Tag Archives: Grief

sample autobiography essay

Note: Today marks 10 years ago that Christopher Mele’s fiancee, Carla Carlson, died.

Those who knew her celebrated the larger-than-life character she was. For those who never met her, this tribute — in the form of a Carla-to-English dictionary — will give you a better sense of who she was and why she was unique.

Rest in peace ODB. You are missed.

English was a second language for Carla. Her primary language is something I call “Carlaese” or “Carlaspeak.”

She had a shorthand expression for so many things. Here’s a glossary of some:

Earchs: Ears, or sometimes referring to her hearing aids

Moo: Milk

Mock milk: My skim milk

Pussycat list: Her favorite actors who were hunks or sexy, as in: Sam Waterson is on her pussycat list

Leguns: Legs

Bunnies: Butt, behind. As in “Nice bunnies.”

Put my eyeballs on: Put on her eye glasses

Pray to St. Yolanda Vega:  Her homage to the woman who picks the winning Lotto numbers in the hopes that she would pick Carla’s numbers

Boogeritis: A runny nose, a bad cold

Frowzy: To be in a state of disarray or unkempt, as in: When he woke up, he was all frowzy looking.

Scrunch: To get a rub or massage, as in: Can you give my shoulder a scrunch?

Gripper pads: Usually referring to the cats’ padded paws, sometimes referring to devices with Velcro

Eggie wegs: The plastic Easter eggs the cats like to play with

Gum snapper: A term generally applied to a young, inept cashier or receptionist, as in: Some gum snapper couldn’t find the price of the carrots.

Belly warmer: A reference to a young girl, generally in her late teens or early 20s, often in a relationship with an older man, as in: Yeah, that college professor was seen having coffee with some belly warmer. Derived, I think, from the notion that if they were together that she’d be on laying on top and keeping his “belly warm.”

Forshnoricated, to forshnoricate: To get organized, to tidy up, as in: Before we go on vacation, I need to get the bills forshnoricated. This is one of my all-time favorites.

Handyman: A reference to the handicapped sign to hang on the rearview mirror of her truck so she could park in a disabled person’s parking spot

Glom: To steal, to take without asking

Gonif: A thief, or someone crooked not to be trusted

Fish eye/Godzilla eye: To be looked at sideways; at a glance; with one eye open and one closed; to be viewed with disdain or distrust, as in: Yeah, she was giving me the fish eye from across the room.

Pike off: Spy on; check out; snoop

Dirt alert: Juicy bit of gossip, high-priority dish

PUD file: Potentially Useful Dirt, something to tuck away for a rainy day

Amies: A reference to animals, as in: We are going to the zoo to look at all the amies.

Hidey hole: Some secret spot for stashing things

Hide in plain sight: Usually referring to something that went missing that was right in front of her

Perp chirp: A reference to my First Responder pager, which would sound a little chirp with bulletins about police activity, hence Perp chirp

Whoziwhatsis: Her all-purpose term for an item the name of which she could not remember, but somehow I would always understand what she was talking about.

Walking sideways: To be a crab, or to be in a crabby mood, as in: I can tell you had a bad day at work because when you got home, you were walking sideways.

Lit up like a whorehouse on a Saturday night: A house with lots and lots of lights on

As Irish as Patty’s pig: Um, I guess this one is self-explanatory. I never quite got it.

As bold as brass: Again, self-explanatory. Usually reserved for when the cats got caught doing something bad, like jumping up on the table, and then denying that they had done anything wrong

Poooooor: An expression of sympathy, sometimes in a mocking way, but again usually reserved for the cats, especially if they’ve not been fed yet, as in: Pooooor baby. Nobody fed you yet?

The hairless ones: A reference to the boys as pre-teens who were sans body hair

EBS: What the cats suffered when they had not been fed: Empty Bowl Syndrome.

The Man/Daddy: Talking about me in the third person to the cats, as in: Are you glad Daddy is home? Did the Man feed you?

Keeplock: A term from her days in correctional services, meaning to put the cats in solitary confinement, as in: When I serve the turkey, the cats are going into keeplock.

Big Perch: When she got her new bedroom set years ago, the queen-sized bed became Molly’s “big perch” where she liked to stay during the day and sleep. The name sort of stuck and the house in Lords Valley, with its viewshed, also became “The Big Perch.”

MBC: Might Bitey Cat, a reference to Misha, who likes to gnaw on feet and toes.

Tumbleweeds: To brawl or fight; to roll around in the street in a fight, as in: If she makes one more snide comment, we’re gonna be tumbleweeds.

…or know the reason why: This usually came at the end of some kind of question or statement, as in: I’m going to find that bank statement or know the reason why. Never quite grasped this one either.

