Friday, September 30, 2011

Three Years

It's hard for me to believe that it's been three years since I lost her.  One of the most important people in my life, my Grandma.  I'm lucky, so so lucky I had her for as long as I did.  I was 42 when she passed away, she was 99.  October 1, 2008.  Only 3 weeks from her 100th birthday.

I've written about her before, several times.  One of the things I wanted to accomplish with this blog was to let others know her too.  If only everyone could have known her in person.  She was so beautiful, so funny, so smart, the best cook ever, someone I could tell anything to, someone who never ever judged.   So often I find myself wanting to talk to her, ask for advice on some things, cook with her, eat with her, just be in her presence again.  Any time I was with her, I felt like the luckiest person alive.  I so wish I had an answering machine message from her saved somewhere. They always made me smile and went something like this....

"Lalia, Can you come and take me to Gallucci's?
This is Grandma, I love you."

Remembering that, hearing it in my head, makes me very emotional.  The message wasn't particularly clear ever.  She never would say when she wanted to go or anything like that.  She didn't mince words.  I'd just call her back and we'd figure out a time to go.  Gallucci's, by the way, is the greatest Italian foods store in Cleveland.  And when we went there it was heaven.  The aroma of the place is intoxicating.  I want to wear it as cologne!  I loved going with her.  Everyone knew her, everyone took care to make sure she got the best of what she was buying, and we always had a feast when we got back to her house.  We would sit at her kitchen table with a little wine or maybe some espresso, and then start opening our bags and laying our feast out on the table.   Delicious crusty bread that you pull apart with your hands, five or six different kinds of olives, super sharp provolone and fontinella, salami, pepperoni, capicola and sopressata.  Absolutely the best.

I miss those days with her.  Just her and I.  We talked about everything.  She told me stories about her life that always somehow related to something I was going through or having trouble with.  She was so smart and so intuitive.  She loved her family with a fierceness that really doesn't seem as prevalent today.  I don't know that I can explain what I mean by fierce love, but I'll try.  When she loved you, she held you close to her heart.  You knew.  You knew you were in there and there isn't a better place in the world to be.  And no matter how she was treated by other family members, because yes, there were people in our family who didn't treat her with the respect she deserved, she loved and held everyone close.  She only wanted everyone to get along and be together.  It didn't always happen.  But I can say we tried, for her sake.  I can't say the same for others and still can't, as fights and lawsuits continue so the greedy side can get what they seem to think they deserve.   Death sometimes brings out the very worst in people.

But for me, I continue to honor her from the tattoo of her on my arm to wearing her wedding band every day.  Whenever I put it on I think of her.  I feel so lucky that I get to wear it now.

Yes, I'm lucky.  I'm lucky I had her in my life for so long.  I'm lucky she lived so close to me.  I'm lucky that she loved me.  I'm lucky that I learned as much as I did from her, even though I wish I could have learned more.  I don't think I would have ever stopped learning from her.  I wish everyone could have known her.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music Mayhem

Yes, I think I will change the name of my Wednesday music posts from Way Out Wednesday to Music Mayhem.  It's way more me and doesn't confine me to one day if I want to post more music or post on any given day.   So let today be the start of Music Mayhem!

This song just popped into my head a few minutes ago and it was like a flash of lightning. It amazes me how that happens, how a song can just arrive on the scene and put everything you're feeling into a neat little 2 and a half minute bow.

Was it destiny
I don't know yet
Was it just by chance? Could this be Kismet?
Something in my consciousness told me you'd appear
Now I'm always touched by your presence dear

Wow, it's powerful.  And meaningful.  It is to me anyway.  It speaks to me and what is in my heart.  What's difficult about matters of the heart is whether you follow them or not. Is what the heart wants, the right thing?  I don't have that answer, if I did I probably wouldn't be such a train wreck.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Self Explanatory

I don't need to explain why I chose this song for today's Way Out Wednesday post do I?

Yeah I didn't think so. =)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Another Reconnect

I have heard, twice now, that an old friend wants to reconnect with me.  She has put the ball in my court by giving her contact information to my mom.  T and I were great friends growing up.  Our families were great friends.  We spent weekends at their families cottage on the lake during the summers.  She had a sibling the same age as all of mine so they all had great friends in this family too.

