With Sweaty Hands

With sweaty hands and minor trepidation, she pulls her big ol’ button-up gray sweater up and over her head and begins to write for the first time in a long time…

…because it is you, Dear Reader, that I’ve been thinking about on this snowy December evening; where I have self-barricaded myself indoors, celebrating the first day of a monthly gift given to me by Mother Nature herself, unaffiliated with holidays; Given to me for the first time at twelve years old with an impossible refusal during a December school day many moons ago. It is a gift that will continue to give, until I am likely middle-aged and with much more Life lived, perhaps more sway in my hips, along with many more stories to tell.

They say she’s a good writer, but she doesn’t believe them.

So where to begin? Well, allow me to dive right into my day:

I unwillingly woke early this morning, groggy as hell. Grey skies and pressing responsibilities do not go well together. The past couple of mornings I’ve nursed and cradled my coffee like a crutch. But there is something about the warmth and bitter and feeling accomplished when the cup is fully drunk…Perhaps more of my undying love affair with coffee later. I mean, what can you expect when my idols are Captain Janeway and Lorelai Gilmore? 😉

I’ve been slightly addicted to this Star Trek Timelines game that I found out about via like-minded Trek fans about on Twitter. It’s been out for a year, but I haven’t heard of it until recently. It’s been eating up little moments of my time lately, and more often that I’d like to admit. But anyway, I played that for a bit and soon realized time was escaping me, so I quickly got dressed. The shirt I chose is one my brother got me for a birthday present in October and it’s a shirt I cherish dearly. It says, “Vulcan In The Streets, Klingon In The Sheets”. Definitely one of my most favorite shirts. I’m so lucky to have a brother who knows me so well. I am also very cognizant of the fact that I primarily clothe myself in Star Trek merch and band merch and I have 0 problem with that.

And then today was primarily spent editing a final project with a friend/classmate of mine. From about 10 to 3 we were diligently worked on that and I’m very happy to report it is now done and submitted. I only now have to worry about submitting a final paper (that I haven’t started writing yet…) that’s due Tuesday. But I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

I came home as the first magic moments of snow began to descend, craving hot water bottles and tea and chocolate and sweatpants. I feel very fortunate to have gotten all those things almost immediately as I walked in. My mom stayed home sick, but she somehow managed to procure chocolate and make me tea despite her condition. Moms are angels. My mom is an angel.

I was supposed to see a movie with friends tonight. I recently got the MoviePass card that I’m stoked to use. But I erred on the side of caution (as well as taking into account my physical ailments) and stayed home because of the weather. Good thing too because I just got a email a few minutes ago from MoviePass saying my card will be activated tomorrow, which would have meant if I’d have gone to the movie tonight, I wouldn’t have been able to use my card.

So I’ve been home, had a light dinner with my family, drank some whiskey, and I’ve been sitting up in bed, going between two books. I listened to the Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits record and damn, if that album isn’t life-affirming. It’s records like those that make you actually feel good when you listen to them. There’s not a bad song on it, and I mean yeah, it’s their greatest hits, but I don’t know…there’s just something magical about the whole thing. Simon & Garfunkel are legends.

In a moment of self-reflection as we approach the end of 2017…

It’s funny because I started this blog in the summer of 2013 with a whirlwind of doubt, uncertainty, and insecurity at my back with doubts and fears invading my mind; a fresh young graduate thrust upon the world, having worked so hard, having felt it was all for nothing. And four years later, I think the winds have changed in their intensity and color, and I don’t worry about the same things anymore. But some unknowns have remained the same. Like what does my future look like? I’m still unsure…

But with that said, I’m constantly grateful for all the people I’ve met while at Montclair State. I never thought I could or would “meet new people” or make new friends, but I have and I did. And I’m not sure where I be without them and without my going-back-to-school experience. Even if I never get a job in the television industry, I’m so unspeakably filled with gratitude these past few years. I’m not sure where I’d be without my MSU friends.

Final Thoughts…

The world is crazy these days. Sometimes it’s extremely difficult for me to navigate through and keep my head on straight. I urge you, Dear Reader, to keep on swimming, keep on treading. Keep reading, keep creating, keep seeking Truth, and living Life the best you know how. The biggest middle finger we can give to the current state of affairs, the best way to rebel, is to unapologetically be ourselves, spread love and acceptance, and like Simba, “laugh in the face of danger”.

xoxo

-RKB

🎶 I was gone for a minute now I’m back – 🎶

Surprise! Surprise!

