Tag Archives: path

Memories are Made of This

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

 

There are only so many, “oops my bad” intros I can have to explain away why, for all intents and purposes, this whole project is FUBAR, so I won’t even bother.

Suffice it to say I have always had the best of intentions for keeping up with this blog and its underlying theme. Unfortunately though, it would appear that intentions are like opinions, and well, we all know what they’re like.

You can have your life mapped out to the minute, but when the universe has something else in mind, (which she often does) that map becomes about as good as the theoretical paper it’s written on.

Indeed the universe was not impressed with my map and proved it by snatching it out of my hands, setting it on fire, and throwing it at my head.

In the plainest of terms, my life basically blew up in the last month, and I am just now clearing away the debris. This foundational explosion of my existence however, wasn’t all bad.

No, I am lying, it was really, really, REALLY bad…but not unlike the spectrum of light that appears through the clouds after a rainstorm, the aftermath is proving to be quite a thing of beauty.

Just over one month ago my husband’s grandfather by lineage but father by actions was taken to the hospital. It was clear that this was the beginning of the end.  How soon that end was to be however came as quite a shock when he passed away just 12 days later.

You may ask why the death of my in-laws patriarch would rock my life in such a major way.

Or you may not, whatever, I am going to tell you anyway.

From the moment we were introduced he took me in as one of his own, but more than that, my daughter became his world.

Avie and Papa, celebrating life

I can still hear them playing up in his room, him trying to coax her to say, “I love you” and her dancing around, oblivious to the spell she had cast. Though her and Mama had become fast friends, Avie was incredibly coy with Papa for the first few months that he was in her life.

Our first Christmas as part of their family, I was able to convince Avie to record a message to Papa on an electronic picture frame. She simply said, “Hi Papa, I love you.”

When he opened the meager gift Christmas Eve, and was shown how to make the gadget work, he beamed. More than anything else that lay before him wrapped in shiny holiday paper, this gift was everything. He proceeded to play the message over…and over…and over, until I am pretty sure we all went to bed that night hearing, “Hi Papa, I love you… (click) Hi Papa, I love you…(click) Hi Papa…”

Avie and I came into his life when his health was starting its slow decline, but we were still lucky enough to bask in his presence and energy. And boy, what energy! Those early Sunday dinners, though nothing special gastronomically, were by far some the best memories I have of my in-laws. Sitting around the table, long after the pasta had cooled, and the vinaigrette had begun to congeal slightly at the bottom of the salad bowl, we would listen in awe, as Papa would regale us with amazing personal narratives that almost always seemed to end with him threatening someone’s life, or punching someone in the face.

Lingering over limoncello and legend became a regular Sunday affair and before long the sun was setting on our first summer together. J and I went to his grandparents for our usual visit one Sunday in August, but there was nothing usual about it. It was one of those late summer evenings where the air begins to hint at a cooler time to come, enticing you to squeeze all of the life you can out of the remaining daylight.

Dinner came with its customary show, but the real entertainment happened after the meal was over. J and I brought over a Dean Martin record that I had given him as an early token of our budding romance. While Mama did the dishes, J and I put the record on the turntable in the dining room. For a brief moment, the sounds of the Italian crooner drifted through the house and transported us all back to a different time. Through music and memory, J and I got to experience a sense of Mama and Papa’s early amore, all while living in the moment of our own. We danced and sang, we laughed and watched as, for a short while, any ailments that had steadily attempted to eat away at their already fragile bodies seemed to vanish, and through Dino’s words, they were again able to live la vita bella.

Time marched on, as it has a way of doing, and the Sunday dinners became fewer and far between. Soon, Mama and Papa required assistance in the house, and despite the fact that J’s mother took on the task; dinners were never quite the same as those first summer gatherings.

It’s easy to disassociate yourself from the reality of your loved ones failing health. Your own life becomes a distraction and before long 8 years have passed and you’re standing over the casket of someone you just kind of always expected to be there.

Though this wasn’t the first death I had experienced by far, it definitely hit me in a way that I wasn’t at all expecting. I have lost blood relatives of all ages. I’ve seen friends lose their parents, and I’ve cried over the loss of friends my own age. No death until now however has made me examine my own mortality in such an explicit manner. I don’t know if it’s just my age, but it’s as though Papa’s death has shifted all of us one step closer to the great precipice, and it became painfully clear that I am just not ready to fall to the other side.

