Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowfall




Roosevelt Hall never looked more beautiful than in the midst of a Christmas season snowfall. Technically, it's not officially winter until mid-day tomorrow but Mother Nature beat us all to the punch. I'm excited about the snow and find it to be more a calming affect rather than a nuisance. Small, white frozen chunks are falling quickly from the solid white sky, covering everything in sight, making even the dirty parking lot look like a holiday Norman Rockwell print. Snow storms always have a calming affect on me. It's as if the whole world slows day when it snows, bringing a quiet hush to my neighborhood. I whole heartily enjoy it, especially at this time of the year when we all should be enmeshed in some sort of holiday joy and fervor. I suppose if I wasn't hunkered down at work right now, bored out of my mind since the semester is now over, I'd be home, playing in the snow with my dog Velvet or baking a slew of Christmas cookies to the sounds of White Christmas blaring through the kitchen radio. I planned on doing that on Sunday and I think I'll stick to that plan. I still have more shopping and wrapping to do but I've taken a very calm approach to Christmas this year with the sole hope of recapturing that special holiday magic that has escaped me. I'm not sure if it's the weather but I have this sudden urge to put on my furry winter boots and go out for a mindful, winter solstice sojourn through the frosty wonderland that lies just outside my window.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mai Tai's @ The Madison Theater


Something triggered my memory on Friday, making me travel back to those long lost, youthful days of drinking in and around the city of Albany when I was in high school. A friend and I went to lunch on Friday, sipped a nice dry Chardonnay at the bar and then proceeded to the table for a fabulous, gastronomic experience at the lovely West End Cafe. After our healthful lunch, we headed over the a local craft store to search for Christmas decorations and those cute holiday window stickers that adorn most storm doors during this time of the year. Instead, we ended up sniffing candles for a half an hour, trying to find the exact scent that reminded us of childhood Christmas' of yesteryear. I think my friend found a Mai Tai scent that reminded me not of Christmas, but dark, cold Albany winters and how I spent most of them watching two month old flicks at the local movie house a few blocks from my parents house. The Madison Theater was an aging Goliath with threadbare seats that only a teenagers bum could find comfortable. Occasionally, a rusty spring would pop up mid way through the movie, giving you a jolt, forcing out a tiny yelp, muffled by the scratchy sound system and moans of kids having sex in a remote part of the joint. It was cheap and no one bothered you at the Madison. It was a neighborhood hang-out and rest assured, you'd always see someone you knew there.

There was one such occasion when the theater was having some sort of fundraiser for a forgettable Upstate New York charity back in 1983. They were showing REDS with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton with a lovely intermission included. My friends and I thought it would be great to attend, bring dinner in and have dessert at the theater during intermission. We ventured over to Peking, a local yocal Chinese sit-down restaurant owned by a classmates family. Turns out that they also did take-out and didn't proof for liquor...can you see where this is going? We ordered Pepper Steak, Moo Goo Gai Pan and two huge containers of Mai Tai's to go. We smuggled it into the theater easily, but it's hard to hide the stench of freshly cooked Chinese food. People were commenting on all sides of us but no one knew who had the Oriental chow and as we scoffed it down quickly, we openly slurped our Mai Tai's out of plastic food containers all while watching an aging Beatty play an inquisitive writer during the Russian Revolution. By the time intermission came, we were all three sheets to the wind, slurring our words and sloppily ordering fancy cheesecake with small tumblers of champagne. I was 15 years old and living the high life, so I thought. I was ions away from my life at Blessed Sacrament just two years earlier. I had on Levi cords, a lovely Shetland Faire Isle sweater and a turtle neck with little wales on it. I'm sure I had Bass Penny Loafers on with wool socks and my Etienne Aigner box bag jacked high, HIGH on my left shoulder. It was the days of preppy everything and I was a faithful follower of LL Bean, Talbots and Cohoes Mfg. The Preppy Handbook was my life back then and when I couldn't manage it any longer and plaid pants quickly lost fashion value, I traded my loafers in for sleek black scrunchy boots, curled and teased my hair and bought a truck load of Girbaud jeans.

