Saturday, October 31, 2009

When the Past Comes Back to Haunt You

When I opened the office door and set my bags down, out of the blue, I remembered that I had a meeting in 15 minutes and hadn't prepared. Waiting for my computer to boot-up could take forever so I grabbed my scribbled notes from Friday, hoping they would enlighten me and refresh my absent minded self of the meeting agenda. Suddenly, the phone rang and I picked it up with my usual enthusiasm, "Old College," I said in a pseudo sarcastic voice. But, then what to my wondering ears should I hear but a mouth breathing, moaning psycho-path who was obviously in the middle of the task at hand...literally (if you know what I mean). I quickly slammed down the phone, flabbergasted, I tried to collect my thoughts when the phone rang again. It was Vic. I knew his number well since I bothered him throughout the day with nonsense phone calls. "Hi. Thank God it's you. I just got a dirty, porno call from some random MY JOB!" I bellowed, half laughing, half scowling. "Don't worry about it. It was probably a prank. Maybe it was one of the students," Vic said, not worried about the situation. "RING," "RING," "RING." It was my other line. This time I could see the number. The area code was from South Jersey. 609 to be exact. I didn't get the whole number. "Damn it," I thought, frustrated by the University's bad caller ID system that doesn't store numbers. I put Vic on hold and cautiously answered the other line. "Old College, " I said in a lighter voice. "Ugh, Ooooh, Ahhhh, grunt, grunt" the caller moaned and moaned. I slammed down the line again. There would be no climaxing by anyone in 203 Rumson Hall...not even by an obscene phone caller....HOUSE RULES! I switched back to Vic, told him what happened and he asked if I was able to get the number. "No," I said sadly feeling a bit defeated. "Don't worry NeNe, you'll figure it out," my husband said. "I'm sure it's nothing."

"RING." "RING." "RING." I couldn't believe the nerve of this foolish, slobbering caller, with the staying power of a Viagra popping old cooter who had nothing better to do than call a spry 40 something for a little morning delight. Well, he happened to pick on the wrong woman. I'll play along for a little while and then I get mad quickly. On my desk of toys, I scampered for a toy whistle or anything that I could blow in the "handyman's" ear. Nothing...nothing...ahhhhhh something. It wasn't much but I grabbed a wax harmonica someone had given me last Halloween and blew as hard as I could. I hit a nice middle C note but nothing to destroy the ear drum. "Damn it!" I picked the phone up, accidentally hanging up on Vic at the same time. Now I was alone in my office suite, no student aid, no co-worker to save me. I was flying solo. I blew again, this time directly into the phone. I must have looked like a supreme ass at that moment but I didn't care. I wanted to inflict some sort of pain on this obnoxious phone caller who was stressing me out right before I had to be on point. I could feel my face get red, my blood pressure rise and my patience wane. "Blow....whistle.......silence." He even stopped moaning and for a brief, fleeting moment, I thought I'd won, but then he exhaled loudly. Ugh..had he? He had. Oh my God! He caaaaaaaa...No. I can't go there. I won't think about it. I zoned out for a second until I heard him begin to laugh. I was enraged to the point of no return. "Maybe you should get a better whistle Rene'. I really love that black sweater you're wearing this morning. I've been watching you...very closely," he carefully explained. I was paralyzed, frozen with fear. It was the kind of fear that kept you from screaming. Suddenly, I was a mute. I dropped the phone on my desk, never hanging up. I quickly looked out my office window, scanning the parking lot for a sign of anyone who may have been playing a trick on me. Nothing. Then, suddenly, I heard the suite door close abruptly. I ran to my door, slamming it with a fury I'd never experienced. I was panting heavily, my heart was thumping out of my chest. Again, I was mute. Frightened beyond my capability, I reached for the phone. I slammed it down on the receiver and called the main office just a few doors down the hall. I was crying, screaming and pleading with the student aids to help me. My door knob was turning, turning now harder and harder till it shook the entire door frame. "I'm waiting for you Rene'....I'm not going to wait much longer," the sex crazed freaky phone caller said. No need to worry. The students were coming to help me or where they. How long does it take for a college kid to walk down the hall?