Lemonsucker: A sourpuss, someone who thought they were high and mighty or uppity, as in: That priest was a real lemonsucker.

Looked like a bum in a fit: I don’t know the origins of this, but it means to look disheveled, unkempt; see “frowzy.” Also could be used interchangeably with: “Looked like the “ ‘Wreck of the Hesperus.’ ” (After a poem by Longfellow.)

Slit-eyed: Tired; eyes like slits from not being able to open them

Garb: Garbage

Rags: Her beloved rags, The National Enquirer, The Globe, The National Examiner, Star. Fridays were “Rag Day,” because that’s the day they hit the newsstands. And woe unto you if you forgot to bring home the rags.

Fershstunken: Stinks, smells bad, as in: I need to take a shower to get rid of the fershstunken.

Whoopin’ it up: Partying and drinking pretty hard

Price of rice: To set someone straight, as in: I’m going to tell him about the price of rice

Purpsi: Her favorite soft drink: Pepsi

Guzzoline: Gasoline

The Disease Store: Her name for the local supermarket, which is called Mr. Z’s.

Sunday goin’ to meetin’ clothes: Your finest threads; dressed up for special occasion

No big whoop: No sweat, no big deal; also No biggie

Clutching their pearls/Getting a case of the vapors: Sort of evocative of Victorian upper society and being offended at something relatively small and feeling faint or light-headed over it; think the straight lady in a Marx Bros. Movie, as in: When I cracked that joke at the meeting, the chairwoman was sitting there clutching her pearls.

Crazy hour: Not any particular time or not even an hour long, but it referred to that point of the night (usually the night) when the cats would be so hyper and frisky, jumping around, springing backward, etc.

Whimwhams: Feelings of anxiety, butterflies; insecurities

Don’t touch my shit: One of her golden rules. Just leave her stuff alone and no one gets hurt.

Since Hector was a pup: I have no godly idea where this comes from. It is used to refer to a significant passage of time, or age, as in: That store has been there since Hector was a pup.

Knee-high to a kitten: Again, another measure of age, usually referring to kids who have now grown up, as in: I remember him when he was knee-high to a kitten.

Growth experiences are a bitch: Sort of a variant of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This one is a Band-Aid to get you through a tough time by making you laugh and reminding you that you will get through it.

Shit happens: A bit of a variation of no big whoop. A general dispensation and way of addressing something big or small that has gone awry, especially if it’s out of your control, as in: Yeah, it sucks that the tree limb fell on the car, but you know, shit happens.

Plo-plos: Pillows. Especially used if she was switching from the dayside decorative pillows to the nighttime ones, as in: Can you get the plo-plos out of the closet?

Smokin’ dope: To express disbelief or something absurd, as in: I looked at the prices for steak at Mr. Z’s. Forget it, they were smokin’ dope.

Beams: Indoor lights, as in: Why are all these beams on?

When the student is willing, the master/teacher will appear: Very Zen like. More or less that when you are ready to change or to learn, an opportunity will present itself for you to grow or change.

Ambiance: Yes, this of course is a legitimate word, but she would draw out the ‘a’ so it was “Aaaaambiance” but it would refer to her desire to have the lights turned off and candles lit in the room.

White trash tables: Folding snack tray tables, the white trash reference comes from the notion that white trash uses them as everyday dining ware.

Appropriate: Here it is a verb, as in to appropriate something, which in Carla’s case, meant taking it, usually on the sly. Not exactly stealing but not exactly kosher either. As in, I needed to appropriate some office supplies from the jail.

Dipseydoodle: Flim-flam, to con, to get away with something, as in: I had the cashier so dipseydoodled that she forgot to charge me for the bread.

Parlay: Just one of those words she liked to use as in, I parlayed my coupons.

Three thousand nine hundred ninety nine: Again, one of those words she used a lot. For some stupid reason, this one grated on me. Maybe because she never used a different number, ever. Example: We have 3,999 rolls of toilet paper in the closet but none in the bathrooms.

Babies: The deer. Again with the elongated pronunciation: “Baaaaabies.”

Hurty: To hurt, to ache

Clicker: TV remote control

Heaterarator: The heating elements, the baseboard heat.

Nappy: Nap, sleep, as in: The cats and I are going to take a little nappy.

Ching chow: Chinese food

Wontonton: Wonton soup

Poofy: Her way of describing swelling, as in: My feet are all poofy.

