarely ever ate it in her later years.  But she wasn't the chicken fryer there.  No, what she made was her amazingly delicious pizza.   I don't remember much about the place, but I always remember her pizza.  There is no better.  

To me, she was always larger than life, even though she was only about 4 ft. 5 inches tall.  She was fierce.  That is probably the best word I could use to describe her.  Fierce in every way.  I hardly knew my Grandfather, he died when I was seven years old and I was always just a little afraid of him.  I knew him sick, and I knew him with a very heavy Italian accent.  But I never really spent a lot of time with him.  It's kind of funny but when you think of Italian women, especially old country Italian women, you probably think of little short stocky women, wearing black dresses and a veil on their heads, carrying a rosary and a church book or bible.  This was not my Angelina.  My Grandfather was a church goer so my Grandma would drive him to the door of the church and then leave.  Then she would come back an hour later to pick him up.  I never knew why she didn't go in but now I wish I had thought to ask her.  It wasn't something I ever really thought about though.  She just didn't go.  And relate to that.  As soon as I was old enough to make my own decisions about whether or not to go to church, I stopped going.  But she believed in God.  Whenever I talked to her she told me she thanked the Lord a hundred times a day that she was still alive, still sharp, still able to do things for herself.  She had some, but not a lot, of religious symbolism in her house.  A cross here, a statue of Mary there.  And she never, ever ate meat on any Friday all year long.

Writing about her is difficult.  I can guess that reading it probably is too.  I feel like I'm all over the map and not making sense.  If that's what's happening, I hope you can bear with me and understand how hard it is.  She is someone I miss every day of my life.   I want to tell you about her humor.  I want to tell you funny stories.  I want to tell you about how much she taught me, not just in the kitchen but about the kind of woman I want to be.  I want to tell you about her food.  I want to tell you what holidays were like at her house.   But I realize with so much to say about her, that this particular entry will have to be a to be continued kind of thing.  So for now I'll leave you with the knowledge that she was someone I loved intensely, admired greatly, and miss painfully.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soapy Punk

Once upon a time, there was a girl who, at a young age, discovered that being herself really mattered.  It mattered to her.  And if it didn't matter to anyone else, then fuck them.  There are no rules that say because I am into punk rock that I can't watch a soap opera.  There are no rules that say because I'm 44 years old I can't have purple hair.  I do my thing.  My thing is just that, MY thing.  I don't give a rat's ass who doesn't like it. 

So what came first, the soap or the punk?   It was the soap, but not by much.  I started watching All My Children in 1979.  My roots in punk go back to 1980.  The funny thing is, the way I started each of them is so very different.  I started watching AMC because "all my friends were doing it."  I got into punk all on my own.  I discovered it myself, I learned about it myself, I made new friends because of it.  Those friends who were all watching AMC and turned me on to it, gone.

AMC took a back burner many many times in my life.  This goes back to the days before every household had DVR's or even VCR's.  So when I was in school, I missed it.  I never missed a new album I wanted though.  Yes album, vinyl.  I'm old, deal with it.  I do.  Badly sometimes, but I do.  So AMC became a show I watched on vacation or on a holiday.  Nothing more.  And when I was 21 and moved out of my parents house, it was years before I saw more than one show here or there if I was home sick from work or something.  But I always went back.  I can't really explain it other than it's probably part of my addictive personality. 

Punk rock never went away.  It was never put on the back burner.  It was never disregarded or forgotten.  It was always within reach.  It was there for me in my darkest hours.  It was there for me in my happiest of times.  It was there always.  And it still is.  It will always be a huge part of me.

Back in 1991, when I first got on the Internet, I looked up All My Children to see if I could catch up on what was happening in Pine Valley, like I would look up a old friend.  It was then that I struck up a conversation with the owner of an AMC site and before long he had asked me to be a contributor.  He encouraged me to write what I thought about the show when I watched it, no matter if it was good or bad.  It became a weekly review/column from a very snarky (who me?) perspective and I'm kind of proud to say, it was really quite popular.  But then the man tried to change who I was and that did not then nor does it now, fly with me.  I left and went on to start my own AMC site.  By now I had a following.  I have achieved some creepy and bizarre level of fame.  And I kind of get off on it.  I went to some AMC events through the years, and people always knew who I was.  I was the punk soap chick.  I had blue hair.  I had pink hair.   I had red hair.  I had purple hair.  I had a different color hair for every event.  Was it calculated?  Not really.  It was just me being me and doing my thing. 