I heard muffled yelling and the outside door abruptly close and then re-open again quickly. "Rene' are you OK? What the hell is going on?" said Aaron, a junior at the college. "Open the door!!!!" As I was about to open it, I head a car ripping through the parking lot, brakes screeching. It was a brown sedan with Pennsylvania plates. I think it was a Chevy Vega. I hadn't seen one of those in years but somehow, it rang a bell. I managed to write down a piece of the plate ABH-7 and then I lost the rest. My eyes aren't what they used to be, neither are my reflexes. My stomach was churning. I could feel the English muffin and peanut butter I ate for breakfast quickly rising up my esophagus. As the bile crept higher and higher, my mind was running. Where had I seen that car? I kept drawing a blank, but somehow, I knew it had to be someone from my Cape May days. That was 20 plus years ago. The summer of '87 to be exact. I had a bit of stalker when I lived at the Maycomber....he used to fuck with me whenever he had a chance. I was warned about him from a rent a cop friend of mine who said this guy was wanted for questioning about a stabbing in PA and that the Cape May cops were watching him. He pinned a dragonfly to my door, crushed my "Whose that Girl" Madonna cd and shredded my Cosmo's in the bathroom. He even stole one of my lipsticks and wrote "Bitch" all over the bathroom mirror. Could it be him? I haven't thought about him since the summer of '90 when he slid up next to me on a slow night at Carney's Other Room, touched my leg and tried to buy me a drink. He was in his 40's and eager to make my acquaintance once again. Thank God my then boyfriend noticed the frightened look on my face and quickly escorted me to the kitchen where I waited silently until he got off his bar tending shift. I never saw him again, but now all signs point to him and almost 60 year old derelict looking to get cozy with me all these years later. What a bloody sicko!

I opened my door, only to find a few sheet white students wondering what the hell was going on. We began to speak over each other, eagerly trying to grasp the gist of what just went down. Then, my peripheral vision caught a letter taped on my door. It was hastily written in half block, half cursive writing that said, "Next time, no door will keep me out. I'll be watching you just like I did through the key hole at the Maycomber."


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

American EXPRESS? Are you kidding me?

Along my three mile trek to work this morning (Tuesday), my 2002 VW Passatt decided to conk out as I entered the gates of Hofstra, where I was slated to speak at a guidance counselor gig in the University Club. As I coasted into a spot, I silently cursed the day I ever bought this black lemon. I do vow never to buy another VW as long as I breathe air. My 1990 Jetta just bit the dust a few years college car that my mom purchased for me, just died. You should be impressed by that but it just goes to show that things are now built to break...not to last. My husband made an executive decision earlier this year and dropped our wonderful Allstate Roadside Assistance Service in place of the "free" American Express Gold Card car service. What a big mistake! There are fundamental differences between the two and unfortunately, he made the wrong decision. I sat in the club's parking lot for two and a half hours waiting for a tow truck to arrive while snippy little girls from Amex kept assuring me that he'd be there momentarily. Well, momentarily came hours later and after much hullabaloo, our tow truck manly man showed up and quickly flat bedded my VW away. If I had known I'd be basking in the Indian summer sun on a mid-October morning, I wouldn't have taken my beach chairs out of the trunk of my car. Thankfully, my husband came and waited with me over a couple of bottles of water and a box of chocolate covered Altoids. My stress level was at an all-time high. I ended up speaking with the counselors prior to my long wait, which was good but I was frazzled and fumbled my words a few times. I hate that because I'm a good public speaker and I kept losing my thoughts. Ugh! I sucked yesterday but I have a few more chances to get better at this. I'll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, the word on my street is ditch AMEX Roadside (I hate to even compare this to service) Service and get something that is more reputable. It didn't take much to convince my husband to switch back to Allstate Road Service, especially since he waited and waited and waited there with me for well over two hours. Funny how things get fixed when ...........

Monday, October 19, 2009

Life in Motion

I think I have my seasons mixed up. I've been hibernating for months, but I plan on doing daily installments from now until I can't write another word or phrase. I must be out of my mind to let my craft slip away. After my mother's death, I basically threw my hands in the air and said, "whatever will be, will be," (oh that Doris Day influence) and allowed myself to be bad in more ways than one. I ate too much, drank too much and allowed myself to wallow in my misery and bereft state. I marinated so much in that sadness that it began to overtake me and that, my friends, is what shook me to the core. I can't say I simply snapped out of it but what it did was make me look deeper into my feelings, which allowed me to release the anger and depression that had a hold on me. I know what's wrong in my life and unless I make radical, painful changes, I'll be stuck in a life that has little meaning. I wanted so much more for my life and I hate to think about myself as 42 and trapped. My marriage is phenomenal...I couldn't ask for a better man to share my life. It's all the rest. I was driving yesterday and heard Queensryche's "Jet City Woman," and almost cried. That song came out in the summer of '91 and at that point, I was 24 and had my whole life in front of me. I was going to write for Rolling Stone you know. I was going to be the next big thing....big big BIG hopes and dreams, but I let my fragile ego lead me into something that was safe..a sure thing. Don't get me wrong. I met a lot of amazing people along the way and honestly, it radically changed my life. Each person I met along this crazy ride had a hand in shaping me. There's always a time when we have to simply walk away. Carol Burnett did it when she tugged on her ear lobe each Saturday night as she left the stage but how will Rene' find her way back to the pages, the sentences, the periods and quotations..........How, How HOW?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thoughts on Cape May