I immediately took stock in my life at its current state. All of the parts that I had been unhappy about but felt too paralyzed to truly fix suddenly appeared in crystalline focus. One by one I placed each life fragment into two mental piles, “toss” or “change.” Obviously I can’t toss my health, but I can change the amount of exercise I get and what I ingest into my body. Despite the fact that school was an expensive commitment I had set up for myself, I had never been truly happy there, and as of late felt that it was more of a waste of time than anything. Though I worried about what my next steps would be were I to quit, and still worry, nevertheless I made the decision to put my MSW studies on hold. It has only been two weeks, but my general demeanor has lightened, and the load off my chest is immeasurable. I’ve been saying that I wanted to hone my photography skills for the better part of ever, but always seemed to find less constructive ways to occupy my free time. I’ve since been picking up my camera every chance that I get in an attempt to self-teach as much of the craft as I can. I honestly love it.

So, what does this all mean? Do my loved ones have to die in order for me to cut through my complacency and actually live rather than merely exist? Perhaps, but fuck, for their sake, I hope not! I prefer to think that this was just one unfortunate incident I needed to finally push myself in the direction I have been so afraid to move toward on my own. Papa’s life, more than his demise, has served as a reminder that it all really is fleeting, and it’s up to us to make our own memories, so that one day we too can sit around the dinner table regaling our grandchildren with stories of living la vita bella.

 

 

 

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The February of it All.

STOP MOCKING ME, calendar.

I hate February. I hate that it’s (usually) cold. I hate that it’s dark. I hate that no one can pronounce it correctly and that I feel like a freak when I do (it’s FebRUary, not FebUary, OK, bitches?)

Mostly, I hate the sense of utter despair that the month usually signifies. (I also hate that I dropped the “H” word like eleventy-billion times in this first paragraph. As a proponent of social justice and mom who constantly says, “That’s a strong word,” I need to check myself.)

Seriously though, FebRUary is cruel bitch. She tests your limits, and most of us don’t even have a number 2 pencil.

At this point in the year, we should be well on our way to being the change we saw at the bottom of our flute of Taittinger on 12/31. Our bad habits are bad memories, and our fitter, stronger, happier, more productive (robotic-sounding) selves are…fitter, stronger, happ…you get the point.

Damn you, italics and your emPHAsis of doom.

Yes, if we’ve all stuck to our resolutions up to this point, we should be over the 30-day hump and enjoying the fruits of our labor. Actions that seemed almost impossible only a month ago should be becoming second nature. Life is indeed going our way, and the best part about it…it’s ONLY FebRUary.

Wait. Only FebRUary!?! You mean I have to keep this ish up for the next 10 months!?!

Fuck me running…I’m tired of running!

Burnout.

Burning out is very possible in the month of FebRUary. See, everything was new in January. It was a challenge to be met, an adventure to behold. It was exciting and you were determined to NOT be one of those pathetic people who gave up on their resolution 2 weeks into the New Year.

When FebRUary first rolled around, you felt accomplished, maybe a little self-satisfied. YOU went to the gym almost every morning and saw people slowly start to drop off. YOU haven’t had one cigarette, even after you lost your job/significant other/home/best friend/cat. YOU haven’t had any sugar. YOU have been getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. YOU have refrained from killing since the end of last year.

Get over yourself.

YOU are golden. You so got this.

Until you realize that you don’t.

January was the honeymoon…FebRUary is the marriage. The long, day-to-day, monotonous, Nathan Lane crooning “Is That All There Is” in his most nasally, Jewiest of voices, “RESTOFYOURLIFE” kind of marriage.

It’s the recognition of that awesome thing you’ve been doing, well it’s still kind of cool, but you have to keep doing it…all the time.

In FebRUary, shit gets real. Most people won’t survive. They won’t completely give up, though. No, it will be a slow death throughout the short month.

Excuses will be made.

Poor decisions will become more regular.

Soon old habits will rear their ugly head, and the progress of January will fade faster than Nathan Lane’s appeal as a performer (it’s all I got right now).

Yup...that's all there is.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Like any marriage, the trick is to keep it fresh.

Bring a friend into the picture (wait, what?) You know…to workout with.

Change up your routine. Try something new.

Above all, recognize that perfect is an absolute that only airbrushing and anorexia can attain. Mistakes will happen, but they don’t have to be the death of your success.

Like most marital missteps, they can leave you feeling stronger, more connected, and back on the road to blissville.  (Pause to wipe the vomit from my keyboard.)

So as this short month rages on, don’t let the daunting prospect of having to keep your new life switches turned on indefinitely let you down. Continue to take things one day at a time (ba, ba, da, da) and it will be March before you know it, Ann Romano.

You have NO IDEA who this is, do you?

Long. Cold. March.