Because of the AMC site, I've been stalked.  I've been hounded.  I've been hated.  I've been loved.  I've been proposed to several times.  I've had people ask for my autograph.  I've been recognized in places I never thought I'd ever be recognized.  I've been cruelly and miserably hurt by people.  I've met many many of the stars of the show.  I've been sent incredible gifts by grateful fans.  I've had some insanely good and insanely bad experiences.   And I've made some amazingly good friends who, in any other circumstance I never would have met. 

I've already written about how punk rock saved me.  And it did.  Because of punk rock I've been loved and hated.  I've been harassed.  I've had my car vandalized.  I've gone to 100's of concerts.  I've heard the best music in the world, up close.  I've heard some really bad music up close too.  I've made the most incredible friends that remain my friends 30 years later.  Because of punk rock, I've lived.

If I had to chose between these two crazy lives I lead, which would I chose?  It's no contest.  Music is infinitely more important to me. And if I gave up the AMC site today, the friends I made through it would still be my friends.  No matter who you are, your friends are the people who are there for you and care about you through thick and through thin.  They wouldn't care if I can no longer give them a scoop about who Erica Kane's next husband was going to be. 

In the end though, I'm always me.  I can't be anyone else.  If someone doesn't like it, that's their problem, not mine.  I'm just a woman who loves her punk rock and makes an escape to Pine Valley for about 42 minutes a day. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

That Big Ass LTD

It was the spring of 1987.  Things were good.  I was happily dating R who I was crazy about.  I was regularly hanging out with friends, going to shows, getting hammered and basically creating chaos and mayhem whenever possible.  One night me, R and our friend M, owner of that big ass LTD, decided to head over to Kent to catch a band.  JB's Down was a regular haunt of ours.  JB's Down, the place of legend and warm Rolling Rock or Stroh's.  I regularly smuggled in my own alcohol because the choices left much to be desired.  They either never caught on or didn't care.  It had maybe 10 tables that were all off kilter and assorted chairs and then what looked like church pews in the back.  The bathrooms were the most disgusting ever.  But they had a big stage and it was in Kent, a college town, so bands played there regularly.  

On this particular night, we got to JB's and met up with Butthole (the aforementioned Butthole that used to regularly stay at my apartment) and J.  J, M and Butthole were having a hell of time pounding beers that night and R and I... well, we were feeling frisky so we headed outside to M's car.  The beauty of a big ass car is that big ass back seat.  After we got in and were fooling around a little, I suddenly felt something uncomfortable on my back.  Reaching under myself, I pulled a billy club out from under me.  Things are about to get interesting!   At the time M was working part time as a security officer.  We couldn't help but wonder what else was lurking around this giant car.  So we started looking and what did we find under the seat?  Handcuffs.  Game on!  R wasted no time and handcuffed me to the door handle before I knew what was going on.  To say that being handcuffed and at his mercy was fucking fantastic would be an understatement.  But alas, neither of us had come prepared for some down and dirty fleshy fun time so while fun was being had by all, we did have to hold back some.  That is until R had the brilliant idea to look in M's glove compartment.  I have to hand it to M, that boy was prepared!  Inside that glove compartment was a whole box of condoms.  Oh yes.  Did I say we had to hold back?   Well not for long!   That was probably one of the best times I ever had in a car in my life.  And luckily, we also found the keys to the cuffs.

After awhile, with two big shit eating grins on our faces, we wobbled back towards JB's to see how M was doing.   What we were met with was Butthole and J carrying M out of the bar.  M was thoroughly hammered and couldn't even walk.   He very recently filled me in on a little exchange that happened between him and J at this point.   J:  "So sorry M.  So sorry I drank you under the table."  M:  "Fuck you J, just get me to my car."  

R and I took M from there and got him back to the car where he immediately passed out in the back seat, the same back seat that was so recently used for a much more interesting purpose.  Turns out M didn't know about that until very recently.  Thanks M, thanks for letting me fuck in your car and play with your toys.  That car will forever hold a special place in the cockles of my heart.

So, R took the wheel and I kept an eye on M to make sure he was OK.  That is until he hurled all over the back seat of his car.  Not good.  And he hurled all over his rent a cop uniform!  Making a 45 minute drive with hurl in the car and a moaning and groaning friend is not fun.  Not fun at all.  But what choice did we have?  We got M home and in his parents house and because we were such great friends, we left the car as is so he could clean up the hurl the next day.  It's a lesson everyone needs to learn at least once, right M?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Everybody Must Get Stoned

It all happened quite innocently.  Really.  I was lamenting the fact that I don't like to drink anymore to my friend D.  I have had so much on my mind these days and really wanted the release of being drunk and not worrying about everything for just a short time.  It's not so much to ask is it?  So as D and I were talking I said how great it would be to get stoned again, just once, for that release I have been craving.  It's been about 23 years since the last time I got stoned, at least, if not more.

