Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nonna / Nanny

As usual I woke up this morning long before my alarm went off at 7 am. I had to be at work by 9, but I decided to go in a little early, because, face it--the house was clean thanks to not having TV or internet, and our heating doesn't really work, so what else was I supposed to do? While I still lay warm in bed though, I floated through the usual torturous thoughts that have been chasing sleep from my eyes for the past couple months. But, unexplainedly, and within a matter of minutes, my thoughts almost immediately turned to my two grandmothers, who I'm lucky to have and know. Thinking of them gave me a great deal of comfort and strength, and whisked me away from darker thoughts as if they were actually there with me. We haven't lived in the same state since I was two, but I still feel close to them both, and I identify with them very strongly.

They are both very different women: my father's mother (Nonna) is 82 and a practicing physician. She listens to Rush Limbaugh while driving in her Mercedes Benz to and from Lord & Taylor, where she eats lunch every afternoon, in heels, usually with a twinset, pearls or a thick gold chain, her Louis Vuitton bag, and matching tights.

My mother's mother (Nanny) is in her late 70's and works part-time at a Real Estate firm, devoting the rest of her time to making tote bags which she designs and sews herself and sells at craft fairs around New Jersey. She regularly sees a psychic, shops on QVC and loves Marshalls and American diner food. She really thinks that in a past life she was a Jew, talks often with her dead siblings, and has a strong affinity for Paris and for Saint Mother Cabrini.

Both got divorced after their spouses were unfaithful and abusive. Nonna took their divorce trial to the supreme court of New Jersey, spent what would be the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars on trials which ultimately ruled in her favor and resulted in changes in New Jersey State law. Nanny asked for a divorce and my grandfather cut her credit cards in two. She had to ask her brother for a check to serve divorce papers, and he asked her why. "Does he hit you? [Yes] Does he drink too much? [Yes] Because you are married and these things should be worked through." It was only when she told him, my uncle Ace (Adrian Hollywood) that her husband had been sleeping with his secretary for years that he put pen to paper and cut her a check.

Both of my grandfathers (Grandpa and Pop-Pop) married the vapid, boring women they chose over my vibrant, intelligent grandmothers. Both of my vibrant, intelligent grandmothers never remarried.

I honestly can't imagine what they went through. Mind you, this was the 50's. Women didn't get divorced, being Catholic and of immigrant descent was already kind of iffy (my Nonna still thinks the Italians are the oppressed people...), not to mention it was super-unusual to have a job or to do anything but bring their husbands their slippers and make themselves presentable for bridge games with the ladies.

Nonna still wears her wedding ring because she "likes it." And if he was going to break the vow that made that ring mean something, then it was just a pretty rock in a bit of gold. Nanny thanks god for the day she got the divorce. She knows she'd be a different person had she not gone through with it. (She would probably be an obese alcoholic doing what my grandfather's new wife did: waited around while he played golf or took naps, or slept with other women.) Or maybe not. (Nonna would have probably been a bitter millionairess, had she invested her money instead of going all the way to the top of the food chain over in Jersey.) Nonna doesn't see it as a blessing or a curse. She just won't refer to my grandfather as such, or by his name. Just "my ex."

Well you guys probably know why I'm writing all of this at this point. Nobody ever cheated on me, but I've dealt with a lot of varied levels of betrayal and disappointment. Most of the time, though, these setbacks have led me, like them, to unexpected changes for the better.

Thinking of my grandmothers' heartbreaks, and how utterly pulverized they must have felt in the wake of such trauma helped me put things into perspective a little. But thinking about how awesome they both are in their own ways, made me want to jump out of bed, thrice clear my chakras, and think about what I might have been in a past life. I have a lot to live up to, and like them I have a world of undiscovered potential, and a world of un-lived thrills and disappointments around me.

As a wise fictional character once said: "I love my life! Sure it can be hard at times, but that's part of it." Here's to you, Nanny & Nonna. Hat's off.


That said, and not completely unrelated...maybe this was my past life...Let's dance!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yeah, so, just to clarify:

The last blog entry was about how I'm ticked off that more doesn't happen, not necessarily because I want to light the torches and march in the streets, being part of the action, but because I wouldn't get to roll my eyes and complain about it as much as I might have wanted.

And another thing, which I don't think I made transparent:

I can't really sympathize with a lot of the protesters who are destructive or violent. I mean--it's definitely not working to any end, and most of the time it isn't planned at all. Yeah, let's crash the windows of a Boston Market, not because it's nasty, or a big business, or not vegan or whatever. But because it's right hear, next to where we are, with our hammers. Come on, people. If you'd opened your eyes for a second, you might have noted that that particular Boston market was conveniently located near three major hospitals AND a cancer center. Yeah, wonder who's eating there on a budget...