Meanwhile, how am I doing with my life switches? Ha. That’ll be the topic for my next post, “WHY THE FUCK DID I THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO CHRONICLE A YEARS WORTH OF RESOLUTIONS ON THE WORLD WIDE FUCKING WEB, and other assorted tales.”

Stay tuned. If anything, it’s guaranteed to make you feel good about your own pathetic existence!

You’re welcome.

 

 

 


Mea Culpa Runneth Over

Deep audible sigh.

A week. A fuuuuuuggggin week. 7 days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve been to the gym.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve attempted to write anything substantial.

That’s how long it’s been since I felt in the groove of my own life (whatever the fuck that means.)

Don’t get me wrong. I have completely legitimate reasons for why I not only lost my path; I went careening into a ditch. For one, I have been fighting a major infection. My husband, my gym partner in crime, was also fairly ill last week. Tuesday was a busy day, complete with a final trip to criminal court for a civil disobedience arrest that occurred during the NY marriage equality push, an incredibly intense interview for a new field placement, and a rally in front of Governor Cuomo’s office for homeless youth funding that lead up to, yep, another civil disobedience arrest.

I have had some serious anxiety and mild depression over wanting to move, and the lack of affordable apartments in my area. This culminated in pretty much a major, albeit brief, nervous breakdown on Thursday, where I blamed

every.

single.

mistake.

I have made over the last 10+ years for the shit show that my life is now. J’s illness + my melodrama = big ol’ fight in the Casa de Us. We’re both Italian and stubborn as fuck, so needless to say, that pretty much ate a good portion of the weekend.

Saturday, I had to go put on a happy face at an event for my daughter’s school.

I am the President-elect of the PTSO (pause for raucous laughter) and had to serve as a judge’s assistant for a chili cook off (pause for even more laughter.)

Fortunately, sneaking in a 6 pack of Hoegaarden makes EVERYTHING better.

Oh, and I watched about 9 hours of Shameless. (Which EVERYONE should watch, and commit certain scenes to memory.)

So, in 7 days my routine jumped the tracks, slammed into the side of a mountain, and caught fire. By now I should be into my 3rd week of this new routine. I should have posted a recap about Week One’s progress (not to mention, Week Two.) Instead, I am sitting here pissed off at the lost time, angry at the fact that I have to basically start from scratch, and scared that I will get derailed again because classes start up next week, and my schedule will get pretty serious.

These are all feelings that I didn’t want to feel. When I set out to accomplish 12 life switches in 12 months, the last thing I wanted was for it to make my life more difficult. These changes are supposed to ENHANCE my life, not cause more problems. I stewed in these feelings for a while.

Then I watched another episode of Shameless.

As I sat watching William H. Macy drink himself into a stupor for the eleventy-billionth time, I had an epiphany that had absolutely NOTHING to do with watching William H. Macy drink himself into a stupor for the eleventy-billionth time.

And you thought I was going to make a connection to the show…

Seriously though, I realized that, to quote Shakespeare, “Shit doth happen.”

Illnesses will happen.

Arguments will happen.

Sudden mental breakdowns and feelings of utter inadequacy will happen (although Christ, I hope not that often).

Chili cook offs will happen (see above).

Life.Will.Happen.

We can make the choice of going all shrunken violet emo crazy chick who throws her hands up in the air (and waves ’em like she just don’t…wait, what) and gives up, or we can acknowledge that much of this crazy little thing called life is out of our control.

The best we can do is move forward.

I am sitting here with the sinus infection of the ages. I did not make it to the gym today.

I already know that I won’t make it to the gym tomorrow morning either. I have to be up at O’Dark:30to get on a train and head to Trenton where I will be rallying for Marriage Equality and NOT getting arrested (I promise.)

There is still a part of me that feels like I am failing this whole project. I could honor that dark voice and let it take over my thinking. Or I could tell it to sit the fuck down, and shut the fuck up. I’ll go to the gym when I get home in the evening.

And if I don’t, that’s OK too. Wednesday morning is another day.

We’re all doing the best that we can on this rotating sphere of water, rock, and gas. We face obstacles. We make mistakes. The last thing we should be is our harshest critic. We can do our best, but understand that sometimes our best just won’t be good enough, and we will always have the option of trying again tomorrow.

Having a pity party for what should have been is about as useful as tits on a nun. So the next time you feel like going all William H. Macy and drinking yourself into a stupor of shame, get the fuck over it.

The sun will come out tomorrow, Annie, and with that flaming ball of gas, a chance for you to try, try again.

What are you going to do with your new day?