Miles From Fenway

They give you roots, they give you wings
March 2, 2009, 2:08 am
Filed under: family | Tags: ,

One of my mother’s favorite quotes has always been “I wish for you two things, to give you roots, to give you wings.” I’ve been down in FL for 5 days now, trying to help move my grandparents back to RI after 20 years retired in FL. It’s been stressful, it’s been tough. Errands, and cleaning, and packing have been in abundance. I’ve taken a week off of work to make thiPapa's WWII wingss happen; but the other day I was given the best gift my grandfather, my Papa, could ever give me: he gave me wings.

I’ve written extensively in this space, about Papa. I consider myself lucky to still have 3 of my 4 grandparents around. But a few years ago, we brought Papa to the WWII memorial (a post you can read about here) and it was a moment that changed my life. It was a reminder of the history Papa has live through, and the sights he has seen.

As we all sat around trying to clear out their belongings for a move to the place they’ve long called home, Papa called me into his bedroom and presented me with the one thing I wanted as his legacy: the wings he earned as a tail gunner in WWII.

I almost broke down when he presented them to me. Papa has always meant the world to me, and here he was giving me one of his most prized posessions. Later on, you’ll get more stories from this move: about Papa telling me semi-true family histories at a Red Sox spring training game, Grandma talking about her “German crystal” she spent years trying to obtain as a clerk at Apex, and Papa’s work history through the depression (the real one, he says, not the one we’re going through now). But for the moment, I guess I just wanted you to know how much this memento of family history meant to me, and how one day I hope to be able to show it to my children; to tell them what an amazing man their great grandfather was. And how he’s the reason we’re all here today.


He’s Still My Little Brother
August 20, 2007, 8:01 pm
Filed under: baseball, Boston, family, Red Sox

I still remember where I was when I found out that I had become the big sister to a little brother named Buddy (ok, that’s not his real name but it’s what I call him). I was sitting in the side yard of my grandparents’ house in Pawtucket, RI debating with the other kids on the block whether I wanted my mom to have a boy or a girl.

I may have been just 4 days shy of my 6th birthday, but I was still adamant. I wanted a little brother. The reasoning for this escapes me now, more than two decades later, but then, I was sure, absolutely sure.

And for the first couple of years it was great. He was like a living doll. I’d dress him up in my Cabbage Patch Kid Clothes and stick him in a playpen with all of my stuffed animals until all you could see was his chubby little face.

But then he learned how to get around. And more importantly, how to get into my stuff. That’s when I turned to my mother and asked him if it was time for him to go back yet. And around the time I left him out of a family portrait I had to draw for school.

The years that followed involved a lot of me being a really big bitch. All this little kid wanted in the world was to play with his big sister. He’d wait at the screen door for me to come home from school holding my Barbies out for me to play with (since that was ALL I would allow him to participate in). And for his devotion he received all of the Ken’s without heads and the Barbies I had given hair cuts to. Oh and did I mention they were also without clothes? Not to mention that they lived in the next neighborhood over, so they could NEVER speak to my Barbies. That was completely against the rules.

As I moved into my teens and began fighting with my parents, Buddy had finally reached the stage where a healthy sibling rivalry had formed. Any time I was fresh to my mother he’d run up to her, wrap his arms around her, and say “Mommy, I’d NEVER say that to you!” At which point I would promptly kick his ass. Like I said, I was kind of a bitch. But he was asking for it!

But once I moved away to college things began to change. Six years is a pretty large age difference when you’re young, but as the years pile up it suddenly seems to lessen. These days, he and I couldn’t be closer, and I couldn’t love the kid any more than I do. He’s grown into an amazing man; smart, funny, kind of a jerk but in an endearing way.

For his 21st birthday I wanted to do something big for him. So I did something competely uncharacteristic for me – I planned ahead. On a dreary day in March I spent 4 hours online and bought two tickets to this past Saturday’s Red Sox game at Fenway. Buddy hadn’t been there in somewhere around 10 years.

