Things haven't been so good in Gia-Ville. My heart hurts, my head is confused, my life feels empty and practically meaningless.
I'm a fucking mess.
Wowza!!! What an upbeat, feel good, start to a story. Bet you all are just dying to keep reading riiiiiiiiiight?
Well, it might be worth it to read on.
Writing it out makes me feel better for a little while, so humor me, do me a solid and keep reading.
My favorite person ever, my heroine, my whole heart was my Grandma. My Mom's Mom.
She was also bi-polar, manic depressive and completely out of her fucking mind.
I, however, never knew that. I was never privy to her destructive "ups".
I seem to remember once when she stayed over my house, I must've been six, I asked her why she wasn't getting out of bed at all for like days. She said she wasn't feeling well and needed to rest.
Made sense to me. When I was sick, I stayed home from school, in bed watching Mike Douglas and Match Game.
The "downs" were less destructive and easier to conceal I guess.
My Grandma loved me more than anything in her life.
I know it because she told me.
I don't want offend any of my family, but I remember it like it was five minutes ago. She and I were sitting in our basement on the couch and she took my face in her soft hands and turned it to hers.
"Listen Gia, you need to know this. You are my favorite. My absolute favorite. Don't go around telling your cousins, or anyone else in the family fuhgodsakes. I love them very much, but you are my favorite. Can you keep that a secret between us?"
I told you she was crazy.
But, at six or seven years old, it went into the vault and I've never put it on paper until now.
I knew it was monumental somehow.
It made my heart leap and soar.
It was everything.
I was eight when they found her dead, in her tiny apt. of a heart attack. She was always taking off, going crazy places at crazy times, so when my Mom and Aunt hadn't heard from her in a week, they didn't panic.
The neighbors in the upstairs apartment found her.
She was dead for three days.
Her heart gave out most likely they said, because of the multiple shock treatments she received over many years.
Those were the days of modern science when they just strapped her down, jammed a rubber ball into her mouth and hit her with all the voltage she could handle.
Wide awake, no comfort, on a cold metal table.
Sometimes she shit or piss herself.
Sometimes she'd get a little piece of her lip caught between the ball and her teeth and chomp a piece off.
Sometimes it's even fucking worked.
I mean short term memory completely gone, but she wasn't heading home to guzzle bleach again for the 12th time.
They tried every drug imaginable.
Lithium was the newest go-to miracle.
It didn't work for Grandma.
My Grandfather tried doctors all around the world.
Nothing worked for Grandma.
My Father had the incredibly brave, yet morbid task of identifying the body of his beloved mother in law, whom he affectionately referred to as "Headsy" because her head was so fucked up.
She would just laugh and punch his shoulder and say, "Bobby, you're so bad!"
My Dad gives great nicknames.
So yeah, Dad had to go identify my Grandma.
To this day, he's never discussed that the details out loud.
My Mother and Aunt, hell, the whole family was devastated.
I was devastated.
I was eight years old.
It was exactly at that time, I immediately began to obsess about killing myself.
I told no one.
It became abundantly clear that the hurt I was experiencing was too much for me to bear.
Plus, what kind of world was it going to be without my Grandma?
I stealthy snuck a steak knife out of the kitchen and hid it in my top dresser drawer.
Everyday I would take the knife out and press the tip to where I thought my heart was.
I'd apply a little pressure and a little more, and think,
"Just a little harder, you can do it."
Then I'd chicken out and hide the knife back beneath my undies.
I was eight and I felt I had nothing left to live for.
That's a fact.
Then, little by little my newish baby sister began to help me heal. I loved her so much, it slowly dawned on me if I ended it all, I wouldn't get to squeeze her and smooch my face against the arm chair with kisses until she screamed with laughter.
I wouldn't be able to lay next to her sweet little three year old, baby powder scented body and point to the little owl painted on her wall.
"Where's Mr. Owl Jill?"
She would turn her huge brown eyes towards Mr. Owl, smile, and point her delicate little index finger right at him.
She was a genius.
Time and Sissy began to take away the sting.
But the deepest most damaging pain has never fully gone away.
The ache, the throbbing. The fear of being alone, losing all your love bundled into one human being.
I live with it everyday.
I remember asking Grandma once if she would be able to come to my wedding if I married John Lennon in a few years.
She counted on her fingers and said, "Oh absolutely, it shouldn't be longer than 12 or 15 years from now. I'll be young enough to be there."
