joannebest











bwlines Sayreville NJ blinds

bwlines1 Sayreville NJ blinds

bwlines2 Cape May NJ balcony

bwlines3 Cape May NJ Fire Tower staircase

bwlines4 Cape May NJ Fire Tower staircase

bwlines5 Cape May NJ Fire Tower staircase

bwlines6 Cape May NJ Fire Tower staircase

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lines and Angles



{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



{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 ❤



This isn’t quite accurate as far as a Secret Santa Prompt, but in a way, it is, because William The Bloody Good Kitten was a secret gift from me to my husband.https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/secret-santa/
And I’m a rule-bender, so with no further ado, meet my secret pre-Santa gift.

wills1Now perhaps you can see why my life has been hijacked by cuteness.

wills2He loves to sit on my legs and I have the scratches to prove it.

wills4He does look good in blue….

wills5...and he knows it.

wills6He wanted to learn how to roll cigarettes.

wills7He’s obsessed with my computer.

wills8Which means anything I write that turns out bad is William’s fault.

wills10William wanted a quick shower but quickly realized the dishwasher wasn’t the answer.

wills11He decided to give me a bad review on Yelp after I showed him Siamese cat videos on Youtube.

wills15He’s very observant.

wills16And always ready to attack anyone who bothers me. He thinks only he can attack me.

wills17But when it comes down to it, William is pretty damn awesome!



In no particular order, the following are pictures I took on my vacation in Point Pleasant Beach New Jersey. I can’t seem to pick just one photo, so here’s a random sample. There will be more to follow, with more words attached.

beach1Point Pleasant Beach

beachbirdsSeagulls staking their claim, proud and unafraid

beachburnMy sunburned legs after a few hours on the beach (sunscreen #90)

beachcastleSandcastle someone left behind

beachcastle1Entrance to above sandcastle

beachcrabsIt’s not Summer without a bushel of crabs, the rest are in the pot, giving their lives for our dinner

beachfeetMy feet trying to stay away from the sun. Didn’t work.

beachgullLone seagull strutting his stuff.

beachpenguinsPenguins at the Aquarium

beachpenguins1More penguins hanging out

beachsharkSharknado

beachshark1Sharknado 2

beachstormStorm rolling in

beachstorm1Yet another storm rolling in, this one accompanied by a tornado warning

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/summer-lovin/



{April 17, 2014}   Happy Birthday Mom ~ RIP

mommy
It’s no secret I’ve always been a Mama’s girl.
Actually it’s something I’m proud of, because in my version of being a Mama’s girl, it just means that my Mom is my Best Friend.
Only now I have to say was.
Today would have been my Mom’s 85th Birthday. Last year we celebrated her Birthday in the hospital, this year we celebrate it in my heart.
I miss her so much.
But today I just want to say Happy Birthday Mommy, I love you always and I will see you again some day but until then, your blood will continue to flow through my veins, my heart will hold onto your spirit and, as I’ve been told, I will continue to become “more and more like your Mother”, to which I will always reply, “Thank you”.
mom1mom2
Mom cutting the cake at her bridal shower; Mom (on the right) with her sister Jeananne
mom3
Mom working on a float for a parade
mom4
Mom in Branch Brook Park with her youngest sister Judy

momandus
Mom, me (on the way to a dance recital), my brother Donald
momdad
Mom and Dad
momfriends
Mom 2nd from the right out on the town
mommy1
I love you Mom.
happy bday in heaven



