joannebest











{December 8, 2017}   Breaking The Ice

breaking ice1

Is it possible to forget how to write?

It’s 3:42am EST as I type these words, I woke up half an hour ago and found myself unable to go back to sleep. You know how your mind switches on and no matter what you do, you can’t stop those thoughts from swirling and cluttering? It’s usually your worst fears or insecurities that seem to pop up most around those hours, I heard that 3am is the Devil’s hour, it was in some article talking about a weird phenomena where a whole bunch of people around the world wake up during the 3am hour, like the Devil has an alarm clock somewhere and it wakes up those who are susceptible.

The major flaw I find in that theory is time zones. Does everyone wake up at the same time, or does everyone wake up at 3am local time? Either Hell is full of alarm clocks all set for the same time or my mind is scrambling for something to write about.

Because it’s been a long time.

I hate to play the death card again but those of you who have followed my blog previously,you all know I had that Trifecta of Death, the domino effect that began with a hurricane acting all “I’ll huff and puff and blow your house down”, followed by the year of rebuilding, then the Trifecta of Death which was actually more like Double Digits of Death because almost my entire Family got wiped out one by one leaving me with one older brother who has no use I mean love I mean, well, he doesn’t really know me nor does he want to, one Aunt I love who lives far away and a handful of cousins, most of who live across the country, and no more Family home I worked so hard to save, which I did with the help of many, but since the sale after my Parents died, I’ve yet to drive by the house, I’m afraid I’ll break down and bawl like a baby.

I just wanted to get that out of the way, for those of you at home playing along for the first time.

So much has changed, I seem to find myself lost and aimless, the only person able to understand me is a 19 year old daughter of friends of mine. She’s me when I was 19 and the daughter I never had, only way cooler than me.

I’m doing that thing I do, ramble, babble, talk too much.

I hear that accusation a lot these days which is pretty ironic seeing as I talk to no one except my husband and his sister, we all still live in the same house, they go to work and I have no job which is all good when I’m writing but I haven’t been writing so I’ve been feeling pretty useless/worthless/all-the-less-words.

Maybe I have Stockholm Syndrome.

Hey, that’s a thing you know!

I talk to myself, my cats, an occasional few minutes on the phone with my bestie who’s life is pretty much the same as mine so our contact is more textual than vocal. I’m the girl who would talk to her Mother 5 times a day, even my Dad and deceased Brother would call me all they time but they were more like 16 times a day.

So when you’re backed against the wall you might as well give in and hope your Muse wakes up and smacks you awake. Because I’ve been sleepwalking through life and it’s time to WAKE UP!!!

Silence isn’t always golden, sometimes silence sucks.

 

breaking ice

 

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catfight

Okay folks, let’s break this whole thing down as succinctly as possible without offending anyone since that seems to be the criteria for friendship these days.

In case you haven’t heard, we had a Presidential Election over here in the good old US of A. It’s something we do every 4 years and it comes with a 2 term limit. (In my opinion, every political position should have term limits but that’s for another day or, perhaps, never)
We The People cast our ballot then we cross our fingers hoping “our” candidate wins. There is a peaceful transfer of power on Inauguration Day and then we all go on with our lives.

Nah. I’m only kidding because it doesn’t work that way anymore.

Now it’s a free-for-all regardless of the outcome. I’ve lived through quite a few Presidential elections, I was a baby when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated but I have a memory of crying adults and a sense of unity, then again, to my mini-brain, it was the exact day my cousin was born so I felt only happiness and love.
Until a few terms ago, I never paid attention to politics, it was something the adults talked about in quiet tones while my older brother and I would play “The Six O’clock News”, where we’d take turns making believe we were newscasters by coming up with our own news stories. It was one of the few times we’d take advantage and use the bed as a stage to stand on when it was our turn to announce the news of the day. Of course it always turned into an excuse to jump up and down on the bed, a children’s game I never understood but took full advantage of until I jumped so high I banged my head on the ceiling but again, another story for another day.

We The People are now tearing each other apart in the name of politics and it is breaking my heart. I look at the usual suspects of social media, Facebook, Twitter,and just about every comment section in nearly every site that allows comments. Not only is it scary, it’s a bloody blood-filled bloodbath everywhere I turn.

Lifelong friendships are being reduced to rubble, families are falling apart, and I’d wager the “unfollow” button has never been used as much as it has these days, all a result of this latest election.

I am not here to talk about who won, who lost, which Party has power, which Party is right on whatever the issue of the day is, although I believe these things are important to discuss.
What concerns me now is We The People and how we are treating each other.
And how we are treating each other right now is, dare I say, deplorable.

Personally, I have gone out of my way to keep my opinions to myself. I remember a time when who you voted for was pretty much a private thing, much like your religious beliefs. We were lulled into a deceptive sense of free speech meaning just that, freedom to say what you want short of yelling “fire” in a public place when there is no fire.

This is no longer the case in my opinion. Now we must first weigh our options, think about what we want to say, think it over again, and, at least in my case, wind up saying nothing.
Believe me, there isn’t much I love more than a good debate backed up by facts. I even enjoy playing “devil’s advocate” because I want to know all sides of whatever it is we’re talking about. I always thought it was a good thing to discuss different issues because usually, I learn something new I wasn’t previously aware of.
Now? As the kids say, NFW. No f***ing way.