So, how does one even go about getting weed these days?  How much does it cost?  Who do you ask?  Neither of us knew.  But since I live in the 'hood, it was a pretty likely bet that, if actually looking, I'd be able to find it pretty easily.  But was I willing to do that?  This is something, one of the very few things, like the only thing, I planned on keeping from Husband.  He's just not down with the doob.  My getting high many many years ago was the reason for one of the biggest fights we ever had.  So not wanting to relive that, I just decided to keep mum about it.  It's only going to be once.  And after consulting with people who know us both well, my decision proved to be the correct one because everyone else agreed it was a good idea not to tell him.  Granted, I probably will, eventually, but sometime in the future. 

D decided to bring our friend C in on our plan.  Little did we know C would be our answer to doobage bliss.  It was less than a week after I initially mentioned this crazy idea to D when, while at a party together, D and C found a contact who provided them with two free doobs.  You know what they always say, the first are free and then after they reel you in, they suck you dry!  Well that wasn't going to happen.  We just all were having a hard time with things and all needed to unwind, laugh and just be stupid.

Now, where to have our little ganja party was the next hurdle.  I suggested my place since the scent is almost always in the air around here and no one would notice.  But they worried about Husband finding out so C suggested her place.  She lives in the country, the houses are further apart and we could just sit in her back yard and smoke to our hearts content without another soul knowing.  It's on!  And we weren't wasting any time, we made our doobie date for the very next Monday.  Knowing what we know about the effects, we decided snacks were in order.   D made a pepperoni and cheesey appetizery yummy thing and I, of course, made brownies.  What else do you bring to a doob party?

D Day has arrived and these three 44 year old women, high school friends... all married and none of us telling our husbands, met up at C's and went outside to spark that baby up.  We laughed about how we all used to have a feather roach clip in our youth, but wore them in our hair and didn't use them for what they were really for!   Let the smoking commence.  C lit up the first one and took the first drag and then we passed it around the table until it was just a wee little tip.

I got so dizzy I remember sitting in my chair, my hands on the sides of my head and thinking, "don't move your head, don't move your head" but I'm pretty sure I never said it out loud.   I felt dizzy, hungry, really tired and more horny then usual.  But did I feel good?  Not really.  Did we laugh and forget our troubles?  Nope.  We plotted the death of a cricket that seems to be constantly making noise in C's yard.  And I suggested we all take turns on C's riding mower and ride around the backyards.  But alas, we didn't kill the cricket or ride the mower.  And we were all so done after the first joint.  Why did I think this was a good idea?   Damn, I just wanted to forget about it all, even if it was just for an hour.  I remember the old days and whenever I got stoned back then I laughed and laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.  This time?  Meh, not really.

Are we too old?  Too jaded? Too many troubles to forget?  Do we need to try again and make sure?  Hell C has another doob just sitting in her silverware drawer waiting to be toked.  I wonder if I stopped by and asked to borrow a fork if she'd catch my meaning? 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Seven and Seven

I used to drink.   A lot.  A whole lot.  I don't anymore.  I often wonder why I drank so much.  Living with an alcoholic father, seeing what it did to my mother and the rest of us, why?  Why would I do it?   Why do all my siblings do it?  Is it genetic or are we so stupid that we have to repeat the same mistakes over and over?  I don't have the answer for that.  I just know that I've made some really bad choices and I own them.  I can't blame anyone else.

In my heyday of drunken debauchery, I drove far too many times, had insane hangovers, went to work still drunk from the night before, had some of the best of times and the worst of times.  In particular, this was probably around 1986 maybe early 1987.  I guess it says something that I don't remember exactly when it was.  It was a typical Wednesday night at the Nine of Clubs in Cleveland.  Wednesday was the night to party at the Nine.  My best friend since we were 6 years old brought along her on again/off again douchebag boyfriend R and he brought his friend K who I'd never met before.  But douchebags of a feather, flock together.  R treated my BFF like crap quite often and I hated him.  He is one of the 2 people in my life that I have closed fist punched in the face.  He deserved it, trust me.  As soon as we got to the Nine I took off looking for other people to hang with.  I would have happily stayed with BFF, but R and K? Not so much.

My drink of choice back then was Seven and Seven and before long I found a bunch of people I knew and was drinking and dancing the night away.  The Nine played great music ("Go!" by Tones on Tail still gives me Nine of Clubs flashbacks) and poured a stiff drink.  By my count, I had 7 Seven and Seven's that night.  It could have been less, could have been more.  But 7 Seven and Sevens is how I always remember it.  I hung out with friends, I danced, flirted and got a date (this was BH... before husband).  And yeah, I was really lit up.  Some time later, BFF came looking for me and said that R and K wanted to leave.  So we left.  I basically passed out in the back seat.  My awareness was little, but I was aware enough to know that they dropped BFF off first. 