me and mom“Mothers hold their children’s hands for just a little while, and their hearts forever”~ Irish proverb ~
Someone much wiser than me recently told me my Mother flows through my veins, that every pump of my heart pushes part of her through my body and my mind, so she will always be with me. Always. It wasn’t until I was a few miles away from Cape May that I began to feel anxious the other day, uneasy almost, as if I’d left something behind when I packed my bags to head north. Which, of course, I had, when I stood alone on the slippery jetties and scattered my Mother’s ashes where she wanted them, in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape May beach.
cmsnowrocks
In the last ten years or so, Mom and I started a new tradition, 2 to 3 visits a year to Cape May, just the two of us. The only rule we had was we had to stay at The Victorian and we had to stay no less than 5 days. We began to think of The Victorian as our home away from home, always warmly welcomed as Mom checked in because I couldn’t stop petting the cat all cozied up on a comfy chair purring away in tandem with the thumping of the dog’s tail. We didn’t even care if we left the room, although we did spend many hours wandering through the most beautiful town in the world. What mattered was the talking. Two best friends talking who just happened to be Mother and Daughter. Those are the times I cherish most.
cmayvicstpaddysday
Everything happens for a reason some say, and I’m still trying to figure out the reason Mother Nature decided Saint Patrick’s Day, the day I planned to bring Mom to her final resting place, was a good day to dump 7 inches of snow in Cape May while leaving the rest of NJ alone.
cmwalkingtoocean2
But I was on a mission.
cmwalkingtoocean
After a longer than usual drive into howling wind, freezing temperatures, and snow nearly up to my knees in some drifts, I trudged my way, Mom in hand, down to the surf.
cmfeetstpd
I don’t remember ever being so cold and I talked to Mom as we got closer to the waves crashing over the jetties.
cmstpaddysdaybeachocean
My closest friend Shawn came with me so I wouldn’t have to be alone, but since she knows me so well, she understood my need to scatter Mom’s ashes by myself, but in true Best Friend Form, she walked with me to the beach, staying back just a bit so I could say my final goodbyes, just me and Mom, alone together for the last time.
cmstpaddysshawnocean
Is there ever enough time to say everything you want to say to someone? Usually we put it off or hope they just know how we feel.
mom and me scottish festival
I am so Blessed to have a Mother who taught me to always say ‘I Love You’, so thankful that we never even ended a phone call without saying it to each other, and beyond grateful that the last words we said to each other were “I Love You”.
1
Is it possible to feel relief and dread at the same time? Relieved that my sweet beautiful Mother is in that good place now, yet dreading each day without her in my life. I will never say goodbye to Mom, I will say until we meet again, I will feel your presence with each breath I take, feel you watching over me as you did all my life.
20130512_104042-1
And most of all, I will love you for the rest of my days, until I see you again.
unexpected mom
Rest In Peace, my beautiful Mother.
1334853128771
From Buffy The Vampire Slayer ~ The Body
Anya (crying): But I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore! It’s stupid! It’s mortal and stupid! And, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why. (She puts her hand over her face, crying.)

anya from the body
My own version of the yellow brick road, where life is magical and anything is possible.
road to cape may



cmmom2
One little photograph.
And it’s not even a well taken photo, it’s blurry and off-center, nothing that you’d see in a magazine or framed with a pricey tag slapped on the corner of the frame. But this picture is magical.
If you look really, and I mean really close, there is a lifetime of love captured in a microsecond with an impulsive snap of a camera phone.
My Mother, standing on the deck of the Victorian just watching over Cape May.
Standing there, on that very deck just a few steps away from the door to “our” room was a piece of Heaven to Alice Bridget Carey Best, also known as Mom to me.
Ok, sometimes, Maaaaaaaa, and don’t even try to convince me you haven’t used that tone at least once. A day. Probably more.
cmsnow1
Last year, the end of March, we got one of our Mother/Daughter always-wanna-see’s, snow in Cape May. It wasn’t a big snowstorm, although for one magical day snowflakes fell, lot’s of them, it was beautiful and perfection as we looked out the window and munched on Fish and Chips from The Pilot House (thanks to the wonderful owners of the Victorian for the recommendation!). It was perfection. Warm and cozy and together.
cmmom
It’s human nature to look back and think of what we should have done to have avoided a life-changing event, a catastrophe, but the truth is only the Big Man Upstairs knows that stuff. It must be terrible to know all the heartache that inevitably comes, maybe that’s why we’re meant to remain ignorant of the future.
I had no way of knowing that was the last time Mom and I would go to Cape May together.
Little over a week later she had a broken shoulder and she was gone in a flash, like turning off a light switch.
I can’t ever find that switch, although I still find myself reaching for it, but there is one thing I can do and that thing is keep a promise.
Mom told asked me to make sure she was cremated and make sure I took her back to Cape May, the one place in the world she loved most, the place she and I spent countless Mother/Daughter getaways.
cmv
Let’s just say there were threats of haunting if I didn’t at least sprinkle some of her ashes into the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically of course, Cape May.
Did you ever have to deal with a five foot two red headed blue-eyed angry Irish ghost? Me neither and I’m not about to find out thank you very much.
IMG_20110713_204612
Hence the insanity of driving to Cape May tomorrow morning straight into a snowstorm originally meant to hit all of NJ but now, yeah, Cape May.
I hate driving in snow.
But drive I will.
So wish me luck, or better yet, how ’bout we just cancel the snow and get on with Spring.
That’s me-talk for I hate driving in snow, it freaks me out and I’m kinda petrified about the snow the weather folks are scaring me with but I’m on a mission.
I think I’ll pretend I’m Emma Peel and drive to my magical place, where miracles happen and I can always breathe.
A place I know my Mom will always be, watching over Cape May.
And me.
cmb



{January 20, 2014}   Photo Challenge ~ Unusual Angles

tower1
As anyone who knows me knows, I’m obsessed with Cape May and all it encompasses, most specifically the old World War II Fire Tower down by Sunset Beach. The Tower is the setting for one of my WIP’s, an apocalyptic story about a girl who is living out the end of the world at the end of New Jersey, where she has settled into the Tower and made it her home.
The prompt for this Photo Challenge is Unusual Angles, so here are some photos I took of the staircase smack dab in the middle of the Tower. Please enjoy.