I have good friends on both sides of the aisle. I don’t judge anyone by their vote as I believe we all have our own personal reasons for who we vote for. There is a reason we are given privacy when we cast our ballot. We have an obligation and a right to vote our conscience. There aren’t that many countries afforded the freedoms we have/had. We are lucky to be living here and yes, nearly every single one of us have ancestors who came through Ellis Island seeking a better life. I know mine did, most left Ireland and were greeted with signs that said “Irish need not apply” as well as other things too hostile to say. But that was the way of the world, so they did what they could to feed their family, inevitably working in the bowels of the earth coal mining. Black Lung disease took out quite a few of my people back then. But that was my experience, we all have our own stories.
Every single one of us is different, and every single one of us have different reasons for who we may or may not support.

What I don’t understand is this new test of friendship, if you voted for X then you are a racist bigot. If you voted for Y then you are a racist bigot. If you voted for X then you don’t know what you’re talking about and you are directly responsible for this, that, and the other thing. If you voted for Y then you don’t know what you’re talking about and you are directly responsible for this, that, and the other thing. If you voted for X you are “unfriended”. If you voted for Y then you are “unfriended”.
I’ve been watching silently as friends and family are giving up people they claim to love, but that love is not unconditional, that love is contingent, subject to change at the snap of a finger, that love now comes with a questionnaire that requires 100% agreement or you’re an evil racist bigot and that applies to both sides.

Think about it, imagine you were in a life threatening situation and needed a blood transfusion, or perhaps an organ donor.
Would you thank whoever that someone is willing to donate whatever it is you need to survive, or would you first ask their political affiliation and if it wasn’t the same as yours, would you turn down their offer to help save your life?
If your next door neighbor fell down in front of you, perhaps suffering a heart attack or a stroke, would you help them only if they voted the same way as you or would you step over their body and leave them to possibly die because they voted for Y when you voted for X?

What has become of us? When did we allow personal points of view to transform us into this mob mentality?
There is nothing in this world that 100% of people agree on. We are all different, we all have different needs and different ideas. The world is burning and We The People are being controlled, not by politicians as much as by the media.
The media is stirring up as much turmoil as they can in the name of money, going so far as to intentionally lie to further their own agenda, and their own agenda sure as hell isn’t We The People.
Celebrities, being paid obscene amounts of money are lecturing us, chiding us, encouraging civil discourse and who is suffering the most for this? We The People are, innocent Mom and Pop stores being set on fire, looted, destroyed just because people are riled up and taking their anger out on whatever is nearest to them, both sides of the aisle rumbling like they’re acting out West Side Story, not caring that this is real life being destroyed. Not seeing that we all bleed the same color. Not caring that we are being used, distracted by a media who no longer report facts without bias, and somehow all media outlets use the exact same buzzwords, the exact same phrases because they believe they are all knowing. They are the ones sitting in their expensive towers looking down at us, patting each other on the back because they’re stirring the pot so much we are reverting to primates, beating people to a bloody pulp on nothing more than an assumption that if you love your country you are a racist bigot.

Let’s face it, for the most part, people in power do not care about us. We The People have been reduced to voting blocks to further the agenda of the powers that be.
They don’t care that we are fighting amongst ourselves, in my opinion they are happy, the more discord, the more “news” they can report, leading to more discord, more fighting, more separation, more hatred and I’m sorry, but this is not who we are. They are controlling us and we are letting them get away with it.

Do you want to be politically involved? If so, it begins at the bottom. It begins with your local government. I live in a town where we have had the same Mayor for 16 years. Sure, he cares for the people so much he is driven around in a limousine everywhere he goes. He has bought up more than half the town, owning a good portion of local businesses but you have to dig deep to find out this information. We can’t just wake up every four years for the Presidential election, we should be involved from the bottom up if we truly care about the political system.
But most importantly, we need to stop the hostility towards each other. It’s ugly and accomplishes nothing but more division, more hatred and zero tolerance.

We The People need to realize we are one family. Yes, we can disagree, yes we can get frustrated, but I see nothing good coming out of the behavior I see grown adults engaging in, what kind of example are we setting for our children?
School age kids are fighting each other over politics because that is what they are seeing around them. Parents, teachers, neighbors being nasty to each other, these are some of the examples being set for young minds unable to completely understand the complexity involved in making that decision we make when we enter a voting booth.
They will have a lifetime of worry ahead of them, but we are taking away some of the pleasures of childhood and frankly, scaring the hell out of some of these innocent young minds.

When did we become so unaccepting of other points of view?
Are we going to continue down this path until we kill each other because we may disagree on one issue?

I used to believe we were a tolerant, accepting people. I used to believe we could have vigorous debates without being blacklisted, discarded, unfriended, ridiculed by people we thought were friends.

You may have noticed I have not stated who I voted for. Why? Because I am not here to endorse anyone, I am here to express my disappointment in We The People. You may think you know who I voted for, but you may be wrong.
You see, I personally don’t care who you voted for, you voted your conscience, you voted in your best interest as it should be. I will never judge you for who you vote for.
All I ask is that we all try to do the same.

catfight1

My name is Joanne Best and I approve this message.