With him leaving to go back to college tomorrow, I had to make sure that I warned him well in advance of his birthday that I had the tickets. Which meant I lost out on the “Oh my God” moment when he opened the present, but the look on his face as we walked up the walkway? The half-joking “Hey, hey Finy, you see that guy right there? That’s David Ortiz. Right there. Like, in person.” The goofy smile on his face? Totally made up for it. Nevermind the reaction when Big Papi hit the grand slam to take the lead. My God.

There may now be a beard where dimples used to be. And he may be able to legally drink a beer now. He may even tower over me by at least 7 inches. But that day proved he still is, and always will be, my little brother.

The Best Family Ever
July 30, 2007, 3:31 pm
Filed under: family

Have I ever mentioned how fantastic my family is? Yes? Oh well, I’m going to do it again.

This weekend, in honor of my 27th birthday, Mom, Dad, and my newly-21-year-old brother all came down to NYC to celebrate. And let me tell you, best birthday weekend ever.

It started out on Friday night with dinner at Good, which lived up to its name (at least for my mother and I. Dad and my brother weren’t as happy with their selections). The birthday cake which Mom had arranged before she even arrived in New York (got to love the power of the Internet and a determined mother) was absolutely to die for. It was like a doughy chocolate pudding. Not too rich, kind of melty, oh God it was just so … well, GOOD.

After dinner the four of us made our way to the White Horse Tavern where many drinks were had, MM and her boyfriend met up with us, and I laughed harder than I had in a long time. Mom and Dad called it a night around 11pm and my brother and I promptly found another bar near my apartment where more drinks were had, I kicked his ass at darts, and we got to catch up in a way that’s not really possible over the phone.

Saturday found my brother and I nursing hangovers and heading with my parents to the Central Park Zoo. It may be kind of small, but it’s a very nice zoo for being in the middle of Manhattan. They’ve done a lot with a small amount of space and I swear I could have sat and watched the penguins all day.

Next came a trip to the 7-11 in midtown that was recently turned into a Kwik-E-Mart in honor of the new Simpsons movie. Too much fun. With large character cut outs all over the place, signs that were fashioned in the style of the show, and merchandise such as Buzz Cola and Squishees, there were a lot of photo opportunities. Going to have to get them up here soon because they really did do a good job of making you feel like you had walked into the cartoon.

After killing time for a while at Dunkin Donuts and a bar nearby in midtown (where my brother and I decided it was time to rally and had two pint-sized red bull and vodkas) we headed down to Professor Thom’s for dinner and to watch the Sox game against Tampa Bay. Having heard so much about it and knowing how much time I spent there it was really great to be able to share it with the family. The Welshman met up with us for dinner and the game as well (he’s met the fam multiple points at this point)And even though Mom’s not a sit-down-and-watch-all-nine-innings kinda person, she and dad made it all the way through the tenth and to around 10:30 before bailing and heading for the hotel.

Which left my brother, the Welshman, a few of my friends who showed up towards the end of the game and I to head to 2nd and 2nd for karaoke. I should have known the night was going to go downhill when we did a round of soco and lime shots and then a round of Jager Bombs. But I had no idea that at 4am I’d have watched my brother sing Annie Lenox’s “Walking on Broken Glass”, that I myself would have sung two songs, or that my little brother and the Welshman would have found each other to be twin souls and how entertaining the two of them would be singing “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” together.

Sunday at brunch the Welshman, my brother, and I tried to recount the night to my parents and failed miserably as there’s no way you could adequately do so (and I am doing just a woeful job right now). But the mimosas helped my hangover at least!

So sure, I got a new iPod for my birthday (mine broke a year ago and I never replaced it) but what really made it so great was to have all four of us together for the weekend. I mean come on, I’ve got parents that I actually like having hang out with my friends and who don’t mind having a drink or two out at the bars and a little brother who’s just the man. There’s no other way to say it.

Am I the luckiest girl in the world or what?!

My Name Is Zoom …
July 27, 2007, 7:09 pm
Filed under: family, misc.

I’ve talked before about the song that my mother plays for me on my birthday each and every year. The song, which has lodged itself into a loop in my brain, was played yet again this morning, over the phone, as my family finished preparations for a weekend long trip down to NYC to help me celebrate my birthday.