R and K took me to The Town Pump, a local dive bar, after dropping BFF off.  I was already so fucking toasted, but I continued to drink.  I'm fuzzy on how long we were there, how many more drinks I had or something as trivial as time.  But I do remember drinking more, and I do remember standing on a bar stool (very likely with the guys help) and declaring to everyone in the bar that I had the best tits in Cleveland.   Yeah, drinking made me really stupid.  And right about now, my choices ended.

If I look back on it, which I rarely do, I would probably say that R and K were satisfied with my state of intoxication and felt it was a good time to make our exit, which is what we did.  They helped me walk to the car and got me in the back seat.  R drove and K got in the back with me.   I am now in and out of consciousness.  I am aware of little bits and pieces of things.. my jeans being taken off, K on top of me, my arms trying to push him off me, blank... stopping the car, blank, R on top of me, blank, crying, alone in the car with the two guys outside discussing something, blank, being dragged to my door and thrown inside, blank, crawling upstairs to my room (I still lived with my parents at the time), phoning BFF, crying, blank, blank and more blank. 

I woke up many hours later, with the phone in my hand, with the queen mother of all hangovers and the tell tale signs of what had happened.  There was no denying it, no talking myself out of it... no fucking way... did this really happen?  It did.  I called BFF and asked her what I said on the phone the night before and she refused to tell me.  I am pretty sure I told her everything that had happened that I could recall and she was not going to tell me what I said.  It just wasn't going to happen. I'm not really sure of her reasoning, but that was her choice and I have to think she was protecting me in some way.  All these years later, she's still my best friend and I still don't know what I said to her that night.

But I do know that on again/off again relationship BFF had with R became off permanently and that I never ever drank another Seven and Seven.  Sadly, I did not stop drinking because of this.  I probably drank more because of this.  How and why did I stop?   Interestingly enough, it was another night at the Nine, several years later.  We got there and bellied up to the bar and I just turned and walked away without ordering and that was that.  1990 maybe, is what I'm thinking.  It just ended.  No big fanfare, no AA, no discussion about it of any kind.  I just walked away from the bar that night and rarely ever drank again.  I just felt done.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My First Poem

I inadvertently set my alarm this morning for 5:00 am.  I think I moved the alarm to on while dusting yesterday.  Anyway, as I lay there, annoyed at being woken up by such a horrendous sound and trying to fall back asleep, I started to recite this in my head.  I don't know why because I have never written a poem in my life. 

In My Secret Life....

In my secret life I'm thin, beautiful and the men all stop and stare
And for once it's not because my breasts are so big or because I have purple hair

In my secret life I'm very successful and own my own shop
I'm making Grandma's pizza and selling it for $18 a pop

In my secret life no one I love is sick or in pain
If I could take that from you all I would do it again and again

In my secret life the demons that haunt me would be buried deep
And I wouldn't be awake every night with them depriving me of sleep

In my secret life I'd be forever thirty nine
My 40's blow, but then again do I really want to go back in time?

In my secret life I would get through at least one day without tears
And that would be because I'd have conquered all of my fears

In my secret life I have sex every day, once or even more
What can I say, in my secret life I'm a bit of a whore

In my secret life I wouldn't be hurt by people who don't care
They would disappear from my orbit, vanish in thin air

My secret life sounds close to ideal
I guess in the end, it's not what I want because maybe then I wouldn't feel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cleveland Hopkins Continental Hell

Back in 2007, when my dad was in Florida and sick, I had to fly back and forth several times.  During those times, I had my worst airport experience and my best.  This blog is about the worst.  I had been in Florida for about a week or so already.  When I went, I didn't know how sick he was, how long he'd have to stay in the hospital, how long I'd be there, nothing.   Here in Ohio, my parents next door neighbor works for Continental so I was able to get a cheap fair via a buddy pass.  In case you don't know what that is, employees of the airline can get friends/family great deals on flights, but you have to fly stand by.  Most of the time, it's not a problem.  You also have to dress a certain way if you have a buddy pass.  Why this is I have no clue since no one on the flight knows you're on a buddy pass unless you tell them.  And seriously, are you going to chat up the person next to you by saying, "how much did you say you paid for this flight?  $500?  Wow dude, sucks to be you, I only paid $80."  But yeah, they have a dress code and Neighbor told me all I had to do was not wear shorts.  Everything else was fine.  So after my dad had the surgery that amputated his leg from just below the knee down and then went to rehab, I decided to go home and take care of some things like getting myself and my mom more clothes.  I had not brought much and even though she had, she didn't expect to be there as long as she was either. 

