Sometimes when I’m in the beginning fugue of a migraine, I have a conversational hiccup, a mental stutter or verbal Tourette. Although a complete sentence streams through my mind, only one or two words are actually spoken. The migraine haze blurs the lines, and it’s not until hours later after I’ve slept the tension off that I even remember the misstep (or offense).  

Like today, I was talking about beautifying myself for Rich & Mikie’s wedding and during the course of the conversation talked about having my hair and makeup done vs. doing it myself because eyelashes are so difficult to apply yourself. It reminded me that the last time I had my eyelashes applied was back in March for the 2nd to last burlesque show with the girls. All that mind mapping was unfolding like a silent movie in my mind.

In that memory synapse the truncated sentence I ended up actually saying, “I don’t think I’ve shared this before but I perform burlesque and discovered the glam makeup application, so will need to get someone to apply mine.” No transition statement, no further explanation. In hindsight, not the most standard of water cooler conversations one has at work, is it?


Lost in Transition

Here's the thing about grief...you never know when it's going to hit you, what will trigger a change of heart, a change in mood. One minute you're fine, the next, not so much. Maybe it was the fresh air or the restless sleep from last night catching up to me or maybe it was the wine. Whatever it was, it hit me this afternoon. One minute I'm concentrating on framing the picturesque landscape with my camera and the next I'm retreating into my thoughts, quiet as a mouse in the tour van. I excused myself from the afternoon activities to relinquish this hollow feeling. It's hard to do when you're with friends and they're raring to go sightseeing and shopping but it's the right thing to do for them and for yourself. And it's much easier pawing through it when you're alone and the only thing that makes sense is sitting by the fire with a hot cup of coffee.

Lost in transition, any one of us going through loss, picking up the pieces...until we work through it, we are in this state of uncertainty, in limbo. There's no shortcut to healing your heart, no magic potion to make the pain go away. The only way to get through it is to face grief head on. Some people don't get it though. They ignore the pain, think it will disappear if they don't pay any attention. Some people act on impulse, make decisions without thinking of the consequences. Others get angry or fall into despair, and still some act like the grief doesn't exist, like nothing's wrong. We all know someone like that but you can't hide from grief, it finds a way in whether you realize it or not.

Grief is not easy, if anything at all, it's scary and it doesn't matter how many times you go through it. If only we talked more about death before it happened. What it means when death happens to the old, to the young, what it means for those of us left behind. Falling in love is rare, death on the other hand happens every second of every day.

When death takes someone that we love, when it hits close to home and we can feel the grief settling in...we find ourselves standing still but also moving forward.



Past Lives and Connections

Last night I attended my first-ever psychic medium session. There were about twenty-two of us in the room listening to Cathy, a psychic medium and transformation expert, and Andy, a clairvoyant and astrologer, introduce themselves.  This session was part two of an intuitive workshop the pair had led earlier in the afternoon. 

Other than the new friends I had made in the afternoon session, I didn’t know anyone in the room and didn’t know what to expect. I believe that there is more to this universe than what we can see. I believe that there is a higher power, a god if you will. I believe in the possibility of a spirit communicating from the great beyond, and I know from experience that it can happen. A month or so after my mom passed, she came to me in a dream—her presence was so strong it jarred me awake and I saw her sitting at the foot of my bed. There have been other instances too, where I’ve felt a presence guiding me or acting on my behalf—like the time I almost fell asleep at the wheel and felt something press my foot on the brake. It’s with this open heart that I settled in to listen and experience this psychic session.

I was jotting down a note about evidential mediumship when Andy first mentioned “Aunt Petunia.” I raised my head, and he said the name again, no one else in the room flinched. That’s when I first suspected mom was in the room. Petunia, or more specifically “my sweet Petunia” was my pet name, what my mom would call me when I was a child.

The evening unfolded with Andy alternating between reading someone’s past life and Cathy sharing communications from the spirits lingering in the room to their loved ones seated around me.  When a catch phrase or word struck a chord I would jot them down in my notebook, and throughout the evening it felt as if my pen never quite left the page. At one point, I looked down to find a quarter of the page covered in doodles.  

