Monthly Archives: August 2016

Always Singing

Dad asked where your ukulele was. I told him Scott has it, out in Portland. He showed me a catalog he got in the mail, really cool ukuleles, and wondered if Scott would want a new one. I told him the one he has is kind of crappy, but it means the world to him.

I heard you singing, after that. The same song…

I roll the window down.  Close my eyes and breathe in. 

…over and over. You did your own rendition, slightly different from the way Ben Gibbard wrote it. Maybe you didn’t know all the notes, or the right words.

Then looking upwards, I strain my eyes and try to see the difference between shooting stars and satellites...

Maybe you just liked your way better. I understand those tiny, subtle changes. I wonder if you did. Such a quiet song. Happy, really, and melancholy. Like you. Relieved.

“Do they collide?” I ask and you smile. With my feet on the dash the world doesn’t matter.

You tried playing your ukulele, those few weeks you were home, before the end. I remember watching you, listening, without you knowing. You got to the end of a song, and the ukulele kind of just fell away, your face falling too. The music wasn’t helping.

When you feel embarrassed, I’ll be your pride. When you need directions, I’ll be the guide…

Your voice always cracked at the high note, not because you couldn’t reach it, but because you liked it better that way. It’s more beautiful that way, you told me. Perfection isn’t beautiful.

...For all time. For all time.


As bits and pieces hit me, I emailed notes to myself on my cell, hoping it would be enough. Hoping if it wasn’t, I’d have the start of something. But I still heard you singing all night, in my dreams. All morning, as I went about my chores. I see your smile, right now. My goofy kid. My sad, sorry, hurting kid. Now it’s all here, on this page, in my words, and I’m hoping you’ll go away for a little bit. Forgive me for that, but there you have it.

(Passenger Seat, Death Cab for Cutie)




Filed under Life's honest moments

Circus in my head

Once again, I almost made this a private post, but I (apparently) stuck to my pact. Now it’s out there in all its glory. It makes me feel better to let it loose, but you are under no obligation to read it, no matter how much you love me. K?

Know what a calliope sounds like? (If you don’t, go here.) That joyful, slightly creepy, always manic music is how my brain feels.


I’m happy. I have a good life, a wonderful husband, good kids, adorable grandkids, a nice home. Lots of friends and family who love me. I’ve another book coming out in October. A fabulous literary agent shopping my masterpiece to publishers. I’m going to Europe in March with my parents and brothers. Day-to-day existence is full of writing and lunches with friends, floating in the pool. And laundry. I joke around on FB. I sparkle and shine and laugh. I seem fine. Like I’m adjusting. Processing. Living. And I am.

I know I’m obsessed with Stranger Things lately, but there is an Upside Down to the happiness. A world where all the light is dark, all the pure is tainted; a world where the monsters lurk. It squishes me, wrings every ounce of light out of me. It makes me feel like a fraud, because how in the hell can I, in any stretch of the imagination, even consider being happy when my son is gone? When I failed him so utterly? When he had it so hard and then died all alone? When he won’t get married and have children, a career. Such simple wants, my son had. It doesn’t matter if the choices I made, the things I did helped him to survive a few years more; it was all the things I did wrong that cost us him in the end.

My logical brain knows that’s all bullshit. It tells me I did all I could, his choices were on him, I fought harder for him than he did for himself. There isn’t a platitude I haven’t consoled myself with. It’s just when the Upside Down gets me, it gets me, and no amount of logic or love can set me free. Because no one knows how I feel. No one. Because I’m the one who who never gave up. I’m the one who took him to doctors and meetings and physical therapy sessions. I’m the one who brought him home again when the darkness fell so hard he couldn’t see. I’m the one who stood outside his door that morning, playful and hoping to make him smile, asking if he was alive in there. I’m the one who opened the door and found him. Me. Alone. I can’t unsee him lying there. I can’t unfeel that “NO!” ripped from my throat. The panicked 911. My son is dead. My son is dead. How did I miss the signs? How didn’t I know this was a possibility? I let down my guard. I got comfortable. “I got this. No problem. We’ve weathered worse.” There is nothing worse. Nothing.