Walking along the shore in Cape May....waves crash heavily along the beach...ocean spray in the breeze blowing in from the sea....Ipod on random....Journey's "Stone in Love" plays loudly in my ears...staring out at the horizon and for just a moment, it was 1987 all over again and my heart was smiling...I'm home and all is well in Oz.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Am I Stupid or Shall We All Sing Koom By Ya With Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin's religious and cultural views are only part of her foolish behavior. Comments about seeing Russia from her back yard and not knowing the last book she read all play a huge role in the "stupid factor." I'm not labeling her because she's a Republican (and by the way, the only reason John McCain chose her was to try and gain women ... Read Morevoters who felt lost without sorely backfired) or because she's a super Christian. I simply don't suffer fools well and to make dumb comments on a world stage is stupid. I know I'm not qualified to run our government and if she had any gumption and truth in her, she'd clearly admit that truth as well. Someone who attended three or four different colleges as a "Communications" major and barely scraped by with a BA degree has some nerve trying to play ball with the likes of well educated leaders like Obama and Hillary Clinton.

On Sarah Palin.........A Facebook Response.

Her unbelievable ignorance is what makes her stupid. She may be able to manipulate people enough to vote for her but when push comes to shove, it takes more than a quasi pretty face to run a productive government with a valid set of checks and balances. She couldn't or else she wouldn't be under federal investigation for ethics violations! As we see, our state politicians got elected but they can't seem to work more than three minutes on any given day. If Americans critically thought about each candidate they voted for, rather than party affiliation, our government would look very different and I'm almost positive, Sarah Palin wouldn't even be a blip in that history. On a personal note, she momentarily set the Woman's Movement back 50 years. She can take her Mary Poppins Alaska know how and stuff it in her dead Caribou!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bloggers, Cloggers and the Superfly Freestylers

I'm not quite sure why I catch random strangers getting their groove on in public places but it's been happening frequently lately, which leads me to believe there is either some sort of lunar equation in motion or I simply have a knack for finding partially obscene attention seekers. If you think I'm waxing on about sex, you are wrong...flat-out wrong. I'm talking about un-choreographed rapid dance steps that make Napoleon Dynamite look like Peter Allen of yesteryear cascading across any given Broadway stage, secretly wishing he was a cross-dressed version of Liza Minnelli, before their divorce of course! In recent months, I have been witness to people with absolutely no dance talent rock out to the music in their head as gawking onlookers pass by, commenting on the hush hush. Maybe it's the rise of television shows like You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars that have made ordinary citizens kick up their heels, bang their heads and openly embarrass themselves. I'm not sure of that theory just yet but it is my belief that when people try to imitate fantasy, they usually end up making fools of themselves or at best end up with a spare room filled with late night As Seen on TV junk or a warbled homemade sex tape that somehow ends up in your neighbors DVD player.

My first incident was last summer when I came in close contact with the Irish clogger way down yonder in the vicinity of Riverside and the Boardwalk ala Long Beach, New York. A woman of a certain age (that means over 40 readers) dressed in a lovely Danskin leotard number, with small strapped heels on her feet, held on to the railings of the boardwalk, shoulders straight forward, hands partially folded together that lay against her belly as her legs spasmed sharply, tapping heavily on the splintered wood. The right leg seemed to the ball and chainer while the left one came up quickly, creating almost a figure four yoga move along her right knee. I suppose it would have looked better with a whole host of clogger's but there was only one and to be honest, she was horrible. I couldn't stop looking at her. My fascination in the bizarre was peaked. I was hooked and as my Ipod pounded out dance tunes of the late 1980's on my walking play list, I imagined a beach version of Lord of the Dance with beach cloggers rising from the sands of Long Beach, grabbing the railings and holding on as if an earthquake was eminent. This woman was in her own world. People stared and she flecked. Young couples snickered as they shuffled by on their daily walks while geriatric locals shook their heads and rolled their eyes. It's obvious that Ms. Clogger had either hit a bit of the bottle for medicinal purposes or she was loopy and needed to do the ball change/leg fleck while humming a nice lively version of Mick McGilligan's Ball. Hmm. I thought about stopping and pointing her to the nearest Hibernian Hall but then I thought about it and decided to let her run the gamut of limited dance moves in her cache. She was over before she was discovered. And as I moved slowly past her, I crooked my neck to catch one last glimpse of her slightly pear shaped body, harboring away to the bagpipes in her head.