Doodling was something my mom would do. Preoccupied with her thoughts while on the phone with friends or filling out the crossword puzzle, there would inevitably be doodles in the margins of whatever piece of paper was nearby. I hadn’t thought about that in a long time, and yet the memory is crystal clear. A yellow and green #2 pencil, slightly worn, the hazy gray sheets of the Daily News, Mom drinking her coffee in a signature Morton’s Salt themed coffee cup, poring over the clues.

“Your heart chakra is glowing a neon green,” Andy says, and then asks me what era in time I resonate with most. “The 1940s,” I reply and it opens a floodgate about my past life as a 1940s French film star who rallied for the underdog and played a part in the underground resistance during WWII. I couldn’t help but smile. 

“I bet you’re a champion for your friends, too,” he continued. Next he talked about my “benevolent energy” and the strength of my third chakra, the center of self-esteem, and how it had been recently tested. “Know that you cannot be pushed.” It was a reaffirmation from the hell of last week that I can and will persevere.

Near the close of the evening, I learned that my mom had a very strong presence in the room. Cathy wanted me to know that she had always been around and would continue to be around, to support and guide me. Cathy asked me if we were close and I told her yes that we were very tied to each other both as mother/daughter and as friends.  She acknowledged that it was the nurturing of the intuition that tied us, and was at the root of our strong bond. It was surreal hearing those words but also distinctly comforting, I could feel her presence holistically.

Maybe I’ll get to see her in my dreams tonight, too.


Unlocking Intuition

This week was a different kind of intense with disconnected communications at work to the fluctuating temperatures of a winter season that refuses to let go. It was very draining and stirred up a vortex of emotion. Add that to the current state of uncertainty that I’ve been dealing with these past few months, it was no surprise that Friday night was spent vegged out on the couch.

I had signed up for a workshop on Saturday and was contemplating attending the evening session as well. Both events explored how to nurture intuitive communications, something I’ve been longing to get back in touch with. As a child, I had always been tapped into my intuition but in recent years the connection has been a bit faulty. 

Intuition identifies your true heart and with practice can assist with your life’s journey—it has many synonyms but most people refer to it as listening to your gut. It’s a gift my mom and I shared, and in earlier days, I actively nurtured it with my writing, through yoga, and art classes. I have fond memories of attending workshops and classes, participating in a women’s circle where we shared life stories seated around a burning sage bush, learning meditation and occasionally walking the labyrinth in Union Square. All these activities brought with them a sense of calm and peace, and I wanted to rediscover how to access that feeling again. 

That’s how I found myself in Windsor Terrace this afternoon, searching for the Prospect Range in the pouring rain. The workshop, “Using Intuition in Business and Life, A Pathway to Creativity and Abundance” was led by Cathy Towle, a psychic medium and transformation expert, and Andrew Brewer, a clairvoyant and astrologer. The 2-1/2 hour workshop was an interactive discussion about how to sharpen your intuitive skills to empower yourselves creatively and with instinct to ultimately manifest change.  


Snowfall in Cincinnati

The skyline alight in neon red, I leave NYC behind, flying northwest over the great island of Manhattan, the Hudson River and New Jersey destined for a different tri-state area. Cincinnati International Airport touches Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It seems counter intuitive to fly north when your destination is due south but I think we can all agree that the enigmatic code that goes into air flight scheduling is not decipherable by many. 

The flight attendant's voice on the intercom is garbled, as if I'm on a Manhattan-bound subway car. The plane is full and tiny, 21 rows deep, 4 seats wide with a sloped ceiling where anyone over 5'7" has to stoop to get into the carriage and to their seat. The flight is uneventful and less than two hours later we arrive to a snow-covered runway. The snow fury is marking its passage every which way.  The terminal is deserted and I make my way through the concourse on an inter-terminal airtrain. The baggage claim and ground transportation are accessed by a set of escalators, where only one is in service. There is a gurney at the top of the non-moving escalator, and although my mind registers it I'm too tired to process what that could mean. 