As the years went by, T and I stayed friends through the teen years even though we went to different schools.  We hung out, went looking for boys, even had our first interracial double dates together... oh the scandal!  lol   I was in her wedding.  She was in mine.  I took her to the hospital when she thought she was in labor with her first child.  I slept with her brother... oh wait, she doesn't know that lol  Basically I'm saying, we were best of friends.

Like a lot of friends you have throughout your life, you drift.  We drifted and then would come back to each other and it was like no time had passed.  We had that sync.  But we'd always drift again.  I blamed a lot of it on her husband.  He did not like me.  Not at all.  I was too weird and he didn't like me hanging out with her.  He even tried to get her to kick me out of the wedding party.  When they started having kids she kept pressuring me about doing the same.  No matter what I said about not wanting to have kids, she did not believe me.  And the more she asked, the further I started to drift.  I had enough pressure from my family in this regard.  I didn't need it from my friends too.  So when my sister in law (at the time) told me she ran into T at a baseball game and T proceeded to grill her about my fertility problems and trouble conceiving, that was the final straw for me.  Since when isn't my word on the matter good enough?  I had no reason to lie.  I did not want kids.  Period.  I stopped trying to reach out to her at all after that and many years went by before we spoke again.

Several years ago, one of her brothers passed away.  I was in the midst of my own deep drama of anxiety, anti-depressants, and days on end crying jags, but I pulled it together enough to make an appearance at the funeral and we promised we'd reconnect and get together.  We didn't.   Not long after that I found out she was getting divorced so I sent her a card with my number and offered to be there for her.  She never called.

Then my father got sick.  I was in a place where I really needed my friends.  I needed them to reach out to me, be there for me.  She didn't.   She didn't call me at all.  Not even once in the whole year long trauma that we endured.  Her brother called my brother often.  Her mother called my mother often.  She never bothered to see how I was.  And it hurt.  It hurt a lot.  Because I tried to always be there for her and she could never see her way to returning the favor.  So I basically wrote her off.  My mom would tell me what she was up to after having talked to her mom, but we have had no direct contact for about six years (I think, which was when I saw her at her brother's funeral).

Which brings us to present day, and she's sick.  It's bad, but she still does not have a direct diagnosis.  But she is very ill and alone.  Divorced, children grown, boyfriend gone, and she is in need of something familiar.  Something she can trust.  And she wants me.  As much as I would like to tell you I went rushing to her side, I can't.  Because I haven't made the decision yet on if I will let her back into my life.  That probably sounds really cold, but I can't always be the one that people run to when I don't get it back.  I'm nobodies fucking doormat or last resort.  And then at the same time, I feel bad.  I feel like I should be there for her when she needs it most.  Does it matter so much that she wasn't there for me?  Do I always have to be the bigger person?  What happens if I don't reach out to her and, God forbid, she dies?   Can I live with that?  Is it just sour grapes or being selfish on my part that I am so apprehensive about contacting her or am I just protecting my heart from more pain?  If the tables were turned would she come to me and does it matter?   That's what I'm trying to figure out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Way Out Wednesday

Somewhat inspired by my friend Lucy at LifeThruLucyLasticasLense and her fab feature Chooseday Choon, I give you a song feature on Wednesdays, just for the hell of it.  Because I love music and quite often I get a song in my head and shit, why not share it.  It might just be a video.  It might be a video and some commentary.  It might just be lyrics.  But I've decided music needs to be here more.  It's such a huge part of my life  So without further ado, my first Way Out Wednesday pick....

I would guess that my liking this song or band this would be a surprise to some.  But the truth is, I've always loved this song.  I saw 10,000 Maniacs in Cleveland back in the late 80's with about a grand total of 50 others or so.  It was before they gained any kind of popularity.  And it was great.  They were great.  Natalie Merchant was a ball of energy.  A whirling dervish that poured her heart and soul into every song.  This song is one that can move me to tears.  Sometimes I feel like I'm the one singing it (if I had a beautiful voice like Natalie's) because so often I find myself thinking it.  Different parts of it, at different times will be so dead on about something I'm thinking or feeling it's uncanny.  Like the song was written just for me.