My next encounter with solo public dancing happened several years ago when I moved close to the Nautical Mile in Freeport New York. On Saturday nights, we often visit the restaurant laden area for dinner and a well earned Ralph's Italian Ice. The mile long restaurant row is packed with a very eclectic group of people ranging from boaters to look-a-like Mafia enforcers with bleach blond broads that look much too young to know better. Next to the the ice stand is a canal bar with an eternal;y bad Jimmy Buffet band that plays an occasional Lynrd Skynd song for the die hard bar flies. It seems that every time I frequent Ralphs on a Saturday evening, there is this has been woman in her 50's drunker than a skunk, doing some superlfy fancy dance steps to the sounds of the Shrimp Shack Shooters. Their version of Sweet Home Alabama seemed to take on a funkadelic beat that rivaled any Earth Wind and Fire song. Ms. Superfly's scraggly graying hair was swaying in the bay breeze as she swooshed her hips side to side and slammed her head to and fro. I was dizzy from just watching her but something inside me felt deeply sorry for her. Alone and drunk on a Saturday night is no way to spend the summers, especially in your 50's. I think her life must have held a lot of sadness and lonely feelings. I'm sure some drunken boater was going to take her home that night and screw her brains out, making her feel momentarily wanted, but when the sun comes up and the hangover hits hard, her male Casanova of a few hours earlier now looks like a dirty opportunist who wiped away her sweat as she wore the soles off her $9.99 Payless stiletto specials. For some reason, I want to call this woman Tanya. The name seems to fit her perfectly...slightly trashy and most definitely easy...she parades her sagging boobies in a low-cut stretchy shirt, exposing the faded rose tattoo on her breast. Too tight Capri pants in white expose her black thong that bulges out of her low riders making her look pathetic and very desperate. I'm sure she quietly gathered her clothes after her romp and fuck, wishing she had better judgement when it comes to men but then again, she needed it just as much as he did so she brushed those thoughts aside and realized she was still a little horny, dropped her clothes and went back in for another side of toast. Easy to read but not easy to forget. Hey, tomorrow is Saturday, want to meet Tanya at the bar or at least drink some cheap beers and dance your ass off to Blue Beards Brothers...I heard they play a mean Beatles set.

My final encounter with humiliating dance queens came last week while I was on my way to work. As usual, I'm always rushing and running late, driving like a maniac up Grand Avenue, through the streets of Baldwin New York on my way to Hofstra University. This morning proved different as I made my usual left from Jerusalem into Ingram Estates and saw a Latino woman well into her 30's free styling on the corner. It was 10am and I knew I was half asleep but much to my wondering eyes should appear but a Spanish Chiquita outside a storefront church throwing her body around like she wanted to slam dance. I slowed down, stared at her as she did a mix of old school break dance moves and head banger's moshing. It appeared she was not wearing an Ipod or Walkman. I rolled the windows down to see if I could hear any music but all I heard was the sound of her dirty white Capizio's swish against the pavement. I winced as she threw herself forward thinking how badly my back would hurt lest I too fell into the microcosm of Long Island women who dance alone. This woman was clearly in some sort of a trance. Maybe she was in a cult, I thought. Maybe she was trying to exercise the evil demons out of her. Maybe she was possessed. At that thought, I hit the pedal to the medal and flew through the nearby stop sign, eager to rid myself of these nuts.

Sting wrote a song about dancing alone. Billy Idol sang about dancing with oneself and Robert Plant wanted to dance on his own but I'm sure all these artists never thought about the foolish beat that these three woman danced to.

I do have one suggestion for any of my male readers...take a nice late winter's walk on the Long Beach boardwalk next St. Patrick's Day for a private Irish lap dance from The Clogger. Hey, wait, isn't Irish Day in September in Long Beach? You can get your clogging yaya's out even sooner!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sweet 15, Ol'E and Michael Jackson

I try to remember Michael Jackson from his pre-Thriller stage to Thriller itself. It just got too bizarro for me after that and although I was a whore to 80's pop music, some of the best memories of my "Sixteen Candles" experience all seemed to hit head-on with one or another hits off the Thriller mega hit album. I actually stopped calling a boy I liked, mid-digit dialing, to watch the world premiere video of "Billy Jean." VJ Martha Quinn's cutesy voice echoed through my brain as I sat, fixated on the boob-tube, waiting for the magic to begin. I listened carefully as I sipped another taste of stale Ol'E out of a paper cup, eating sugary birthday cake while at a friends sleepover. Once I heard the synthesized dum dum dum dum, I knew I was in for a real THRILL(ER)! That lit up stage he walked across as he belted out "Billy Jean" will forever be my favorite song from his enormous musical catalog, although PYT comes in a pretty close second. It's all over and done with now and his world stage silenced, but his music will be his legacy for generations to come. Goodbye Kind of Pop...I hope you rock the heavens with that addictive beat, dum, dum, dum, dum...I can almost hear it now when the wind blows that certain way.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Atheist Mom Response

About Atheist Mom

Atheist Mom is a recovering Catholic married to an ex Mormon…they are happy, kind and moral people who feel pretty certain that there is no God. Atheist Mom wants her child to grow up to be a critical thinker who lives life in the now…because there is no after.

“I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope, but I want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle and sings a lullaby to the dimpled darling, she will not be compelled to believe that ninety-nine chances in a hundred she is raising kindling wood for hell.”

