Femme FATale


the moratorium is over.
December 9, 2008, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

the title of this post should say it all. the moratorium on blogging and other fun and enjoyable things is officially over! monday night, i took my oral preliminary exam and passed! i am now an official ph.d. candidate and considered “all but dissertation” (ABD)! resuming normal life starts now!

blogging is not the only thing that has been put on the backburner in the last few months because of these horrific exams. socializing, laundry, moving generally beyond the 625 sq. ft. of my apartment (or library), are all other examples. seriously, i leave to see my family and friends back east in a week and my apartment has never been messier. life has been on hold far too long because of these things.

i miss being physically around my friends here in minneapolis. i’ve seen folks here and there and i’ve been to others’ houses for dinners and movies and thanksgiving, but no one’s been in my apartment since october. i realize that sounds pathetic, but when things got intense with writing my papers, my whole way of keeping up my apartment just took a nose-dive. i think it’s because it’s the one thing i *can* allow to slip, so it does. alas, i’m preparing to teach my last class of the semester tomorrow and then, for days on end, i will be armed with laundry detergent and pine sol in order to get this place livable again.

in the midst of all this stress and letting my apartment go to hell, i’ve never been closer connected to friends and family. there are folks out there in this world who, no matter what time of day and no matter with what frequency, high or low, allowed me to call them excited and hyper after too much coffee or crying and sniffling over what i assumed would be my academic decline. i owe so many thank you’s to the folks who got me through. allow me a few shout-outs, no?

my post-exam acceptance speech: (ahem!)

* to my parents, who don’t read this, but who i absolutely must acknowledge. i think we’re closer than we’ve been in a while because i called you nearly every day for weeks just to hear the encouragement and support in your voices even when we were talking about banal things like christmas, living wills, and the downstair bathroom renovation. mom, i’m sorry i bugged you so incessantly, but you make me feel better when no one else in the world can. knowing i make you proud is what’s most worth it. dad, i know you’ll never understand that what i’m writing is a dissertation and that it’s a lot different than my undergraduate “thesis,” which is how you repeatedly refer to it. still, the best part of passing monday night was calling you right after, when you were working on the trucking dock, and you yelled and cheered so loud that all the other guys on the platform knew i passed and they beeped the horns of their 18-wheelers and forklifts in congratulations. i will never forget the pride in your voice.

* to kelley, i’m finally getting around to giving you the address to this blog and with perfect timing. now i can say ‘thank you’ without breaking down into tears on the phone. i’ve never doubted the power of our friendship almost 10(!!!) years old now, but you reminded me why you will forever be so important to me. thank you for letting me sing entire songs to you that night i was losing my mind. thank you for telling me silly stories and rehashing all four years of college in order to take my mind off of the present. thank you for nearly getting into a throwdown with your boss monday night when you squealed with delight over my exams during the office holiday dinner party at a fancy pants restaurant. you’re the best surrogate sister a girl could have. family indeed, genius OF MY LIFE. xo.

* to emily, for being supportive and loving two time zones away. thanks for allowing me the occasional freak out phone call, my bombarding questions over gchat, and for not allowing me to wallow or be as self-deprecating as i probably would have liked to have been at times. you’ve always taken such good care of me – from first year to now – and you somehow still manage to do that even all the way over there in san francisco. i miss you way more than i can ever say. thanks for my surprise celebratory dinner. nothing says “you passed!” like pizza luce. you’re truly the best.

* to e, i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, for all of our drama, you still know me more than most and know how to comfort me truly as a result. thanks for the much needed distraction of your neverending shoe dilemma, the oh-so-helpful and last minute study session over this past weekend and the reassuring phone call right before i went in. you are the only person i texted when i was waiting for the verdict to hear if i passed. that must mean something, no? xoxo.

* to all the other folks, some who read this and some who don’t, but who nonetheless i’m so grateful for: grandma, katie b., jasmine, porter, becky, uncle david & john, ricky, kandace, diane, bevin, and victoria (who sent me the most amazing femme-inspired care package ever!). special thanks also to leo, freedomgirl, kyle, sublime femme, and others for keeping me in your thoughts and leaving comments/sending emails of support and encouragement. love, love, love to all of you.

i worked harder than i’ve ever worked before these last few months and for all the effort i passed an academic milestone and simultaneously was reminded of the epic amounts of love and support i have in family, friends, and community. i am so thankful for all of you.

i’m sure that to some this whole post is going to seem dramatic and maybe it kind of is, but i’m too elated to really care right now. i’m happy and excited and *relaxed* for the first time in weeks. i’m savoring all of this and making it last as long as i can.