 

 

bestfamilyI was barely 5 years old the day I met my baby brother for the first time. Excited beyond belief at the thought of no longer being the youngest, I was going to have a tiny little brother to fuss over. I was sure life was going to be wonderful and I was going to be the best big sister that ever existed.

I remember every detail of that day, the clothes I wore, the constant trips to the window impatiently waiting for Dad’s Rambler to pull into the driveway bringing my Mom and new little brother home. After what seemed like forever, they finally got home and I ran as fast as my little legs would carry me. In a portent of things to come, I grabbed onto the porch railing, my soft little hand landing squarely on a very angry bee who decided it was more important to sting me rather than welcome the new arrival to the Best Family. In retrospect, I should have realized what life with Tommy would become.

Never boring.

It wasn’t long after his arrival that the two of us contacted a nasty case of chicken pox, our poor Mom spent half the time applying calamine lotion and the rest of the time trying to convince us to not scratch, not an easy feat when you’re dealing with a newborn baby and a 5 year old, but we made it through unscathed.

Living in Newark raising 3 young children didn’t last long as our Parents decided it was time to move to the suburbs, and before we knew it, we were living in Sayreville NJ, a 4 bedroom house giving each of us kids our very own bedroom. There was a 5 year age difference between the 3 of us, so in a way, Donald was almost a generation older than Tommy. Being in the middle, as well as being the only girl-child, it fell to me to keep an eye on Tommy.

Believe me, it sounds a lot easier than it was. Tommy had a lust for life and a fearless nature from the day he was born and he never lost that. Nothing scared him, nothing kept him from living life to the fullest on his own terms.

I have so many memories of growing up with Tommy I could easily fill a book long enough to rival War and Peace, but I would like to share just a few.

As most of you know, Tommy loved music and was a drummer in a few bands, most notably, Genocide. His obsession with drums began before he could even talk. We had an ongoing feud when we were kids that could be broken down into 2 sentences: Tommy complaining to our Mom about my neverending singing. “Ma! Make her stop singing!” he would say constantly, to which I would reply, “Ma! Make him stop playing drums!” It didn’t take long for us to realize this was a battle neither of us would ever win as he grew up to be a drummer in a band and I became a singer in another band . Tommy never needed a drum set back then and he didn’t need drumsticks, he would use anything he could get his hands on, including his fingers to bang away on any and every thing in his sight. One 4th of July he marched around the house using a garbage can lid and a red magic marker as a makeshift drum set. In true Tommy fashion, the marker exploded, covering Tommy from head to toe in what looked like blood but turned out to be magic marker.

When I was around 17 years old and heavily obsessed with the Punk scene, I got it in my mind that Tommy should have a drum set. I brokered a deal with one of my President Park Punk friends and lo and behold, at the age of 12, Tommy got his first drum set. Now although our musical tastes were similar, we had to keep it on the down-low. It wasn’t cool for a brother and sister to share too much at that age, but when he didn’t know I was in the house, I caught him switching his Iron Maiden and ACDC albums to my “borrowed” Ramones and Dead Boys albums. I never let on that I knew, but I was secretly pleased that we were becoming closer, at least when we were out of the public eye.

Fast forward a few years and before I knew it, somehow Tommy’s friends and my friends became one and the same for the most part. We drifted apart a bit after Tommy got married and had 3 children, but I was so proud of him whenever I saw him with his children. He lived and breathed for Tommy, Danny and Alexa. There was nothing more important to him than his children, he loved them with every ounce of his being and in fact the last words Tommy said to me was this : “If anything happens to me, please make sure my kids are taken care of.” I didn’t think much of this and in fact asked him why he was talking like that. I knew he was having problems with his heart but I also knew that there was nothing that could take him down. Not Tommy. He was, as our Dad used to say “Strong like bull”, he lived through war and made it back, there was no way any kind of illness would defeat him. He lived through a nasty divorce which I won’t describe out of respect for his children, but I will say that after his divorce, he had the most difficult years of his entire life.

He lost his home and Family in one fell swoop without warning and moved back home with our Parents. After a week of so he broke his leg yet it didn’t stop him. Very soon thereafter Hurricane Irene did a number on our Family home and by the Grace of God, Tommy, hearing a loud boom ran downstairs, broken leg and all, called 911 and got our Mom and Dad out of the house before the entire house collapsed. I shudder to think what would have happened to them if Tommy hadn’t been there that night.

As soon as the State of Emergency was lifted, Mom, Dad, and Tommy moved in with my husband Mike and me and my sister-in-law Pat. It was a full house, with 6 adults, 2 dogs, and 3 cats, but we made it work. After Mom and Dad found an apartment to live in until the house was repaired, Tommy continued to live with us for nearly a year. When Christmas rolled around, Tommy was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to give anyone any gifts. Every penny he had went to his children yet still he worried about us. As long as I live I will never ever forget that Christmas morning. Santa, in his infinite wisdom, delivered a stack of gifts from Tommy to all of us. Now I’m the first one to admit we tend to go overboard when it comes to Christmas morning, we always feel a childlike joy when it comes to giving to others and that year was no different. We spent hours unwrapping gifts, and as the morning progressed I noticed Tommy would get up periodically and leave the room. It wasn’t until a few days later when the two of us were alone in the house that Tommy told me that this particular Christmas was the best Christmas he celebrated in his entire life. Never in his life, he said, had he received so many gifts as he did that year. He also filled me in on a little secret I wasn’t aware of, Christmas day, my husband Mike took Tommy aside privately and gave him a Christmas card containing quite a few hundred dollar bills. Tommy tried to give it back but we have a rule, no such thing as take-backs when it comes to gifts. That was the first time in my life I ever saw my 6’3″ baby brother cry tears of happiness, love, and acceptance.