And then there’s the no-feeling. That’s the worst of all. I’m happy, I guess. I’m sad, I guess. It all seems to have happened to someone else. “Oh, that’s a shame. Really sad.” It almost feels as if he was never here to begin with, as if he’s fading away and nothing I do can alter that. I can’t even cry. What am I crying for? I feel nothing.

These things hit me and sometimes last a moment, sometimes days. I’m exhausted. And really, that fucking calliope needs to shut the hell up, already.


Filed under Life's honest moments

My Grandmother’s China

I was closer to my maternal grandmother; no surprise where I come from. In my family, the women tended to stay closer to their mothers’ family than their fathers’. We lived with my mother’s parents for many years, in an upstairs/downstairs house in Paterson, NJ. Sunday dinners were a given. Even after we moved, we saw them weekly, at least. Gads, I love them so much. And I miss them everyday.

My dad’s parents were a little distant with us. Things were more polite in Nonnie and Grandaddy’s house. We visited for an hour or two, and then went home to run wild. My two girl cousins (daughters of their daughters) lived next door and a couple of blocks from these grandparents, and most likely had the same kind of relationship I had with my mother’s mother. At birthdays, they got specially selected gifts (probably orchestrated by their own mothers, I realize as an adult) and I got a card with cash in it. I’ll never forget the doll my cousin Susan got for her birthday one year.


Madame Alexander Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

I fell in love with this doll, and wanted one so badly. But my birthday had already passed, and it was too late. I wasn’t a sulker, but I was all of maybe seven and I’m pretty certain my tremendous grief over this doll was apparent all over my adorable face. That day, days, weeks later, I can’t remember anymore, my Nonnie slipped me a $20 and told me to buy the doll.

For all I know, my parents had given her the money and told her to say it was from her, but I don’t think so. Nonnie had no money of her own, so she had to have taken it from somewhere without my grandfather knowing (he’d never have given it to her–another story for another time, and not as bad as it sounds. Honest.) I’ll never forget that burst of light inside my little-girl heart the moment she gave me that $20 bill–she really did love me as much as she did my other female cousins.

I don’t remember spending many occasions alone with with my dad’s parents, there were probably more than I recall, but I do remember that Nonnie and I would always have tea together in special cups. “One day,” she always told me, “these will be yours.”


“One day” came shortly after my first husband, Brian, died in a motorcycle accident, a month before our second child was born. Nonnie had a bad heart, and things had been going downhill for her for some time. She was in the hospital when Brian died. When she got home, I went to visit her. She’d been told “Don’t make Terri cry!” And how hard she tried to hold it together when she saw me, my sweet Nonnie. She took my hand and squeezed it, tears welling but not falling. I hugged her and told her it was okay to cry, but she still didn’t. She’d promised.

Nonnie died shortly after my son was born. She never got to see him. I was trapped in such tremendous grief and fear for the future, the china was lost in that deep pit I unintentionally sacrificed a year of my life to. By the time I remembered the china, it was long gone. Packed up and sent to Florida for use in my grandfather’s condo there.

Somewhere along the years, my mom told me the significance of that china, and why Nonnie wanted me to have it over all the other cousins. When Dad was in college and Mom was home being the fiancee, she and Nonnie used to go to the movies. The china was a promotion–free piece with every ticket purchase. Nonnie and Mom collected that china together. Nonnie and I had tea in those very cups. And they were gone. Or so I thought.

After Nonnie’s death, my grandfather did what most men of his generation and heritage do–he found another woman. It wasn’t that he hadn’t loved my Nonnie, it was simply that he didn’t know how to be alone. Gertie was great. We all loved her right from the start, despite our loyalties. She was such a sweet person with a little-girl voice and an always sunny personality. When she heard the story about the china, she made it her mission to get it back for me. It took her a while, but while in Florida with my grandfather, she packed it all up and sent it to me. Every piece. See why we all loved her?