Firin’ around: To be running around, especially doing chores or work; sort of implies an aimlessness to the effort

Sue my ass and get a fart: Especially popular expression when it came to bill collectors

Go scratch your ass with a broken bottle: An all-purpose insult

Eat shit and bay at the moon: See above

Snout: Shout, the washing pre-treatment

Greedy Gus: Someone who wants a lot, takes a lot

Friends in low places: We like these people, such as clerks and secretaries

Better to be lost than found: Sometimes it’s better to keep a low profile

Pataki cigarettes: When the governor signed legislation mandating that cigarettes flame out quickly if they’ve not been puffed on as a fire safety measure, Carla went nuts because her smokes kept snuffing out, hence her hatred for “Pataki cigarettes.”

Gussied up: To be all dressed up, spiffed up, could be implied to be in a slutty kind of way

Naked cats: When the cat is without its collar, it is naked

Cut from the cheek of his/her ass: Someone who is very much alike someone else, as in: Michael is cut from the cheek of his dad’s ass.

Slam’s Club: Sam’s Club

Wrinchkey: To tear, mangle, break; to make more difficult; or sometimes to twist, turn, remove as in: I need you to wrinchkey this bolt off or Don’t wrinchkey the envelope, use an opener.

Sleept: To have slept

Grade Z movie: Really, really bad movie. A stinker but possibly fun anyway.

Kidney killer: The muscle-enhancing supplement creatine that Garth would take

God squad: A holy roller, someone who is very religious or preachy

Cat’s paw: Someone who is being manipulated to do something on behalf of someone else, as in: Danny will sometimes unwittingly be Michael’s cat’s paw.

How you doin?/Whatya doin?/What’s shakin’ baby?/What’s on your agenda today?: All different ways of asking what’s going on.

Check please! Meant to convey a desire to get out of there, to remove oneself from a tight spot, as in: When I saw security coming for me and Arl at the mall, I was like check please!

Fleabagus: What she would call the cats if she saw them scratching

‘She’ is the cat’s mother: I don’t know the origins of this and it was not cited too often, but it would come out if one of the boys used the pronoun ‘she’ in some context where it was no clear who she was.

Dead: As in empty, broken or flat, usually referring to her cans of Pepsi which might have been left open for some time, as in: This one is dead. Can you get me a new one?

Bird bath/whore’s bath: To get scrubbed up just using a washcloth and water in the sink. It’s a quick bath to get ready vs. a full-fledged shower.

Hire the handicapped week: Usually said in connection with shopping at ShopRite where the baggers or the cashiers were slow-witted, or in some cases, outright retarded

Getting a bath: When the cats would lick her hand or arm

One toke over the line: A person who is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. They are just a little more crazy than the average person. Someone who is a bit of a burnout.

Cocksuckers from hell: This is an all-time fave of mine. Used only in the most extreme of stress and anger, especially if she was trying to fix something and it would not work or if something broke, spilled or if she was scared badly enough from one of my practical jokes.

Ease into the day: To lounge in PJs in bed, reading the paper or watching TV until about noon or so; the idea being not to act too rashly by jumping into the daily chores (just the opposite of me!)

Sidewalk superintendent act: Someone who watches from the sidelines but does no work

Farfel mouth: I don’t know the origins of this one, but it was a reference to the cats meowing

Would you jump in my grave as fast? Usually reserved for someone who cut in front of her on line

Muscular spiders: Big spiders that needed the exterminator’s attention

I’d rather clothe him than feed him: A big kid

..could put a saddle on him: Usually a reference to a big dog

Scuffs: Slippers

Kicks: Sneakers

Felony fliers: Expensive sneakers

Lounge wear: Comfortable pajamas

Fuck me where I sit: An exclamation of agitation

Didn’t even get kissed first: The notion that she was getting screwed over without the benefit of a kiss first

Case of the ass: Someone who is a state of disagreement or unhappiness; pissed off

Drunkin Doorknobs: Her nickname for Dunkin’ Donuts

Marlboro miles: Someone who looked like they had been around the block a few times and had the wrinkles to prove it

Fellow traveler: A member of AA, a recovering alcoholic

If I were president, there would be one brand of toilet paper: One of her soapbox speeches. Always made me laugh

Tapdance on your eyelids: What she would threaten to do to you if she got pissed off and angry

Staring at the inside of my eyeballs: To sleep

Valley of Fatigue: Getting sleepy

I’m getting in the car: Her oft-repeated threat that, if carried out, meant she was getting in the car and headed to do harm to someone. This one was especially used in the direction of Pat, who pissed her off to no end. So I would often have to talk Carla out of the treetops and convince her that it would NOT be a good idea to go to Pat’s doorstep and shoot her.

