Thursday, October 11, 2007

An Update

Category: Life

My cousin Brian, who I wrote about in my last entry, died at 12:05PM October 5, 2007. His wake was Monday and his funeral was yesterday. I cannot imagine what it was like for his wife, daughters, sisters and mother to watch him commit a protracted alcohol-induced suicide. As a cousin, I found it painful to see and my heart goes out to all of those who love Brian. I didn't say "loved" because we don't stop loving when someone dies.

The truth is that my memories of Brian are ones of childhood. I didn't really know him as an adult. I learned a lot about him over the past few days. For instance he was a member of the Elk's club and had been honored as "Elk of the Year" back in the 90's. His family and friends talk about his cooking, especially his kielbasa and the baking of cakes. Apparently his cakes were legendary amongst his family and friends. He had a vegetable garden and grew tomatoes which he shared as well.

One particularly endearing story was that he liked to feed the birds and the squirrels, but was none too happy when the squirrels tried to hone in on the birds' food. He didn't like that they would scurry up the pole on which the birdfeeder sat and eat what was meant for the birds, while they had a perfectly good block of food meant for them, down below. The remedy to this was for Brian to grease the pole so that the squirrels couldn't make it to the top. Of course this provided a continual source of amusement as the critters would attempt their pole climbing only to get to a certain height before sliding down, down, down.

Some of the Elks and some of Brian's friends got up and talked about him, sharing silly and/or heartfelt memories. Brian was loved. I wonder if he knew that. He had a large circle of friends. I wonder if he knew how important he was to them. I wish he could have had a "George Bailey" moment where he was made acutely aware of the positive impact he had on peoples' lives. Perhaps he would have chosen a different path. I wish we could all have those moments in our lives when we need them. I believe we would make different choices if we knew we mattered. I certainly would like to know if I matter.

Brian.... YOU mattered. You were and are loved. You will be missed. I hope you can see that, now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My cousin, Brian

Current mood: scared
Category: Life

I love my cousin, Brian. He's the closest to me in age, just six months apart (he's older). We used to play together as kids. As a young adolescent girl, I had a crush on him. I wonder if he remembers this. When we were 9 or 10, we would disappear from family parties and walk around with our arms around each other. Oh we knew the whole, "you can't marry your first cousin" thing. We were just playing. It was safe and innocent. My most salient memory of doing this with Brian was at Aunt Ada & Uncle Jim's house. They lived on the lagoon in Toms River then and there were some wetlands down the block. I think it was the occasion of Grampy's 100th birthday and we took a walk to the wetlands and stood in the cattails holding hands and talking. I had no idea what Brian's reality was at that moment, nor did I know what it would become later.

My cousin Brian has not had an easy life. In fact, some of it has been downright heartrending. He and I were close as kids and though as adults we had contact only at family parties, weddings & funerals, we always sought each other out to catch up and talk. He has always been special to me, although I am not sure he knows that or how much.

Brian was raised in an indescribably abusive household with his two sisters, one older and one younger. His father was a raging alcoholic who was a violent, beligerent, ugly drunk. (I didn't know this until I was well into my adulthood and I do not pretend to know what he or anyone in that household truly experienced.) One would think that kind of environment would harden a person's heart. Not Brian's.

In high school, he fell in love; head over heals and over the moon in love with Janine. They adored each other and truly lived for each other and even a "blind man running for his life" could see it plain as day. Their sweet young love had to grow up rapidly when Janine became pregnant. They had no money and no plan, but they had a beautiful daughter, Amanda. Their life as a family was a struggle of which I know very little, but what I do know is that the love held them together and gave them what they needed to keep going.

Soon there was another daughter, Jessica, equally beautiful to her big sister. A few years later, their son Brian was born. Each addition made things harder, I'm sure. But every time I saw them they were smiling and enveloped in a palpable love. It was amazing.... and enviable.

Somewhere along the way, Brian started drinking and ultimately became an alcoholic, like his father. This caused a whole new set of challenges for the young family. Alcoholism is insidious and its tendriles reach deep into the lives of those it touches. No one remains unaffected.

Brian's trade as an electrician was greatly effected by his alcoholism. He couldn't keep jobs, and soon he found it harder and harder to get jobs. Eventually, it became such that he was at the mercy of IBEW assignments, and even those became sparse. All of this meant that Janine had to work that much harder.