As I step onto the escalator and make my way down it all becomes clear as the firefighters and EMT crew come into view. They are assisting an elderly gentleman who had fallen face forward onto the escalator. He could have been Dad's age, or younger, and he is battered and bruised, and seemingly alone. His injuries are visible and worrisome, a huge bump on his head, blood running down his forearms. I can't help but think of Dad's accident, the similarities uncanny. Flashes of his own fall, the blood on the landing, the EMTs examination, his insistence that he was fine. A guy standing behind me points out that you can never be too sure of what the repercussions of a fall like that could mean, "most folks that age are on blood thinners." I shuddered, remembering all too well.  
At the bottom of the staircase, the baggage claim is hopping with passengers, queued up at the American Airlines help desk. The DoubleTree shuttle is just outside, where slush of a different kind is piling up. A family of four from Massachusetts joins me in the van. They are making their way to Disney World in Orlando, this is their second flight in as many days, the final one tomorrow will hopefully get them closer to the sun, just like me.  

Snow fury and contemplation...

I’ve questioned my sanity these last few days as I try to make my way to a sunnier locale in the middle of this godforsaken snow fury hitting the eastern seaboard. Do you remember The Gods Must Be Crazy? It was a movie released back in the 80s, that’s sort of how I feel right now.

I was supposed to leave yesterday morning, which means I would have already been acclimated to the balmy equatorial climate of Cancun, nearly adjusted to the refreshing sea salt in the air. Instead I’ve been sequestered in my apartment, wearing fluffy pajamas and going stir crazy as I bide my time until a night flight to Cincinnati.

Yes Cincinnati as in the hometown of the fictional WKRP radio station. I’ll have an 8-hour layover before I fly to Mexico, and unfortunately it’s an overnight so I won’t be able to visit any of the recommended points of interest. As luck would have it the Doubletree where I’ll be staying straddles both Ohio and Kentucky so I’ll be missing out on exploring two states instead of just one. I guess I’ll have to mark them off my bucket list another time.

two hours later  

In a burst of clarity this afternoon, I thought it’d be best if I repacked the suitcase. Except I couldn’t find the key to unlock the damn thing and then I remembered the metal cutter was stashed in the shed under a drift of packed snow. It’s amazing how MacGyver-like you can be when you’re in mitzvah. After I nicked the lock with gardening shears + a wrench, I remembered (thankfully) that I put the keys in my coat. That probably saved the zipper’s life.

The suitcase has been packed and repacked. Electronics are charged. Plugs are in the bag. I’ve got forty-five minutes until the car service arrives, enough time for a coffee and if I stop typing, some scrambled eggs. I haven’t eaten much of anything these last two days, an unhealthy side effect of anxiety and stress. Yep, making them eggs now.


Remembering Mama (and Daddy, too)

Save fingertips clicking across a soft keyboard, and the purr of a coffee-colored feline sleeping, the night is filled with absolute silence. There is a stillness lingering, the subtle essence of vanilla and sugar settling into the air. In these first minutes of a new day and an anniversary, or two.

The first anniversary is a joyful one, a day when my mom and dad stood before their family and friends exchanging vows and their devotion for one another.

My mom wore a high-collared long sleeved tea-length wedding dress, my father a dapper black suit and tie. I know this from the black and white photos nestled into old scrapbooks and archived photo sleeves. The images are from before and after, I haven't yet found one taken at the church. I recognize the sweeping banister in the dining room and the arch at the entryway between the living room and the foyer, all taken at the house. This house, their house, our house.

Later when I remember the second anniversary, the not so pleasant one, the sequential montage will come to mind in a flash of archways and bannisters, wooden parquet floors and cornice moldings, swirling around a hospital bed. I will remember the muted television and the flash of Lauren Bacall on a train traveling through the desert, the silence interrupted by an intermittent beat of a respirator, my father snoring on the couch. The absence of a grey striped cat, and the eerie stillness that lingers indefinitely when you realize that the quiet you are hearing is your mother's last breath saying goodbye. 