Look who’s back on the blogosphere! (A.K.A. Me)

After returning from a two-week long family vacation to Virginia last month, I immediately bought the domain to ‘roeknowsbest.com’. I’m not entirely sure why, but it was one of the first things I did. I felt frantic, anxious, and disorganized when I came home. Something about reality hitting you after a vacation – and two weeks can sometimes seem like two months. Yikes! Time!

So I bought the damn thing, perhaps in an attempt to control a small part of my life, the other part being 99% destined to Fate by way of Serendipity somehow…I don’t know, I’m still figuring it all out.

So within the past two years, I haven’t posted anything (aside from a short poem) on Roe Knows Best since my Nonna’s death, which occurred literally two years ago today.

Needless to say, I really didn’t feel like writing anymore after that.

Also since her passing, everything I’ve attempted to bake or cook has been an absolute disaster; My heart’s not in it anymore. It doesn’t bring me the joy it used to.

But I don’t know…My mind whirrs and stirs and sings sometimes and I got the feel-good notion that, “Hey, maybe I should start up that blog again!”. It felt good to think the thought and imagine things to write about and laugh about and share with you all.

And today, being the two-year anniversary, seemed fitting.

Honestly, I think a large part of rebooting Roe Knows Best had to do with reading Wil Wheaton’s Just A Geek a few months ago. It just inspired me so much to get out there and do the thing. As my first real celebrity crush and I being a major Trek nerd, Wil Wheaton pulls a lot of weight with me. The book really hit me harder than I thought it would; I related to it on an astonishing level. And it’s so funny/interesting because when I was a tween and early teen (’02-’05), I would go to wilwheaton.net on a regular basis, reading his blog. Until I read the book, I forgot all about those years; Those years you had to seek out your websites and your fandoms – Before news feeds and social media! I even recall reading the first chapter or so of Just A Geek from his site. (Also in the acknowledgements at the end he says he listened to The Get Up Kids and Saves The Day while writing/editing the book?! How freakin’ cool is that?!) It’s definitely a book that’s changed my life.

 

So some other things going on…

  • I’m aiming to graduate with a second Bachelor’s degree in May 2018. Internships and job interviews still make me nervous as hell though. Every day is a balancing act between cynicism and optimism.
  • I’m currently (and happily) employed.
  • I’ve met so many cool people within the past two years, it’s frankly unbelievable to me.
  • More or less, I feel like I’m in a pretty good mental space. Granted, I always guilt-trip myself for still living at home and not having life figured out at 26, but I mostly try not to entertain the thought or when I do, give the ol’ middle finger to voice in my brain that guilt-trips me out. (Also my parents have been extremely kind, sweet, understanding, and supportive and seem to be very much against my self-guilt tripping)
  • I’ve been reading A LOT more. WOW. Check me out on goodreads.
  • I recently got into and finished all of Gilmore Girls – DEAR.LORD. everyday I wake up with an explosion of feels regarding this series. Will someone please sit down and talk with me about the Gilmore greatness?!
  • I also wrote a pretty dope paper on Captain Janeway last year and presented it TWICE (once at the NJCA conference and the other time at the Montclair State University Student Symposium), so I now consider myself to be a Janeway authority. When am I meeting Kate Mulgrew? For real though – It is one of the best papers I’ve ever written and I am incredibly proud of it. Hell, if you wanna read it, I’ll send it to ya!

 

Some goals I’d like to achieve with this BLOG REBOOT (#RoeKnowsBest2020):

  • Sharing songs/playlists/albums I’m currently into (in hopes that you’ll check them out too).
  • Sharing feelings and, perhaps at times, things I’m going through, openly and honestly. Mental health has become increasingly important to me as I’ve gotten older (especially after my own minor mental breakdown after the presidential election) and I think the best way to overcome certain obstacles is to ultimately know that we’re not alone. And if you’re reading this, I want you to know that you’re not alone. If you know me, you know I usually project myself to the outside world as a positive, happy-go-lucky person and I am. But I’m also undeniably human and I experience an array of emotions including but not limited to intense doubt, anxiety, and at times depression. Life is freakin’ hard, but it is also pretty amazing and incredible and I think it’s worth seeing through.
  • I’m still writing songs, but home recording became so damn exhausting and Pro Tools is expensive. (Additionally, everyday I send up a prayer up to Baby Jesus that my 2009 Macbook (that definitely needs a new battery and hard drive and that I’m more than qualified to install/replace but it’s falling apart physically, so it’s like why bother?) doesn’t die on me. I’m afraid to install a document on this thing, nevermind a full-fledged DAW. Also, it only has 4 GB of RAM; It’s a miracle I recorded anything at all on it. But really, I’m just waiting for the thing to die. It’s a mess. But with that said – I’d really like to start recording more videos of me performing songs again, whether they be originals or covers. If anyone has a local studio hook up, let me know! I’m definitely overdue to record a song in a professional space.
  • Engaging you all as readers/friends/fans/fam. If you’ve made it this far down the post, you are so great. Thank you. One of the coolest things in life is communicating and connecting and again – affirming that we are not alone; Community and acceptance and validation are so important (at least to me!). Feel free to join my email list, which you should be able to do so on the upper-right hand side of the page. That way you’ll get a email every time I post something new. 🙂