It just sucks for people to consistently be working towards these lofty ideals, and in the meantime, who are the casualties, and what is the real coste? It is never, ever justified to use violence, even if it is to counter violence, to be brutal, even if it is to counter brutality. Call me Christ, but there is always another way.

And, stop being so stupid. As my friend said to me today, "Who is a fan of the global economy?"

I'm just tired, folks. Tired of people not knowing what they mean, not meaning what they say, and not doing what they say they're gonna do.

A Brief Interruption of Today's Emotional Crises for Some Important Albeit Scattered Thoughts Concerning the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA

It's what we've been bracing ourselves for, and it's here!!!! We've been talking about it, Rust Belt Radio and NPR have been chatting it up too--even though I've missed much of the TV coverage on it as my TV is also a plant stand and has no pictures. Here in the heart of things, every bus that rolls by (or at least the ones that haven't been eliminated or subjected to incapacitating delays) says "Pittsburgh Welcomes the World!" Police blockades are poised throughout the city. GreenPeace has already been repelling from one of the newly-painted bridges downtown. Bring it on!

Understandably, I was so excited to get to work today and IMMEDIATELY log into Twitter. I had visions of the Twitter-tethered Iranian protests of earlier this year, or at least the e-hype that surrounded Ellen Degeneres' tele-visit* to CMU this spring. But alas, either protesters are too busy to tweet, or nobody, pun intended, gives a flying (or tweeting) you-know-what. (Or maybe the protesters don't have blackberries or iPhones, a more likely scenario...) The most social-networking momentum I got was: "Live in PGH #g20 1 NBC Crew, 4 protesters, 2 old ladies watching from porch"...priceless!

Pittsburgh, it seems, hasn't skipped a beat. We just go on. Doing. Talking. Eating. Drinking. Talking about all of those things. Taking a load off. And then going back to the mill (at least the metaphorical mill) in the mornin'. Come on, people!? Can't you give me something to fuel more exciting future blog entries? SOMETHING more distracting at work than 2 old ladies on a front porch? My needs are purely selfish and utilitarian. And while there is the activist impulse inside of me, I'd like to think it manifests itself in other ways than pure shouting-and-signage protest--through my art, blog, blah blah blah. Or I'm lazy. Can't I just blog the revolution?!

Ah, if I only knew what I wanted in all of this...

Ok. Back to the non-flow of this entry...While looping away some more time at work, I happened upon an activist (albeit Catholic activist) (~forgive me~) blog**, which referenced the summit's unique manifestations in Pittsburgh, and I thought one detail was especially telling:

"You’d think the city would be fuming at the imposition of it all. But from taxi drivers to Homeland Security staff, the goodwill and welcome has been astonishingly warm. And maybe that’s because many of them aren’t letting the summit get in the way of life as usual.

In fact on the other side of the water, just outside the security zone, the Pittsburgh Pirates are playing baseball tonight to a packed stadium. “It’s an important game,” a guy told me as we sheltered from a sudden downpour. “No world leader’s gonna stop the Pirates play.”

No. They wouldn't dream of it.

Is this just how this town is? Or is this a United States thing? When I was living in Manhattan, I was convinced that I was the lone outraged person on the island the day after Bush was re-elected. (Prior to this day, everybody was wearing anti-Bush tee shirts, and the weather report was flyers with a chance of more flyers, 80% chance of scattered angry gays and other activists.) And then he won. I remember those last states turning on TV and my friends and I blasted Madonna's "Like a Prayer" out our window onto Broadway, to people who danced and screamed "C'mon, Kerry!"

It was so quiet the day after. After crying a little, I created and donned a silly "WTF?" tee shirt, that everybody saw and then said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I feel the same way. Would you like room for cream in your coffee?" Come on...? Where's the fire! The PASSION! Bring on the REVOLUTION!!!! Or wait four more years of torture and scandal.

But then, gasp, a couple of years later, I was one of them. I remember finding out, oh, yeah, the President of Iran is here today, like a block away. And thinking, well, I guess I could go check 'im out if I get a bite to eat beforehand...It's disgusting, I know. (Granted, the issues in Iran just might not have been as important to me as more domestic trials...but still, I wanted to care more...)