Years later, I felt kind of bad that I got all the china. There was so much of it! Mom and Nonnie must have gone to the movies a lot. I sent my cousin Susan the sugarbowl and creamer. It meant so much to her. I should probably send something to Kim, and my sister Karen, too.

This morning, I was feeling pretty sad. It happens, after a weekend spent with family. It reminds me of who’s missing, of who will always be missing, and…I have to get over that. Scrolling through FB this morning, I came across a friend’s post about the china his family used during his childhood, and how he’s collecting it again. It made me remember my own china, and the story that went with it. The story bloomed the love out of mind but ever in the heart. I really needed that today. So thank you, Nonnie. And thank you, Lou. Today will be better now.



Filed under Family

America, the Beautiful?

I usually keep my political opinions to Facebook, where I have few qualms about speaking my mind. But yesterday, I backed down from getting into it with a very beloved friend. All who know me will agree, I’m generally a peacekeeper. I kept the peace yesterday. Today, not so much.

I’m not going to extol the virtues of Hillary Clinton. Those of you who don’t like her–even feel you hate her–have your reasons. Right. Wrong. Doesn’t matter. Advocating her election isn’t what this is about. It’s about trying to understand why any rational human being would support Donald Trump. I am genuinely more flummoxed by the day. I don’t buy the, “I just can’t vote Clinton” in any of its forms. What are Trump supporters FOR, not against. That’s what I need to know. I need to have hope that, should it happen, America will land on its feet.

And let me go on the record before you read any further–I would love to know why you are FOR him. Any “I hate Hillary” comments will be ignored, as will name-calling and derision.

I genuinely don’t understand veterans standing behind Trump, not only are his plans for the military a fantasy, but the healthcare reforms alone will essentially privatize the health care for men and woman already fighting for the care they earned, and desperately need. And recently, the disrespect he showed to not only Humayun Khan, but retired vet, Lt. Col Louis Dorfman, who presented Trump with his Purple Heart, is unconscionable. Not only did Trump not realize his disrespect, but neither did Dorfman. How can that be? Is it a copy? (It was a copy, by the way, despite Trump’s fantasy retelling.) He always wanted one and this was much easier? Am I the only one who sees that disrespect? Trump didn’t serve (as a matter of fact, he had several deferments during Viet Nam) and yet he disparages Sen. John McCain for having been captured. I’d have had to admit respect for the man if he–in MY fantasy world–handed it back to the Lt. Colonel with a, “You served. You earned this. I didn’t, but thank you for the honor.” No, he pockets it and then uses it as a prop in his speech.

Christians, this one really flummoxes me. Does no one see he’s suddenly claiming his devotion to get them to feel good about voting for him? He isn’t Christian in word or deed. And don’t tell me I can’t know what’s in his heart. He shows what’s in there every time he opens his mouth, every time he disparages yet another category of people he doesn’t identify with. You know it’s true. There isn’t a single, rational person who can claim otherwise. And Catholics, how do they rationalize voting for him when the Pope has made his opinion clear? (To be fair to both Trump and Pope Francis, the pontiff has refrained from a direct statement.)

And women–how can any woman vote for this man? His misogyny is legendary, and he has no idea he’s a misogynist. That’s the scariest part. Women have their place in Donald’s world, and it’s abundantly clear what that place is. Pro-choice? Pro-life? He won’t commit, so whichever side of the fence you’re on, don’t count on him being on yours. He claims pro-life but this, like his faithful devotion, is a new thing. He showed some spark of humanity when, early on, he said Planned Parenthood did more than perform abortions, that it provided necessary services for women–and yet now he says he will defund the program entirely.