At about 1:30 am the morning of my flight back to Florida, my brother who lives there called me to tell me my dad had a stroke.  I was relieved I was already scheduled to go back, but scared out of my mind that things had taken such a turn.  Dressed in jeans, a plain black t-shirt and my Italia hoodie, I'm all set to go back.  Bags checked, carry on in hand, now I just have to wait.  Since I'm flying stand by, I have to wait while they make sure the plane isn't overbooked.  Eventually I'll get a boarding pass if all goes well.   I check in with Continental employee Daisy, who is anything but.  She gave me the up and down look and then asked me who gave me the buddy pass.  I told her and she asked me if Neighbor told me about the dress code.  I told her that he told me not to wear shorts.  Daisy prints something off and then asks me to come with her to the corridor where she proceeds to tell me that hoodies and t-shirts are not allowed and that she's going to have to consider if I can fly that day, dressed how I am.

Now I'm just staring at her dumbfounded while she continues to give me the disapproving glare.  You'd think I was a smelly hobo who just came in from the alley and is taking a shower in the public restroom!  Finally I said, "look... my father had a stroke last night, I have to get on that plane."   She sees that I have carry on in my hand and asks me if I have any clothes in it.  I said I did, but they were my mother's and about 2 sizes smaller than me.  Daisy tells me that I will need to find something in there more suitable than what I'm wearing and that she's going to report Neighbor for not telling me what I should wear.  I simultaneously want to hack her to bits with a daisy chainsaw and start to cry hysterically.  Up until this point, I was pretty calm about my father's stroke and all that was going on.  But now, this cold unfeeling bitch who is apparently offended that I'm wearing a fucking t-shirt is going to hinder me from getting back to Florida.  I call Neighbor and tell him what's happening and he can hardly understand me because I'm so hysterical.  I'm starting to draw attention but the floodgate has been opened and I cannot stop.  Neighbor tells me to do the best I can, and then *gasp* apologize to Daisy for the way I'm dressed.  He can't be serious?  But his job is on the line and I have to suck it up for him.

Some extremely wonderful and kind strangers came over to me to see if they could help.  Somehow through my hysteria, they got the gist of what was going on and were pretty appalled by it.  They took me to the bathroom, helped me look through the carry on and find something to change into.  It was tight, and small but I got it on, and they assured me I looked fine.  I wish I knew the names of those angels.  Still crying but less hysterical, I made my way back over to the counter and asked Stinkweed if what I was wearing was OK.  She smiled and said it was much better and handed me my boarding pass.  I took a deep breath and apologized to the bitch.  That was tough.

Tears still flowing, because like I said, the floodgate had opened and there was no stopping it, my row was called and as I made my way to the gate, who do I see collecting boarding passes but that bitch!  Can you even believe that she had the audacity to hug me after taking my boarding pass and telling me she hoped everything would be OK?  Can you even stand it!?   I should have kicked her in the tits right then and there.

So, I'm on the plane.  Still blubbering but trying desperately to stop.   I'm on an aisle seat, wing row so lots of leg room.  That means everyone around me, to my right and to my left, were men.  And not one of them would look at the crazy crying woman on the aisle, let alone offer me a word of comfort.  Then a very very tall man was seated at the window seat in the aisle in front of me and was immediately uncomfortable.  His knees were practically at his ears!   He called a flight attendant over and asked if he could be moved.  She told him she was very sorry but the plane was full.  I seized the moment to tell the flight attendant that he could have my seat and the very grateful man switched with me.  Ahhh now I'm at a window seat and I can just hide my head in the window, not talk to anyone and just cry my way to Florida without really bothering anyone.  And that's exactly what I did.

Luckily Neighbor did not get fired, nor did he even receive any kind of reprimand.  I do however hope that Daisy was fired for her disgusting treatment of someone who was clearly in distress.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Realizing My Worth

Throughout the years, there have been times in my life when I have felt like nothing.  Like next to nothing.  Could it be because I had no relationship with my father until I was in my late 20's?  Could it be a boyfriend who made me feel that way?  Could it be betrayal by a trusted friend?  I always wonder, what did I do wrong?  What did I do that made you not want to be around me?   What did I do that made you break up with me?  What did I do that drove you to stab me in the heart? When you feel like that, it doesn't really matter what other people say to reassure you.  You feel how you feel and only the person who makes you feel that way can really change it.  Most of the time, they don't even know they are doing it so you're kind of fucked. 