I’ve written a lot of words here in an attempt to give you a little insight into the Tommy you may not have known. He was a gentle giant, a big guy with a heart of gold, he would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need. He was a quiet hero, helping anyone, whether he knew them or not. One day, Tommy and his Family were driving back from a day trip and saw a terrible accident on the Garden State Parkway, a van full of people had crashed, rolling over trapping everyone inside. Without a thought for his own safety, Tommy literally crawled through broken glass and got every single person out of that van, covering them up with his own jacket and sweaters and anything else he could find. He even crawled back in one more time when one of the passengers realized his medication was in the front seat of the van. By the time the EMT’s and Police arrived on the scene, everyone was safely out of the vehicle, Tommy told the Police what happened and like a true Angel, Tommy disappeared, never getting credit nor wanting credit. Because that is who Tommy was. And that is who Tommy always will be, an unsung hero who will live on through his children, and a never to be forgotten baby brother, living on in my heart for the rest of my days.

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bowie rip 1.11.16
“Oh no love, you’re not alone”
I’m finding it hard to string a sentence together right now, unexpectedly choked up about someone I never met and I know I’m not alone.
Rock stars come and go, they influence us, they encourage us, they lift us up when we’re down and make us cry when we need an excuse to reveal our emotions. They can define us, give us something to cling to when we are lost and broken, give us something to hold on to when we are frozen and can’t take one more step forward.
David Bowie captured everything we freaks suffered every day and welcomed us, encouraged us, gave us a place to drift to when we were overwhelmed and alone.
He wrapped his words around us and let us know we weren’t alone, influenced generations, kicked opened closet doors and told us, “it ain’t easy” but it’s worth it, we can let our freak-flag fly high and proud, and it was alright, we could all be rock and roll stars.
Growing up in suburban New Jersey wasn’t always easy if you didn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of a blue-collar town but David Bowie gave us a glimpse into what life could be like if we just stayed true to ourselves and didn’t worry about the whisperings behind closed living-room curtains when we walked down the street.
He showed us we were all limitless, we really could touch the stars if we just reached out and shrugged off the mud slung our way. He gave us courage, strength when we needed it most, there at the tip of our fingers and the drop of a needle on vinyl.
Inspiration to become ourselves.
Nearly every band I’ve loved has, at one time or another, done their own version of a David Bowie song, including my own band. Standing onstage singing a Bowie song was a rite of passage in my circle of friends, a sign to everyone that yes, I’m a freak too, just like you, and isn’t it grand?
No-one but his closest friends and family knew he had cancer, so the world woke up to a gut-punch this morning. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was awakened by a text or phone call from a dear friend telling me the terrible news that Ziggy Stardust was no longer with us here on earth.
Rest in peace Mr. Bowie, you are now a true star, a starman waiting in the sky, making the Heavens glow brighter, a celebration of music left behind in your wake.
And all the children will continue to boogie, for you taught us all, we are not alone.
Watch me now….



{December 24, 2015}   Harder Than They Told Me

christmaswou4
well it’s Christmas Eve
but I don’t feel Christmas in my heart
oh it’s Christmas Eve and I don’t feel a thing
yeah it’s Christmas Eve
and memories keep running through my mind
yeah it’s Christmas Eve and you aren’t coming back

they told me it gets easier as the years crawl by
they said there’d come a time
when I would smile
they told me I would feel your warmth
your love surrounding me
but all I feel are teardrops in my eyes

nothing is the same since you’ve been gone
no matter how I try to get along
nothing much makes sense to me
I’m not the girl I used to be
another Christmas Eve again without you here
christmaswou3

christmaswou

for all those alone at Christmas, even if you’re surrounded by people, and for those alone wishing desperately that they weren’t… for all of us who suffered loss of any kind…. sometimes, it’s more raw than you expected and…. well, as alone as we feel, remember, we aren’t alone, even when it seems like it, but sometimes we need to wallow… shutting up now to watch Christmas movies set unrealistic expectations so we can all feel worse about our lives 😛

Merry Christmas my lovelies, you keep me writing, and while I’ve been MIA lately, I’m dipping my toes in and New Year Resolutions and all {happy dance} so try and enjoy, and I will too, a New Year and new beginnings my friends, yes?
oh, one more thing, this is being written as song lyrics and I just spit these words out a little while ago and didn’t want to forget, keep you updated on the outcome of these words 🙂

All the love from me to you ❤



{November 6, 2015}   Letting Go, Slowly

dadmomDad and Mom pre-marriage
bestparentsMom and Dad in Branch Brook Park, Newark NJ

I have two choices.
I can either continue to wallow in grief and despair or I can move on and try something else like, say, living my life before I myself drop dead.
I’m starting to lean towards the second, more alive version of me.
Don’t get me wrong, my heart is killing me, I could easily curl up into a ball and cry for a few years, but I’m starting to make even my own self sick with the Poor Me Parade banging ’round my head.