I was so excited! I thought Grandma would be waaaaaaaaay too old to come to my wedding.
After she died in her very early 50s, I never again thought about getting married.
Never dreamed about the white dress, the cake, the husband.
Years later I married a man I loved, to get him a green card.
Honestly, one of the best things I've ever done in my life.
He deserved to be a citizen.
He deserved not to live here in fear.
I wore a black Nicole Miller dress I returned the next day.
We got married on a Tuesday evening, in a judges office on Larkfield road.
I'll always love him. He's my best friend.
We didn't stay together because of stupid stuff. Mostly, he wanted to be in California, and I wouldn't and couldn't go.
I eventually opened my heart to a new relationship.
I've been with my beautiful, loving Old Man ever since.
I'll never get married again.
It has to do with Grandma.
That one is a recent epiphany.
One of the bonuses of having a kooky Grandma in hind site, is that she would bend rules regularly to appease me and satisfy my ever whim. She had no boundaries when it came to giving me what I wanted. Frankly, I wasn't a demanding kid when it came to things. I liked being at home with my family, and lived on a block with tons of friends, so I was pretty content most of the time.
A deep love of all kinds of music was instilled in me as early as I can remember.
The record player was always stacked with LPs ready to drop.
The radio always on.
In the summer of '70 I turned four and was already nuts for The Beatles. I would sit on the living room floor staring at those record covers for hours.
My mom, being a fantastic artist, would draw little symbols on all my 45s so I'd know which song to put on my record player.
For instance, she sketched a little wine glass on the 45 of "Spill the Wine (Dig that Girl)" by Eric Burdon and War or a little beach scene with an umbrella and waves on my Bobby Darin "Beyond the Sea" 45.
I couldn't read yet, but I was able to ascertain what I felt like grooving to at any given time thanks to my Mommy's brilliance.
In 1970 the planets were apparently aligned just so. The energy of the times just right.
A four year old Gia became completely and utterly obsessed with her beloved Beatles kinda new release "Hey Jude."
I'm talking playing it, listening to it, swaying to it, 15, 20 times in a row.
My poor parents must have been going insane.
Let's face it, I've always been a sound queen, so if it went up to 11, that's what I listened to it at.
Plus, belting it out at the top of my little, but already powerful lungs repeatedly, had to add to my parent's Beatles induced headaches on the reg.
Guess who was the one person that could listen to me march around my room, hairbrush in hand (as a mic) and performing "Hey Jude" till the cows came home?
Yes. Crazy, manic depressive, bipolar, Grandma,
She lived for that shit.
Mommy would take Grandma and me on errands. Maybe she didn't trust us alone together for longer periods of time. It's not the most far out speculation.
Consider how much trouble a manic depressive Grandma with the slightly hyper and certainly mischievous four year that adored kooky grandma could ultimately get into. Mommy made the right decision schlepping us with her.
Except for one little hitch......
I had to always have the car radio on, and "Hey Jude" was being played on NYS AM pop music stations A LOT!
Give or take every 10 minutes or so if you switched back and forth between the stations to avoid commercials. Which for a kid like me who only wanted to hear music, was a must.
"Mommmmmyyyyyyyyyyyy, press the button the man is talking now, peeeeeeeeeze!"
Grandma, my biggest supporter.
"Kathy, she wants to hear music, change the station."
"Alright, alright the two of you, can you gimme one sec? I'm driving here."
...........don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better.........
First I'd squeal like a piglet being murdered, at the top of my lungs, then bounce around the back bench like a seat-belt less lunatic. (What the fuck were seat-belts?)
Let it be Gia?
No way. I was off to the races.
"REMEMBAH TO LET EM INTA YOUAH HEART, THEN YOOOO CAN STAAAART TO MAKE IT BETTAH."
"Hey Jude" is an over seven minute song. And back in the late 60s, early 70's those NY stations played every note.
And me? I HAD to hear every single last one of them.
Grandma would grin like the lunatic she was and clap her hands along with her favorite little moppet's song and subsequent performance.
Mother, bless her soul. Would slightly smile and deal with it, breathing deeply through her nose, staring through the windshield proud and utterly frazzled all at once.
Eventually the song would end and I would smile broadly, feeling energized beyond words.
Yes, at 3 or 4 years old, and even earlier than that, music made me feel what I feel in my heart about music to this very day.
So, another song would come on and Mom would talk to Grandma about what we needed at the supermarket. I'd be singing along in the back, (albeit not as loud as if it was Hey Jude.)