—Robert Ingersoll, How to be Saved, 1880



This is from a recommended blog and although I don't subscribe to this woman's point of view, I find it interesting. There are many non believers out there but I find it disturbing when they mock those that do believe. If you choose to have no faith, that is your choice. I have never lost faith in God...I may have strayed and by no means am I a faultless person. I strive to be good everyday and everyday I fail in some manner or another but my intentions are always pure.

Here is my response to her:

I'm a believer, not someone who is going to be in your face pushing my religious beliefs down your throat. However, I do feel sorry for people who believe in nothing. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere in your life that has led you to this way of thinking. It's wonderful to be a critical thinker, but in all your infinite wisdom, why can't you think about what life would be like with a God. Having faith in God is difficult for many people because they cant' seem to see past their own minute existence in the world. Believing in something that you can't see or touch or hear takes courage. I hope you find that special moment in your life where all you will have is your faith in God. Just like the bible-belters that curse everyone who doesn't believe, you are similar since you chastise and insult those that do believe. Your belief systems may be at opposite ends of the spectrum but you are one in the same!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I can't seem to shake this phlegmy mess of a cold I acquired after Vic paraded around the house coughing, open mouth, spewing his usual nonsense, "I'm not sick, it's only allergies." That worked until I woke up a few days later with this thick funk slithering down the back of my very sore throat. I was furious but moreover, I was sick and that was two weeks ago. What is going on with my immune system? I can't seem to fight this heinous viral storm off. It concerns me...a lot. Ever since my mother passed away, I've been battling shades of mourning depression but I've stymied that with an extra dose of vitamin D and extra shots of organic apple cider vinegar. My health hasn't been bad but I gained all the weight I worked so hard to lose last summer and fall so I'm sure my blood pressure and sugar levels are in an uproar. I vowed to myself that this is the week I'm going to beat this ridiculous infection, begin my walking regimen and eat more balance, healthful meals. I'm always experimenting with foods, herbs and spices and never eat junk food (true true true) unless you consider pizza poo poo. I have been skipping lunch lately, mostly because I can't seem to get up in the morning. I'm such a bloody slow poke lately. I'm anxious for my vacation days to get here so I don't have to whore myself out any longer. It's my time to be creative and do what God put me on this earth to achieve. Although my dreams of getting an agent were dashed last year after I made a conscience choice to spend more time with my then ill mother, I'm focused right now. Don't get me wrong, I would never regret spending time with her...she is my heart and blood. Last summer, we had exciting times in Baldwin Harbor with all BBQ's, family weekends, the LB boardwalk and a few yummy dinners at Jordan's Lobster Farm. I'll always have that time, but now I feel those juices running slowly through my slightly warped mind as I embark on a new adventure.

Oh, by the way, my nephew's fiancee Christine, who I consider a wonderful friend, recommended that I begin taking oscillococcinum for my cold. I don't know what's in it but you dissolve a vile of these little white beads in your mouth and within the hour, you are feeling much better. Maybe I will actually be able to get a walk in today and do all my chores.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mon Anniversaire Mes Amis

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary. I can't believe it. My husband pointed out at 9:14pm this evening that all those years ago, I was on my way to being drunk and possibly disorderly, breaking every etiquette bridal rule in one fell swoop. A vision in white many said, sneaking drags of Indian reservation cigarettes behind the backs of her family while she slugged down a quick Molson and a few large shots of Jack to take the edge off losing her freedom. I'm a working girl, the kind that cherishes her freedom and oozes with renegade style. People have always tried to pigeon hole me with their stupid opinions of my very existence but I have consistently proved them wrong, mostly surprising myself with resilience and originality. I'm a one woman show. I always loved to run the gamut solo. I was so fixated on my independence, I almost didn't take the time to notice the one man who made me believe in the very existence of marriage. I fell in love with an amazing man who like me, has experienced the ups and downs of life yet managed to push through and make it out alive. He has never frowned on my independent streak. Actually, he embraces it and loves that I live my life by the seat of my pants, acting in spontaneous ways or simply crashing like a bum who lost her favorite bench in the park. Through often hairy legs and pits, unkempt downtown's and ill mannered Period bouts, he has been there for me and loved me through so much. I suppose it's true that you know who your real friends are when things go awry. Living the good life is for amateurs. Those of us that exist along the rim of acceptable social living understand that with certain choices come difficult consequences. I've taken a lot of hits in my day and clearly think that without those moments of doubt, failure, hard liquor drinking and pack a day smoking craziness, I'd have little to write about. I'm not 12 stepper but I am cynical. I never became addicted to anything except the art of being melancholy. It fits me perfectly. I told my shrink once that I loved being alone and existing within the silence of those moments. She didn't get it and I think she thought I was toying with her, but in truth, I was not. There is something sweet about a melancholy moment as it grabs you silently, creeping about the crevices of you mind, leading you to the promised land. I spent most of this past Memorial Day weekend in a series of those moments as I walked through my mother's house in the middle of the night, sitting on her bed, hugging her pillow and crying so hard my belly hurt. And there he was, always there, ready to hold my hand and wipe my tears away. In my most heinous moments, he is there and that's why I will always love him. Marriage is not about what you can get out it, it's what you put into it and how you connect so deeply with another human being on such an intimate level. My best friend and lover is always there for me. I could ask for nothing more. Happy Anniversary baby!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Albany Dayzzzzzzz

