Little Park on Summer Street

LITTLE PARK ON SUMMER STREET

I: 1991 at age 8:

Climbing over the chain-link rope, there you were
Hidden by the green.
We’d walk to you from Nonna’s house, bearing gifts of play.
Nicky and I called you the Little Park.
Your secret was safe with us. We’d protect you.
Your rusty see-saw mattered so much.
No, it wasn’t a plaything left to rot
Through years of changing seasons.
All we balanced in life
Depended so much upon it.

We’d plop our bodies on the bench
Shiny and wooden– no splinters there.
We’d watch the sun do the thing it always does,
Until Nonna would call at us for macaroni and cartoons.

II: 1995 at age 12:

Climbing over the chain-link rope, there you were
Hidden by the green.
You were our Little Park as we remembered
Now with a merry-go-round and a tire swing.
Nonna said the police might take them away.
Andrew from upstairs tried to choke his sister with the rope
After his Roger Rabbit balloon took to the skies.
But your secret was still safe with us.

The see-saw weighed every bit of truth now.
Who was fatter? Finally, it was Nicky.
We didn’t much care for the monkey bars,
I could just about touch them from the ground now.

We’d never get too big or too cool for you, Little Park.
Until we bought our first pair of rollerblades.

III: 2012 at age 28:

Walking in between two large stones, there you were
Hidden by the green.
Still a little park, but not ours.
Your old bench greets me
Dry, alone, with faded blue Sidewalk Chalk stripes.

The see-saw is no longer.
In its place another shiny, wooden bench.
I lock eyes with a pitbull, tied to its metal post
Replacing the missing balance
Protecting the new family bearing the gift of play.
A young mother asks a little boy with red pants,
“Wanna go on the horsey?” The new tire swing.

I want to climb the jungle gym
Slide down into the wood chip pool
Retrace my footprints to the see saw.
I go no farther than the old bench.

Published in: on December 10, 2012 at 1:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Sidewalks and Cracked Hands

SIDEWALKS AND CRACKED HANDS 

We called my grandfather Sandy,

Sand collected in his denim Dickies’ cuffs,

Sand from the cement he mixed.

 

He did the hardest work with his hands

Sweating under a sun unforgiving, 

Laying each piece of flagstone slab 

To rest on a bed of cement. Hands

Crusted over– cut up from the stone edges,

Creating a mason’s handmade marvel,

On which the world could walk. 

 

He did the hardest work with his hands

Turning grapes from Lodi vines

Into his own velvet wine.

Staining his hands purple from juice released,

Tinting fingertips for all of harvest season,

All to bottle and keep

In the family’s name.

 

Dare to dream, he did,

And never, ever complained

Because he loved it. Breathed it.

Passed it to his sons. 

 

Then, at five, I asked my father,

“Why are your hands broken?”

“I got a boo-boo at work,” he said.

“Can me and Nicky work with you

When we grow up?”

“No, both you kids

Are going to college.”

 

I want to run down my own dream.

Like a single flagstone slab

Giving way to a dream sidewalk 

Built by Sandy and my father,

I’ll start one word at a time.

Published in: on December 10, 2012 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Roaring Twenties

the roaring 20s

It’s a time of change, a time of stasis, a time of lust, a time of unrequited love, a time of fear, a time of hope, a time of joy, a time of moral and immoral decisions, a time of faltering values, and a time of the perpetual unknown all whipped together, poured into a tiny loaf pan, and baked on high with the occasional toothpick-prick test for undercooked batter. For reasons unknown, the batter isn’t quite done. Maybe it would be best to simmer on low, slowing things down a bit until the desired consistency is reached? Or speed things up and sear the surface, leaving ample time and room for completion in the middle.

Suffice to say, I feel like an uncooperative cake in a temperamental kitchen. I’m the sometimes-smooth, sometimes-lumpy batter that is 26 years of age. I’d be lying if I said the 20s is the most CONFUSING decade. I can actually empathize with the historical angst that was the Roaring 20s. Alcohol, a source of entertainment and diversion, was prohibited in a world that screamed, “I WANT TO ENJOY LIFE.” In the 2000s, I feel the same in my 20s (does that make sense?). I feel trapped by what I think I SHOULD be doing, versus what I really WANT to do, though admittedly, I don’t really know what the hell I want to do. Except publish a book. I want to do that.