And Grandma would turn towards me, her shining Irish face all smiles and say.
"Sing loud and proud baby, thattaaaaah girl, sing for Grandma and Mommy."
I would. Gladly.
God I loved my Grandma.
Mommy in the meantime navigated the already traffic snarled Long Island streets and avenues.
This was before there was a Stop n Shop on every corner, so Mommy had to travel quite a ways from our hidden little hamlet of Centerport to get to the supermarket, or mall, or the beauty parlor for that matter.
"Mommmmmyyyyyyyyy, press the button the man is talking again, peeeeeeeeeze!"
"Gia Baby, we're almost at the store, relax."
"Oh fuhgodsakes Kathy, press the button for her, we're not there yet!"
........you were made to, go out and get her......
Not making this up.
Me: "THE MINUTE YOOOO LETTA UNDAH YOUR SKIN....."
Mommy: "Oh great. We are literally pulling into a parking space right now Mom! I want to get this shopping done already. Gia, I need to turn off the car, now the radio is going off."
Me: "NOOOOOOOOOOO! Peeeeeeeeeezzzzzeeeee Mommy it's Hey Jude!!"
(Tears welling up. No shit)
Grandma: "Of fuhgodsakes Kathleen Eileen. Jesus Mary and Holy Saint Joseph let this child listen to the song. Let her SING!"
Grandma turned around, "Sing it loud and proud Gia Mary!!!!"
And I would. Right up to the very last fading NAH NAH NAAAAAAAH.
I had the "Judey, Judey, Judey, Judey wooooow-wooooow scream down pat.
Volume at eleven, bouncing on the back bench of a car with no seat belts, no air conditioning and a slightly spiderweb cracked front windshield (that was caused by my noggin hitting said windshield when my Mom's strong arm across the chest didn't work in lieu of missing seat belts.)
And once the last NAH, NAH, NAH NAH, faded, Grandma would clap, and click off the radio and pull me out of the back.
"Now let's go shop, Whaddaya say girls?"
The three of us would carry on with the errands and we always got them done.
My faith in God has waned quite a bit over the years. I blame it all on Catholicism. Ironic I know. The very thing that turned me onto God, systematically broke down any faith I had. I've never felt so cheated by any institution as I have with the Catholic church. The greed. The judgement. The intolerance, elitism, double standards, hatred of gays, disrespect of women. Twisting the supposed words of a peaceful, hippyish, probably married man, who seemed to maybe have conversations with God. Not just twisting the words, but leaving out key passages that bothered the corrupt money grubbing leaders of the church, because the words took away their riches, their land holdings, their power.
Then as time progressed, those church leaders preaching chasteness and celibacy, used their power, intimidation and mind games to rape the children who held them in such high esteem.
And not one or two of them. Hell, not even hundreds of the . Thousands of them!
And those evil, pompous, fuckers covered it up, made excuses and moved the priests around that committed those heinous crimes.
All that respect for the priests I had growing up. Wanting to get on their good side. Assuming they were closer to God than me or anyone for that matter.
All the respect.
It was and is horseshit.
And I'm pissed as hell at Catholicism, because way back when when I had deep loving faith in SOMETHING, it seemed prayer and faith calmed me. My thoughts didn't race as much. I had a unwavering belief that I was here for a reason. That I made a difference, because God was beside me. Maybe even Jesus was his son and he was near me. I didn't even fear death.
Then because I saw what Catholicism had gotten away with all those years. The lies upon more lies. I stopped believing. I stopped praying. I stopped thinking I was here for a reason. How can I matter if God doesn't exists? Who the fuck am I praying to? What is prayer for that matter? Any peace I experienced from this shit called prayer, was me just talking to myself.
As I stated much earlier, I've hit a emotional wall going about 140 mph.
I'm spent. Empty. Constantly on the edge of tears. That awful lump that never leaves my throat, goes on to give me stomach aches.
It sucks. I don't know how else to explain it.
I have an amazing support system.
Help through modern pharmaceuticals.
But nothing's helping. It's just going to have to run it's course. It's just going to take time. This too shall pass. I just wish it wasn't taking so long.
Well, I'm not a very patient person. So I'm looking for something to help speed up the process. And let me tell you, I'm not ready to be strapped to a table like Grandma and get zapped, even though it's much more humane nowadays.
Nuh uh. No thanks. Not quite there yet.