Just a friendly upstate New York hello. It's Sunday morning on Manning Boulevard, the sun is shining and I feel like it's a new beginning. Vic's doing the lawn...spoke to Theresa and Jordan this morning and ran into Maria, my mothers Eucharistic minister who seems interested in the seven bedroom mansion next store that's up for sale. I'd love that! She's an amazing woman with deep faith and a fabulous construction business to boot. It's so much different here and I feel in many ways that I now belong here but I can't seem to leave the ocean and all that's wrapped up in that. I'm eager to begin school again in the fall and hope that in time, all this education will do something profound for my family, myself and my illustrious career. Right now I'm biding time, getting this house ready for summer, my pool open in Long Island and losing some winter poundage. I have a nutty week coming up so I hope I can make it through! Tuesday and Wednesday I'll be Career Centering it and Thursday I have Vic's Queen's College graduation from the library science program and right after to the Central Park Boat House for lunch with the in-laws and my niece and nephew. Friday I'll be blogging from the New York Book Expo, trying to make internship connections and of course, an in for me with the burgeoning book I'm planning to write on the porch of 442 and the deck of 2916 this coming summer. My future is so uncertain right now so I'm going to take all this negative nonsense, hopelessness and nervous Nellydom and put it to good use. I'll always have moments of despair but I think I'm more prepared for that now. The worst is behind me and the best is yet to come.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Busy In Albany

Today seemed like a hurricane blowing past me. Vic was awoken at 6:15am by our schizophrenic alarm system that blew its whistle for no apparent reason. Thank God for that! Last night I set it off by accident when I didn't close the bathroom window properly and at 1am, the system switched on to overload and let out a resounding squeal, sending me and my sleeping husband into a momentary flurry. I must have angered it so it decided to wake us at some ungodly hour, although I heard nothing since went to sleep wearing my usual snoring gear, Army worthy ear plugs guaranteed to erase even the loudest of noises. Just to let you know, they do. I hear not a peep from the alarm but my snoring husband was forced to get dressed and go out and investigate a possible break-in. What he found was a whole lot of nothing. I think I could later hear the alarm system snickering at our bafflement. It took most of the day to reset but finally defaulted into a nice quiet slumber.

The cable guy came to the Albany house at 10am and left at 1:30pm. It was a big job. Internet and cable phone hook-up, plus an updated TV system. He was an awful nice fellow from Rotterdam and offered great advice for WiFi'ing the house. There really is nothing like upstate friendliness. I sorely miss it in Long Island. I feel like everyone there (I'm making huge generalities but you get the drift) has some sort of agenda. I have never met more backstabbers in my whole life and honestly, many of them find me hick or not quite up to snuff. I'm not so jazzed with them or their "keep up with the Jone's" mentality that, in the end, gets you a whole lot of nothing! I've railed against Long Island for years but it's where we work and play so I suppose having this oasis in the middle of a bustling upstate hood is just about the best you can get. It looks and smells a whole lot like Queens minus the Swine Flu! There are lots of ambulances, fire trucks and cop cars swirling past the house at any given time, especially when I'm trying to have a quiet moment. It's urban living and I love it. If I wanted to live in the bloody woods, I could have driven two miles outside this city and shit kicked with the rest of the hill towners. Farm living is not for me although I am an avid animal lover. This will do me just fine as a second joint to hang in.

My brother Robert and niece Amanda came to wash the front of the house down. It's so nice having family around. They scrubbed and sprayed and now it looks like my childhood home once more. It's clean and shiny with new wreaths for the french doors that flank the porch. Now all I need is some new porch furniture and I'm set to go!

I spent much of the morning dusting and making everything look neat and orderly. My mother always kept a beautiful house but the last few years were tough on her and she couldn't do all the things that she had wanted. Now, I am in a position to do those things and I will. This house is a Goliath, a mammoth of an old house. Built in 1911, it has plaster walls, wood floors, a huge grandma attic and a gigantic upstairs flat. We have to get that ready to rent so time is of the essence. I'm hoping to get someone really great in there to watch over this place, while I'm away.