 

Closing Notes:

Visually the blog is in pretty terrible shape. I plan to change up the theme, fix up the menu, rewrite my About page, I don’t know…that’s all I can really think of for now. Any suggestions to spruce up the page? Let me know! I wanna make it pretty/visually appealing.

Thank you all again SO MUCH for tuning in.

Here’s to creating more RKB content for you to enjoy!

I’m putting on my thinking cap…and ONWARD!

All love.

xoxo,

-RKB

 

Dodecagon x ∞

Mary Poppins is goddamn everything.

My head feels like a brick after a long day of leisure

proving you can have too much of a good thing.

I suppose you’re asking yourself some questions.

You’re not the only one.

I know I’ve been thinking a lot about masks

and whether or not we really have control over our emotions;

about guilt.

It affects the breath in the strangest way.

I’m not even close to taming it.

And can I tell you a secret?

I don’t know what I’m doing.

There’s days I’m drunk enough to shake it off;

there’s days it scares the hell out of me.

But what if I never find a happy medium?

Okay.

I’ll be quiet now.

I’m a dodecagon times infinity.

Miserably eternal.

I’m everywhere so much that maybe it doesn’t much matter at all.

Every day is “to be continued…”

‘Til then.

 

 

 

Mia Nonna

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Today I lost my best friend.

She would call me her “first love” (mio primo amore, she would say), raised me alongside my parents for 24 years of my life, and never hesitated to give me absolutely everything she possibly could.

She moved into my house a little over three years ago, after suffering a heart attack in 2012. In those three years, she was in and out of the hospital for various reasons but was able to bring so much love and joy into our home.

At first, the change for her was extremely difficult. Prior to the heart attack, she lived alone, widowed for nearly 20 years, in the house she bought in the 1970s, a little less than 10 years after she immigrated to the United States from Sicily. She maintained the house on her own, cleaned and cooked, entertained with no questions asked with cookies and coffee when friends and family came over, and all in all led a very independent life only relying on rides for family events, food shopping, and doctor’s appointments.

Being dependent on others was a new concept for her and she originally despised it. It took acceptance and getting used to, but she finally began enjoy living in a house with other people again; Simple things like my brother and I chattering in the morning, the dishes clinking after dinner, the dog barking at the door, and footsteps up and down the stairs were welcome background noise. A positive contrast to so many years living alone.

My entire family was devoted to her. We converted our family room into her room complete with a bed, her recliner and dresser. Nonna straight-out refused visiting nurses and physical therapists, barely tolerating them when they did come, usually out of necessity after a long hospital stay (usually with eyerolls and words in Sicilian dialect under her breath). I, along with my mom and aunts, would help her with her daily routine: pills, breakfast, shower, getting dressed, applying creams and gels and pain patches, making sure she always had water next to her. We provided all her meals to fit her diet, did her laundry without hesitation – because of love. Because we knew how much she had sacrificed for us, how much she cared for us. It was our turn to care for her and we embraced it with open arms and open hearts.

I often had to remind her of this, as she would become increasingly frustrated, apologizing for putting us out, feeling like a burden. But I would always reassure her and joke with her: “Questa e` tua vacanza!” (This is your vacation!) Let us do it for you. Relax.

There were also moments where she would become frustrated with her condition: Having to take an overwhelming number of pills (and at times their side-effects), her bad knees and legs, sometimes frequently-occurring digestive qualms, and her faulty heart. She often wondered aloud to me why God didn’t take her sooner. I’d sit her down and talk to her about it, something I felt no one had really done with her.

“It’s not time yet. Your work here isn’t done. We still have things to learn from you, and you from us. God knows when, and it’s not now,” I’d tell her. We’d have many of these heart-to-hearts, often leaving us both in tears. At the end of the discussion I’d smile, kiss her forehead, hold her hand, and ask her if I could get her anything.

I knew how to make her laugh, how to tease her during her morning routine, things to say to make her smile.