Whatever it is, it could always be 10 times worse. Sometimes that helps to put things in perspective; other times it doesn’t. Regardless, you’ll be okay in the end. If you’re not okay, it’s not the end. Harder rains will fall, but after each downpour, you’ll discover stronger umbrellas.

Roaring twenties, commence.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

-Dylan

Published in: on July 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Helplessly Hoping

hope |hōp|
noun
a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

As human beings, we possess emotions we wish to abolish. Jealousy is the primary culprit, followed by, yes, hope. No, I’m not morbid, negative (well, not all the time), or illogical. I truly believe hope is an ineffective, and sometimes damaging, state of being.

When your life seems to cave in on you, you hope for a different outcome, something that COULD be, or something that you SHOULD have done (it’s no surprise to anyone who knows me well, that I hate the word “should”). You become bound by that hope, thinking that it will work in your favor. You begin to imagine scenarios that don’t actually exist, fueling that hope, but also adding fuel to the fire of reality, its flames detracting you from what’s real, now. (I’m being vague on purpose. I don’t intend to make this entry a sob story.)

I use the words “hope” and “wish” interchangeably. Both represent ideal situations other than your own. Hope is merely an emotional state, not a force that effects changes. For a cancer victim, hope is often a force to be relied upon. Although I have never experienced a terminal illness myself, I think that possessing hope, in that light, is morbid. In those situations, I prefer to use the term, “progress.” Progress is not conditional or representative of a situation that isn’t; it simply is what it is.

Part of a philosophy I’m immersing myself in is learning to take things at face value, and stop hoping. Buddhism- you guessed it. I’ve never been a religious person, but always a spiritual and curious one. It’s just a smart way to live, from what I’ve experienced so far.

From my personal experience, I find that hope only fuels my anxiety and worry over the unknown. That’s truly no way to live, and I’m learning that day by day.

I close with the following lyrics that resonate strongly with me right now:

Helplessly hoping
Her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses
Of gentle true spirit
He runs, wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of good-bye

Wordlessly watching
He waits by the window
And wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams
He worries
Did he hear a good-bye? Or even hello?

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Stand by the stairway
You’ll see something
Certain to tell you confusion has its cost
Love isn’t lying
It’s loose in a lady who lingers
Saying she is lost
And choking on hello

-Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young: “Helplessly Hoping”

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

i’m a phat fatty

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at work. I mean, late nights, hardly any time to myself, and no wind-down time in between getting home and bed. Catching up on my personal goals (writing, reading, looking into brushing up on my Italian) simply did not happen. So, when all the hurly burly at work came to a standstill, what did I look forward to the most? Tearing shit up and blowing off steam at the gym.

Now, when I work out, I prefer to be of the mindset, “I want to work out because it’s healthy, reduces stress, and makes you feel great,” as opposed to, “Get thee to a gym and work off those child-bearing hips.” All that being said, I walked into the gym last Thursday to a group of male trainers standing at the front door and greeting members.

I was under the impression that they were simply promoting themselves and looking to recruit members. Well, I could have held my breath right then and there, because an older trainer, D, approached me with a semi-familiar piece of equipment, the Body Fat Machine.

“Wanna get your body fat measured, sweetheart?” I wanted to utter a mere, “No, fuck off, geezer,” and walk away. But I’m not that mean (I’m working on being a bitch) so I passively said, “No, I’m all good, I’m going to go work out now, thanks.”

Then after five, “Oh-come-on’s” and two, “No,-we’re-not-gonna-make-you-buy-anything’s,” despite the conniving manager’s whisper to the trainer, “Get her back on board,” I complied. I grasped onto the handles that would soon measure my fat(e).

“You’re a 24. Wow, that’s pretty high. We need to work on that.” I’m 117 pounds, 5’4-ish, and a size 0-2. That was the last thing I wanted to hear from a so-called “personal trainer.”