You'll see, in coming blogs, what exactly this house means to me and how important tradition and family have always taken a front seat in my life. I cried a few times today but I felt her around me. Think what you want non believers but to believe in nothing is never to dream.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Written Sketches

A professor friend of mine sent me some of her writings the other and day and I was amazed to see just how introspective of a person she is, highlighting what she calls "Written Sketches." Mostly all of them were about the beach, a place she and I love so very much. I find solace when I look out across the vast ocean, as the water meets the horizon miles and miles from the shoreline. This lady friend of mine got me thinking about how much of our lives are "written sketches," and how keeping a journal or blog is so important not only in times of cheer but especially when we are sad, depressed and lost in our own misery.

I only started to blog again a few weeks ago after an almost five month hiatus. I'd like to believe I had writers block but to be honest with my audience, I just couldn't bare the thought of sketching about my mothers demise. Several weeks ago, I somehow found the courage to take the first step and began to shape a piece which I later destroyed. "Not ready yet," I thought to myself, as I shoved something fattening and bad into my big mouth. "If not now, WHEN?" I said thinking aloud.

A few days later, while Vic was suffering through another long and winding night at Queens College, I felt empowered, almost brazen and grabbed my laptop, knowing full well that this night would begin and end with a lot of hard won tears. The first few sentences were extremely exhausting but after a few minutes, the words and thoughts flowed out of me easier than my tears. Only after an hour into this mental madness did I read back what I had written. I decided to take a peek and read. What I found was raw, brooding emotion that was overflowing out of me. Was it the therapy..nah. Was it from the heavens...maybe. Was it from me....oh YES!

It was the catharsis that I needed to open the can of worms that had been festering in me for months. I realize that I have to exercise this grief out of me and to write about my mothers life and death since both are equally important and integral to her story. You see, her story will never end. She is in all her children and grandchildren. If I ever have a child, I will tell them all about their grandmother and what a wonderful, caring person she was. Her life was such an example for me. I fail everyday but I keep shooting for success yet the bar is held so high.

I want to thank my professor friend who turned me on to the idea of written sketches because it added another layer to my writing and to my whole world learning experience. I feel alive in the world again, although the tears come quick and hard. I feel her spirit here with me, guiding me and helping me surf the uncertainty of life on earth without her. Sometimes, when I'm feeling very lonely, I'll call her Albany house and listen to her voice on the answering machine. It's as if she's still here....well, maybe she still is...right here in my heart.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hit Me With Your Best Shot or How It Sucks to Work in a Man's World!

I received an interesting job posting via Facebook yesterday from the V-Day foundation. When I performed in the famed Vagina Monologues in 2007, I became a life long member of the sisterhood of V-Day alum and with those sacred rights bestowed upon me from goddess and feminist writer, Eve Ensler, I proudly waive my "I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!" flag high and proud! The job is to be a community organizer (do I hear OBAMA) and grassroots cheerleader for an off-shoot program called V-Men. I think sister Eve has finally made serious inroads into the "man's world," as she embarks on a journey to educate the male populous on how not to treat a woman. Through various workshops, the hope is to expose, educate and annihilate gender bias, sexual harassment and the almighty violence against our sisters. I'm no man hater, but I can't say I've met a woman who has not experienced the casting couch by one or more of her patriarchal superiors who openly flash their bravado and limp bizkits in the hope their get a little horizontal action in the workplace. Let's just hope Eve's best laid plans can save our gender from more of the same ole same ole! If I have another "bright" guy talk down to me just because he thinks he can, I may have to enlighten him with my brilliant banter, exceptional wit and a big fat punch below the belt or is that the brain. I haven't been able to figure that one out yet! Bring it on!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flashes of Light

As I fell into a deep slumber late Sunday night, I never anticipated that exactly four months after my mothers heartbreaking death, she'd finally come and visit me in my dreams. All these long winter months, I'd wondered why she had not appeared to me, asking myself if I had offended her legacy in some way. I have taken some serious emotional blows over the last few months, first with the death of my last living parent and then walking into another adoption disaster, I surprised even myself at the utter steroid size emotional strength that I so mysteriously now possess.

The dream, of course, made little sense to me but at the time, I felt like I was coherent and understood the magnitude and impact of Angie's appearance to me. My demeanor was fluid as I watched her quickly shuffle up the stairs of my beloved Roosevelt Hall at Hofstra University, noticing immediately that she had no trouble breathing. In fact, she was inhaling and exhaling at a far less rate than I was after seeing her dainty smile and noticeable beauty mark that flanked her right nostril.

In the months leading up to her death, my mother struggled for every breath she took. She was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hyper Tension which is a result of heart failure. Basically, her heart couldn't pump strong enough for her to breathe and she began to drown in her own bodily fluids. It was a fast death. Three weeks from start to least that was the worst of it. Even through the gasping and 24 hour oxygen, her spirit was strong, but her eyes told a very different story. They were tired of fighting. I could see it. I could see it and wanted to scream, "Fight. Fight. Stay here with me," but I could see how much pain she was in and chose not be a selfish daughter for once in my life.