Remembering Mama, 14 Years Gone, Forever in Our Hearts
Lucy Romano Preziotti
9/19/28 - 1/23/00


New Year, New Me

Twenty-two days in to a brand new year and what do I have planned? Change, and lots of it. Change of life, change of perspective and in the not so distance future, a change of address. That last one will be a challenge, once you live in a place for most of your lifetime it becomes more than a physical entity and part of your lifeline. Yes, I'm talking about the invisible lifelines on your palm, and the superimposed ones that trace the bloodlines from your heart center to your mind. The intangible becomes solid and everything takes on another sheen of reality. All at the hand of one moment that acts as the catalyst for all those fleeting thoughts of what ifs pondered on roads not yet taken.

If this doesn't make sense it's okay, I don't think it's supposed to. That's what grief does: scrambles the frequency of thoughts conjured by a once rational at times dreamy daughter and neutralizes them, until she's ready to deal. Which may be today, or tomorrow, or yesterday, and that all takes time. The healing, it takes time.


Keeping it steady

Unready. Am I having second thoughts, and if so, why am I having second thoughts. I was ready am ready. And yet suddenly unsure, maybe it’s the fear, that fear of the unknown – not knowing what decision is right vs. the one that could be wrong.
Am I ready? Or is that I am unready?
Funny how things shift day-to-day feelings, ideas, thoughts – seismic shift, continental shift, sands through an hourglass shift. Life is beginning and ending simultaneously at any given moment.
How do I feel about anything? Right now I feel hollow, lost. Even going to the vet with Rocky – I hear the doctor say the words but the meaning is a gobbledy-gook of nonsense to this ear.

Right here. Right now.
Today is Bev’s year anniversary – how my heart reaches across time and space and distance to hold my West Coast family at its center. In three days it will be mom’s 14th death anniversary. Fourteen years, where did they all go? Then in 13 days it’ll be six months without Dad. Sometimes time moves fast, sometimes slow, but it keeps on moving.

Moving. This year I will be moving...toward what is the question. Working toward the next chapter of my life, to another something, which can mean anything. 

Anything at all.  


South Brooklyn, as i know it

11pm on a Saturday. Not so long ago that meant teased hair and tight jeans, stepping into a red shiny car only to drive up and down the avenue (as 86th street was known back then). Today that same strip is quiet, deserted save a taxi or two. The roller rink has been replaced by a national liquidator and a local supper club, Lenny's Pizza holds its ground a few blocks north, and that movie theatre is now a Rite Aid, neither of which are open right this second.

South Brooklyn. That's where I am from. The South Brooklyn of the 70s before the real estate market redefined neighborhoods and invented fancy acronyms like BoCoCa (aka Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens). When looking at a map, the actual South Brooklyn  includes Coney Island, Gravesend, Bensonhurst and Homecrest--parts of the borough that unlike every other area just close enough to the Big Island of Manhattan have survived without regentrification.

When my dad was growing up, Luna Park (as the amusement park was called back then before renamed Astroland) was an integral part of his childhood. One of his uncles or cousins leased the Tornado, a predecessor (along with the Thunderbolt) to the famous Cyclone roller coaster, and he spent many a summer handing out and collecting tickets from enthusiastic thrill seekers. My Aunt Millie had her own claim to fame working at the Brighton Beach Bathhouses. I'm not sure what (or where) Uncle Dom was at the time.

This is where my roots are, where my family tree was planted and flourished. In a 3-story brick house, 2.5 miles northeast of the magic of carney in Coney. There is a slate path of multi-colored slabs leading toward my front door, alongside where once stood a towering pussy willow tree, the branches of which my mom and I would harvest each Fall. The backyard equal parts concrete and grass conjures memories of leap frog, sprinklers in summer heat, of baloney sandwiches and games of hide and seek.

It is here that my brother's children played corn hole with my dad, here where I taught  neighboring children how to make snow angels after the season's first snowfall.  There are so many memories lingering in the eaves of this house, in the branches of the bare bushes in hard winter soil, seeping into the concrete foundation that I call home.