Tag Archives: Long Island

Thought Provoking Words

My grandpa is in rehab after his knee surgery and I can’t call his room directly because he doesn’t like to talk on the phone. I’ve only spoken to him on the phone a few times and the last couple of times wasn’t in English, it was in Italian. I usually settle for calling my grandma and getting updates on how he’s doing. I haven’t had too many deep conversations with him and he hasn’t ever said anything that stuck with me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of memories with him; I have a lot of good times that I’ll carry with me for a long time, especially as a kid and before I went to visit our family in Italy. 

Anyway, the last time I called was different. My grandpa isn’t happy about still being in the hospital and he told my grandma, “I never thought the end of my life would be like this. I never thought it would be in a hospital. I always imagined being healthy at home.”

I don’t know why, but this has been running through my head lately. We’ve never been super close, but I spent a lot of time with my grandma and grandpa as a kid in their store. I can’t remember a time they said, “I love you” or anything mushy like that. My dad said they’re just not like that, which is fine, but it’s very different than my other grandparents. My connection with them is one of cultural and familial roots, something that is very important to me. 

I’m going to see him on Thursday with my aunt and I’m excited to raise his spirits.

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Being responsible for your emotions: A rant

We’ve all heard the saying, “Control your own happiness,” but what about other emotions? Sadness, regret, and anger are all things we humans experience on a somewhat regular basis. Why should we let other people have such a huge influence on the positive or negative aspects of our lives? I recently figured out a little bit about myself and started understanding why it is I do what I do.

I want to control my ALL of my emotions. If I’m going to be happy, I want to be the reason I’m happy. Whether it’s surrounding myself with family and loved ones, playing hockey or music, or just having a couple beers with some friends around a bar or a fire. I answer to no one when it comes to my happiness.

This goes the same for my occasional err…somewhat constant anger and aggressiveness. I choose to let it out when I want, which is probably healthier than keeping it in. Meh, what do I know, I’m not a doctor, nor is yelling at someone from my car for cutting me off going to change anything. Anyway, I want to be in control of those emotions, too. I’d rather get in trouble for something I did and be mad/embarrassed at myself than let someone else make me feel helpless and have anger towards them for something I can’t control.

I want to make my own messes and I want to clean them up.

I want to make my own mistakes and I want to own up to them.

 

I’ve been called abrasive, aggressive, angry, unorthodox, told that I worry too much and to slow down…yada. yada. yada. You know what? (Cue hardcore lyrics) “I’ll keep my failures. You keep waiting.” (Call It Fire) In other words, keep it to yourself. I’ll be over here learning something from what I just did.

I don’t mind being the guy who tells you what you don’t want to hear. I don’t mind being honest.

I do mind when people don’t do their jobs and I catch the raw end of it. I’d rather let them know and skip a few rings in the “chain of command” to make people aware of the problem than sit there and have no control and be miserable. Too many people sit idly by and let things happen to them. They get stepped on or skipped over all together. I want to learn from mistakes, because that’s what life is all about, right?

Sometimes bureaucracy is helpful, but most times it isn’t. For what my jobs have been and what I hope one day they will be, and that’s helping or educating others, we don’t have time for it. Face problems head on. Take ownership of the problems and mistakes made along the way. Then, move on. Put your pride away and learn something to help the people you’re supposedly in favor of.

The moral of this rant is, control your emotions. Not in the, “keep them in check” kind of way, but in the, “take them by the horns” kind of way. Be happy, be sad, be angry, cry, punch shit, be alone or with others, write a blog post about it, laugh SO loud, scream your face off – be emotional on your own terms.

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My Calling

Everyone says they want to help people less fortunate than themselves; to make a difference in the world, though saying and doing are two very different things.

As I think about what it is I want to do with my life, I can’t help but return to my childhood.

When I was growing up on Long Island, I spent a lot of time in New York City. My grandma, who lives in Manhattan, would take me to Central Park to climb on the rocks and watch people play baseball, Chelsea Piers to go ice skating, and our favorite barbecue place on 8th avenue, Dallas Barbecue.

I have fond memories of the Big Apple, most of which are dreams of one day living amongst the most eloquent skyline in the world.

Unfortunately, what I remember the most is passing by countless homeless people as we made are way around the City. (Yes, THE City. Your city is just A city.) All I wanted to do was figure out a way to help them and make them better and those thoughts have stuck with me all these years later.

As much as I’m a big believer in making your own way, much like my family did coming to the United States in the early 20th century, I also believe that some people just need help.

That’s what I want to make sure I do: help. Help in any way I can, even if it isn’t directly with the homeless. Help build a community center or start a kid’s camp. Help make whatever community I live in better for those who live there. Help build work ethic and pride. Just help.

I hope I get the opportunity to do that because it would make me feel fulfilled, happy, and driven to succeed.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

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Goodbye, Grandma

I don’t want to be cliche and annoying about something like this, but as a journal-type thing, I do want to use this as it was intended. I also want to make sure I get my feelings out somehow, well, in another way that isn’t sobbing.

My grandma passed away early Saturday morning and to be honest, it took me a second to process that. My girlfriend, Leah, woke me up after my mom had sent her a text message asking her to do just that. As I picked up my phone to call her, I saw that my grandma had liked a picture of mine on Instagram. Yeah, she was that cool.

As I unlocked my phone and called, I knew something was wrong, but having no real knowledge of my grandmother’s hospital visit a few days earlier, other than the fact that she was there, I didn’t know what went wrong with who.

When my mom told me that my grandma had passed away, she seemed broken. Naturally, I didn’t want to seem upset because I want to be there for her. I told her to call me back when she knew more and I hung up and crawled back in to bed. I snuggled up to Leah and just laid there for a few minutes.

Then it hit me.