There were other life circumstances which affected the family too and it got harder and harder and harder. The truth is I don't know even a miniscule amount of what they lived through. But still, no matter what their lives were like, when you saw Brian and his family it was all about loving each other.

A little less than two years ago, this family was struck with an enormous tragedy. Brian, the youngest, was killed in an accident on his quad ATV. He was 21. The wake and funeral for this young man was one of the utterly sad occasions I had experienced to that day. It is an understatement to say that his parents and sisters were devastated. There are no words to describe the enormity of despair with which they were faced. There was much weeping, crying and sobbing to be sure. The extended family came from far and near to support them however they could. Whatever we did, was feeble in the face of such a tragedy. Miraclulously, in the midst of it all, that deep, abiding, steadfast love was still tangibly there and somehow bigger than ever.

I wish everyone who reads this could see a love like Brian Janine and his family share, or better yet, experience it. I know I have not had it. I came close once, but didn't recognize it until it was gone. I will always regret squandering what may have been my only chance at it. It's the only regret I have in my life.

OK. So why am I writing this? I am writing this because right now, my dear cousin Brian is in a hospital with liver failure and toxic blood. He is clinging to life, and he has said, apparently more than once to more than one person that he doesn't want to live anymore. I have to tell you ... I don't know what to think about that... or what to feel. I am 800 miles away and helpless. Realistically, if I were right next to him, I would still be helpless. I know this. But being there is comfort in some strange, sick, inexplicable way.

I want him to know that the goodness in him which is the love he has for his wife and children does not go unnoticed. I want him to know that the innocent little sparks of adult feelings that I had for him when I was a child are precious to me. I want him to know that HE is precious to me. Regardless of time or miles, he is precious to me. I want him to know that all of us who love him want him to choose life. I want him to choose life. I want him to choose WHOLE life. I don't want him to just recover physically only to maintain his alcoholism until it claims him later. I want him to choose to live fully, to feel all of the pain that he has been trying to keep at bay with booze. I want him to know he will survive the pain. I want him to know that he will survive memories of his childhood. I want him to know that the love will help him... support him... sustain him. I want him to know what I think he doesn't know, which is that HE is loveable, and valuable, and good, and wanted, and deserving. Mostly I want him to know that no matter the demons of his past, his soul remains perfect and innocent, the way it was created and that he can reclaim it all. It will hurt, it will suck, it will be really difficult, but he is capable! I want him to know that it was harder to drown his shit in alcohol for decades than it will be to work through the truth.

Choose life, my dear cousin. Choose LIFE! I love you.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Current mood: pensive
Category: Romance and Relationships

I have a little addition to my previous blog entry. The guy responded to me with: "LOL I read some of what you wrote andI think I get the idea. Best of luck to you."

I responded with, "God forbid you read the whole thing! Talk about lazy!" And then, I blocked him.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Trials & Tribulations of

The trials and tribulations of
Current mood: amused
Category: Romance and Relationships

I have been a subscriber on for almost a year. My profile has always been intelligent and playful. I have the same main picture there as I do here. For the first six months, I reset the counter for profile views. For the last 5.5 months, during which, as of this writing I was viewed 1,031 times, I did not. My subscription runs out during the first week of September and I am not planning to renew. Why? Because I am fed up.

So, last week I changed a few things on my profile in anticipation of my departure. My headline used to read, "Snopes! No urban legend here. Fabulous woman looking for wonderful man." Now it reads, " Fabulous woman looking for wonderful man has given up. My profile has been viewed over 1000 times in 6 months. I'm done."

I also added one paragraph to my "Intro." It's the second one. My introductory essay reads:

Curvy? A few extra pounds? Big & Beautiful? What do these describe? I can't figure it out. I'll never be a skinny mini, but I'll workout with you & improve. OK? Exercising together is more fun! I am much more interested in depth of character than "looks" anyway! You?

Here's what I've learned from almost one year on that 1) men don't know a good thing when it hits them in the face. 2) They cut you off before you have a chance, 3) don't respond politely when you wink at them, 4) communicate in ways in writing that they would NEVER do face-to-face before knowing someone and 5) are ridiculously unaware of the fact that women of substance are far more passionate than those little things who think they just have lay there! And so I am done. I give up. You win. I will be alone and happy rather than searching and miserable from multiple rejection. It is most definitely your loss!!