I knew how to make her sing. We collaborated on making a playlist of all her favorite songs, songs almost forgotten that reminded her of Italy and her youth. On the day of her passing, we had accumulated 108 songs.

Being frustratingly unemployed after graduating college, caring for her daily gave my life purpose. It gave me routine. Everyday, whether drying her back after a soothing shower or baking her a cake as a treat for no occasion, caring for her and loving her was a living, breathing mediation for me; In life, death, love and most of all, compassion.

She would watch the Pope say mass every Sunday. She would watch Spanish telenovelas on Univision and always tune into the news on RAI.

She liked roasted almonds, licorice, and the flavor of lemon. She drank espresso every morning and hated tea. She once helped me with an icing fiasco while I was trying to single-handedly make a cake for my mom’s birthday. She liked figs, kiwis, and apricots. She’d peel the skin off her grapes.

When leaving the house she made sure she was immaculate, washed, and well-dressed – even when she didn’t feel well. She used Chanel perfume.

She loved telling stories whether it was a funny anecdote from her childhood, or a true World War II story about when she had to hide in a cave with her family when bombs were being dropped, or when her father lied to German soldiers who knocked on the door and wanted to know if he had any young daughters at home to escort them for the night. (He lied and said he didn’t have any daughters, but only a son). There were more humorous stories about my grandfather: How he mistakenly corked homemade wine in glass bottles and they exploded all over the basement, how he mixed up the black paint with tar and accidentally tarred the outside cellar door, how he drove her crazy – but she seemed to have loved him all the same.

Nonna would always have a joke up her sleeve when you least expected it and was always willing to give me hugs whenever I asked (which was a lot). Her presence in my house also improved my Italian tremendously.

Were it not for her I would not exist. She immigrated to America without the intention of staying permanently. It was a leap of faith that turned out to be probably the best thing that could ever happen for her. She made sure my mom and her two sisters went to college, and got an education. They were the first in the family to accomplish that. She sacrificed for everyone, even bragging how she never took a vacation. She would work overtime and time-and-a-half at her local factory job, and on her days off would take care of the upkeep of the house – cooking, cleaning, painting, sewing, and being there for her husband and three girls.

My brother, my cousins, and I all have fond memories of Nonna babysitting us. She’d allow us to watch the TV all day, only asking that we change the channel when the Italian news came on. She’d make us pastina with bollotini (little meatballs), hand us cookies, cut us apples, give us chocolates that’d she’d have hidden in her closet near the stairs, and would sing us lullabies when we were young and maybe in need of a nap.

On holidays she was generous beyond her means, insisting we accept her gift, unrelenting with arms pushing back whatever we may be trying to return.

“Ma, you shouldn’t have! I can’t accept this. Here, take it back.”

But she’d refuse, almost to the point of comedy.

When she moved in, Christmases were 10 times as special. Last winter she knitted me two hats and a pair of wool slippers to put over my socks.

I love and miss her so much, but am unspeakably glad she’s no longer suffering. My heart feels heavy and my chest feels hollow and my stomach hurts sometimes. Every memory I ever had with her hits me all at once, at 1000 mph.

When it came to her healthcare, my family and I played every card we could until there were no cards left to play. We explored every option, always keeping her best interests at heart, making sure she had the most optimal quality of life.

When she originally had her heart attack in 2012, the doctors predicted she would have 6 months to a year left to live. My family and I turned that into a little over 3 years.

She celebrated her 87th birthday on April 22nd and was able to attend my cousin’s Sweet 16 without incident in May – the last major family function she would ever attend.

Five minutes after she died, the windchimes in my backyard started sounding loudly for an elongated period of time. There was no wind.

Two days before her passing, I visited her and though she was incoherent I kissed her and held her hand, told her I loved her, unsure of what else to say for fear of choking up. Maybe that’s all that needed to be said.

She was very special to me. I will miss every essence of her being – her voice, her moving throughout the house, the click of her walker, and her saying my name.

She was my Nonna.

And I will always be her primo amore.

The Sister in Me

I have a sister in me. A twin.

I never saw her before today.

She looks just like me. Spitting image.

But she’s wiser, less impulsive.

Kind smile, no judgement.

She hugs me and says, “It’s all going to be okay,

don’t get hung up on the past, it doesn’t matter anymore, really”.

No words leave her mouth, but I can translate.

I can read her mind because we’re the same.

Sometimes it just takes some deep thought and concentration

to break through our own mental, metal barriers

unknowingly created by ourselves

to protect and survive.

Although sometimes shields are double-edged swords in disguise.

If you just let it happen, it’s not that hard to

pull it out of the stone.