tower4

tower2

tower3

http://sonelscornerphotochallenge.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/photo-editing-challenge-unusual-angles/



mom program this1334853128771mom program back

So unexpected loss is the daily prompt and there is only one thing I can write about, which is, of course, the unexpected loss of my Mom nearly 8 months ago.
It started out with my Mom waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, she slipped her feet into her slippers and tripped, landing on her shoulder. My Dad took her to the emergency room where they gave her a sling and sent her home.
It wasn’t until the following morning when I made my usual morning phone call to Mom when I found out. I felt bad that nobody called me right away but as soon as I found out I packed a bag and went to the house to do whatever I could to help her. After a few days, I woke up early to find my Mom had slipped down the chair she slept in (per doctors orders) and she couldn’t get up by herself. I helped her up but something was off, she seemed confused, unsure of what happened and she asked me if she had a stroke. I didn’t think that was the problem but I called 911 and had an ambulance come, I was petrified but put on a brave face and followed the ambulance to the hospital as my Dad went in the ambulance with her.
We waited hours and hours as they did test after test and said she had a urinary tract infection and she was dehydrated so they wanted to keep her overnight for observation.
I stayed until she was settled in a room and went back first thing the next morning to find she had been moved to the Critical Care Unit. Long story short, they decided she needed dialysis and a blood transfusion. She was coherent, she said she felt fine but she had to stay they said, she needed a few more days of dialysis before they could operate on her shoulder.
A few days turned into 2 weeks, they did the surgery and said she was fine. She was doing so well they said, that they were moving her to a rehab for her shoulder before she could come home.
It was her Birthday while she was in hospital, so we celebrated in her hospital room but due to dietary restrictions she couldn’t have any goodies so we put a candle in her lemon ice and Dad and I sang Happy Birthday to her and spent the day with her until they kicked us out.
The following day she was to be moved so my Mom told me to take the day off, I’d been spending every day sitting and talking with her and she knew that my fibromyalgia had kicked in (I tried to hide it but you can’t fool your Mom), “Stay home today and get some rest, I’ll see you tomorrow when they move me to Briarwood” she told me.
I wish I didn’t listen to her.
They moved her that night around 10pm.
At 5am the next morning I received a call telling me my Mom was gone.
I didn’t believe them. It couldn’t be true, they told me she was fine, they told me she was 100% fine and she was just going there for rehab for her shoulder. She was fine. It couldn’t be true.
I was in shock.
I was the contact number rather than my Dad so it was left to me to break the unbelievable news to my Dad and 2 brothers.
I was a mess as I raced to the house and ran straight into my Dad’s arms and sobbed loudly, holding onto my Dad, who never showed emotion yet held me as I fell apart, crying along with me as my brothers both walked in and I did the same, I couldn’t stop sobbing, I was in shock and denial and now had to go over to Briarwood and see my Mom for the last time, sobbing sniffling and destroyed.
I don’t remember too much after that, I know we went to the funeral home and made the arrangements, I know we all went back to the house and sat in silence and shock, knowing we had to start making those phone calls.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out my cell phone knowing I’d see that screensaver of a picture I took when Mom and I were in Cape May but that’s not what I saw.
See, I have 2 cell phones and had no sd card in my phone, no pictures in my phone, no screensavers or anything at all to change the picture there, it was impossible to change it when there was nothing in there to change it to. I’d used the phone several times that morning before we went to see Mom for the last time and every time I looked at the screen I was overwhelmed with memories of all our trips to Cape May.
Now we all know that in order to change the screensaver you have to go through several steps to make it happen.
As I pulled out the phone to call my Aunt Judy the picture was gone, replaced by a picture I’d never seen before, a picture that wasn’t anywhere in my phone.
My Mom and I shared an interest in the afterlife and ghosts, and we made a deal, whichever one of us went first we would send a sign to let the other know we were ok, that there was something else after this life we live on earth.
With all my heart, I believe that screen-change was my Mom letting me know she was ok and she was with her Parents and everyone else who’d gone before her.
I’m still in shock, I still find myself reaching for the phone to call her, and for the first time in my life I dread the thought of my first Christmas without my Mother, my Best Friend, my world.
I feel guilty, I remember one day in the hospital my Mom looked at me and asked “Am I dying?”, I looked her straight in the eye and said “No! I wouldn’t lie to you about something like that!”. I know I wasn’t lying, I believed it to be true, yet still, I feel guilt.
The last time I saw my Mother alive was on her Birthday, less than 2 days later she was gone and my life is now forever changed.
Rest In Peace my Dear Mother, I’ll see you one day on the other side and remember, I love you always.
mom and me scottish festivalMom and me at the Scottish Festival a few years ago
20130512_104042-1Mom in the green shirt looking at blond-haired me
phone1This is what my Mom switched my screen saver to, it swirls as if it’s the path leading to the Gates of Heaven

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/daily-prompt-unexpected/



et cetera