Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Comedy and The Tragedy of Eleven

These go to eleven.

Famous quote from This is Spinal Tap. And that's funny, right? Funny quote, funny movie. Comedy.

But today is eleven. These years, they now add up to eleven. And that feels heavy.

There's no denying my sadness. For a change on this anniversary, I thought I'd shift from the tragedy of the circumstances of losing Joey, and write about the lighthearted aspects of his personality.

For example, the fact that he had an uncanny ability to repeat movie lines verbatim, with the same delivery the actor used. One early favorite between us was from The Pope of Greenwich Village, Mickey Rourke to Daryl Hannah. They are discussing dinner, and she offers to cook. Mickey says, "you CAN'T cook". I would giggle every time we'd talk about preparing a meal and he would use that one liner on me. I tried a few times to start making something to eat and he would shoo me out of the kitchen saying, "seeing you in the kitchen makes me nervous, Laura..." Then we'd both laugh.

One of our rituals was watching Saturday Night Live together, because it was HIS ritual. I can STILL hear him laughing so hard he could barely breathe when Will Farrell and Christopher Walken performed the Blue Oyster Cult Behind The Music skit featuring the now famous  more cowbell dialogue.

Hearing his laugh was infectious, would spur me to laugh harder and then the skits or movie quotations would become part of our off the cuff banter. Joey's talent for retaining quotations and pulling them out was then, and remains to this day, unparalleled in my world. Caddy Shack, Saturday Night Fever, Forrest Gump, When Harry Met Sally, Let it Ride, Office Space, the list goes on. He was like a walking IMDb repository.

One conversation we had two months before his death is still etched in my memory, as if he were standing in front of me last week. We both knew he was on a downward spiral. He was scared. I felt helpless. He took my hand and said, "Laura, if something happens to me, you have to promise me you won't let them say the I was the guy who could have had so much," and tears immediately appeared in both our eyes. This has been an impossible promise to keep. Because he was the guy with great possibilities. Out beyond the addictions and the chaos that would swirl around when he was in peril, there was the beautiful, funny and more than likable character of Joey V.

I finally went to see Silver Linings Playbook. Joey loved De Niro, and I think that he would have not only enjoyed the movie, but in particular the dance competition scene, where Pat Sr. is watching the football game on TV in the lobby of the hotel and then runs to see Pat Jr. and Tiffany perform their less than stellar, but still a "5" dance...I imagined him sitting next to me laughing. In particular my guess is he would have connected to the intricacy and detail in the scene where the bet was devised. As tragic as the gambling addiction was for him, and it was...I've given myself permission to see the comedy in these fictional scenes.

It's good to have this ability now, to be able to laugh without crying. I still have grief waves. Yesterday I walked into ShopRite and "No Sugar Tonight" was playing. It did bring forth a few tears. But then a smile--because I can remember driving around our hometown singing these songs, and then laughing. Because it was fun. It was just plain fun.

For those of you reading this blog entry who knew Joey, think about that great smile, those beautiful blue eyes, his penchant for enjoying the tiniest detail of a moment. Remember the good times together. Allow his story to help save others, and keep the loving Joey V close to your heart. After we strip away the tragedy of his passing, what remains is his essence. His unlimited capacity to laugh, his kindness, and of course, cool. The very definition of cool personified.

Here's to you, Joey. I promise to think beyond what I was doing eleven years ago in this moment, and focus instead on all the gifts born out of our time together. And to laugh today. I may cry, but I will also laugh....

The comedy and the tragedy of ELEVEN.

Joey and the gang, fishing on Wireless, MD Tuna Tournament, 1999

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Happy Mother's Day, to all the wonderful women who have been and continue to be part of my life.

Some of you are aunts or teachers or coaches or guides and have nurtured me on my path...

Some of you are my friends who have allowed me to be a part of your family, in some way, where I've witnessed your evolution into motherhood.