I cast thee out! Be gone unclean spirit! Away with you Evil Monster of Unending Grief! Enough!

Okay, so I’m not making light of death and grief, and with all these major life changes happening one after another in the course of three or so years, well, the burden is decidedly weighty.
But.
I have to let it go.
Not the love, not the memories, but the sadness.
It’s not healthy and I can imagine my Mom’s face, giving me the patented Carey-Look-Of-Disapproval, a Medusa-like look capable of stopping you in your tracks and possibly turning you to stone.
“Joanne Bridget,” I can imagine her saying, “don’t you dare stop living just because I’m not right there with you. I’m in your heart, now stop grieving and start doing. And don’t even think for a minute I’m not watching over you, get your ass moving, keep writing, and for the love of God, get yourself back down to Cape May and enjoy yourself. Live. For me. For you. You’ll see me again one day and FYI, they have wooden spoons up here in Heaven, don’t make me have to use it on you missy. Now go and live your dreams and for God’s sake, stop feeling guilty, you are my daughter, act like it before I send your Father down there to ground you!”

I’ve been grounded enough times to know I better start living and stop, well, not.

My brothers and I have mended fences and are once again we three instead of strangers.
The last few days were spent talking together, the way we used to once upon a time.
We shared memories and some family secrets were revealed, things that made our past a little more understandable. Looking back on things from an adult perspective instead of the eyes of a broken child. None of us were ever really broken, we were just kids raised by Parents who did the best they could and I can honestly say they did a damn good job.
I wouldn’t trade either of my Parents for anyone in the world. They made me who I am, they made me me and it’s long past time I live up to myself.

I will never completely stop grieving, I will never not miss them like crazy, but it’s time to move on and live again. For Mom, for Dad, and for the three of us, two brothers and a sister, a small, but loving Family.
We will never forget you Mom and Dad, but we will love you forever and honor your memory by remaining your children, forever.

bestfamily1Mom, Dad, and baby brother Tommy

bestfamily2Brother Donald, me, Mom with brother Tommy in her belly

bestfanilyMom, Tommy, me, Dad, Donald took the picture
3ofusDonald, Tommy, me in the Poconos

bestfamilyThe three of us, once upon a time



kindness of strangers

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers”

A few mornings ago, I woke up sobbing. And I’m not ashamed to admit my weakness.
I am beyond overwhelmed and I am guilty of intentionally adding more to my burden-filled plate. I am also guilty of misdirected anger and extreme disappointment while trying to mask my feelings.

I miss my Mom and I miss my Dad and this whole dissolving of the estate also know as ripping my heart out and tearing it into three equal portions, is slowly killing me.
Or a reasonable facsimile thereof…
It freezes my usually warm heart knowing that we are already showing the house to realtors when my Dad died a month today, and it hurts me to the core seeing our childhood reduced to nothing more than a dollar amount.
From the age of 5, when we moved from Newark NJ to Sayreville NJ, up until this very day, that home has been the ‘no place like home’ security blanket that always made me feel safe, no matter where I was.
Now it’s all about numbers and “get rid of this” and “curb appeal” and “throw away all this stuff” aka get a dumpster and discard every bit of memory and character left in your heart, um, I mean house.

Let me be clear, I am the least money-hungry person you may or may not ever meet in your life.

To me, money is a necessary evil we need to survive.
I am simple to please, a roof over my head, a cup of tea, a couple of cats, a million books and a place to write are enough to keep me happy and thriving. Okay, maybe an occasional Carmello bar thrown in there once in awhile doesn’t hurt.

But.

I’m grieving.

And I can count the number of family members who care that my Father died on one hand.
If you have no respect for the death of my Father, that’s your business and also your right. But don’t you think you should have a little bit of respect for me, a grieving Daughter who loved BOTH of her Parents unconditionally?

And did it ever cross your mind that perhaps taking joy from the fact that my Father died and being vocal about it might just hurt me a little bit? Did any of the guilty parties ever think that perhaps, upon hearing the news of my Father’s death, telling his adult children you would get up and do a jig if you were physically capable of doing so is beyond disrespectful? Never mind how much it hurt to hear something like that from someone you have loved and looked up to since the day you were born.
I’m not naming names and I’m not pointing fingers, it’s more like a wave in your general direction. I do this out of respect for family ties, which have been reduced from a capital F ‘Family’ to just plain small letter ‘family’ even though whoever it is I’m referring to will most likely never see these words.

Since this is more of an update/babble, there is no order to my thoughts, no beginning, middle, or end.
There is no message, no point, no lessons to be taught or learned, more of just a purge of stuff that has been weaving through my brain, not all of it of course, because when it comes down to it, I’m more of a ‘don’t say anything if you can’t say anything nice’ kinda girl, and at this moment in time, I can’t think of anything nice to say upon hearing all the negativity toward my Father.

I guess some people think they are perfect and have decided slamming a man who, along with my Mother, practically raised them during their childhood, for reasons.

I have a lot of anger issues.
Not one sympathy card or phone call from anyone on my Mom’s side of the family*, while my Dad’s side, consisting of 3 cousins, have been more supportive than everyone else put together.

My Mother would be so disappointed in the branch of her family tree.