But I don't know. I must be pretty lame hoping for something exciting to happen around me, but maybe my generation, this country, my socio-economic status, my personal interests, and my general whimsy have prevented me from even coming close to the revolution, wherever it may be.

Bah, who knows. Maybe maintaining normalcy is in itself a form of activism. Yeah? Or maybe the protesters will, as the old joke goes, show up in Pittsburgh in 5 years. Or maybe they are there right now and I have no idea what I'm talking about because Twitter is for losers like me who are bored at work!

Or maybe not. Pittsburgh is just a weird place in the world, with high estrogen levels in the water, funny accents, and two colors, two colors only. I'm not even sure what I want people to do. Chances are, I'd get annoyed with big protests anyway, and all of the inarticulate 23-year-old anarchists lined up to talk to Channel 4 news and whatnot. I guess I just want to gauge what the hell is happening, and then articulate it to you thirsty readers, as blogging is my sole end in anything that should occur to me, ever.

So, Lizzy, closure? Ok, getting there, getting there. Ah, I might have something! Ok we're listening...

Of course the litmus test is always based in personal experience. I'm keeping my eyes and ears WIDE open (as usual). Give me a sign!

This morning I did (literally) see a sign of the Pittsburghian social status quo when I walked by Pino's, an Italian restaurant near where I work. Yesterday I'd explained to the owner what the G20 was, and why it was sort of an important thing. This morning I saw their sandwich board read: "PINO'S WELCOMES THE G20 and the WORLD!" I thought to myself, huh, well that's pretty cute. But by the time I'd gone down for coffee a half an hour later, the sandwich board was on the sidewalk and said, "Welcome to PINO's!"

Well, I had to appreciate all the deliberation that must have gone into that chalking experiment. The change probably occurred due to some kind of protest (as it is a husband-and-wife-run business, and as the handwriting was different from the first to the second). I wish I'd've seen it...but I'd rather let my imagination fill in the details.

In the end, I was ok with their final impulse. The world, and anybody else (who pays) is always welcome at Pino's. Remember, it's BYOB! Sigh. Business as usual.

>> Folks, do me a favor and comment a little on this guy. What do you think? And while, we're at it, what are YOU? Don't answer that...But, is anyone out there?

* Yes, tele-visit. She wasn't actually there, a TV with her face on it was, though, thus amassing at least a couple hundred silly fans, myself included.

** The rest of the Catholic blog entry can be found here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A little humor goes a long way...

Yeah!* Yeah!** Yeah!***Yeah!!!****

* Cheerleaders!
** High-heeled converse all-stars!!
*** Catharsis!!!
**** Lead singer with HIPS and NANA'S!!!!

Hope & Change c/o Glee! Thank you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Let the sun shine...

After twenty-one straight days of hell, a moment to breathe. It has felt like one very, very long week, as I've been working seven day weeks at two different jobs, one of which had me work about eighty hours last week (including two twenty hour days!). Let's rehash: I moved house, got a stomach virus, broke up with my boyfriend, (who promptly took another girl out and f#@!!*ed her), I quit my job, started a new job, took the old job back (sort of), quit the new job again, agreed to give both places two weeks notice, came down with intense insomnia, total loss of appetite, worked 21 straight days, all culminating in one 80-hour work week and a very dizzy Lizzy.

So, yeah. Here's a little more of a window into the work side of things, which reached a crescendo on Friday with our annual gala. The entire staff of the nonprofit where I've been working essentially flaked out on me the two weeks before the one major yearly fundraiser (even as I'd told them I needed to not be working there so much). The most support I got was on the day of the event, when a staff member showed up for an hour, and then left on an errand, never to return...Yes, I was the only staff member, showing up at 6:30 am for work, and working until 1 or 2 in the morning again, no breaks. Towards the end I was so wired on adrenaline that I felt tingly almost all the time, as though I'd had too much coffee, except there was no time for coffee. My voice got deep and sexy out of fatigue. I lost a few pounds due to reduced appetite and insomnia. My eyes got that sultry sunken-in look. Va-va-va-voom.

The emotional shit really didn't help either. I was totally crushed to the point of being totally numb. You read my last post. I totally felt all of that stuff! It was bad. But being so busy and super-stressed was almost a relief from my incessant feelings of sorrow, self-loathing, disgust, grief, and rage. I occasionally felt that overwhelming nauseous grief I talked about in the last post, but I hardly let myself feel that. No time to feel! I let my voicemail box fill up. I didn't check my email. There is a mountain of laundry in my room and sour milk in the fridge, along with several other unidentifiable tupperware containers of....?