Music is something deeply meaningful.  Music saves me when nothing else can.  Music can get to my heart, to my soul.  It can make me cry.  It can make me laugh.  It can lift my spirits and can take me away from the things that bring me down.  It can remind me of a person, a place or a thing.  It holds memories.  I don't ever want to live a day without music in it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Simple Question With a Big Answer

I'm going into my fantasy life with this post and it's going to be an X rated so if that bothers you, go now.  The thing is, I can't not talk about sex.  I have to.  It's such a part of who I am anymore.  I love everything about it and like expressing it.  I like talking about it, reading about it, writing about it and living it.  I've questioned before if I'm the norm or the exception.  And the truth is, I don't care.  I just like feeling sexual.

The other night I was dreaming, and in the dream my friend asked me, "How do you like it?" which is funny because he had asked me on the phone, for real, a few days prior.  I answered him then but as I awoke with that question being asked of me again, I had a more thorough answer.

My answer was that I like it hard and fast.   But delving deeper I would say primal.  An urgency that is so strong that I feel like I might die if I don't get fucked like now.  Right now.  And yes, make no mistake, it is fucking.  And fucking is good.  There is something so intoxicating about being taken.  I'm not talking forcibly.  I'm talking consensually wanting each other so bad that you can't breathe.  That when you're together somewhere, publicly all you can think about is getting back to where you can be with each other, one on one and just fuck all night long.  Knowing looks go between you all night as you wait to return to your private place.  You unconsciously lick your lips whenever you look at him.  You find any reason to touch him, his hand, his arm, his leg.  Anything.  You want him so bad you wonder if you can make it somewhere or if you'll have to pull the car over and fuck right there on the side of the road.  It's not something you request, you demand it.  Pull this car over and fuck me now!  And he does.  It's just enough to sate you both until you get to that place, that private place where you can really get down to business.

But I also like it soft, slow, gentle.  Making love.  Romantic.  I like candles lit, soft music playing.  I like taking the time to undress each other slowly and explore my lovers body and let him explore mine.  I want to kiss him and lick him up and down his body and let him do the same to me.   A slow build to where you become one.  One life, one breath, one heartbeat.  And it's beautiful.  It's a union of body and soul.

I like to be seduced in different ways.  To be surprised by the amorous intentions of my lover while I'm doing something that might not immediately conjure up the idea of sex.  Cooking maybe.  While I'm standing at the sink or the counter, washing dishes or chopping vegetables.  The pasta can wait while I give myself over to the hands that are roaming my body.  And I wonder, will he take me on the counter?  Will he take me on the table?  Will he take me up against the wall?   I don't care as long as he takes me.  I relinquish any control over to my trusted lover and I hope he never tires of what I have to  offer.  Those fears are laid to rest later in the night.  He waits until I am asleep, soundly.  He knows my body so well and knows how easily I get wet for him.  So as I sleep, he slowly and quietly opens my legs and puts his tongue on me.  I am quite often dreaming of sex and then I start to really feel it and the feelings that come over me are explosive.  A meeting of conscious and subconscious.

I like to be the seducer and turn the tables on him.  I want him to beg me to take him.  And he will, beg me that is.  And I'll take him.  But how we get to that point is something I will keep to myself.  A girl needs some secrets.    

I guess it was a simple question, but the answer is far from simple.  I just hope that when my friend asked me "how do you like it?" he wasn't really talking about how I take my coffee.  Because this answer is suddenly very inappropriate.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Good Decision for Me

People automatically assume that, because I don't have kids, that I hate kids.  Not true at all.  In fact there was a time when I thought I wanted to have kids.  And yes, I said it that way purposefully.  I thought I wanted kids.  When I was young(er) and just married, the subject came up often.  Having kids, what would we name them when we have them (I wanted Zoe Angelina for a girl - at the time, neither name was popular.  I always loved the name Zoe and Angelina would be after my Grandmother... now?   Yikes, there's probably 3 or 4 of each in every classroom in the country!).  But I wanted time.  Time to see what I wanted to do before my life became centered around a little one or two.