So, I'm going back to basics and giving this prayer thing a shot.
I don't always bless myself before and after like I use to almost compulsively when I was a kid.
I also don't clasp my hands together in prayer position, like I did back then.
(I believed with all my heart, the harder you squeezed your hands together, the better chance God or Jesus heard you.)
Now, I just speak out loud, in the car asking for peace and healing. I pray for everyone I love, I pray for the whole world to get better.
So it's almost like meditation, as it's extremely repetitive almost like a mantra.
My thoughts don't calm, so that sucks. And there's an excellent chance I'm just talking into the air ducts of my car, but I'm trying and I'm not just asking "him(?)" for stuff for me.
Not just Gia, Gia, Gia.
So that's something.
Maybe a step in the right direction.
But see, I'm still Gia, and sometimes when I'm really, really sad? I pull the car over and get a little loud with the air ducts or "him(?)".
I start yelling that I need a mother fucking sign that someone is listening to me.
C'mon, throw me a bone!! Tell you what, God's too busy? What about you Grandma?
I was bestowed these great, insane mental genetics from you.
It's been a long time, and I still can't talk about you without tearing up.
I can't think about you to this day without shaking a little.
I'm still so fucked up because you left me when I was eight.
I wanted to commit suicide at eight years old!! It doesn't get much darker than that.
Writing this thing has me dry heaving at certain intervals.
I just want a tiny glimmer of a speck of something that can tell me this whole thing has some kind of meaning.
That I might feel better someday.
Then I think, who the fuck am I to demand anything like that? Why do I deserve reassurance? I've done some pretty shitty things in my life.
I haven't directly killed anyone or anything.
But, I've done things that I knew would hurt people emotionally and did them anyway.
Selfish shit. Uncaring unthinking shit. Stuff I wish I could go back and change. Change in a big way.
So who the fuck am I to be given a sign that will make poor little me feel better?
I am nobody.
But I'm still asking.
My best friend is a three year old living angel I spend most my days with. She is exquisitely beautiful. All pink pursed lips. Caramel and blond streaked curls. Light greenish eyes highlighted by eyelashes that curl up and touch her delicate eyebrows.
She's a gorgeous little girl. No doubt. No argument. Just a fact.
Lemme tell you a little something about my petite best friend. As GORGEOUS as she is? She has a heart and personality that eclipses her physical beauty.
She is so intrinsically kind, giving and loving, it just melts your heart.
She glows with love and purity. She is sight to behold. She's a young person who I guarantee is going to somehow make this world a better place someday. Directly through her presence. I'm putting this out there right now. You read it here first. She's going to change the world.
I have the honor of taking and picking her up from school every M,W,F.
I miss her when she's at school, but she practices her letters and numbers and creates beautiful artwork as well, so I know it's good for her that her Mama makes me share her with other kids and adult teachers.
I marvel at the way she sits in her seat in the back of my Mini Cooper making small talk and astute observations.
She babbles away about the world around her with no filter, pointing out the beauty that races by her as she gazes out the back window.
"The sky is more bluer than yesterday Gia. It also has more puffy clouds. It makes me more happier that the clouds float in the bluer sky. Maybe that means the flowers will be coming soon. We need more flowers. Yellow and purple ones, but pink ones are my favorites. I can see the trees have seeds on them now, that means the leaves will come back soon and we can go swimming at the beach or in the pool. I'll bring my mermaid dolls and they will keep me safe, because their hair is long and they have fins instead of legs.........."
I can listen to her all day. Everything she says makes perfect sense.
It's all pure and lovely and coherent.
The little angel is also a big music lover.
She was recently completely potty trained, but honestly? My poor little buddy takes poops the size and shape of meatballs. You can not believe what comes out if that cute little butt!
It's to the point where it makes her uncomfortable and a little nervous to poop.
She'll squeeze her little eyes together really tight, her face bright red.
"Gia, I'm trying, but the poop feels so stuck!"
I rub her tummy and back and tell her to relax and don't try so hard.
I make her drink tons of water during the day to avoid the poop time blues.
Then, one day the two of us had a brilliant idea! Let's sing the alphabet as many times as it takes until the poop comes!
So, I sit on the floor in front of her in the bathroom and we croon the ABCs sometimes four times in a row.
Well be on the fifth go around, usually around "h" and she'll exclaim,
"Wait!!!!! Ssssshhhhhh no more ABCs, poops coming!"