I know that I'm fun, smart, playful, sensual & passionate. I know I want someone who is all of those things too. I like to be silly and serious... sometimes simultaneously!

I'm honest & strive to behave with integrity. Ask me anything! I want people to be as open with me as I am. I'll ask you open ended questions & want more than 1-word answers. Give me all the details because they are part of your story. We are the sum of our experiences which are made of moments of details. If we know how we got to be who we are, we can decide who we will become & where we're going.

I love my time with friends & my alone time. I hope you do too. It's important that you have interests of your own. Of course I may want to learn about them, so I can learn about you. OK? I hope you get into some of mine too! But I won't hone in, unless invited!

I would like it if you were comfortable enough with yourself to enjoy personal alone time. I am a deep thinker, very introspective & analytical. So, we can have some regular time alone, then when we spend time together we will have experiences and thoughts to share.

Mostly, I want man with whom to share mutual respect... one who I accept for who he is... I want who will accept me for who I am and also accept all of the love, passion and life I have to share!

Looking at things from the positive is so important to me. How do you see things? Still reading? Drop me an e-mail

I think that is a pretty good intro, sans that second paragraph. And it got me nowhere. Well, oddly enough since I have made these alterations, I have gotten more responses than I had in months. This one today took the cake. It really irked me so I thought I would share the message and my response here in my blog. Here goes:

The subject of the message from this dude was "5 things"
you didn't ask for a comment but i did

5 things: are probably right, but could be said the same as woman and while you are right, we really don't want to hear it
2. the plain and simple truth is that men and women are visual creatures, so either you are attracted to someone or not, you have to get someone interested enough to get past the pic to read the profile and then have something in the profile to make them interested, you have too many pics, the one of you standing is nice as is the head shot with the hair in your face
3. winks are the lazy man's or woman's attempt to gain interest, if one is indeed interested, write an e-mail, invest the time
4. you are correct, a lot of asshole men out there, don't think woman respond as crudely as a asshole man would
5. sounds like you are a little bitter

don't give up

Here was my response:
You are right. I didn't ask for a comment and don't appreciate yours. are probably right, but could be said the same as woman and while you are right, we really don't want to hear it

What you care to hear is none of my concern. I said what I needed to say. Deal with it or shut up.

2. the plain and simple truth is that men and women are visual creatures, so either you are attracted to someone or not, you have to get someone interested enough to get past the pic to read the profile and then have something in the profile to make them interested, you have too many pics, the one of you standing is nice as is the head shot with the hair in your face

Visual is fine, but solely visual is shallow and childish. You have as many pics of yourself as I do. Just because I added some of my photography to show my creativity doesn't mean I have too many. Who are you to judge me anyway?

3. winks are the lazy man's or woman's attempt to gain interest, if one is indeed interested, write an e-mail, invest the time

Could you possibly be any more judgmental? Your profile is loaded with "mightier than thou" comments. You are more arrogant than the people you purport to despise, just about different things. Your tone is attacking and aggressive. Until I added my "giving up" paragraph this week, my profile was intelligent and playful, but that wasn't good enough, because men here on don't get passed their primeval brain and into their cerebral cortex long enough to know that chemistry is far more than looks. People become more beautiful or more ugly as you get to know them based on their personality and character.

Again I say: Who are you to judge? Get over yourself.

4. you are correct, a lot of asshole men out there, don't think woman respond as crudely as a asshole man would

This comment is unintelligible and grammatically incorrect. It is senseless, but I believe I am intelligent enough to extrapolate the meaning.

Yes. Men can be assholes... but I still adore them. Women can be assholes too and I couldn't live without some of my friends.

For some reason you thought your comments would teach me something. They did. You are obviously one of the assholes.

5. sounds like you are a little bitter

Bitter? Absolutely not! Resigned would be a better descriptor. A bitter person would not choose happiness in their solitude.

I believe you are the bitter one. Your profile indicates quite a large chip on your shoulder about the world. Perhaps you should think about how what you say is a projection onto others about how you feel about yourself. Read some Freud if you don't understand that last sentence. Oh wait! You don't like to read. You'd rather watch the movie! And yet you judge others for winking rather than emailing and call it lazy. How hypocritical. Reading isn't risky. Winking and/or emailing someone here on is risking yourself.

Sorry if I used big words. There are on-line dictionaries to help you. Oh... and there's "Shift" key on your computer to capitalize letters appropriately as well as punctuation marks with which to end sentences, among other uses.