Paying for the sins of others: Her lament that other people were causing her discomfort. For instance, because Oxycotin has been so widely abused, it was that much more difficult  for her to get her legitimate scrips filled in a timely way. Or the docs would hem and haw about giving it to her. Because “others” had abused the drugs, she was now paying for their sins.

Tut!: What she’d shout at the cats to get their attention and to reprimand them for doing something they should not be doing. Also worked well on sons and significant others.

Jailin’ it: If someone’s pants were droopy or falling down, they were jailin’ it, a la gangbangers or inmates who would dress that way for fashion

Beat it biscuit lips: What she would say to the cats if they were trying to beg for food, or to the kids if they were eavesdropping somewhere they should not be.

Arthur-it is: Referring to arthritis, especially with Molly

Fart smella: Her play on words. Instead of saying “smart fella” someone would be a “fart smella”

In addition to her shorthand expressions, she also had a nickname for many people:

St. Josephite

The Maje

Big Gay Al (BGA)

The Oompas

Bugman

Weepster

Roger Dodger

Miss Saigon

The Skipper

Pute

Itchy

Icky

Kevin Bibi

Officer Special

The Padre

MS

Wonka

The Boy

The Ungrateful One

Frowzy

JT

HFB

The Kid

His Nibs

Her Nibs

YMD

The Divine Miss M.

Pops

Little Kruchev

Little Pute

JJ

Sue B.

The Crow Lady

The Bear Man

Kip

Plumer the Plumber

Hizzoner

MP

Pipster

Mary Mac

The Rat Bastard

Muscleman

Fig

Beardsley

Mondo Video

CM2

Related links:

http://coastbd.net/

Man in Mourning: Where Do You Put the Pepsi and the Pain?

Man in Mourning: Where Do You Put the Pepsi and the Pain?

It was nine years ago today that my fiancée Carla died.

The weeks immediately after her death were a blend of profound sorrow and emptiness.

Carla, who led a colorful and sometimes pain-filled life, used to joke: “Growth experiences are a bitch.”

Yeah, that about described it.

Looking back on those early months after her death opens a window unto my state of mind and how I was coping. Below is an excerpt from an email I wrote a little less than four months after she died.

I think of it as a meditation on a man in mourning.

March 18, 2007

Mom and Dad came up to help me go through Carla’s footwear (Imelda Marcos was such a rank amateur), coats, jackets, pants, sweaters, tops and her bling.

Mom also ably went through what we used to refer to as the “foofoo bathroom,” the one upstairs that I ceded to Carla and that she promptly turned into a “girlie” bathroom with all the perfumes, sprays, lotions and other female-y stuff to match.

Mom was able to fill something like nine black garbage bags with clothes and shoes to donate to charity. Wow, did Carla have good taste – albeit a bit weird at times — in clothes and accessories. Of course, that would match her taste in men! LOL

I came back to the house today after dropping Mom and Dad off at my sister’s and went into the foofoo bathroom. Sure, it’s the same but it is something less now.

Carla’s crazy, chaotic style of stocking the shelves has been replaced with organized groupings of stuff that’s worth keeping.

Her dresser, once a hodge-podge of décor is now a bunch of jewelry boxes, stacked.

And the closet? Devoid of her nutty, weirdly stylish array of clothes.

IMG_3010

The sense of loss came back as if you were at the beach and had your back turned to the ocean and a wave crashes over you and knocks you down. You suddenly are below water, and then break through, cursing and wondering what the hell just happened.

And then it came back again: How dare she leave me and the boys? Who the hell did she think she was, not taking care of herself like that? Why didn’t she get to the doctor sooner?

So much for forward momentum.

And then came this: Come home from grocery shopping with the boys. Stowing the food and came across an open bag of her beloved Sun Chips. And with audible apologies to her, I took it and tossed it in the trash.

But then came time for Mike to help me put away cans of my soda.

And there they were: Two 12 packs of her goddamned Pepsi, squirreled away in a narrow little cabinet by the stove. The Pepsi that I was in charge of stocking in the fridge, the Pepsi that she would start the day off with a “pffffft” as she pulled back the can’s tab, the Pepsis she carried EVERY-friggin’-WHERE with her – doctor’s offices, fairs, shopping, you name it.

And so Mike asked such a simple, but profound question at that moment: What are we going to do with the Pepsi?

Damned Mike if I know.

Much in the same way I still have the cooler that was packed with her Pepsi on Nov. 6 – the day we headed to the doc’s and then the hospital – still sitting in the truck, untouched, unopened.

So, yeah, where do you put the Pepsi and the pain?

The answer I think lies in not mourning Carla’s death but continuing to celebrate her life.

She had no use for the pity pot and would probably kick my ass from here to next Tuesday if she thought I was wallowing in self-pity.