But only one of you is my mom. Only one of you held my hands when I was in elementary school and asked at the end of the school day, "did these little hands work hard today?" Only one of you taught me how to love kitties, and all animals.

Only one of you devoted her adult life to being the best mom she could be to Julie and me.

I love you Mom.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Easy Does It

May has become a month of paradox for me. Kicking off the month with my birthday used to mean that I owned the whole 31 days on the calendar, reserved for celebrating me. The upturn in weather, the availability of trees and flowers in bloom accented the special treats that could await for me, brought by friends or happy circumstance.

Then I graduated from college, and the Month of Laura came to a screeching halt. But, the tradition of mom making my favorite dinner and friends gathering to go out for drinks, or join me for cake, marched on for many years.

Over time, mom has stopped making tomato quiche, or ravioli using my grandmother's recipe for sauce. Friends have kids and in-laws and other obligations that keep them from consistently being available to celebrate with me.

And, the month is now the anniversary of Joey's passing. This marks 11 years, and speaking from a calender day standpoint, 2013 mirrors 2002-- so May 19 falls on a Sunday. A date that hallmarks for me a loss so great I for a long time believed it was a burden I would be unable to properly carry.

Sundays with Joey, during the calm and sober parts of our life together, meant watching golf (or football), and him making pizza for my family. It was something we both really enjoyed. Okay, let me rephrase that: I didn't ENJOY watching sports, so I read or cleaned or got caught up on phone calls, occasionally watching the end of a golf tournament. But the pizza making part I did LOVE...watching him cut up vegetables, make the dough and then the pie, and turn all of it into edible art. I was his assistant. Not allowed to do anything material to make the meal but always offering company and acting as the clean up crew.

Then Sundays became the day he died. For a few years, I had difficulty addressing Sunday with a desire to anything other than reflect upon my loss.

With proper grief therapy and personal permission, I was able to heal the raw emotion surrounding his passing. It's a scar, something that is always there. It can flare up and hurt at predictable and unpredictable intervals.

This year, I find myself recalling what I was doing 11 years ago on this Sunday. I went to see Joey for the last time at Father Martin's Ashley. He was released a few days later. And then the final downward spiral began, culminating in his death. No matter how many times I replay those last days with him, it doesn't change the outcome. It has served to help solidify my conviction on some important life tenets. One of them is to enjoy something from each day, because life will change in an instant. And you can never be sure that the change will be for the better.

Cut to 2008, and the arrival of Coco Chanel in my life. Unplanned. Unprepared and unsettled, and recently unemployed at the time I had no idea how I was going to make being a cat owner work. Coco didn't know any of that. All she knew was she was welcomed into a home that didn't involve a cage, a vet's office, or being tossed from place to place. One person to love her. And so each day had new hope embedded in it as I watched her grow, her eyes change from baby blue to yellow/green. Together we blazed a new trail, and Sundays have evolved into our lazy, easy days. Except I suppose when I was marathon training...

Coco, September 11, 2008. She still thinks she is that teeny.

Anyway, a long post for what is called Easy Sunday. I'm glad to have my girls show me that surviving difficult circumstances is something to feel good about. Sure, the scar is ever present. I never want to forget Joey, our journey, all the lessons I've learned along the way. Yet I know his wish for me would be to love these kitties and take good care of them. Take good care of me. Be a faithful friend. A loving daughter and sister, cousin, niece...not be so hard on myself when I make the multitude of mistakes I make each day. To just relax.

So Joey V, I dedicate this Easy Sunday to you. I'll be back to write about you again on your anniversary. Today will be about remembering Pizza Sundays...

Joey, New Year's Eve 2000 at the Migliore's house.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Photo Hunt *UNDER*

So what? We are late?

Do you care???

Yea, I know. This has been a very heavily Valentina focused blog lately.
Valentina under the feathers.

Let's just say she really has the highest potential to Tweet or have a Facebook page.

Easy Sunday should be just that. Easy.

Feathers, y'all. It's what's for breakfast.