And after much searching, I finally found a youtube video in which the song can be heard. Which means I FINALLY know all the words. I literally try to find these every year, so this is a pretty big discovery for me. So of course, I clearly need to share them with all of you:

All systems are go for your message to Finy

Hey Finy, it’s your birthday
I’m in charge of the stars and I’m here to say
Hey Finy, you’re the big start, today!

My name is Zoom and I live on the moon
And I came down to earth just to sing you this tune
Cause Finy, it’s your birthday, today!

A present for you I wanted to find,
An outerspace creature, a one-of-a-kind,
A wild wop or a kookoochoo
An applethwop or a buzzardsnew
Or maybe a three eyed tickleshnay
For your birthday

Did you ever ask, “Ah what’s a kookoochoo?”
Well up on the moon it’s nothing new.
But that won’t do for you!
On your birthday

I’ve searched behind the clouds and stars
I even Zoomed my bike to Mars
And met my friend, the Saucer man
And he said “Hey Zoom, I’ve got the bestest plan,
What your friend needs, is something new!
So how about a song, just from you!”

And so tonight, when you’re in bed
I’ll be singing to you as I zoom overhead
Singing Finy, Happy Birthday
Singing Finy, Happy Birthday
Singing Finy, Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Finy, see you next yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrr

June 5, 2007, 8:15 pm
Filed under: family

Looking back, some of my favorite posts on this blog have either been about, or related to, my Papa. There was the one when I wrote about his house in Pawtucket. The time I wrote about the dance we shared at my cousin’s wedding. I wrote twice about his time in WWII.

And it’s appropriate. Papa is an amazing guy. He’s sturdy. He’s solid.

He’s also sick.

In the last few years, my parents, aunts and uncles, hell, even my brother and I, have tried to convince my mom’s parents that it was time to move back from Florida. They’ve spent over a decade down there, but my grandmother’s physical health has been diminishing for quite some time. She can no longer be left alone. She has to use a walker or scooter to get around. And while my Papa has been doing the best he can, when it comes down to it, he’s still in his 80s. Loading a 100lb scooter into the car isn’t getting any easier for him. And then there was always the constant fear of “What if something happens to him?” Flights can only get to FL so fast, and all of my family lives at least a four hour flight away. No one would be with grandma.

This may not be the worst case scenario, but it’s close. Papa has a tumor. Yesterday we were informed it was only 3cm long and the procedure would be minimally invasive. Today? Further testing shows it’s 5cm long and that his kidney will have to be removed. This is complicated for a number of reasons, all of them involving the fact that he’s not exactly a spring chicken anymore. And all requiring various family members to take weeks off at a time to be down there to care for my grandmother.

From all reports, the likelihood of anything spreading, or of Papa not making it out of the surgery are minimal. But I’m scared none-the-less. Fully realizing that I am incredibly lucky to be almost 27 years old and still have 3 of my 4 grandparents doesn’t make the thought of their mortality any easier to face.

T’was The Night Before Christmas
December 25, 2006, 4:27 am
Filed under: family, misc.

Christmas always brings with it a feeling of youth. Memories of waiting up for Santa Claus. Swearing you could hear the reindeer on the roof. Leaving out milk and cookies. Trying your best not to taunt your siblings for fear that St. Nick would see you and put you on the “naughty” list and leave you only a lump of coal in your stocking. And that feeling of magic when you woke up Christmas morning to a pile of presents that had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It’s a holiday geared towards children and that child-like innocence.

But as I sat tonight, on Christmas Eve, wrapping gifts for family and friends, I realized that I might just take more joy in Christmas now that I am older. Listening to “Santa Baby” (which is so clearly an adult song … “hurry down the chimney tonight”? Come on try and tell me that’s not a euphamism for something decidedly un-child-friendly …) I smiled as I imagined everyone opening the gifts I had chosen for them. I spent way too much this year, but didn’t even give a thought to the fact that I spent outside my means because I truly take joy for giving presents to my loved ones that I know will make them happy.