My roommate came home on Saturday night after the last loooong day to a delirious me, who burst into hysterics because we had no medium-sized plates* in the cabinet...oh my.

But today was sunny. I slept through the night with some help from ole medication, and I woke up and felt hungry, and ate, and read the Sunday Times (yeah it's Tuesday--at least it ain't Saturday!). I went to a graveyard with a good friend to cheer up. We took pictures of notable graves, including a Mr. "Ghost," a family of wishful-thinking "Guests," and a Mr. "Splatt." Oops. The "Heck" family. Oh, heck. Mr. "Gentile." Not to mention the whole "Rott" clan. And then my favorite grave in Pittsburgh, which I'll post sometime later this week. :)

Theeen I broke out in severe hives, and started sneezing and snorting and guffachoospelching because I brushed up against this shrub that apparently I was allergic to. Ho-hum no biggie.

The long/short of it is: the sun shines again. I can let it shine in now. And I am already a stronger, wiser being. Just a little bit. I can feel it. So--thanks to those who helped me, tra-la to those who didn't. I'm just going to take a little time for little me, give thanks where thanks is due, and move on in the world. Buy pre-made goodies from Trader Joe's. The works.

* for smaller food items.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

So this is what it feels like

It happened to me for the first time today. I know it will happen again, and I know I have yet to feel a lot of pain, and a lot of joys in my life. It is an overwhelming revelation. But right now I just need to take it one breath at a time. Although I know I'm not thinking very rationally about all this yet, I think it might be of some future value to write what I'm feeling now, marking this quietly monumental occasion.

It just happened all of a sudden. Couldn't have predicted it until it was already happening, like when you step on an attic floorboard and it creaks a little too loud and a little too long. And then you fall through and you aren't even sure how you got where you are, or if you'll be able to get up again.

This is how it feels. This wasn't going to go ideally. We wouldn't be friends.

I will never forget that pause on the phone. The unexpected silence brought a slight creak, "You did?" and then creaaaak, "You did," and I was falling. A hurl of emotion shook my bones so that they tingled, as I, trembling, tried not to drown in the sea of dissonant chords, foreign tongues, and rainbow sludge that was pouring into every opening in my body. Gasping for air, my chest, stomach, and head undulated in the wake of what hadn't been said.

So, less than a week after we'd last kissed, spoken, he'd slept with somebody else. Then called to tell me he missed me, and wanted me, and wanted to see me. How tragically mainstream.

But I didn't know it at first. So I tried not to indulge my still-strong feelings for him, and then, succumbing, agreed to see him sometime. And then he paused, he wanted to, but he wanted to think about it, and he thought I should too. Such thoughtfulness was uncharacteristic. So on a whim I asked.

The silence said it all. He'd been with another girl, regretted it, called to repair what never would be again. Played to the feelings he knew I still had for him, because I had told him. My feelings progressed in the following way:

Chapter I: The mudslide (described before).

Chapter II: After I'd somewhat surfaced, self blame. How could I have been so stupid? Naïvely chaussée-ing through the waltz that was going on around me. Then ending up in this hot, wet sandstorm, feeling dirty and used.

Chapter III: Anger and disgust. How could he? After almost four years. And then on top of it, he played it to me as if nothing had ever happened. I wanted to smash everything I saw, vomit, crush every ounce of anything that reminded me of his mindless typicality.

But then, and even scarier, and more quickly than the other two, came the fourth chapter: nothing. I felt nothing.

It has been said that the mind can only take so much pain before it just shuts down. My limbs felt heavy, my bones vibrated under my skin. I felt light-headed and exhausted, but my thoughts were cold and mechanical. Eventually I realized that I wanted to sleep for a long time.

And I still feel nothing, can think nothing, and feel utterly indifferent towards mostly everything. Then the pain comes back, like the nausea of grief, in intense waves, leaving me reeling and then just tired and numb again.

When we first started dating, when we first started to realize that we were falling in love, that this was different, we casually joked that whomever should break the other one's heart first had to, as a form of consolation, give the other a pack of Twizzlers, as they were very good. T was very afraid to fall in love. And although he was the first one to say he loved me, again, casually as we crossed the street in the East village, he'd still refused to say it again for months, an act which hurt and confused me at the time.

Four years later, and just as casually as we'd slipped into love, he brought my world crashing down. Twizzlers, I'm afraid, really won't cut it.

So this is what it feels like to have your heart broken. My heart is broken. It was broken by some one I used to know.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

At some point

I will be able to express my feelings about this week in a logical, cohesive and meaningful way.

Not now, though.