After chowing down even more food and drink, we silently went back to our seats and finished watching this mammoth saga set in 1917 Russia. It was a non-romantic wannabe Dr. Zhivago. I enjoyed it at moments but the movie should have been edited down quite a bit. I own it now in my own movie library simply for nostalgic reasons.

When the movie ended, we still had a good buzz going and decided to sit on the large, concrete turtles in front of the Price Chopper grocery store and smoke Newports. I hated Newports but beggars can't be choosers and it was a short walk back to casa Giminiani and I needed to get my ya ya's out before entering the house. I also needed to de-stink myself of booze and stogies. I was being a bad little girl back then and I enjoyed the deception. I was good for so long that I needed to spread my wings, experiment with lots of poisons and people until it wore out its welcome. I'm not drunk or junkie so I suppose I was able to outgrow my pubescent urges to drink till I puked and smoked till I puked. I'm a doubting Thomas. Until it happens to me, I am a disbeliever. In 1985, I drank 10 gin and tonics at Hurley's on Clinton Avenue and puked all over Tim Sullivan in my 74' Dodge Dart. We broke up soon after.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Warm Christmas Nights and Close Friends

I had a few friends over tonight to decorate my tree and we ended up having a bullshit session around my kitchen table over homemade mac and cheese and salad. I needed a girls night and honestly, I need more of them in the near future. I'm excited for the holidays to be over and done with this year, mostly because much of it is going to be sad and painful. I'm looking beyond the next two weeks to spending more quiet time with my mom, my pending trip to DC and hopefully Paris in the spring. I'm doing what I usually do...plan less and live in the moment more. I'm disconnected from all the negativity that has brought me down for years, placing me in some sort of emotional limbo that I always thought was inescapable. Thanks to therapy, good friends and my wonderful spouse, I've come to realize that love doesn't hurt, it isn't bought with gifts nor is it held for ransom. I've always been an innately happy person and learned after my college years that I needed to remove all the negative influences and people from my life in order for me to move forward. By doing that, it left me lonely and although it was more healthy for me in the long run, it made me re-think my exit strategies. I should have handled many of these people and situations differently, but I was young and needed closure quickly or I may have lost my nerve. I learned so much from each one of those friendships and realize now that there was a yin and a yang to my fractured friendships, although one was too painful to re-kindle. I've been a true dichotomy for most of my life. I thrive on being social, while at other times, I relish being alone, mostly to think and reflect. I've never felt like I belonged anywhere, I just exist. I distance myself from those that try and dictate or bully me. Every decision I've made in my life has been because of my me. I've never let anyone in, except Vic. I'm just protecting myself and finding my way. I don't fit in with them and probably never will, which is totally OK with me. I just want to move forward and live the life I have chosen for myself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Long, Painful Goodbyes


Sitting in my office, listening to a constant loop of Christmas songs on the radio and my involuntarily tapping to the piddle-paddle of the rain against my air conditioner, has put me in somewhat of a melancholy mood. I don't have seasonal depression or waning vitamin D from lack of sunlight, I'm sure of that. I sun bathed a little extra this summer to prevent that from happening! With all the emotions that go along with life and death, it's any wonder that I can make it to work and function all day long. I spent most of the day allowing my mind to wander and wonder what will become of me once she's gone. Her influence on me has been profound to say the least. I feel like Scarlett O'Hara sometimes, always saving my problems for another day. I suppose I have to accept that personality fault that I've owned for a lifetime. It's who I am and honestly, the process has worked for me to date, so why screw with something tried and true. Everyone deals with death in different ways. I face it when I'm ready and how I do it is my own business. It's not for anyone to judge, cast stones at or criticize. She has been my mentor and best friend since I was a tot and we would eat cream cheese and crackers on the living room floor while watching re-runs of Bewitched and tid-bits of Search for Tomorrow. Our relationship is not complicated and I never expected more than I received from her. She's been a cheerleader for me my entire life and when that voice is silenced, who will route for me in such a selfless, endearing manor. Who will be that special someone in my life? Losing your last living parent is painful and at times, all encompassing. You feel a dark sadness that seems to emanate from somewhere deep in your heart, stripping you of any feeling but numbness. I want to run far away from the loneliness of bereft thoughts and bask in the glories of years past, quietly reminiscing amongst close friends of her big and small success and of course failures. I suppose I'll never forget her hearty laugh and the look on her silly face when she was unable to contain herself. I'll carry her in my heart always.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Live @ 288 Lark Circa 1982