Somewhere after the words, “pretty high,” my jaw must have dropped. He just stood there and stared until he came up with his next eloquent and well-thought-out choice of words: “Have you been fluctuating? You know, packing on a few pounds?”, to which I respond, “No, my clothes still fit me. Why are you telling me this? I came here to work out and relieve stress, I sit behind a desk all day and sometimes work until 11 at night. What do you expect?”

…to which he replied, “You’re fat, darling. PHAT. Awesome. We just need to work on–”

….and to which I responded, “Sorry, I don’t appreciate coming in to work out after a long, grueling week and being told my body fat is too high.” I walked away, stupidly wondering for a split second whether I should consider the green tea/Hydroxy-cut diet if this is what life is all about. Then, I went into the locker room to try and abolish those thoughts.

Instead, I cried. For thirty minutes. I ignored the concerned stares from the half-naked old ladies getting ready for their swimming class and kept weeping. Maybe I was being melodramatic, but I take this stuff pretty seriously for reasons I have not yet revealed in this blog. If you call me fat or overweight or mention anything about my body fat content at all, even if in the context of a scheming marketing ploy, I’m likely to retreat and write you out of my life.

Needless to say, I felt even less motivated to delve into a hardcore workout as planned, because it had been tainted with the words, “body fat.” As I was doing squats across the floor, really, I wanted to pop a squat on the faces of the entire training staff and defecate freely.

Is this really their philosophy? Encouraging someone my size to get fit and feel great because they’re “fat?” Okay, I know he didn’t directly say, “You’re fat,” but it was still a slap in the face and an insulting, ineffective sales approach if you ask me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t personal trainers supposed to be supportive and free of judgment? Let me be the judge of my own body fat content.

Last time I checked, 24% is normal. Chew on that. And, just so you know, a good number of your staff has protruding beer guts.

Do yourselves a favor and re-think your philosophy. Be mindful of a person’s feelings. Change your approach.

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 1:28 am  Leave a Comment  

roses of the stinky persuasion

Ever since my teenage years, I’ve had what I like to call an ongoing love affair. Who’s the lucky man, you ask? Garlic. That’s right. Whoever I befriend or seek out in this lifetime must accept this fact about me: Garlic is my life, my love, my passion, and my avatar. I can never get enough of him.

They call garlic “the stinking rose”, and there exists a San Francisco restaurant by that name. I ate there. Not enough garlic in the supposedly “outrageous garlic-infused” dishes. Though, the garlic ice cream sundae and the garlic-infused white wine were perfect.

I was never a firm believer in love at first sight until I met garlic. He’s the one. My attachment to garlic is so strong, that I morally oppose those who do not like it. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but hearing one say, “I hate garlic” is equivalent to, “I hate you.”

Imagine a hot, steaming, carmelized bulb of roasted garlic. Savor it by the spoonful. Allow your taste buds to melt in ecstasy. Mine do.

To further prove my point:

and again:

not done yet…

and my soon-to-be-forever-inked-on-skin garlic tattoo design:

Garlic, how I love thee unconditionally.

Published in: on June 7, 2010 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

10.

Throw-back to 2003.
Assignment: 10 statements of honesty to 10 anonymous people.

1. You bit the hand that fed you, spat on it, and then turned the other way. I picked up your scraps and even made a collage out of them. I showed it to you, and you were indifferent.

2. I wish you knew how to give a person space. I value you as a fellow human being, but I don’t think I can establish an actual friendship with you if I can’t have breathing room.

3. Trying to reach you is like pulling teeth. I wish you’d be more respectful and courteous of my time. You try my patience constantly and I’m not sure you even care. Do you feign oblivion or are you really clueless?

4. I wish we could meet in person. Words can’t express how grateful I am to you and what you’ve done to reach out to me when I so desperately needed wisdom. I don’t even know you, but I know you’re a sincere, genuine person.