In the dream, there was no decorated apparition or ghost-like figures, just a beautiful woman who looked like the mother of my youth. Her sandy blond hair was piled high with roller tight curls, as tiny Liza Minnelli type sideburns flanked her subtle cheeks. I was mesmerized by her presence and when I finally spoke, I exclaimed, "What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here!" before finally giving in to my emotions as we embraced and held on to each other for several long moments. She told me she wanted to see me and didn't care what they said. She told me how she missed me and how happy she was in her new eternal home. I couldn't get over how wonderful she looked and how real her arms felt around me, virtually holding me up. I wanted to weep with happiness and yet cry in pain for I knew this moment was fleeting but I didn't want to ruin it with bittersweet tears. As always, she is my rock, my mother, my keeper even in the after life.

We walked for a few minutes on one of the many flower padded routes around the campus and then she was gone and the dream was over. Yesterday was a difficult day for me because I want so badly for her to come back, but I know that can never be. Four months into this and I'm still not a believer. I still can't believe or accept that she's never coming back.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Year's 2009

This must be the year that couldn't, well maybe it shouldn't have. I keep ranting on and on about how I wish upon a star that New Year's Eve was just around the corner and I could kiss this couldn't, wouldn't, shouldn't of year goodbye, yet I anxiously wait in the gallows of my misery for one gleaming moment that would redeem 2009 in my cynical mind. You see, I've lost so much more than I could ever seem to win in just four short months. In the middle of a cold January night, in the haze of a deep sleep, I was awoken by a dreaded phone call. It was the one phone call I was frightened of my whole adult life. It was the dreaded death call, telling me that I lost the one person in my life who was always my biggest fan, my rock of strength and the sweet, natural matriarch of my family. She was my mother and my love for her is profound but now that she's gone my love tastes bitter in the wake of her death. I simply cannot let go of her. Grieving is a horrible 12 step program administered by corrupt guardians and keepers of life's most precious secrets, who trick the grief stricken, leading them astray in our humanly attempts at compartmentalize the death of a loved one. No one can imagine the deep sense of loss and pain that accompanies the death of a parent, especially the loss of a mother. There is an emptiness that can never be satisfied. The finality of your family is overwhelming and disorienting. No matter the age, when the second parent passes, you feel as though you are a misfit orphan with no core or sense of stability that a normal family life offers. I find myself reaching for the phone to call her, trade recipes or simply say 'love ya." Her voice is still on the answering machine at our family home, which is now my home, at least part time. I think that house will help me write the book that's been burning inside me since I was a rough and tumble kid growing up on the boulevard of broken dreams. I am the product of a working class family who lived on the edge of badness, in a neighborhood full of regular people with regular lives but the collective experience of my early years in Albany was not only life altering, it was amazing in the simplest of forms. The people who I was surrounded by during my formative years helped shaped the person that I've become. They are the same people who have supported me during these terrible times, have laughed and cried with me, ate stinky Italian cheese and roasted peppers with loads of garlic and olive oil and drank several bottles of cheap red wine while discussing my mother's hysterical, unbelievable, remarkable legacy in the confines of 442 Manning. That house will always be hers. I cannot bear to part with it. She's in every fiber of that house and when I recently visited, I could feel her presence. It felt like a giant hug from her although her death is still so new, that familiar melancholy feeling whispered to me like a thief in the night. I suppose in time, I will heal and be able to come to an understanding about my mother's death but for now, I cry often, sometimes hard and sometimes soft but I know that my love for her and her for me will always prevail. One day, we'll meet again so I can tell her all the things that I wish I could have told her when she was alive. We always said we loved one another...that's not the problem. I just wish we had that one special conversation where I told her how much she really meant to me. I want to believe that she could tell in my actions and words, in my life as an example but I suppose I'll never know for sure. I wasn't there when she took her last breaths but I believe it's what you do throughout a person's life not what you do at the end that defines your relationship. We were a pair of crazies who sang Depression Era songs and laughed till we cried. The last words I heard her speak was when I called her house in the weeks leading up to her death and although she was too weak to talk to me on the phone, she shouted, "tell her I love her," and then everything became silent. No more long talks about food or too many chefs in the kitchen arguments. No more summer tomato salads with good Italian bread or grilled pizza in the rain. So much of my life is dark now but I can slowly feel the light penetrating through the cracks and crevices of my soul. She is there in the darkness with me, walking in the valley of sorrow leading me closer and closer to my special spot in the sun on our bench in her favorite seaside town.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mining the Fields

In times of trouble, I find myself yearning for those rainy, gray days when all I want to do is listen to piano music, stare out the window and visualize that my life will somehow make a ballsy turnaround for the sunnier side of the pond. I'm not convinced things will be that easy, even if I'm wishing and hoping for a small miraculous field of dreams to present itself to me during prime waking hours.