When you have an Italian family, you have to be prepared for all the "when are you getting married's" and "when are you going to have kids" and my personal fave, "why don't you have a baby for your mother."  And the more these things were said to me, the more I resented the fact that this was expected.  And I'd get angry and lash out at whichever old Italian relative was saying it to me.  Why did I have to have a baby?   Why did I have to put my body through that torture and give myself up to the screaming, eating poop machine all for the sake of my mom's happiness at being a grandma?  Isn't this my life after all?  Don't I get to make that call?  More and more it became very clear to me over these years that this was not what I wanted at all.

When I was younger, I never had dreams of being a mommy.  Sure I played with dolls and stuff when I was little.  But when I got my first Barbie, it was game over.  Barbie was hip and stylish and she did not drive a mini van and take kids to soccer practice, she drove a Corvette and went out on dates with Ken (and sometimes the tramp cheated on Ken with GI Joe.  What can I say, my Barbie loved a man in uniform).  Barbie was cool.  She had the life.  I identified with her way more than little girls who were still playing with Baby Alive (if you don't recall this doll, she moved her mouth like she was eating and you fed her the baby food that came with the doll and then she'd poop it out).  Barbie's life was way more on par with what I saw myself wanting.

The thought of pregnancy, childbirth and taking care of an infant were terrifying.  The idea that this little helpless being was going to depend on me for everything brought on the panic.  Is it what I want?  Is it something I feel I need to be fulfilled?  The answer kept coming back, No.  No, it's not what I want.  No, I don't need a baby to feel fulfilled.  No, I'm not going to have a baby just for the sake of having one or because it's expected.  No, I'm not going to do this so my mom can be a grandma.  The decision was made.  My decision.  The one that felt right for me.

And then I reached 40.  And more panic set in.  Up until then, even though I knew the decision was made, there was still a little crack in the door that made it still a possibility. But 40 shut that door and locked it.  Oh sure, I know many woman have babies after 40, but I did not want to be one of them.  I shut that door and threw away the key all on my own, and then I went into a kind of freak out mode.... what if I made the wrong decision!   That's the thing about decisions I guess, you have to trust it to be right or you will always wonder if it's wrong.  I was able to make peace with my decision, again, and have never looked back.  No regrets.  I have two nieces I adore.  My BFF has three girls (one is my Goddaughter) that are like three more nieces.  Other friends and family members have kids and I love them all.  I'm glad I can be cool (or crazy, depending on your perspective) Aunt Lalia.  I would be there for any of those kids in a heartbeat.

When I meet new people and they ask me if I have kids, I reply "No, by choice" because just saying "No" was always met with a sad look of sympathy.  Not having kids does not mean I can't take care of child nor does it mean I hate kids.  Just as having kids doesn't automatically make one a great parent.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What the? An Award? For me!?

Blog awards are so fun!  They arrive out the blue, sometimes when you're feeling you've lost your way.  Sometimes when it feels like you have nothing more to say, someone sends you a blogger award to remind you that you do, or that what you have said means something.  So for that, I thank Muriel at 40blogSpot.  She has bestowed on me the Liebster Blog Award.  If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you should.  She gets straight to the heart of the matter and pulls no punches.  It's what I love about it.  

The Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, all in the spirit of fostering new connections.  And here are the rules:

1) Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2) Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment in their blog.
3) Post the award on your blog.
4) Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet - other writers.
5) And best of all, have fun and spread the karma.

And so, without further ado, my 5 blog picks and now Liebster recipients.

1) Adventures of the Hope Warriors - Written mostly by Dale, but sometimes by Jackie, this blog is about Jackie's journey with lung cancer.  She happens to be one of my best friends and I'm proud to day I am a Hope Warrior.

2) The Underwear Chronicles - Judy is just starting out, she only has two posts so far.  But what I've seen I have liked.  She's also a dear friend and one of the most supportive people I know.

3) Catharsis - Joy's blog is sweet and fun and refreshing and she's a doll.  Love this blog.

4) Don't Hang Up - Pennie's blog is inspirational, informative and just plain interesting.  Plus she herself is the best commenter ever.  When she comments on your blog, it is always thoughtful, meaningful and I just get happy whenever I see one from her.