When I was a kid, I probably didn't realize that dad's talked to their kids, played ball, helped with homework, whatever.  It wasn't until I got a little older that it really clicked that something was wrong here.  And by the time I realized it, I was used to it and I knew it was the booze.  And yet, there is still that piece of insecurity that totally fucks with your head.  It wasn't until two years ago that my worth to my father slapped me in the face.

He was ill.  Isn't that the biggest piece of cliche bullshit?  An illness pulls a family together.  But that's what happened.  He was ill, while on vacation in Florida visiting my sister.  When it became apparent this was not minor, my brother and I hopped a plane to FL.  I ended up staying a total of eight weeks (going home once for a couple days to get more clothes and take care of my life), while my father endured four surgeries ultimately resulting in the amputation of his right leg at mid-thigh, due to complications of diabetes.  And while recovering, he suffered a stroke.   The stroke was minor, thankfully and really only affected his ability to speak.  He can speak, but very often he's garbled.  He can't articulate what he wants to say very easily anymore.

As time went on, he did start to improve and I had to get back to my life.  One day we were alone in his hospital room, my mom had gone out to make a phone call.  So we were talking and I said to him, "you know, you're starting to get better, you know what that means?"   He shrugged.  I said, "It means I'm going to be going home."  Immediately my father burst into tears the likes of which I had never seen in my life.  I have never ever seen my father cry, let alone the sobbing cries he was doing now.  He didn't cry when his own father and mother passed away.  He didn't cry when the doctors told him his leg was coming off.  He didn't cry after he had a stroke.  He cried because I was going home and leaving him.  In a panic, I called my mother back in and she soothed him as I went out in the hall to freak out.

Then the more I thought about it, the more I thought it had nothing to do with me at all.  It was a culmination of everything he was feeling about his situation and somehow, someway it came out at that time.  This is where the self doubt, the thinking I'm shit, the idea that I've always been nothing, comes back to haunt me.  It couldn't be about me.  Why would it be?  So I was cool with it, it's business as usual.

And then, several days later when I am actually going home I asked for my mom and my sister to give me a few minutes alone with him to say goodbye.  It's not like we were never going to see each other again.  I was going home to make my home livable for him.  He and my mother were moving into my house while he continued to recover.  They would be coming home in a few weeks.  So I went into his room to say good bye and he knew.  He knew why I asked everyone to leave, and he laid their on his bed, shaking his head "no."  Did he not want to hear it?  Did he not want to say goodbye?  Did he not want me to go?  I told him I had to go, I had to get things ready and I would be at the airport waiting for him when he got home.  And it happened again.  That violent burst of tears as he grabbed my hand.  This time, I couldn't talk myself out of what I mean to him.  I felt it wash over me.  The gratitude he felt for my being there for him and my mother and taking control of the situation and the doctors.  The love, yes love, that I finally truly felt.  It only took 42 years, but it'll last me a lifetime.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Love Letter to Angelina

It's coming up on two years since I lost my Grandma.  I think of her so often, especially at times when I feel lost.  She was someone who always had my back.  She never judged.  She never criticized.  She listened with care, love and concern.  I could tell her anything.  And even more amazing, she could relate to just about any situation I found myself in, even with our 57 year age difference.  She had a calming influence and an easy way about her.  I doubt she would believe that about herself, but it's absolutely true.

She never questioned any of my rebellious activities.   She always told me I was beautiful even when I showed up to Thanksgiving dinner with a big black mohawk, torn fishnets and got totally hammered on the carafe's of Chablis she had on the table (which I called giraffe's of chab bliss as I got more and more drunk).  Back then food wasn't as important to me as drink.  Lots and lots of drink.  Looking back I want to smack my 22 year old self and tell me to pay fucking attention and enjoy the hell out of Grandma's food whenever I was given the opportunity. 

But now I make her perfect crust and amazing sauce whenever I make pizza.  I make her delicious sauce for spaghetti.   I make her insane cutlets.  I make her pies.  I make her breads.  I make her sausage.  I make her Easter cookies.  I use her 60 year old Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  Nothing ever tastes quite the same as when she made them, but whenever I make something of hers or use that mixer, I think even more of that beautiful soul I was so lucky to have in my life until I was 42 years old.  Is it ever enough time?

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
ee cummings

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Get Thee To A Nunnery

I recently had to go to my local Catholic church to meet with one of the nuns there.  How is it that these places do not change?  Walking into the parish office in 2010 was like walking into the parish office in 1979.  It was hot, the waiting room didn't have chairs but ancient re-purposed pews from a long ago church upgrade, and was filled with the smell of judgment.