…in fact, until further notice, you can all refer to me as ph.d.-elect, hussy red!

xoxo.

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why i love my family
September 30, 2008, 9:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

my mother’s family is embroiled in an ugly inheritance-related battle right now. my poor grandmother is alive to have to witness the insane greed of one of her sons and the ways in which it will change her family’s relationships forever. after a really explosive family meeting at my grandmother’s on sunday where my father and my mom’s brother nearly came to physical blows (which, what?!), my parents came home and told me all the gritty details. we sat around the kitchen table quietly for a few seconds and then it started…and by “it”, i mean endless references to the godfather. because in times of crisis, really, what else is an italian-american family supposed to do?

begin scene.

mom: well, i guess we all know what this means…it’s time to go to the mattresses!

dad: yeah, too bad he doesn’t have a horse we could behead and stick in his bed!

me: we could always just send him a wrapped up fish?

mom: what??

me: you know! “it’s a sicilian message. it means luca brazzi sleeps with the fishes!”

dad: cue godfather voice, “my boy! look what they did to my boy!”

mom: “leave the gun! take the cannolis!”

me: whistling the godfather theme song.

end scene.



misplaced(?)
July 25, 2008, 1:55 pm
Filed under: arg, butches, cancer, dad, death, exes, memory, mom | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

this afternoon, my mother called me from the hospital in nj. my dad has been admitted for vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath. he’s undergoing some tests, specifically an m.r.i. of his head to see if there is anything to be suspicious of there. my dad’s had cancer for the past several years. it started with his kidney, which was removed and he enjoyed about a year and a half of remission before it crept back up again in his spleen and liver. through chemotherapy, those tumors wound up shrinking significantly, but it’s always been made very clear that there’s no more opportunity for him to “beat” cancer. it’s more just a waiting game of where it will pop up next and with what kind of vengeance. earlier in the year, it was discovered he had a spot on his spine. it wasn’t particularly large or intrusive, but once cancer hits bone, especially spine and its column of connecting fluid, it’s not the best of signs. needless to say, it seems the dr. is going straight for scans of his head to see if there is any brain tumor or lesion to be found there.

i’ve always feared this moment and i’ve been pretty realistic in knowing it would probably come soon, at some point. spine and brain are so connected and usually once one has had a taste of the cancer stuff, the other is next to follow. all the reading i’ve done has told me that brain cancer is a quick and slippery slope with fatal results. it’s strange to write these words. my father’s and my relationship has been so strained my whole life. there have often been times since his diagnosis several years ago, not to mention times before that when he was still a healthy man, that i’ve thought of how it would be easier, especially on my mother, if he passed away. and now, with that reality staring me in the face, part of me regrets ever thinking it and the other tells me not to forget the long history of emotional violence that stems from him.

but what really gets me every time i worry about him or start to contemplate his death and what that will be like for me, i almost always lose sight of the reality, the right now. i eventually, without fail, always wind up overlooking him and land up at the fact that i will take care of and console my mother, what’s needed anyway, but who will take care of and console me? every time i think of his illness and his passing, i come back to this right here…and i miss you terribly; in ways that make me clutch my gut with the pain of your absence. because despite everything we went through and regardless of how you never knew what to say when i was upset over his illness, you were and still are what i think of when i think of comfort. when i consider all that i might need when his final decline begins, it’s only you that comes to mind. you, the person who struggled most with knowing what to say to me in times of sadness. you, who thought i needed more than just your silence and support or the physical strength and safety of your arms and shoulders. i have every reason in the world not to trust you and this won’t change that; this won’t find me dialing you aimlessly at 2am needing to hear your voice. yet still, it’s your absence i’ll cry for right now and not the eventuality of my father’s.

you were my safety net despite all of your fears that you were never strong enough for me. did you ever really know that?