Doesn’t necessarily make it any easier, but there it is.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

 

 

 

My Brother Always Had Your Back

Note: Today marks the birthday of AMR contributor Richard Rodriguez’s late brother, Ralph. To commemorate the day, we are reposting this blog entry.

My oldest brother passed away a few years ago and I think of him often. I miss him a lot.

He was a unique person and was always there when you needed him no matter what the circumstance: car breakdowns, accidents, moving, fixing things. You name the situation, he was there for you.

The story I’m about to tell is true. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, and the facts may be twisted as my memory has seen better days.

One night my friends (most of the AMR crew) were headed out to the movies when my brother got a phone call and he asked us if we could help him with a friend whose car was stuck.

We declined since we knew my brother would be able to handle it.

When we got back, my brother was still out, and my other brother was out there too.

This was serious! So off we went to help.

He was at Ferry Point Park on the Bronx side by the Whitestone Bridge. At night, it was big “make out” spot.

Our friend was not stuck in the parking lot, but had squeezed his car through the pilings and into the dark recesses of the place, and was stuck in mud.

My brother had maneuvered his vehicle back there too, and in trying to get the other car out, also got stuck.

What a situation: Our friend was there with a girl who was not his girlfriend so this demanded our utmost discretion.

This poor girl was sitting in the back of my brother’s van as we all tried to get the vehicles unstuck.

We called a tow truck.

Problem was that when it got there, it was too big to get through the barriers.

We convinced the driver to pull one of the pilings out of the ground with his wench so he could get through.

This was going to be an expensive night.

Then the cops showed up.

They couldn’t believe what we were doing, but at least they were cool about it when our friend said, hey I’m a cop.

But when they asked to see his badge he couldn’t find it. He probably dropped it in the mud trying to get his car out.

Shit. Big trouble.

The officers warned us to move the cars and get the hell out of there and be sure to put the piling back.

They didn’t want to see us there when they swung back around later.

We hopped to it.

The tow truck got the cars out, we put everything back the way it was and we made tracks.

Still no badge (he actually found it the next day), but at least everyone got to go home and none of us ended up in jail.

I guess we should have gone out to help my brother from the start since that’s what he would’ve done for us without thinking twice, ‘cause he always had your back.

Ralph bro 2

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com

More Than Just A Hat: A Story of Loss

I have never really been much of a hat wearer, even in the most Arctic of weather. It has to get really, really cold for me to want to risk getting “hat hair.”

But when the temperatures really do plunge, I have a special hat I trot out for the occasion.

Maybe once a season, I will wear what looks like a bear’s head.

The black fur sits snugly on my head and the bill features a bear’s eyes, snout and open, teeth-baring mouth.

hat 2

I’ve worn it proudly in public much to the mortification of my boys and to the astonishment of some of my co-workers. It’s a fun conversation piece.

It didn’t start out that way though.

My fiancée got it for me about 14 years ago at the gift shop at Bear Mountain in the Hudson Valley in New York.

I remember at the time being a bit peeved that she was spending so much money on it, given that I hardly wear hats to begin with, much less one that was so silly.

In my Teutonic view, this hat was an impractical indulgence.

But Carla bought it nonetheless. She had an aptitude for whimsy, for seizing the moment and for making the most  of it.

That, in turn, meant she had a way of busting me out of my shell and for helping me take myself less seriously.

This explains how there are photos of me with an owl perched on my shoulder leaning into my cheek (a birds of prey exhibit at a Fourth of July fair), how I got temporary tattoos (another country fair) and how we ended up celebrating Halloween like it was a high holy day, complete with Carla dressing up like a vampire.

Such was her spirit.

At one point, we bought a hat shaped like a birthday cake, complete with upright candles. In our home, whoever was celebrating their birthday had to wear that hat when it came time to blow out the candles on their cake.

Birthday hat

I have many photos of family and friends sporting that goofy hat.

But that bear hat –- that crazy, expensive, silly bear hat — far and away, takes pride of place.

One of my favorite photos of Carla is of her peering over her glasses, standing in front of our Christmas tree wearing that bear hat.

Carla bear hat

About six years after she bought me that hat –- on Nov. 30, 2006, to be precise — Carla died.

Though it’s eight years-plus since she died, and I have since then been extraordinarily blessed to be united with my best beloved, Meg, and to be married, I still grieve for Carla.

Weird, right?

So on the occasions that I bust out that bear hat, it reminds me of Carla.

It makes me smile, it allows me to fondly remember her and it makes me glad that she bought it over my misgivings.

That bear hat warms my head. And my heart.

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio.

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com