Out Sick

I've been feeling quite lousy the past few days and haven't had the energy to muster up an engaging blog for the masses. I'm in my "sick outfit" which consists of sleep pants, fake Uggs, one of my many pumpkin t-shirts made of vintage cotton and of course, my butter creme yellow cardigan sweater that I purchased in the fall of 1984 with one of my measly paychecks from Caldor. The Shetland wool is still in tact with only a small bit of piling around the underarm area. This sweater is like my sleep blankie, except this one I can wear and the funny thing is, I only wear it now when I feel lousy. When I was a senior at Albany High, I used to wear it over a tight black, low-cut shirt with Girbaud black corduroys, black penny loafers and red or yellow socks. I was stylin' back in those days. I think I was heavily into Oingo Boingo during this period of my life. I often frequented a great new wave bar on Lark Street called 288. It was in an old brownstone and really had the feel of a gritty punk bar found only on the lower East Side of New York circa late 1970's. It was the closest thing I had to make me feel like I wasn't wallowing in the misery of Upstate New York mediocrity. Several blocks up the way was a rustic college bar called Bogie's where I lost my heart and soul through rapid fire and lots and lots of watered down cocktails. My fake ID was a staple in that joint. It was the first bar I got into when I was 17 and it became my home away from home in the mid to late 80's, with it's sticky floors, smokey air and filthy bathrooms and the best live music in the city. My usual routine was to either chalk my license or use my horrible ID purchased at Playland in Times Square when I was 15 on a French Club sojourn to the Big Apple. That experience was frightening and will save for a later blog. After spending an inordinate amount of cash on my identification card, which made me 24 years old at just 15 (almost 16), my friends and I went immediately to a Japanese restaurant and purchased as much Saki as we could swallow. Needless to say, some puked on the way home but I drank white wine and was wise as to how much I consumed for fear of yakking on a school bus, three house away from home.

Back to Bogies....once I got in, I'd order a Gin and Tonic or sometimes a Whiskey Sour to pay homage to my swinging parents and light up a stogie. I think I favored Dunhill's back then and even had a fabulous gold and pearl encrusted cigarette case that I had purchased at Daybreak, a wildly inexpensive second hand store on Central Avenue. A friend of mine bought me a red plastic cigarette holder with tiny rhinestones set all over it, which made me look like an 80's version of Gloria Swanson, waiting for her proverbial close-up in Sunset Boulevard. I took my usual seat with my gal pals, waited for my band to take the stage and scouted out the scene. It was mostly SUNY Albany people as well as "Rosebuds" from the Catholic college down the street. I wasn't really looking for love back then...maybe a quick feel or a strong, powerful kiss from a college guy to hold me over because I was there to have a good time and that meant dancing up a storm, beers in-hand, with my friends. Maybe I was a bit rough around the edges back then but I think I still am. I enjoy that part of myself, which is sometimes street and other times, out of control. It's the very heart of my personality, the insight into who I really am and today, I'm sick and a little lonely, but the loneliness is my friend from afar that visits often these days to remind me that her day of reckoning is coming quick. I'm never going to be ready.