There I sat, a recovering Catholic with no interest at all in becoming a valued member of the church community.  Me, with my purple hair and zebra everywhere. I felt like that 7th grader all over again, the one that was called down to the Principal's office because I dared to wear make up to school.  That day big bad Sr. Mary Oppression told me, this scared 13 year old, that I looked like a whore on Prospect Ave.  There are lots of problems with that comparison, not the least of which being that in 1979, 13 year olds weren't nearly as worldly as they are now.  So not only did I not know where Prospect Ave. was, but I also didn't know what a whore was.  But I looked like one, apparently, because I slathered Maybelline Strawberry Kissing Potion on my lips and a little blue eye shadow on my lids.  By her tone and disapproving look, I knew it was bad to be a whore on Prospect Ave.

As I sat there on that hard pew with the too erect back, waiting for my meeting, here, now in 2010, my palms started to sweat.  I got that anxious feeling I had so often as a kid growing up wondering what I did wrong and what will happen to me.  I suddenly felt self conscious about everything.  When was the last time someone walked into the parish office with purple hair and asked to see one of the nuns?  Maybe never, maybe yesterday.  Who the fuck knows.  All I know is I suddenly felt like a 13 year old wearing forbidden make up.   Then I just had to remind myself of a few things.  Number one, I'm an adult and as such, I expect to be treated fairly.  Number two, I was doing this for a very important reason.  My niece has chosen me to be her Confirmation sponsor and I will do it for her.  I may not be the best person to guide her in her journey of Catholicism, but she could do much worse than me as her guide on other matters. 

When the sister in question came out to greet me and show me to her office, I was relieved that she was dressed casually and not in the penguin outfit of my youth.  But there was some concern because she was definitely not young.  To her credit, she did not give me the stinkeye upon meeting me.  In fact, she was warm and friendly.    She showed me to her office where we talked about what being a Confirmation sponsor entails.  We talked about how different people experience God or faith or a spirit or whatever you call it, in different ways.  She was open and interesting and dare I say, progressive, for a nun in her 70's.  But there are expectations involved with being a Confirmation sponsor and one of them is being a member of the church.   Was I willing to return to church regularly?  It was a question I dreaded.   My answer to that was as honest as I could possibly be, I'm willing to try.  In the end I don't think she believed I would actually go, but it was good enough and I was given my certificate.  I am now officially a Confirmation sponsor.  What the hell did I get myself into!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Strange Juxtaposition

I started thinking about the blog I'm about to write and the thought "TMI" came to mind.  Then upon further thought it dawned on me that this whole blog is one big TMI so why should this particular subject be any different. 

Right now, I have so many things on my mind.  Things that cause a lot of turmoil in my mind (how my father has given up on life).  Things that cause me a lot of pain (a friends illness).  Things that make me extremely angry (getting my no good, piece of shit, stupid ass lowlife of a cousin out of my Grandma's house).  And yet, through it all, my libido rages on.  Am I seriously talking about sex?   I am.  So how do I reconcile the pain and anger with the total horndog?  Is it that this mid 40's chick is hot to trot?  Is it normal?  Is it strange?  Am I a nympho?  Are my hormones out of whack?  Well if they are, I don't want them fixed.   When I'm not obsessing on something tragic or annoying, I'm thinking about sex.  When will I have it?  Will it be soon?  Can I get some now please?  Is my husband going to put out tonight? 

I kind of figure it's partially my age, partially my hormones, and partially a defense mechanism so I don't go completely mad.  Quite frankly, I don't care what the reason is, it feels good to know I'm not dead inside from the madness of the world around me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Punk Rock Saved Me

One of my most memorable defining moments happened on January 26, 1980.  I had just turned 14.  I was up late, watching SNL.  In those days, everyone watched SNL.  It was the '79/'80 season, before the show went to hell and almost got canceled. Terri Garr was the host.  The B 52's were the musical guest.  The B fucking 52's!   This was so new to me.  It was my first exposure (other than my sister's insane love for David Bowie) that I had to anything remotely interesting musically.  My brothers were listening to Boston and Foreigner and other shit like that.  My friends were listening to Andy Gibb and the Bee Gee's.  But this, this was exciting and strange and good and weird and so many things.  They performed twice that night, the classic Rock Lobster and Dance This Mess Around.  I was mesmerized by them.  And in the course of that 90 minute show,  my life completely changed.