Next time, keep your opinion to yourself. You are no expert on anything and had no business saying what you did. I will give up on if I wish. Don't tell me or anyone else what to do. It is not your place.

Have a good day and please do not respond.

These are the kinds of things I have gotten. Who do these people think they are? It amazes, irks and on some sick level amuses me, so I thought I'd put it here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

"A Life Changing Moment"

There are things that happen in a person's life that changes them forever. 10:45AM Eastern Daylight Time of July 3, 2007 will permanently be etched in my memory. It was the time that I saw my father transition to eternity and it changed the landscape of my universe. Nothing will be the same from this point forward.

Mothers and fathers are the constants in a person's life and even though I have lived 46 years 7 months and 24 days, it doesn't make it any easier that my father has died. I know that so many other people have lost their parents as children or due to tragic circumstances. I know how utterly blessed I am to have had my father with me until now. I know how blessed my father was to have lived for over 84 years.

My father led a full life that was mostly not so easy. He was the oldest of four children. There were two younger brothers and a younger sister. He was seven years old when The Great Depression hit and by the time he was twelve, his family was so poor that they needed him to quit school (in the sixth grade) and find work to help support the family. That was just what he did, too.

Work was how my father defined himself. Butcher, shopkeeper, salesman, bartender, banquet manager were among his jobs. Usually he wore two of those hats at the same time - one by day and one by night. Occasionally he had a day job and two part-time bartending jobs. He did this to provide for his family and make it so that his wife, my mother, would not have to work and could stay home and raise their children. I'm not sure how much my brother, sister and I appreciated this as we were growing up, but I can say with utmost certainty that we admired and appreciated it as adults looking back.

Dad's retirement wasn't a bed of roses either. Having so many jobs throughout is working life, he didn't have a pension to supplement his Social Security. He and Mom struggled sometimes... a lot of times. He started fighting with the Veteran's Administtration for more benefits. He was in the Navy during WWII and being on a destroyer (USS Thorn DD-647) exposed to asbestos for four years gave him asbestosis which eventally led to lung cancer. He also had a 22mm gun blow up in his face leaving him with shrapnel in his skull and eye. He fought the VA for years getting incremental increases in his disability benefits after he won each battle. Finally, less than a year ago, he got 100% disability benefits and a substantial increase in compensation. The extra money made a huge difference for Mom & Dad and they didn't have to worry so much about finances. Unfortunately, Dad did not really get to enjoy this financial peace of mind, because he was battling lung cancer. In only a few short months afterward, he has died. Now my mother will have to fight battle with the VA to obtain survivor benefits. And the financial worries pass to her.

My dad raised us to be strong, independent thinkers who would work hard if we needed to (although he always wished us easier lives than he had). He didn't want us to be afraid of anything or believe that were beneath anyone. He talked to everyone the same, whether they had a "higher station" in life or not. He always shot from the hip and encouraged us to "tell it like it is" no matter what "it" was.

Dad yelled a lot. In fact, he always yelled. But that didn't mean he was angry. It's just who he was. He yelled at everyone - friend, foe, people in authority, the old, the young, the guilty, the innocent. It was his communication style - sometimes hard to take, but consistent.

The big thing was that even though he yelled, he had a big heart. He would do whatever was in his power to help whoever needed help in any way. If you needed something fixed, Dad would fix it - even if it meant making it worse in the process. If you needed a ride, he'd drive. If you needed company he'd visit. If you needed some item and he had an extra one, he'd deliver it. If he didn't have it, he'd remember your need and pick it up while he was out. He'd remember what gum you chewed and buy you a pack (or a package of 10 packs). He'd accompany neighbors to the doctor, visit them in the hospital, attend their wakes and funerals. He was the "Mayor" of his block and everyone knew him. Dad could be counted on by his family, friends and neighbors.

All of these things and so much more that I cannot now put into words, were part of the man who was my father, my role model, my teacher, the thorn in my side, the man who told me I was as good as anyone else, that I could learn anything I wanted to and that I could be whatever I chose. He taught me to be skeptical sometimes, and cynical about government. He said that no law could replace or was more important than common sense.

I will miss our debates. I will miss the stories of his youth and my crazy ancestors. I will miss his guidance. I will even miss the yelling. And for sure, my universe will not be the same without him in it.

I love you, Daddy. Thank you for everything.