Things have settled down between my two brothers and I, after a long face to face talk, we’ve come to terms for the most part, so at least I feel a bit better knowing that we three are on the same page.

So while I am still an emotional wreck, at least I am an emotional wreck with two brothers who love me as I love them.

I have discovered that it’s really true, blood doesn’t make family, but loving and caring friends can become more of a Family than blood relatives.

And while it is very comforting to know that I do have a support system, it saddens me to know how the people you expected to be there for you are nowhere to be found.

I will end this now, because I’m verging on whining, but one last thing: I have met some of the best friends I could ever hope for as a result of writing, it doesn’t matter that I have never met a lot of them in person, they have still showed me more love and concern than I’ve received from blood ties.
So dear friends, if I haven’t made myself clear enough, you, and you, and you too, my writerly-friends, have made a tragic time in my life a little bit easier, just by being there for me when I needed someone more than ever.
I thank you and I love you with a love usually reserved for family, because you are now my Family.
This fact alone has made it easier to sleep at night.

*a few of my cousins commented on my Facebook status when I posted that my Dad had passed.

family4



{October 3, 2015}   Now I Am An Orphan

bestfanilyMom, Dad, Tommy and me. I assume my older brother took this picture.

Now I am an orphan.
As anyone who has ever glanced at my blog knows, I’m one of those daughters who needs her Parents in her life. Mommy’s girl, Daddy’s girl, whatever the kids are calling it these days, that’s me.
Always and without fail, my Parents have been my rock.
When I lost my Mom 2 years, 5 months and 14 days ago, my world was upended and nothing was ever completely right again. She was my best friend, my keeper of secrets and knew me better than anyone in the world. To this day I find myself reaching for the phone to call her.
So I carried on the best I could because someone had to take care of my Dad, who else but the middle girl-child would take on the task?
In my brother Tom’s defense, he did what he could to help out, but lets face it, a man born in 1927 is more likely to expect a woman’s help than accept a man’s help. Male pride runs deep, especially when you’re an ex-Navy man. Showing weakness to your son is not acceptable to some people, and my Dad was certainly one of those people.
My older brother, well, he’ll get a post of his own once the estate is settled. I don’t know if he just finds me beneath him because I never went to college and instead pursued my dreams; singing songs I wrote in my own band and working towards becoming a real writer to name a few, but the point is I followed my heart and not my bank account. Lets put it this way: when I mentioned to my older brother as we sat around my Mom’s Thanksgiving table maybe 8 years ago, that I didn’t realize he was on Facebook and I’d send him a friend request he gave me a song and dance answer that translated into a big fat no you will not be my FB friend. I only use it for business, he told me. Oddly enough, I found this was a lie and all my relatives, including my younger brother, were all on his ‘friends’ list.
A virtual slap in the face. But more about that another time.

My Father was stubborn, grouchy, and refused to let me move in with him to make his life a little easier. Instead, I spent a lot of time in my car, driving 20 minutes each way at the drop of a hat. Doctor appointments? I took him to all of them and Dad was the kind of senior citizen who liked to make doctor appointments the way people make plans to go to lunch, they were social engagements to him more than necessary appointments but I understood and played the game.
My daily phone calls with my Mom now turned into many, many phone calls from Dad, a few times a day is one thing but he’d call to tell me there was a John Wayne movie on, or to let me know what the song of the day was. See, he’d walk every morning down at the waterfront and that was part of his shtick, every morning he’d sing a different song as he walked, like the Pied Piper, little kids would follow him asking “what’s the song of the day Charlie?” He’d talk to their parents and ask if it was okay to give them a piece of candy or a lollipop, and whenever it was vacation time, a group of teenagers would talk to him and tell him they were watching out for him.
He was loved by strangers, openly showing affection, but he had a hard time doing the same for his immediate family.

Here’s the thing; my Father was, for all intents and purposes, an orphan. He never knew his own Father and his Mother died before he was 5 years old. He was raised by his maiden Aunt, who we all referred to as our Grandmother.
My Dad used to roller skate all the time when he was a kid, and one night, when he and his posse came out of the rink, they heard the news, Pearl Harbor was bombed. Right then and there my Dad decided he was going to enlist in the Navy. He had some hoops to jump through because he was only 17 years old but he did it, he went to boot camp in Buffalo NY and that young boy became a man quickly as he boarded a ship and soon found himself a part of the Normandy Beach Invasion on D-Day. He’s told me a lot of stories from back then but one in particular sticks out in my mind. He was on LST 279, a torpedo missed his ship by 20 feet but that’s not the story I’m referring to; the ships were at the mercy of the tides, they were unable to move when the tide was low and sometimes little French children would walk out to the ships and wave to the sailors on the ship. One day, when they were serving lemon meringue pie, something my Dad hated, he took a pie and put it in his helmet to lower it down to the kids in the surf. On the way down, the helmet did a 360 and through the grace of God, or maybe just pure luck, as the helmet flipped the pie slipped out and somehow managed to land right-side up inside the helmet, undamaged. Dad told me those kids were so thrilled to have a pie to eat they were scooping it out of the pie tin with their fingers until they got every drop.