I’ve been lucky enough to have all four grandparents around my whole life and the idea of not having any of them around is (still) unfathomable.

I had just sent her a text 2 days earlier and made plans to visit in New York City in 2 weeks when I go to Long Island for vacation.

I still have voice-mails, Facebook comments and messages, texts, and missed calls from her in my phone.

And as I sit here right now, and if I’m honest with myself, I don’t believe that she’s gone. It doesn’t make any sense. For as much as the media portrays death and that it’s seemingly all around us, on a personal level it seems everyone is very disconnected with the idea of it. When terrible things happen far away, like the Boston Marathon Bombing, you hear it on the news then walk right out of the house and it’s as if nothing happened. To me, it appears that we’re all desensitized to hearing about death and destruction, but once it comes to our front door we have no idea how to deal with it. It shakes us on such a deep level that we’re broken for days or weeks on end.

That’s how I feel.

It was all unexpected. My grandma had been in and out of the hospital for years and always bounced back, and at 74, when I called she still sounded like my grandma. Sure, she was tired sometimes and not feeling too great but hell, that happens to me, too.

I’ve been worried about this kind of call for the last few years and it was something I dreaded nearly every day. My grandparents were all getting old, and with the exception of my grandma (Joan, 74), they are all in the 80s. I knew my time with them was limited and it didn’t help that I was 6 hours away in Oswego; I knew it would be hard to race down to Long Island/New York City if something like this happened; I knew I would be too broken to drive.

As my (second) graduation date approaches, I’ve been thinking about where I want to live. Oswego is great. I have a lot of connections here and I think I have a good shot at getting some kind of job, even if it doesn’t pay that well. But after all of this, a part of me wants to be closer to family, and I want the same for Leah. We both live roughly 6 and a half hours away from our family, which makes trips home difficult to plan and, mostly to me as Leah likes driving (almost) any distance, it’s a pain in the butt.

I’m upset at myself that I needed something terrible to happen to realize something that appears to be quite simple and obvious. It also made me come to grips with the fact that I’m almost too busy to think about what I want out of my life. Sure, my hectic schedule may pay off as a job one day, but I’m not enjoying this ride as much as I should. All I want to do is make enough money to live, play drums and hockey a few times a week, and enjoy things with my girlfriend. I just want to be the things she thought I was and would become.

I’m a simple dude.

Anyway, today is feeling like a hard day. I can’t get the thought of her out of my head. A friend of mine, Tim, told me to hold on to everything I had. Luckily, I’m one of those people who keeps your birthday cards for no less than 5 years, so I have plenty lying around my mom’s house. I also  have voicemails from her, one of which is her singing happy birthday to me this past November.

I loved her more than I could put into words. She was good with words, always beat me at scrabble.

She was the one who made me love New York City, embarrassed me in stores by singing out loud, and brought me to the lake house in New Jersey.

I love  and miss you, grandma.

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A (post) Father’s Day Post

I always had a Dad. He was somewhere, though it wasn’t always with me.
I learned a lot from him through mistakes, work ethic, determination
and need to be the best, and even my temper.

Years ago, my Dad and I didn’t have a great relationship, which is
unfortunately becoming more common these days in America. I grew up scared of him. “If I wanted to catch you, I would,” I would hear as I was running away.

I remember getting hit across the kitchen floor and being afraid to talk to him for a long time as a kid.

Eventually, like 50% of American kids, my parents split up when I was
in middle school and I barely saw him. He said that he didn’t want to
take me away from my life like all my friends Dad’s did every weekend.
Though I understand when he told me a year or so ago, I never forgave
him for it. It was hard knowing he was there and not hearing from him.

In the mean time, I was lucky enough to have other Father figures in my life for a while growing up. My Grandpa was with me nearly every day until I went to college. He brought me to hockey 6 times a week, whether it was on Long Island, Pennsylvania , New Jersey, or Montreal. He brought me to girl friends’ houses, stores, vacation, drivers ed, and everything in between. He taught me to drive, how to get around Long Island, Brooklyn and NYC, and brought me to college for the first time. He was always there.

I also had a hockey coach, Chris, who took me under his wing when everything first happened with my parents. If my grandpa couldn’t bring me to practice, Chris was there. I played on his teams for years, hung out with his family, became good friends with his son, Mikey, and drove with him, along with Giovanni, J.T, and Mikey, to New Orleans for the Junior Olympics where we won a gold medal. He was always there.

My Mom started dating this guy, Jim, a year or two after my parents split. They’re still together. Jim brought me to hockey, taught me how to drive, and helped my Mom through some really tough times over the years. They now live together on Long Island and have recently remodeled (nearly) their whole house. He was always there, even if it wasn’t always directly for me.

Nowadays, my Dad and I have mended our relationship. I’m still afraid of him,
but in a, “I really hope he doesn’t mess up again” kinda way. As I got
older, it got harder and harder to hear about how broke he was, how broke “we” were, and how little things led to huge problems. I was sick of it.

He’s been better lately with a lot of it. We talk more often, I make a
point of seeing him when I’m on Long Island, and we even find more to
talk about than Brooklyn.

My one problem is that I see him being ambitious opening 3 bike shops,
a tattoo shop, buying an apartment complex in Binghamton, all while
being majority owner of a construction company, and I have a hard time
believing it’s all stable. I guess it’s not my job to worry, but I
worry about him as a person. It makes it hard to sit and watch him as
his kid not having any way to help if it all comes crashing down.

But I guess today isn’t about that. He’s been successful, just like
his dad. Our Italian heritage has some positives, though our intense
attitudes, awful accents, and need for spaghetti and meatballs 3 times
a month can be annoying to some. I’m proud of what he’s done, but I
wish he would sit and enjoy it for a second and relax for a change. I can only hope his good luck continues.

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