5. You’re insightful, intuitive, and can read people without even knowing them. You have a gift I hope you keep giving.

6. Even though it’s been years, and even though we never directly crossed paths, I owe you an apology.

7. It was our time together that has shaped who I once was and who I have become. I mean this in both a positive and negative light. You’ve taught me how to approach situations with more (sometimes too much) caution. You’ve taught me that trust doesn’t come easy. In fact, it’s extremely challenging to trust another person, let alone become close to one. You’ve inspired me to write; thank you.

8. I’m on the fence. Do I reach out to you again in hopes of rebuilding a friendship that was torn to shreds nearly seven years ago, or do I let it go? I can continue the small talk with you although it’s pretty cheap.

9. I really felt uncomfortable that one time. I said things I didn’t mean, and I can’t take any of it back. I assume you’ve moved on, and so have I, but sometimes I wish I had a magic wand or eraser. I’m still pretty embarrassed and have a hard time shaking that feeling.

10. You deserve to make sweet romance with the rats that inhabit your living quarters.

Published in: on June 2, 2010 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Cracked Hands Laced With Vaseline

A revelation came to me the other day during lunch with my co-worker, L. As I wolfed down my germ-infused, Whole Foods-salad-bar lunch, I thought about my father for no particular reason other than I probably miss him since moving out of my parents’ house two weeks ago. I’ve never been one to admit things, show emotion, or get all mushy, but in my own way, I’m very proud of my dad. Although it’s hard for me to let him know, he really is my hero.

So, as L took a pause from chewing, he said to me, “I can’t see you doing this type of work for the rest of your life—it’s going to kill you.” I took a moment to let that commentary sink in. Then I replied, “You know who I really envy and admire? My father. He does the hardest, manual labor, sweats under the sun, cuts his hands up on stone, turns them purple with acidic grape juice, battles with poison ivy roots, snow plows during the most ungodly hours so rich people can have clear driveways, has more splinters than anyone I know, and he’s never, ever complained. In fact, he’s the true definition of ‘service with a smile.’” Okay, maybe I didn’t phrase it that eloquently, but let’s pretend I did.

Immediately afterward, L stated, matter-of-factly, “It’s because he loves it. He does what he loves. That’s hard to come by these days.” Oh, how right he is. There’s one hell of a generation gap between my father and me.

I remember a time when I was very young, I’d say around five. I was sitting on my father’s lap, tracing my fingers across the rough patches and cracks of his hands. His wedding band was scraped a little, and his pointer finger had a very deep gash in it. I asked why his hands were broken, to which he replied, “I got a boo-boo at work.” It was then that I decided I wanted a job in a hospital. I wanted to be a pediatric nurse. To a five-year-old, it seemed like a decent gig, mainly because I loved babies and wanted to be around them. Did I fulfill that dream? No. Is this my dream now? Not in the least? Do I even like babies? Sure, when they sit still like a stone and don’t utter a peep. All I knew was I wouldn’t get my hands chopped to bits by flagstone, granite, tools, and harsh concrete. And if I did, the surgeon’s room would be right around the corner.

My younger brother always wanted to uphold the Sandy Frattaroli Masonry family legacy. Why would he, at that age, wish hard, manual labor during scalding, humidity-infused summers over a college education? Because my father’s work has value. A unique kind of value all its own, something that cannot be taken away from him. But, nowadays, the road to get there is treacherous and grueling and filled with invaders who take this craft for granted.

My brother went to college, and so did I. Now, we work for The Man in nice, air-conditioned offices, and still find room for complaints. My father’s getting older, approaching 60 in just a couple of years. He’s stubborn, set in his ways, and will not lay down the stone and call it quits until he dies at a much older age. His hands remain cracked, although he’s progressed to softening them with Vaseline Intensive Care lotion.

The difference between my father’s generation and mine is that, nowadays, we are overwhelmed with options, both personally and professionally as the world develops. We’re in a constant struggle as we try to define our purpose and who we are. We read too much into the future, but still dwell on the past. We battle between labeling who we are by our professions vs. who we are by our purpose and passion. My father was able to turn his passion into a lifelong devotion. Back then, there wasn’t much choice if life and education were unaffordable for you. Now, we have everything, but the pressure exuded on us makes it much rougher.