A week ago today, on September 26th, 2015, my Dad passed away in the same hospital my Mom did, although I talked to him every day and saw him a few times a week, he gave no indication of any problems, although I felt a chill when he told me he wanted to die but didn’t want to kill himself. He missed my Mom. He wanted to be with her. We had this conversation Tuesday night and Wednesday I went to pick him up for his doctor appointment. I walked in the house and found him on the floor, unable to move. I called 911 and spent the next few days at the hospital with my younger brother.
The first thing my Dad said when he was stable was “Her name is Alice Bridget Carey”, my Mom’s maiden name. I felt like he was letting his higher power know he was looking for his wife. The last thing he said to me was “I love you”.
And I know he did.

I made a conscious decision around 10 years ago that I would spend as much time as I could with my Parents. I knew how lucky I was to have both my Parents alive and I wanted no regrets when they were gone. I didn’t want to say ‘I should have spent more time with them’.
There are a lot of relatives who didn’t like my Father. After my Mom died, not one relative ever made any effort to contact my Father in any way. This made me so sad, because even if he was a grouchy old man, he was my Father, he was my Mother’s husband. He was Family but he was written off.
But not by me.

I love you Dad, and I always will. Rest In Peace, I will never forget you.

bestparents Mom and Dad in Branch Brook Park, Newark NJ



{September 11, 2015}   I Can Never Forget

9 11abb

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is having a hard time getting through another September 11th. I tried desperately to write today but found myself staring at a near blank page and clicking back and forth between writing and looking at Facebook.

Basically wasting time.

I can’t even muster up the ability to write about that day in 2001 from my perspective, but it nags at me, to post something. I can’t ignore the day without acknowledging it some way,  yet I can’t write anything today, the words are stuck in my heart because my head is filled with all the what-ifs, all the lives that were touched that day, and how there was a ripple effect that day. You didn’t have to live in New York or New Jersey or Pennsylvania or Washington DC or Boston, it doesn’t matter where you lived, the World changed that day and Innocence became a memory the instant that first plane hit the first Tower.

I dug out some of my blank books, the books I use to keep track of rehearsals and write lyrics. I also tend to doodle when there’s lead singer down time, and it just so happened we had rehearsal on Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. I wanted to cancel but in the end we decided to go to the studio and try to not think for two hours. We had a gig coming up where we had to add a few cover songs to usual original set so I had a bit of doodle time while the musicians musicianed other people’s songs.

So I decided to take a few photographs of my doodles, and the lyrics to a song I wrote that night called “Lay Me Down”, just my feelings about that day jotted down quickly in a blank book as the horrifying terrible smell was everywhere and the smoke continued to take over the sky no matter where you turned.

This year was worse for me. Don’t know why, it just was.

So I shall share some pages from journals written and doodled on Tuesday, September 11th,2001 at Stage Right Studios while our Innocence disappeared slowly, nearly unnoticed, like that tragic scent and the never-ending smoke. I never claimed to be an artist, but I just needed to share this, and hope to sleep tonight nightmare-less, unlike last night when I had one of those same nightmares where I’m lost in New York City alone in the dark.

If you click on this photo you can see a scribbled NYC skyline, the one I saw every single day.

911a

If you click on this you can see my mental me unravel a bit, writing down words to songs my Mom sang to me when I would cry and she’d sing “Why oh why oh why oh, did I ever leave Ohio?” Neither one of us ever went to Ohio but it became our code song, kind of like clicking your ruby slippers three times or Calgon, take me away type stuff.

Just me then? [shrugs]

 

911b

These are the lyrics to Lay Me Down, the song I wrote that night, the song sitting in another studio waiting for me to finish some vocals and a few other touchups. If you click on the photo I was surprised to find the words legible. Um, just me then? Either way, I believe I may have posted them previously, if not, perhaps I will.  Right this moment, this is all I can do.

I’ll get back to my WIP tomorrow after Dad Duty. How do you make an almost 89 year old ex Navy Man who was actually there on D Day let you help him? He doesn’t want my help, he wants my Mom back and so do I but that isn’t possible. So I shall visit and clean and do laundry and go food shopping, shout louder than I sing so he can hear me, and bite my tongue near in half at the way he talks to me and the fight he gives me about cleaning. He can do it himself you know. That translates into what I call Covert Cleaning. I’m getting better at it. Oh, my point, I will have to remember to post my lyrics if I already haven’t. I think I may have but my head is telling me to watch Anthony Stewart Head in Dominion then sleep. Without lost in NYC dreams please.

911d

Well would you look at that! Over 700 words, much more than I thought I had in me.

I have to thank Kate Richards and Nina Cooper, their collective words to me on Facebook healed me enough to post this. Thank you both, you are truly amazing women I am extremely Blessed to know in any capacity, this virtual world we gather in really does make miles disappear. For that I am very grateful ❤



{September 3, 2015}   I Am A Rug, I Am A Carpet…

walkonme

… and a rug feels no pain, and a carpet never cries.

So I woke up extra early (for me) yesterday morning, 5am, and figured I’d write for a few hours then spend the rest of the day trying to straighten out this financial mess my Father made because, male pride and I’m a girl.
Had a few cups of tea, did a few things around the house, got all the paperwork together I need for the financial finagling I needed to do so I could just pick it up after I wrote for awhile.
Then my Father calls.
Nothing unusual about that, but this time he’s telling me he needs me to come down right away, something isn’t right, he says, he needs me to take him to the hospital, now. I’ve got him on speakerphone as I dash around the house locking the doors, making sure the dogs are in and no cats snuck outside and I ask him to tell me how he feels. “Just hurry”, he says and hangs up the phone.