Those able to look beyond all this because they believe he will be a more fiscally agreeable choice, please understand that whether he’s had more success or failure, paying partial debts to other countries (as he’s done with countless contractors) isn’t going to happen. A country isn’t a business, no matter how much anyone wishes it were so. And, really, does anyone truly believe Trump’s business ethics are commendable? I suppose it’s always fiscally advantageous to pay $2000, when the contracted price had been $8000 (random numbers here.) Because he can. Because his lawyers will drag litigation through court for years. But is that the way YOU want to be treated? How about you work your 40 hour week and then your employer says, “I’m only paying you for 16 hours. Take it or leave it.” Or how about the social security check you depend upon suddenly gets cut in half? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Small businesses struggling to keep afloat? He’s not on your team. The tax benefits and healthcare repeals aren’t going to make your life any easier, just hard in a different way. He has no real intention of bringing jobs back to the US. It’s not economically feasible.  And do you really, really think Trump is going to close his factories in China and Bangladesh? (<–old, but…) Really?

So why is anyone still behind this man when it’s clear even to his own party that he’s completely unqualified? The horrifically sad conclusion I must come to is that this country still harbors far too much racism and misogyny. And fear. So much fear. Fear of the Other. Those most avid about Trump are afraid, and his team preys on that fear. They breed it. People who were afraid of Obama, are afraid of Clinton, afraid of same-sex marriage and transgendererd people they didn’t even know existed ten years ago using the same bathroom they do, are afraid. They cheer for the wall Mexico will supposedly pay for, and the deportation or registering of Muslims, and rolling back the Marriage Equality and Healthcare (flawed, agreed, but better for many with the wrong economic status and/or skin color) Acts, because they are afraid. And that makes them angry. So, so angry.

They want “the good old days,” when men were men, women knew their place, and homosexuality was in the closet. Things like child pornography and domestic violence didn’t exist. Not in the good old days. In the good old days, we could all afford a house, a car, our 2.5 children, and a new fridge when the old one conked out.

Oh, mercy.

You didn’t want to be a woman in the good old days. You had no rights to your children, your home, any of your marital assets should the marriage–gasp!–fail. A wife had no legal standing in the event of marital rape–oh, right…that didn’t exist either. Neither did addiction. The town-drunk was a funny guy, harmless and endearing. Don’t be a child with a disability in the good old days, where there was no such thing as mainstreaming, your child who was likely institutionalized, sometimes lobotomized and/or sterilized. Don’t be black in the good old days. Or gay. Or anything other than white, male, middle/upper class, straight, and Christian. Or those who aspire to be at all costs.

But the fact is, America has never been a white, middle/upper class, Christian country. It just played one on TV. Were there Cleavers and Griffiths and Brady Bunches? Sure. But they’ve never represented the majority, or even the “norm.” There is a reason why the misfit is as universally beloved as the hero in any story. Most of us identify as the misfit, even if we want to be the hero. Even heroes identify as misfits.

I’m not changing any minds. I’m just getting it off my chest. We don’t have to make America great again. It is great. We have problems. We’ve always had problems. That’s what comes of a vast country housing the multitudes of ethnicity, religion, and individuals claiming the most diverse ideals, identities and cultures within cultures in the world. Whatever our failures, our injustices done, our tragedies endured, Americans rise up and make noise. We don’t fear, we conquer fear.

This is what the 2016 election is about, at its core, why Donald Trump won the candidacy when there are many, many Republicans far more qualified. Put every other policy and scandal aside and see this bottom-line core. The strides made over the last few years have scared people afraid of change, of losing their place at the top of the food chain, or their grasp for it. It’s time to topple that fear, not feed it. The America we live in, the America we love, the America that has made mistakes and will make more but won’t belly up to fear is in jeopardy of falling backward and doing exactly that.The hatred Trump has bred, the division, the fear, the backwards bounds he promises whether it’s socially or fiscally, nationally or internationally will bleed the United States to a husk.

Trump won’t feel the fall. To be fair, neither will Hillary Clinton. They’ll both still be rich and powerful. We’re the ones who will feel it in every aspect of our lives. Every one of us.




Filed under Political

Ind’tale trailer fun

After I got my faboo review for Dreaming August, Ind’tale sent me an offer to get in on a trailer they put out once a month. (<– if you want to see it.) I took them up on it, and this is the result. Fun, huh?

Dreaming August


Filed under Romance