Like my father, I want to run down a dream, go wherever it leads, and work on a mystery (kudos to Tom Petty). I want to write and connect with like-minded people through my words, but I do not want to define myself. Ever. I want to constantly evolve and find my purpose. I want my purpose to be adaptable and dynamic. I want to be receptive to change. Like a single flagstone giving way to a dream sidewalk built by my father, I’ll start one word at a time.

Published in: on June 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

tarot cards and garlic tattoos

So, I’m going to go ahead and blow off the promise of continuing my previous post. (After all, I’m pretty sure no one’s reading this.)

Last night, I did the unthinkable. I had fun. After sitting in the dark for weeks, depressed and dwelling on stuff that’s probably completely curable with perspective, I decided to go out to dinner without feeling guilty about A. spending money, B. drinking on a week night, C. eating dessert. That aside, my friend A brought her stack of Tarot cards.

For those of you who don’t know (no one reads this blog), my very first Tarot card reading took place at a cafe in Manchester, Vermont. The reading was more introspective than futuristic, which I appreciated. I wasn’t ready to stomach predictions like, “You’re doomed with love for all eternity” (that wouldn’t have come as a surprise anyway) or, “You’re going to be a solitary old cat lady with garlic breath” (which I wouldn’t mind, except for the solitary part. Whoever I end up with must accept the garlic factor). She gave me good insight into my present state. She knew I was in physical pain (long-term pinched nerve in my neck) and had recently been hurt, and that I possessed the power to fulfill some dream (that one was a little hazy because  I don’t really have a dream at the moment). All in all, not a bad reading.

My second reading was done by A, who happens to be a newfound friend of mine. She’s probably the most intuitive, insightful person I know, even in the short time I’ve known her. She has an upbeat spirit and delivers better advice than anyone I know.  So, she gave me a reading at her house. This stack of cards was different. There were at least a dozen of them and the layout was completely different. The reading was overall negative and, needless to say, I freaked the fuck out. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say some of the reading came true recently (in two different environments, which I found strange). Also, two days after the reading, my great uncle died (she drew the Death card, which she often sees as positive, so maybe it was just a weird coincidence ?). So, the reading caused me more anxiety than insight.

I gave it another shot last night. These were short (but still insightful) three-card readings. Once again, I drew the Death card. But in this context, A said, the death card represents change. The other cards (I forget what they were) just confirmed that I had the power to make a change happen. This said change is related to money/career, but I’m guessing it’s not career-related. It was more like…my financial situation will allow for a favorable change. So, I’m still trying to figure it out, but not read into it too much.

On a completely separate note, I want a tattoo. Of a garlic bulb. On my inner lower leg. Let me first caveat that I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks of that idea. It’s original and meaningful to me, no one else, and that’s all that matters. It’s my heritage, it’s my story, it’s my passion. I have the design and am sitting with it for awhile, but I foresee some ink-to-skin intercourse in the not-so-distant future.

Death card, please manifest thyself in a positive way.

Published in: on April 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

diatribe against a moth

To pay tribute to the impending two seasons of moth reincarnation, I’ve written a little monologue, or moth-ologue for lack of better terminology. Call me mad or ludicrous; for this I know. A phobia is an irrational fear.

Diatribe Against a Moth

We can’t do this anymore; I hope you know that. We’re no longer healthy for one another, unless thriving on fear is a newfound blessing. Here’s the problem—you don’t belong here—never have. It’s my personal opinion that you belong on the moon, but your movements are too blind and haphazard to ever achieve such a journey. You must maintain your distance, as do I. Though, you’re sneaky, conniving, and even somewhat graceful as you weave your way through the sheer curtain folds and quilted squares of my crimson red comforter. You blend too well. Your stagnancy forces an adrenaline-induced determination into me; your activity paralyzes me with a child-like terror. What exactly do you want from me?

Wouldn’t it be nice to wipe out these awkward, winged things in one fell swoop? It would be my dream come true. But, we all must learn to cope with what is in this life, I suppose. I’ll try to remember this bit of wisdom:

“Fear is an acronym in the English language for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’.”   ~Neale Donald Walsch



Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment