“Do you Remember the 21st Night of September? It’s The Day My Baby Girl Arrived Three Days late After 15 hours of Labor with Only One Hour of Sleep!”

BY: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”

Chapter 12: Giving Birth at the Border of Crazy


MSP (Miss Sassy Pants)

The bluest, greyest eyes. With spider lashes that curl above and wink into my heart. I knew the moment you came through me, that you were the one.

What was I searching for when you were always there. Deep in my heart. Breathing. Waiting. For the moment for me to see you. To let you out.

I unleash you to the world and step aside, as your reign begins. Your sweet surrender is with strength and wit.

You let me lead.

But with knowing that you control me.

You are my master, my guide, my seer. I live for you.

You are not a child; you are ageless. Swimming through the ether with grace and kindness; you are the dream.

The world is better. Because you exist.

Written by Cherry Maggiore May 2015


chris

The end of summer is here! It’s a time I both love and hate.  It’s the start of a new school year, and there is so much to look forward to with all the holidays, but it is also the beginning of the busy season for my daughter at school and for me at work.  MSP (Miss Sassy Pants) is about to turn nine in a few weeks and will be starting the fourth grade.  

I wake up in a moment of reflection as I get myself ready to pick her up from her father’s house after not seeing her for two and half weeks.  She was on vacation with him, and we are about to begin our week-long vacation in preparation for the new school year. I take this week with her every year so I can make her lunch, prep her supplies, and drop her off and pick her up each day.  

It is one of my favorite weeks of the year. To see her off on her new adventure and watch as she walks in the front door of the school a little bit older, wiser, taller and more beautiful than ever.

As Livy (my 13-year-old cousin and fellow Daily Feels blogger aka The Lone Teen) and I get in the car, the air is warm with that fresh fall breeze, and the sun is peeking out of some big puffy white clouds.  We open the windows and blast my road trip playlist; a compilation of anthem music plays as we exuberantly sing along. I’m feeling elated, lifted as I look at Livy and smile.  

I am bursting to get there and smell her.  To hold her, sniff her neck and kiss those pillowy cheeks that melt my soul.

I tell Livy how excited I am to see MSP that I feel like I’m going on a date…I’m nervous.  MSP grew 5” this year, and she changes every single time I am away from her. Unfortunately, as part of divorce, you miss the daily growth, the little everyday moments.  I mourn those moments but have trained myself to appreciate what I have with her. To treat our time together preciously and with sincere gratitude; I memorize every second.

Since there is no traffic, we are flying over the two bridges I need to pass to get to her.  When we arrive at her Father’s apartment in Bensonhurst, I text him to let him know we arrived and then jump out of the car.  

A minute later, my ex-father-in-law walks out of the house with his dog to take her for a walk.  

I say “Hey, how are you?”  My relationship with my in-laws is complicated, but I am always polite and friendly.  I notice that he looks a little upset as he walks over to me, not making eye contact and says: “Cherry, you’ve been served.”

Then he hands me some papers…I take the documents and look him in the face and reply “What? What do you mean? What is this?”

With a devastatingly sad face, he replies “I don’t know what it is, all I know is that you are served.”

As my mind goes in slow motion, the exuberance I was feeling earlier is wholly halted, on pause.  The line “you suckas got served” from the 2004 film, You Got Served, came to mind.  I am a sucka, and I’ve been served AGAIN.  

As my confused brain tries to process what is happening, MSP walks out of the door with her father. She runs out of the house toward me and excitedly says “Hi MAMA!!!!”

But then she sees my face and knows something is wrong.  She stops in her tracks and asks “Mama, what’s wrong?” I muster all the strength I could and tell her “I’m all good Baby, just come here and give me a hug.”  She runs into my arms, and with her face buried in my chest, I look right at him and mouth the words “You are a piece of SHIT.”

I am struck with a mix of hatred and appreciation.  Because what I hold in my arms is a product of the two of us, but I hate that HE is the one.  That I have to bear the burden of this man in my life who gets tremendous joy from torturing me.  When the greatest joy in your life is intermingled with the greatest misery of your life, there will always be an intricate weaving of emotions.  A tapestry of red-hot pain mixed with a vast ocean of deep love.

The thing that gets me is that he didn’t want kids.  And we were married for almost four years before we had MSP.  

After three years of being married, we bought a house on Staten Island and moved away from Bay Ridge.  Our dream came true. We both grew up in apartments, and now we were homeowners. On our move-in day, he was a horror. Just a bundle of nerves, complaints, anger and throwing temper tantrums when something didn’t go right.  He was having major anxiety attacks as of late, blacking out from them.

Alternatively, this is where I thrive…in change.  I am eagerly at the forefront of pushing the envelope, always in forward motion.  I led the home buying process from soup to nuts including managing the move. In addition to the nickname, Chupacabra of Joy, I started calling him the Mule. Just tell him what to do, and he would take on the heavy lifting.

After the move day fiasco, things got progressively worse.  Eight months later, on Superbowl Sunday, I told him it wasn’t working and asked for a divorce (the first of four separations throughout our ten-year marriage).  

His response was to rip apart every single photo of us and every photo album I spent hours putting together.  He punched holes in walls. He yelled and screamed and scared the fuck out of me.

This went on and on for about four months.  We didn’t have any children at the time, so when I went to see the divorce lawyer, we drew up paperwork that made the split very simple.  

When I served him those papers, he went apeshit again.  Then he had his friends calling and harassing me. Telling me how lucky I was to have him and that I was crazy to let go of the greatest man I would ever meet.  

He wanted to make things work and he started to promise all types of things so we would get back together, including going on anxiety and depression medication. When he did, he began to have fun and lighten up. He was becoming a better man and making an effort to evolve his behavior.

At this point, I was 34 and was thinking about the prospects of finding another person to marry and then have a baby…there was NO way it would happen quickly as was getting up there in age.  I was often reminded that I was nearly out of safe baby making range. So I convinced myself that he was getting better…and fuck, I wanted a baby. After a four-month separation, we reunited.

We started trying to get pregnant a few months after our reconciliation. It took a year to get pregnant…

The day we found out we were having a girl, he and his parents were firmly and overtly disappointed. But my dream came true again. They could steal the joy out of anything, but I would not let them take the happiness and privilege I felt at raising a daughter.   

After my first trimester, he went off his meds without informing me, and his behavior quickly regressed.  

He never touched my stomach. Didn’t talk to the baby who I called The Buddha. Wouldn’t make love to me (and by the way, NO ONE told me how much my libido would intensify during this timeframe. WTF!).  He would barely come near me. He physically and emotionally abandoned me.

He took care of things, like renovating the room for the nursery, but he kept his distance from me.  It was like I was in bubble wrap and he just worked around me.

Overall, I had a fantastic pregnancy.  No morning sickness at all and I never felt better or more beautiful.  The only challenges were a bout of indigestion or sciatic nerve issues in the middle of the night.  I would sometimes wake up with Charlie horses…and in those moments he would pretend to be in a deep sleep, even while I cried out in pain.

chris

I remember in my final month, I wanted to take the last picture of my belly, but he couldn’t or more accurately wouldn’t do it.  He was angry at me for asking. He was embarrassed by my body for whatever reason that I still cannot reconcile. It still hurts when I see a man being attentive and loving to his pregnant wife.  It breaks my heart. I am both happy and envious of her because unfortunately, I will never be able to experience pregnancy again. At nearly 45 years old, my baby making days are over.

When I was seven months pregnant, I started a new job.  (Side note: I DO NOT recommend taking on two significant life changes at once.  While I am glad I did, as I am still at the same company, it was a ridiculously horrific time adjusting to a new career and a new role as a Mom).  Due to the stress of it all, I experienced Braxton Hicks contractions and given orders for bed rest by my doctor.  During that time I tried to work from home, but I was getting cabin fever. The baby was now late, and I was on the clock.

My goal was to have a natural birth without medication.  I wanted so much to experience the journey of giving birth to my baby and to avoid a C-section at all costs.  The idea of having my stomach cut open scared the living shit out of me.

On Sunday, September 20th, 2009, I was home waiting for the Chupacabra to come home from his team’s football game. At the time he was coaching the JV team at the school where he taught (which also happens to be my alma mater).  I was eager to get out of the house, now three days past my due date.  

It’s important to note that no one tells you that you are pregnant for ten months. Not sure where this bullshit lie of nine months came about, but ladies I’m here to confirm it’s 40 weeks; that is ten months total.

When the Chupacabra comes home, he says “I’m tired, and I don’t want to go out to eat.  Let’s order in.” You’re tired mother fucker? Are you kidding me?

With my back killing me, out of breath, tired and just plain bored. I told him to go fuck himself, and we proceeded to have a huge fight.  At this point, I grabbed my pug Tiki and stormed out of the house into my car and called my cousin Deena (I still don’t know why I took the dog.  I guess it seemed appropriate at the time.)

I asked her if we could hang out and if she would eat with me because baby Buddha and I were starving.  We met at my all-time favorite pizza joint, L&B Spumoni Gardens. (For those that don’t know, it is the best Sicilian Pizza in all of NY, bar none)

With Tiki the pug in tow, we gossiped and hung out the rest of the day.  After being all talked out, we called our moms, who are sisters, to see what they were doing.  

We all decided to meet at a local Mexican restaurant for dinner.  My mom told me that she read an article that eating spicy Mexican food brings on labor.  One of the many tall tales I’ve heard throughout my pregnancy that turned out to be true.  At this point, I would try anything to get this baby out. I was over being pregnant, and I wanted to meet my baby girl.

It was 11 pm when we finished dinner, and I still hadn’t heard from the Chupacabra, which made me even angrier.  How could you not call your wife who is ten months pregnant with your baby while she is traipsing around Brooklyn with your pug?  I was straight up furious. So I decided to go back to my aunt’s house to hang a bit more.

I wound up getting home to our house on Staten Island around 12:30 am and finally fell asleep about 1 am.  I slept in the guest room as I refused to get into bed with him.

Just one hour later, at 2 am, I woke up out of a dead sleep when I felt a POP and then felt a pool of water flood out of me. This was IT!

I cried out to my ex-yelling from the guest room, “My water just broke, I know we are angry, but we’ve got to get over this and call the doctor!”  The doctor told us to get to the hospital immediately, and so after I quickly showered, we drove at 3 am to the hospital with no baggage, nothing of what I had prepped.  Once we got there, they told me I had 24 hours to deliver or there would be a C-section. I told the night nurse that I was determined to give birth naturally, so let’s get this going.

The second call I made was to my mom.  It was time for the baby to be born and I needed her.  My ex was not a fan of having my mother in the room for the birth, but I insisted.  I wanted my mom there, needed her there. Mostly because I didn’t trust my ex to be present and take care of me.  Secondly, because in the moment of becoming a Mom there was no other person more important than having my mother present.  I was doing all the work, so I felt strongly that I needed my tribe around me during this extraordinary, scary and intense time.  I wanted my Mommy. Get my Mommy!

At this point, I’ve had one hour of sleep.  I refused any epidural and decided to walk around to move labor along.  The contractions weren’t so bad, and I was able to breathe through them. With my mom by my side, I felt like I could tackle anything.  With her support, I could get through this, and with her love, I would find the strength.

Suddenly, about three hours into labor the baby’s heart rate DE celled, and they made me get back into bed.  When they checked my dilation at about five hours in, I hadn’t progressed much. So the doctor suggested getting Pitocin started which meant a catheter and being bed bound.

This was not good news.  Once they started the Pitocin, which unnaturally advances labor and contractions, the pain was blinding.  It was at this point that I began to vomit. While my mom simultaneously held a cold rag to my forehead, rubbed my back and held a bucket underneath my mouth to catch the vomit, my ex-was watching football and looking at his phone.  

About seven hours in, I relented and requested the epidural.  The only problem was that I had to wait two hours until the anesthesiologist finished a C-section.  Lovely. Add insult to injury; the pain was so severe at this point I still hadn’t slept.

Finally, nine and a half hours into labor, the doctor came in to insert that insanely long needle into my spine and start the medication.  As the first shot of meds makes its way into my spine, the pain subsides a bit, and I relax and tried to get some sleep.

Just as I started to drift off the contractions began to pick up again.  The nurse said that I was dilating a bit more but still had a ways to go.  As the initial run of medicine starts to wear off, I realize that only one side of my body is numb and I am now feeling every contraction full force on my right side, while my left is limp as a rag.

My God, this is insane.  GET ME MORE MEDS! The nurse explains that I have to wait another two hours for the next dose of medication to come.  And at this point, I am progressing quickly. The nurse, this angel in pink scrubs, literally never left my side, nor did my mother.  The Chupacabra, on the other hand, sat there and watched this all take place, emotionally removed and wholly disengaged.

After nearly 12 hours of labor, I hit eight centimeters, and it was time to start pushing.  Ok kids, game on!

Unfortunately, my uterus was not forcefully contracting.  The doctor turns to me and says “You are going to have to do all the work. If you don’t want a C-section, you are going to have to push this baby out with almost no help from your uterus.”

I give him the death look, and then exhaustedly ask “what the fuck are you talking about?”  

He goes on to explain, “The Pitocin advanced the contractions, and you’re dilating, but your uterus is just not cooperating.  The baby’s heart rate is strong so we think we can do this naturally, but it’s all on you. You and your baby.”

It was at this point that my nurse turns to me and says “ok, we got this.  I’ve had two C-sections, and I am not going to let you go through that if we can avoid it.  You want this baby naturally?” I think to myself, is it natural at this point? Letting that thought go, I sternly nod “Yes.”  She says, “ok, we are gonna get this baby out. I’m here and not leaving you for a second. I’ve got your back, and we are going to do this together.”

Somehow, her certainty and strength struck me, so I looked over at my mom, and she said: “you got this.”

So I was like, ok bitches let’s do this thing…I start to push. And push. And push.  First I wasn’t pushing correctly…it was so hard because my legs were so numb when they administered the second dose of the epidural.  But I kept at it.

After two and half hours of pushing, I am exhausted.  Spent. Done. Remember, I only had one hour of sleep in about 40 hours at this point.  I was going to give into the C-section…and then I started to crown.

The pain is so excruciating that I scream, “Get this baby out of me!!!!” The doctor looks up at me from between my legs and says “You need to be calm Cherry.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? Calm? A baby is coming out of my vagina.”

With my mom behind my head pushing me forward, my ex and the nurse on either side of me holding my legs back, I am basically an accordion at this point.  Then the room explodes in a frenzy of activity, and the Nascar pit crew takes over.

They drop half the bed, about ten new nurses and doctors enter the room.  New equipment is swiftly brought in for measuring and cleaning the baby. They completely transform the entire room in a matter of seconds, and then they all get quiet together and wait for me to get this baby out.  At this point, there is no embarrassment that my vagina is splayed for all to see. I reckon they’ve seen thousands at this point and mine is no different.

It was overwhelming, to say the least…and in that moment, everything goes quiet and into slow motion.  I turn to see my ex-yelling “PUUUUUUSSSSSHHHH”…I can barely hear the words, all I see is his mouth moving.  My mom is screaming in my ear “PUUUUUUSSSH Cherry, Come on!” But it sounds as if she’s 50 miles away in a tunnel. The nurse is clenching my hand while holding up my right leg to help me brace.  The doctor is at my feet flanked by the Nascar pit crew ready to catch the baby.

I’m pushing, crying, screaming and trying so hard not to shit the bed or vomit.  The doctor looks up at me and says “She’s huge, I have to cut you.”

What the fuck?! “Ok, get her the fuck out of me…NOW!!!!!”  

With two snips, she slides out, and I see my baby for the first time.  

MSP and I make eye contact and then she starts crying. I hear her voice for the first time.  It is the sweetest sound I have, or will ever, hear. My heart blows up. It explodes inside my chest.  The tears fall quietly now. The pain a distant memory. I begin to sob; from relief, from joy, from pure love.

They immediately lay her on my chest to breastfeed and for bonding.  I am beyond words. I look up and see my ex-crying. I see my mom crying. I see the nurse crying.  Everyone is in tears. The baby latches and feeds for a few minutes. Then they take her away to be measured and weighed.  They pump my stomach to get the placenta out and the next thing I know, the doctor pulls out sutures.

He begins to sew me up, and I could feel EVERY SINGLE FUCKING STITCH.  At this point, the epidural completely wore off. He looks up at my ex and says with a wink of his eye “I put an extra stitch in for you.”

Oh. My.  God. Is there no end to the misogyny?  But I quickly refocus my attention on my baby.  We name her, and they announce that she was 8 lbs, 8 oz., 21 ½” long with shoulders like her father.  

My entire family is in the waiting room, and they all cheer at the news.  My aunt Moomie witnesses her first bath and my baby girl is so calm in the water; my aunt predicts “She’s gonna be a swimmer!”

The aftermath was so intense and scary and crazy.  It was a whirlwind. Every single blood vessel in my face and neck blew, and I had two black eyes from the sheer pressure of pushing.

After all the visitors leave and her father goes home to sleep, I’m in bed full of stitches, with a burning between my legs that felt like a forest fire.  The nurses quietly bring in MSP so I can breastfeed her. Time to be a mommy. No rest for the weary.

I am all alone with my baby girl.  Just me and her. As she stretches out on my chest, she looks into my eyes as her lips sweetly but eagerly pursue my breast.  As she latches, I gasp from the pain and the pleasure of being the one to feed her as I did in my belly.

There is nothing else.  Silence. And a single thought enters my head…love and pain are always intermingled.  I experienced 15 hours of the worst physical pain I have ever felt, to now hold the love of my life in my arms.   

And so, this is our journey. Even now post-divorce with a nine-year-old incredibly beautiful child. The pain I feel in dealing with her father is worthwhile because of the immensity of the love I feel for her.  Pain and love together. Yin and yang. Forever and ever and always.

chris


ChrisnewpicCherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.

 

“Wow, you look radiant!” Thank You Darling, it’s the radiation treatments…

BY: Jennifer Angarano Ricci – “Ms. Happy, Alive & Built to Survive”

Well, a few weeks after taking my chances in Vegas (yeah, I lost big time, but I got to see my sister, Shari, so really, I won- just not money), I was ready to start radiation treatments.

Right after chemo was done, I had my simulation, which is when the radiation techs set the machine up for your treatments and programs it, measures you, tattoos you and all kinds of other fun things. That way, I was ready to just jump right in (or ON) when the date to start came along.  Then, I had four weeks off to recover a bit.

My start date was May 29th, because Memorial Day was on the 28th, and you get holidays off.  Treatments were to be Monday-Friday for 33 treatment days.  Out of the 33 treatments, 25 would be whole breast radiation, and then I would have 8 boost treatments (which are treatments of higher radiation targeted to the tumor area).  I have to be honest here, I wasn’t looking forward to going to treatments five days/ week, BUT, at least they were short treatments, and they didn’t involve injecting me with poison through a port in my chest.  I guess you have to look at the pros of every situation…

Short-term side effects of radiation can be: fatigue, some redness to the treatment area, fluid build-up in the treated area, burning of skin and skin breakdown.  Skin infections can occur.

Long-term side effects of radiation can be:  Skin fibrosis (thickening and hardening of skin in the treated area), lymphedema, and even secondary cancer (although the likelihood is very small, and can take decades to develop- but still sucky).

jenr

Radiation treatments went well in the beginning, except for one memorable moment when the machine stopped as my treatment started!  Talk about awkward moments! They had to shut down the machine, and reboot it twice before it started working again- all with me laying on my stomach with my boob hanging down on the table (because I was already in position for treatment and couldn’t move).  I always say that after having a baby, all modesty is gone- but really it all goes down the drain when a random repair guy has to come in the room to reboot the machine you’re on, while you’re lying there with your boob hanging out for the world to see!

My skin held up pretty well during the treatments…until I got to the last week.  You know when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere and then hit all the red lights on the way?  It was kind of like that. I was in the home stretch, almost done, when I developed an internal skin infection. Thank Goodness that the skin on the outside stayed intact, because it really could have been worse.  I had to take a week off from treatments, and take an antibiotic- but then- I was going to be done! The doctor modified my boost treatments so that I would only have a five-day schedule to finish, and that was the best news ever.  

I have to give a HUGE Thank You to everyone who prayed for me, thought of me, sent me white light, sent me a note, text or email to check up on me, etc.  It all made a difference in how I got through chemo and radiation.  They say that attitude is SO IMPORTANT while going through life’s trials, and it’s SO TRUE, but even in my dark times, I had people helping to hold me up- and I am both so grateful- and so ready to be there for any of you!

Well, now you’ve all been through the “big treatments” part of my journey back to health- but the journey doesn’t end when the treatments do…so…

jenr

PS– During that last week of radiation treatments, I baked the techs a batch of my famous scones, because food ALWAYS makes people happy-and it my way of saying, “Thanks!”  Here’s the recipe:

jenr


jennew

Jennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher.  She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group.  She loves to sing, create and help others, and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.

 

BURNING MAN EYES

 

BY: Jeff Blum – “Guest Blogger”

The first time I went to Burning Man was in 2010 and when I returned I tried to explain what I had just experienced to my girlfriend at the time. In the middle of trying to describe this incredible experience, I started to cry (and I’m not a cryer!) because I was so overcome with emotion. My experience was that powerful.

She says in that moment, she knew she had to go. She didn’t often see me cry or become so moved, and she claims for the next two weeks I had “Burning Man Eyes.” A literal difference in how I looked as I now had a new perspective on the world. I took her the next year, and then a few years after that I proposed to her at Burning Man.

We got married in 2016 and opted not to go that year or the next as we were busy living our newlywed life.

jeff

Truth is, I almost didn’t go this year either. I had been 6 times already and the past couple of times felt a bit overrun with celebrities, Instagram models and Coachella tourists. Burning Man certainly has reached its pop-culture peak, at this point, everyone has at least heard of it and has some opinion about what exactly it is. That was not the case when I first went in 2010.

But then a ticket came my way and things started to align in a way that made it hard to say no. So I said yes, and I went. And maybe it was because I had not gone in two years, or maybe it’s because those celebrities, Instagram models and tourists have all come and gone, but this year moved me. Like in a way that reminded me of the first time I ever went. The values were there, the principles were in place and the community felt connected again.  I had the best week of my year and I felt compelled to capture and remember what I had just experienced. So I curated a few posts on my social media which got the attention of Janis (Your amazing leader here at The Daily Feels) and when she asked me to be a guest blogger I jumped at the opportunity.

I spent 7 days at Burning Man and for the first time in years, I have my Burning Man Eyes back.

So let me offer you my perspective. Allow me to share the stories and experiences that have filled my heart, so that perhaps you can better understand or relate to the illusive experience that is Burning Man.

RETURNING HOME

jeffBurning Man takes place in a temporary city called Black Rock City. It’s filled with nearly 70k people and for 1 week it becomes the 5th largest populated city in Nevada. You’ll hear a lot of its citizens call this place “home”, and to me, it’s because the city actively practices love and acceptance of all under one of it’s principles of radical inclusion. It feels like home because you are welcomed with open arms and hearts. You feel you belong and you are taken care of. You are not only encouraged to be yourself but to radically express who you are. I’ve made lifelong friendships with people of all ages, races, and preferences from around the world, and for one week a year, we can all come “home” and celebrate our time together.

This year was no different. I arrived and was immediately reminded of the power and potential we have when we focus on community and love, Vs. divisiveness and hate. At its core, Burning Man is an idea. It’s not something that can be accurately portrayed in photos or essays, but can only be truly understood by being there and seeing it in practice. So while the irony is not lost on me, good ideas are always worth spreading, even if it can’t be a true full portrayal.

Home is where the heart is, and there’s no place on the planet that fills my heart more than Black Rock City.

 

THE ART

jeff

The time and resources dedicated to the art at Burning Man are worth the trip alone. On my first full day, we explored many of the original installations which not only serve as gorgeous fixtures to the city but also help you navigate your way around. It might be your street is located by that giant silver rocket, or maybe you’re camped over by the enormous polar bear! Art has value and importance here and it’s reflected not only in the large pieces but in the small details of how people decorate themselves or their camp. Art is all around you all the time. During the day many pieces stand out against the breathtaking backdrop of the open desert while at night it all becomes illuminated as installations beam and flash every color of the rainbow. The art is wild, original, often interactive, and unlike anything else!

 

A NEW EXPERIENCE AROUND EVERY CORNER

One of the harder things to explain and comprehend is the endless opportunity for new and exciting things at Burning Man. It’s impossible to experience everything and every year I’ve gone, the things I’ve done are completely unique. My group often found ourselves ready to leave one party or class, or art installation and simply turning to each other and saying “Ready to go to the next cool thing?”, and we would hop on our bikes and within minutes find something entirely amazing. This isn’t like Coachella or other festivals where there’s a lineup of acts or things to do, this is an entire city that has everything from sunrise yoga classes to all-night raves. It has a post office and an airport. You can go to church or you can go to an AA meeting. This year, I did a naked bike ride bar crawl, got tossed around in a tesseract, danced in an actual 747 airplane turned club, laid in a hammock admiring the sky with a new friend from Russia, consoled a stranger, watched people cage fight and took a foam party shower with nearly 100 others. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I was there for 7 days and every turned corner had something so completely awesome to offer.

Everything is created by the hearts and minds of everyone there. WE, the citizens are responsible for all the amazing experiences. It’s not like these things are planned or made by the Burning Man organization, most everything you experience was made and curated by someone just like you who either by themselves or with a group got together and thought “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” and then actually did that cool thing and decided to share it with you and the rest of the community.

 

MY BURNING MAN FAMILY

jeffBurning Man would not be the same without the camp of friends I’ve built. That second year I went with my girlfriend, there was 6 of us in a “Janky Hut.” Named so because I had done such a poor job of planning our shade structure, that it was pretty much falling apart the entire time. My enthusiasm over going and bringing friends overshadowed my ability to properly prepare. Our neighbors took pity on us and let us hang out in their shade structure and we got along famously. The next year we decided to all just camp together, and since they decided to make one of their shade structures a circus tent, we opted to call ourselves the “Janky Circus”, providing homage to both parties. Over the years, the “Janky Circus” has been camp to nearly 100 people from all over the world. I’m incredibly proud of the camp we’ve built because the friendships fostered there go beyond the week at Burning Man. The “Janks”, as we call ourselves, have become family. We’ve flown across the country to attend each other’s weddings, or birthdays. We’ve sent care packages to members in time of need. We support each other’s creative and professional endeavors. We are diverse in age, gender, race and geographic location, but we all have the same heart.  I find this is the case with many people who come. The people you meet at Burning Man become lifelong friends, and it’s one of the few places where generational gaps, wealth differences, or any other typical hurdles for friendship don’t exist or matter.

 

THE POWER OF GIFTING

 Note: The photos below were gifted by random strangers with a Polaroid camera just walking by and spreading the love.

jeff

If you don’t know already, there’s no commerce at Burning Man. It’s one of the principles:  de-commodification. Nothing is for sale, everything is free. There’s no logos or billboards, no company handing out free samples, no advertisements.

You know that feeling you get when you give a close friend a birthday present you just know they’ll love, and when they open it up they totally do? That feeling you get by giving is what fuels this.  EVERYONE is so giving at Burning Man that there’s actually an excess. You are literally turning down drinks and food and services ALL. DAY. LONG. People literally stand on the streets trying to seduce you into coming in for some of their amazingly cooked pancakes and bacon, or maybe they’ve made fresh margaritas. I’ve seen camps full of clothing racks for you to pick out a new outfit or services like massages just handed out with no expectations in return. This is not a “barter” system. Free means free. When 70k people all share this “gifting” mentality there’s no need for money. There’s such an abundance of everything for everyone that you couldn’t possibly indulge in all of it, even if you tried.

The removal of money also removes the class system. You’ll hang out and party with billionaires, and near homeless people alike, and you’ll probably never know the difference. You give what you can, to anyone who needs or wants it, and I suppose karma is the only system of accounting.

 

THE MAN

jeff

The effigy of The Man marks the very center of the city. It’s called Burning Man because on Saturday night, the entire city gathers around and it’s set a blaze in a spectacular show of fire, pyrotechnics, and fireworks. There’s no official meaning to why we do this, what ‘the man’ stands for, or what it all means, but I can share with you my own interpretation. There’s a duality for me. On one hand, the man stands for “The Man” as we express in pop culture. The head of the establishment there to keep us all under his thumb. In this sense, it’s a celebration to burn him down. We collectively for the past week have shown that we can co-exist and do amazing things with radical new ideas in place. We are not bound to the old rules and corrupt practices that often run our daily lives. We are in a sense totally free.

On the other hand, I see the man as myself. A temporary being. The time and effort put forth to make the man are astonishing, as it stood nearly 5 stories high this year. All to be enjoyed for one week and then burnt down to ashes. It’s a reminder to me that life is short. That what I spend my time and efforts on. and the people I choose to surround myself with, should be things and those I love. Because in the end, all we really have is the here and now. Being at Burning Man really helps you stay present, and enjoy the moment because you a reminded how temporary all of this really is. It’s why on Saturday night, when ‘the man’ burns, you are literally at the biggest and best party ON. THE. PLANET. The party vibe at Burning Man feels more in line with the energy of an awesome wedding reception or birthday party. Yes, people are drinking and partying, but it’s not because they had a bad week at work, or they’re trying to escape. It’s pure love and fun and camaraderie across all strangers. It’s a celebration of each other, of the city we’ve all built, the art, the ideas – everything. It really is the best party on the planet, and you’ll never find anything else like it.