5) Reflections from a Red Head - Janine's blog is always great but I urge you to go now more than ever.  She has started a new series called "The Beauty of Difference" that I love.  As someone who has felt different from others for most of my life for one reason or another, I love how this series embraces those differences.  

So there they are.  Enjoy, read, comment and write.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I have a confession to make.  It might not be a big revelation because I think I've either eluded to it or mentioned it before.  I suffer from anxiety.  It's not crippling.  It's not severe.  But it is enough that I need medication (as needed) for it.

It started when I was about 7 or 8 years old and back then there wasn't a name for it.  I was just a high strung kid, afraid of her own shadow.  I so clearly remember my fears really coming to light.  I didn't know what the fears were specifically but I felt fear.  I would get nervous with my stomach in knots. My mom had to pick me up from school so many times that eventually she refused and told them that she would not come and to send me back to my classroom.  I guess I can't blame her for that.  It had to be frustrating as hell.  Here I was, absolutely fine whenever I was at home.  But when I had to go to school I suddenly became a mass of nerves so tight that sometimes I even threw up from the stress of it.

I did not make my First Communion with my class because I was so riddled with fear about it.  As if making it by myself was any better.  No one could figure out what was wrong with me.  They just didn't have a name for it back then.  But I knew when one of these attacks was going to hit.  I could feel it.  It's a tingly sensation in my head, then I'd get really hot and sweaty even if it was freezing.  And then I couldn't think of anything but having to leave.  The words, "I want to go home" were all that would go through my mind.  And once home, I was fine.  Like nothing ever happened.

Eventually I grew out of it.  And it didn't come back again until I was an adult.  My first adult panic attack happened in 1993 when I was planning my wedding.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened, I was driving to work when all of a sudden it hit.  Well I take that back, kind of.  Nothing happened at that moment but my mom was giving me a lot of grief during the planning.  She hated my dress, she hated the things I wanted (not a mass, a ceremony), she was mad I didn't ask my sister to be my maid of honor.  Was it really such a problem that I wanted a rip away dress and mosh pit at my wedding?  I promised to not get that going until all the old Italians left.  It went on and on, everything was a problem and I didn't realize how much it was all getting to me until that one day, driving to work.  It had been so long since I had a panic attack that I didn't even know I was having one.  I thought I was having a heart attack or a stroke.  I detoured myself from driving to work and instead went to my parents house and they rushed me to the ER, where we found out what was really going on.   Then it all clicked into place.  This is what was happening to me as a kid.  Panic attacks!  

Knowing what it is was kind of a relief.  After that one in '93, they stopped again.  It would be years before I would have another.   And that happened in 2006. I had been thinking a lot about how my parents were aging.  How things were going to change.  How my grandma was not going to be around forever.  How a lot of their care would fall on me.  And it hit.  It hit like a ton of bricks.  Fear, panic.  What would I do?  How would I handle it?  What's going to happen?  Why was I in this alone even though I have two brothers and a sister?  But I would be, pretty much.  One brother lives in Florida, my sister lives in Alabama.  My other brother is local but he and his wife both work and they have two kids, so my reliance on them for help was going to be minimal.   I will say however, that when it's really really counted, he's been there.

It was only a year later that the shit really hit the fan and I was put to the test.  My father became ill.  And through it all not once did I have a panic attack. I fell right into control mode.  I took over and did what had to be done.  I took care of my mother while my father was laid up in a hospital in a strange city in a far away state for weeks and weeks.  I questioned the doctors about everything while my mom remained in kind of semi-shock.  I took notes on every single thing every doctor said.  I was at that hospital day and night.  I put cold compresses on his brow when he was feeling anxious himself.  And when his anxiety really kicked about all that was happening to him, I got the doctor to give him the same medication I use (Ativan, the wonder drug).  And when they moved him to a horrible facility for his rehab, I got him out and had him placed somewhere better.  And it felt natural to me to be in this role because I am such a control freak.  

Generally speaking there is no rhyme or reason anymore, at least for me, as to when one will hit.  It's these two strange aspects to my make up that I don't understand and maybe never will.   How can the thought, whether conscious or unconscious about something terrible happening send me into physical panic but the actual event taking place does not.   It's times like that the weakness I feel for having panic attacks morphs into a strength I never new I had.