The Underdog Triumphs

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Reality Show Whore

An old college roommate of mine is an Average Joe, on of course, the show by the same name. We no longer speak, haven't in years--there was no closure, no goodbye, just phone calls and emails that went unreturned. It was a hellauva year that started out with lots of partying, lots of laughter, and bonds that were tighter that Sister Mary Margarets chasity belt. He and I would often sneak off to be alone, either in a locked room to take one more hit from the bowl, or like once when we snuck off at one in the morning to go to a casino 50 miles away. He brought out the spontaneous side in me, which was about the only gift he ended up giving me.

Here's a little background--he's one on those guys who makes you feel so special that he manipulates you into falling for him. He's charming, intelligent and funny. Like one of his favorite music artists would say, "he's quick with a joke, or to light up your smoke, but there's some place that he'd rather be." And that some place is not actually with you, but the skank at the back of the bar wearing a tank with no bra and a skirt so short she's self-consciously tugging it down "accidentally" revealing her throng straps and crack...a classic "come fuck me" look in the lovely state of Kansas.

Seeing him as an "Average Joe" after all his manipulative games was surprisingly kinda fun. It was fun seeing him get hit in the face with a dodgeball. And it was fun seeing him sweat hoping he wouldn't get put on the bus to the land of plastic surgeons and life coaches. It was fun knowing he more than likely was playing the producers when he declared "I can see myself really spending the rest of my life with her." (Or something of that sort.)

What I didn't expect was my reaction to him. After almost 5 years of not talking I find myself still angry for events past. Still angry that another manipulative bitch made him choose who to be friends with, her or me, and because he was such a pussy and couldn't stand up to her, he was forced to choose her.

I didn't expect that I would have flashes of memories of "home movies" made from my own camcorder. Tonight on the show he walked into the house kitchen and said something like "we're already eating!" with the emphasizes stressed on the "ing"...Only the way he could pronounce it. I flashed back to a piece of video I shot where my 3 other roommates and I were in the kitchen in the middle of the night preparing a munchie feast and he was over the stove making his traditional queso dip. I see a photo in my head of us at the park with him and his guitar and how we used to make up songs and laugh til it hurt. I see the photo of us taken on Halloween that he gave me on Hanukkah that he hung over my bed in that small stuffy room in that dirty and falling apart old house.

Why is it we sometimes keep the harsher memories? I hate to admit that thinking about these good times and good memories have actually made me smile.

It's so easy to play to the victim as it's so hard to forgive and let go of the feelings of hurt that lived with me for so long.

I thought I had let go a long time ago. But hearing his voice, and seeing how he's--dare I say--grown up?--at this moment, I still hold feelings of hurt and anger--but also, for the first time, in a long, long time, I think I miss him.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Auntie Jennie

Today my sister and I went to visit our great Aunt Jennie. Part out of guilt, part out of genuine desire we made the hour trek south to the home where she now resides.

The home I always remembered though was a three story walk up on Kenneth avenue on the north side of Chicago. Plastic covered the sofas, statues of the Virgin Mary lived amongst glass bowls and picture frames on the bureaus. (For those of you confused due to last blog, my mom converted to Judaism, hence her family is Catholic.)

As a young adult we sporadically went her apartment on Sunday afternoons for the traditional Sicilian Sunday dinner. Lots of pasta with her special homemade sauce, chicken, meatballs, cookies, and breads. But the main attraction was always Auntie. At less than 5 feet she was always smiling, cracking jokes and making sure we all ate enough.

When I was a young college student living in the city, I'd stop every once in while, always bringing her a McDonald's hamburger. She was never short of thank you's and as a Crochet maven, I even got a new grayish silver scarf out of the deal.

Today her face lit up when we interrupted the bingo game (usually a big no-no in that environment, but she wasn't even playing anyway) and we walked over to say hello. We went to here small room to talk, and realized how much she was mentally slipping. We talked of our cousins wedding and three times in a row she worried no one would come pick her up and take her to it. She knows she's 94 or 95, but doesn't remember the year she was born. We spoke of our mother and she asked if she was still with us. She kept referring to all this new family she has, but we realized it us. She just doesn't recognize us anymore.

It's hard to fathom how the brain works and how it must feel-if it feels-when it begins to slip. Memories have a way of slowly fading from our brains after a time, but what happens when you begin to forget your whole life?

In the meantime, I look forward to giving the violet shawl she crocheted for me as a child, to my daughter (when and hopefully if I have one). And my mom has her recipe for spaghetti sauce. And the glue that always held my mother's side of the family together is only an hour away. I have the time to see her more, and a great desire to see her smile and hear her make jokes from behind the walker about taking her out dancing.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Triumph of My Own

"The Underdog Triumphs," the title of my 9th grade English class writing portfolio. I cut the phrase out of a magazine and pasted it on the flap of the brown accordion folder. By the end of the year it was filled with various pieces of writings from why everyone in my school were posers, to a page filled with song lyrics and my analysis of them.

The 15 year-old life consisted of a forced dress code of long skirts, morning prayer, secular and religious studies. It was a Jewish high school during the peak of grunge, O.J. Simpson and Beverly Hills, 90210. So naive and lost trying to put the pieces of adolescence together.

I moved from a small town to a big city; a land of no Jews to many Jews. From a town where I once recognized white faces on streets filled with green grasses, to crowded one-way streets lined with apartment buildings, and a rainbow of colors flooding down Devon Avenue. I was lost.

I was an underdog.

Still am.

For I believe we all have some underdog in us.

And we should.

Otherwise we wouldn't appreciate those moments when we did triumph.

And we wouldn't know how fucking unbelievably good it feels.