And damn if there isn't the sweetest sounding plop you've ever heard.
"The water splashed my booty butt on that one Gia!"
I stifle the biggest laugh, wipe her up and we flush the toilet, singing, in unison,
"Bye, bye poop, AND DONT COME BACK!!"
She sings "Let it Go" from Frozen at the top of her lungs, and goddamn if she doesn't sing right on key! It's pretty amazing.
You haven't lived until you've heard a three year old sing, on key, the lyrics:
"My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back, the past is in the past!!!!!"
It's a Goddamn trip.
Usually, I'll put the Disney Sirius/xm radio channel on in the car to and from her school. They play a good mix of Disney movie tunes, and pop geared to younger kids (think One Direction and Selena Gomez.)
A couple of days ago I had my iPod plugged into my stereo. The way I've been feeling, I've been trying to sing a lot and relish some of my old faves that I have queued up on the old iPod.
It was finally time to pick up my buddy from school, so we walked back to the car and I strapped her in the back car seat and off we went.
"Eh-hem Gia (yup, she says eh-hem), could you put on Disney music peeeeeeeeeeeeze?"
No problem the peanut gets anything she wants from me.
So I turn on the radio and instead of Radio Disney, I hear the first jaunty guitar chords of Rocky Raccoon..
See, the radio was set to iPod, not satellite.
I'm just about to unplug it, when from the backseat, the little precious sweetheart, exclaimed exuberantly,
"Noooooooooo! What is dis song Gia? I yike it. Can you keep, it on?"
I reach back (my eyes still on the road) and extend my balled up fist towards her.
"Knuckle bump me Hotstuff! This song rocks." I say proudly.
I feel her tiny fist context with mine.
"Damn Skippy." she responds nonchalantly.
(I've really got to start being more careful about using my verbal affirmations around her.)
Rocky ends before we get halfway home.
"AGAIN GIA AGAINAGAINAGAIN!"
I quickly switch the iPod to song repeat.
"Well somewhere out the black mountain hills of Dakota, there lived a young boy named Rocky Racoooooonah....."
My angel is clapping and kicking her feet like a maniac.
She starts to sing every last word of every line of the song.
I'm singing right along with her.
She's such a fast learner.
We pull up to her house. I edge my way up the driveway.
"Oh, ooooooh Gia." I hear, tearfully from the backseat.
I slam on the brakes and spin around like a banshee.
"What's the matter precious baby? Are you okay?"
Her round, pink cheeks are shiny with tears, and she starts to do that crying and talking thing at the same time that sounds like a mixture of a demented case of the hiccups and a stutter.
"It's, (hic) that I I I, (hic) love the Rocky song (hic, hic) so much I II wwwwwant to drive around summ-oah (hic) and sing it wif (hic) youuuuuuuuuu! Peeeeeeeeeez!"
I'm dumbfounded and relieved all at once.
"Baby girl, I answer in my most soothing voice, "we can drive around and listen to it as many times as you want, it's okay. Don't cry little one."
The tears dry up immediately.
"Like even 30 hundred tooooooiiiiiiiiiiimes?"
"Yup like 30 hundred times."
So, I pull out of the driveway and we cruise the streets of Syosset with Rocky Raccoon on replay over and over.
"Sing it loud and proud peanut!" I yell toward the backseat.
She responds by singing even louder, right on key.
It's probably about a good 45 minutes later, Rocky on repeat the whole time, that I realize I don't hear my best friend singing along anymore.
I glance into the rear view to see her little curls covering her eyes shut tight, her head tilted to the side, breathing deeply and in and out in and out.
I turn down Rocky and pull the car over towards a sidewalk and park under a tree.
And now it's me with the tears streaming down my cheeks.
All the hurt I've been feeling front and center in my heart. All the regret, embarrassment. All the hopelessness.
I watch my best friend sleep so,peacefully, me sobbing quietly as to not wake her.
And just like that, I hear it in my head.
So loud it's like Rocky Raccoon or Hey Jude turned to eleven.
No voice I recognize in particular.
Just the message.
Loud and clear.
"You wanted a fucking sign? Well you got it Honey. Now keep up with the praying, or meditating or talking to the air ducts, because I held up my end of the bargain, and if you hold up yours, I promise this too shall pass."
And on a tree lined street, with the Beatle loving angel safely asleep behind me, I proclaim out loud, but not too loud to wake her.
"Okay God. Okay Grandma......,,,,okay, okay."