Why did my life need to change?  Oh it did.  Something had to change.  It's 1980.  I have zero relationship with my father.  I sometimes wonder if he knows of my existence.  He never speaks to me.  Never.  It had probably been years by this time since he had spoken to me.  It will be many more years until he does.  Every day he comes home from work so fucking drunk he can hardly walk.  He stinks of beer.  He falls asleep at the dinner table.  My mom screams at him until he goes to bed, and the next day we do it all over again.  There's my mom again, dealing with it so that we wouldn't be without a father, she wouldn't be alone.   I can't imagine what it was like for her then.  Worse than it was for me and my brothers and sister, no doubt.

My transformation was kind of slow, but steady.  The B 52's lead me to more new and more exciting music with each passing day.  It was soon after that I discovered more and more music... Adam and the Ants, The Go Go's, Billy Idol, more and more and more.  I wanted more, I got more and with my new love, I lost every friend I had.  They didn't like the music, they didn't like the look, they didn't like the attitude I was now sporting.  Well fuck them!  I finally found me and I liked it and I wasn't turning back into just another clone at my Catholic school.  I found new friends, friends who had similar revelations.  And we found more and more music.  By 1984 we were going to so many shows, it was almost a weekly occurrence.  We still had our beloved Adam Ant and Billy Idol, but now we had The Ramones, Dead Kennedy's, the Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Black Flag (have you ever seen Henry Rollins live in any way?  He's fucking genius).  It was intense and wonderful.  Everything was new and amazing.  Music saved my soul.  Music took me away.  Music made me happy again.  Thank you B 52's.

Link: B-52's - Rock Lobster (live on SNL 1980)

She Was Born During a Blizzard

"Did you know there was a blizzard the day we brought you home from the hospital?  We couldn't even get up the drive.  The neighbors had to come and help us so we could get you inside."  Yeah Ma, I know.  You tell me every year on my birthday.  The big blizzard of Cleveland, 1966.  Got it.

I had a rough entry into this world, so what's a blizzard compared to that?  Nothing but cold water.  My mom was born to two Italian immigrants.  My dad was born to two first generation Polish Americans (meaning, my dad's grandparents were both Polish immigrants).  Grandma L, as she will be called here, hated Italians.   Well to be fair, she hated everyone, but Italians in particular.  She made my mom feel like shit for over 40 years and my mom just dealt with it in the interest of family unity.  I'm not so sure I could be as pragmatic in the same situation.  Sometimes that woman really needed to be told off.  Like the day of my birth for example.

I'm the fourth of four children and it was time for me to enter the world.  A rather stupid nurse squeezed my mom's IV line while she was in labor and all hell then broke loose.  Whatever was in the line went into mom too fast, causing big problems.  Hemorrhaging, intense hemorrhaging, that the same stupid nurse discovered and started screaming and panicking about, yelling up and down the halls for help.   Dumb bitch, I hope she was fired.

Emergency C-section to the rescue!  Touch and go, lots of blood loss... Mom almost died, I almost died.  But alas, I'm here to tell the tale of surviving.  My little six pounds of life with a mass of dark hair, wrapped up in blankets and given to my mom to hold while family came in to offer concern, joy and love.  Well, all except for Grandma L, who upon seeing me for the first time in my exhausted mother's arms said these words, "It's just a shame they all had to look like you."

A blizzard by comparison really doesn't mean shit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oranges, My Nemesis.

I hate oranges.  Hate them with a white hot passion.  I hate the smell.  I hate the taste.  I hate the zest.  I hate the juice.  Oranges are evil, pure unadulterated evil.  When I had a desk job, my boss loved to eat oranges every day.  She would peel and peel, slowly making me more woozy as that stench wafted from her office to mine. 

The trail to my orange hate was paved by my mother.  I didn't always hate them.  Hell, when I was a kid I pretended to be sick so I could munch on St. Joseph's Aspirin for kids.... those chalky orange flavored chewable tablets.  *shudder*

But then real sickness came upon me.  Nothing serious, but back in the 70's if you were a high strung kid they didn't really know what to call it or do for you other than to say, "snap the fuck out of it!"  Somehow, my mom was able to get some kind of vile tasting medicine for me from the doctor.  I have no clue what it was for, I was just a kid who was scared of my own shadow and meek as a kitten (um yeah, I grew out of it, obviously).  All I know is it tasted like shit.  So my mom, thinking she was masking the horrid flavor of the medicine, started to hide it in my morning juice.  That was probably the worst idea ever.  It went on and on, daily I had to swallow that dreck for what could have been weeks, months or years for all I remember now.  It absolutely ruined me for ever drinking orange juice again.  I've tried, and whenever I do I'm taken right back to my childhood and that mediciney taste.

So keep your fucking Dreamsicles to yourself.  I don't want any vile Orange Cream Pop Tarts.  No thanks on the punch with globs of horror (orange sherbet) floating in it.  And keep your fucking orange out of my chocolate!