It’s no longer about what is the shiniest, what’s the coolest toy, or comparing your gifts when you get back to school from Christmas break. Christmas as an adult is about sharing time with your loved ones. Taking a moment to remind your friends and family how much they really mean to you. Sure it’s become commercialized, and sure we shouldn’t need a holiday to remember to cherish what is simple and beautiful in our lives, but isn’t it better that we at least do it once a year than never at all?

Tomorrow my brother, my parents, and I will sit in the same places in our living room as we have for as long as I can remember. My brother’s presents will be on the left side of the tree, and he’ll open them one at a time while sitting in an arm chair that gets used basically only on this day. My presents will be in the center, and I’ll sit cross-legged in the middle of the floor, surrounded by wrapping paper and ribbons. My parents gifts will be off in a corner to the right, next to the fireplace and all three of our stockings, and as they have every year, they will sit on the couch and refuse to open their presents until my brother and I are done with ours. We’ll laugh at the gag gifts, and at my father’s attempts to buy my mother clothing. But the difference now that my brother and I are grown is that we can show our appreciation directly to our parents. Instead of just sitting in awe and wondering how Santa knows us so well, we can smile at Mom and Dad and thank them in earnest. And in turn, our gifts to them are no longer made out of necessity. Class assignments in Crayola crayon (though let’s be honest, we know our parents still miss the days of gifts made out of cardboard. Quick side-note, either last year or the year before, I forget which, my friend Meegan threw a holiday party in which we made our own plates. You know the kind, you draw a picture with special markers on round pieces of special paper and send it into the company and just a few weeks later receive a special made plastic dish with your design. On mine, I outlined my hand, elementary school style. And around it, I wrote “The print may be larger, but the hand is still your baby’s. Merry Christmas. Love, Finy”. Of course my mother cried, which was my intention all along). Instead our gifts have a knowledge of our loved ones behind them. A genuine thought to what would make them happy.

Sure the magic of Christmas as a child is wonderful. It’s fantastic to see a kid’s face light up when they see the tree on Christmas morning. Being six years younger than I, I used to love watching my brother find his presents in the morning. But I’ll still take Christmas as an adult over that any day. I appreciate it more now. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thank you for spending these past twelve months with me. And know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

Homeward Bound
November 21, 2006, 2:53 pm
Filed under: family, Rhode Island, writing

Homeward bound, I wish I was, homeward bound

Oh wait, I am! And I couldn’t be happier about it. I know I’ll miss NYC while I’m gone, and I will most definitely miss my kitty, who I leave in Meegan’s more than capable hands, but God I just can’t wait to round the bend on Rt. 114 in East Providence and see Hundred Acre Cove. To walk into my family room to be wrapped into a never-ending hug from my mother. To see my little brother who’s home on his first college break. To visit with family, and friends, and eat turkey, and stuffing, and everything else that goes along with Thanksgiving.

I’m not bringing any books on the train ride. Or magazines. Or DVDs, crosswords, or any other piece of paraphernalia that could possibly keep my entertained on my 4 hour train ride home other than my laptop and a pen and notebook. I will be doing nothing but writing tonight, and every night from here on until the 30th. I’m woefully behind in my word count, but I feel like my plot has finally got some traction, my characters are taking on a certain amount of depth, and I’m finally starting to feel a little hopeful that this project might actually be worth revising in the end instead of simply walking away from which is what I’ve wanted to do to every other piece of writing I’ve gotten down on paper in the last four years.

And now, here’s the admission I’ve been avoiding making.

Oh God, am I really going to tell you this?

Well, I have to now, since I’ve teased you with it.

Ok, dear internet, this book I’m working on? It’s … it’s … it’s chick lit! Part of me wants to hang my BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing filled head in shame. But the bigger part of me? The one that’s pushing me through this entire Nanowrimo experience, hasn’t had this much fun writing in a long long LONG time. So judge me if you must, and I know some people who read here will, but I’m about to finish writing an entire novel in one month and I’ve never been happier doing it. What have YOU done this month?