I’m in a controlled state of panic and run out in my yoga pants and t-shirt, slip on a pair of sneakers, stuff all his paperwork into a bag and fly out the door with my Ray Bans covering my worried eyes after first splashing water on my face and putting on some lipstick.
Don’t judge, Ray Bans and lipstick make me feel better in all circumstances.

I make the ride in record time, pull into his driveway only to find all the doors locked and my key to his house back home on my other keychain. I knock loud and call out to my Dad, all the while my brain is figuring out which window I should crawl through, something I haven’t done since I was a teenager but luckily I’m still able to fit through. Window-crawling mission aborted as I hear my Dad yell “come in”.
“The door is locked,” say I.
“Wait a minute,” he replies as I hear him slowly shuffle to unlock the Dutch door.
Each second is an hour as I imagine every horrible scenario possible, remember past emergencies, generally freak myself out until he finally gets to the door and unlocks it.
I burst through the door, “Dad! What happened? Are you OK? Tell me what happened, let’s get your wallet and go to the emergency room.” I babble the way I do when I’m nervous and he just looks at me.
“Let’s go,” he says. “I want to get some money out of the bank.”
“Don’t worry about money right now Dad, let’s go to the hospital first and I’ll go to the bank after a doctor sees you.”
I’m impatient, worried, thinking ten steps ahead and I realize he’s looking at me like I’m a crazy person.
“Dad? Are you ok? Let’s go! We need to get to the hospital!”
“Hospital? I just want you to take me to the bank.”
Silence for what seems like forever.
“Dad,” I say calmly, “You told me you needed to go to the hospital, what’s going on? Are you ok?”
“Wait, let’s go sit in the living room,” he says as he shuffles away.
It all begins to sink in.
Manipulated once again.
I can see the gears turning in his head as he attempts to concoct a believable story.
He doesn’t succeed, he can’t talk his way out of it because he knows I’m catching on.
“I didn’t feel like driving to the bank,” he admits.
By now my head is pounding due to rising blood pressure yet I remain calm.
Outwardly calm.
We’d already had it set up for me to go to the bank for him on Friday/today (I’d already been to his house Monday, Wednesday, and now Thursday). This day was meant for me to get the SBA on the phone so I could talk them into not holding back 15% of my Dad’s Social Security checks due to him missing a few payments of $53 per month. I used to take care of this particular loan payment from Hurricane Irene’s destruction but Dad insisted he wanted to take care of his own bills so I had no choice but to turn it over to him.
After spending more than half the previous day on the phone with the Department of Treasury I was told my Dad now has to pay the DOT $485 per month in addition to losing 15% of his SS checks. The loan was taken out when my Mom was alive so my Dad’s income alone barely makes it, coming up with an extra $400+ is undoable. The man at the DOT was very nice and told me if I had the gift/power of persuasion I might be able to get the SBA to change it back. Which was what I was going to take care of before dear old Dad told me he had to go the emergency room.

I’m rambling again.
Back to the non-hospital trip: he wanted me to go to the bank, take out some cash and go to the corner store for the newspaper and lottery tickets.
I remained outwardly calm, drove to the bank and noticed my car was verging on overheating. Over 90 degrees outside and I’m driving with my windows open and the heat blasting so it wouldn’t overheat.
Drove around town getting his cash, his newspaper and lottery tickets, all the while dripping sweat.

When I got back to his house, I channeled my Mother and exploded.
Respectfully exploded.
Although the F-word did escape my mouth a few times, I explained that all he had to do was tell me the truth, I would have stopped at the bank and store on my way down and gone merrily on my way. I told him it was unacceptable, the lies I mean. Because he’s been known to stretch the truth before, I sat him down and explained thoroughly the tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I explained that his health is better than mine and if he continued to play games like this (because he found the incident funny) there might come a day when he really needed me and I wouldn’t be there, because I don’t know anymore when he’s telling the truth or lying. I explained the mess he made out of everything, and asked him who else helps him besides me, the answer being nobody. He drove my younger brother away by constantly treating him like garbage and my older brother, well, he flat-out doesn’t care to help in any way shape or form. I think he’s still pissed at me because he hated the idea of the house being fixed after Hurricane Irene, he wanted them to sell the house as is and move them into an assisted living place but they wanted their house back. Truth is, I don’t even know my brother’s phone number or address because he moved and never gave me the information.

I’m a nervous wreck still worrying about my Dad, still making excuses for him, and still being taken advantage of. I know I’m lucky I have at least one Parent still alive but at this rate he’ll be burying me instead of the other way around. If that sounds cold it’s not meant to be. I told my Father I love him and always will but if he continues to lie to me my Mother’s dreaded saying would come true, he will live the rest of his life a lonely old man. I think of all the times I defended him to my Mother and compare them to all the knife wounds in my back.
I try to make him understand that we’re all we got, it’s just us now, and I asked him if he’s actually trying to kill me, death by stress.

So yes, I am a rug. I am a carpet stepped on again and again and I’m wearing thin.

Can I please stop being the adult?

walkonme1



et cetera