 

THE TEMPLE

jeff

On the very outskirts of town lies The Temple. The holy ground for the city if there could be such a thing. It’s probably the most energetically charged place at Burning Man, as many use it as a place of remembrance, worship or meditation. The structure is filled with shrines and inscriptions members of the city have made in honor of those who have passed. Every year that I go, I think maybe it won’t affect me as much, but every year I am brought to tears. This year was no different. It’s peaceful and quiet, as you walk through and see letters Mothers have written to their children who have been tragically lost, or photos people have left of their friends who lost their battle with cancer. There are pictures of pets and grandparents, and scriptures of people wanting to let go of their old selves. It’s a place to remember and to honor. Sunday night, the Temple is burned. We all sit in silence and watch as it burns away. People cry, people rejoice, people let go.

jeff

This year I found myself reflecting upon the incredible ideals the week had been filled with. I’d gone a whole week without seeing a single advertisement, without stressing about a work email, without feeling self-conscious to talk to strangers or to express myself. I had not seen a clock in a week and time really didn’t matter. While this city is temporary, the ideals and practices are not.

 

FINALLY…

Coming back to the “default world” can be difficult. We’re faced with political turmoil, planetary disruption, corporate greed, and divisiveness… it’s not easy. It’s not all bad, but there’s work to be done.

If you have not yet been to Burning Man, hopefully this blog shined some light on what it is…I also get how it probably just generated way more questions. As I said before, at its core it’s really just an idea put to practice. A new perspective on life. This year gave me back my Burning Man Eyes and I think that’s because those eyes are needed now more than ever. We all know the state of the world we find ourselves in, and I don’t think anyone feels great about it. But if we can look on our neighbors with love and kindness, see the value in art and science, view the importance of self-expression, and see to it that we take care for one another, I think we can start to heal some of these wounds.

If Burning Man has taught me anything it’s that by changing your mindset, you can change your life. And if enough people can change their mindset, we can change the world.

jeff


Jeff_Blum (3)

Fueled by hot sauce and the thumpa thumpa of EDM, Jeff Blum has an insatiable taste for parties, going out, and always finding something new and exciting to do. He spends his days developing for the web, acting and producing, or some other form of hustling in Hollywood.

A lover of wild sneakers, the Ninja Turtles and hot sauce, he’s always down to make a new friend. Find a good margarita and he’s there.

Follow Him:

Insta: @Jeff_Blum

FB: https://www.facebook.com/comedyjeff

 

 

 

 

A Simply Planned Goodbye

BY: Peter Dunn – “The Cynical Dreamer”

It is currently 2:04pm. My latest blog deadline was this afternoon. However, I’ve now completely deleted two articles and am starting anew yet again. Why you may ask? At 6:35am this morning,  I had similar feelings of committing suicide, much like the ones I experienced six years ago.

Six years ago I tried to kill myself. People always like to say that attempted suicide is a cry for help. Mine wasn’t a cry as much as a silent peace sign to myself and a simply planned goodbye. I didn’t tell a soul until I told my mother a couple years later. I had simply decided I was over the battle and that my time had tapped out. “Go out while you’ll be remembered as a good person” is literally what I said to myself in the mirror one day. I planned this for a month from that day.

I made a brunch reservation for a large group of my closest friends and my mother.   I designed an itinerary of fun activities with my friends after brunch, ending with fireworks and margaritas on the rooftop of the Gansevoort Hotel. If I was going out, I was going out in style, because if anything, I needed to end my life still being true to me. I wasn’t going to allow my depression and anxiety to take that last bit of my identity.

I spent that next month being the kindest soul that I could be. Reminding those that I loved them, spending as much time as possible with those people. I lived as if I had stage four cancer and was told I had 30 days left. And a month later, as I experienced my last ‘Ultimate Sunday Funday’ with my friends, I swallowed an entire bottle of pills and then walked out of the hotel without saying goodbye.

I walked down to the Hudson River and I laid down.  As terrible as this is to say, lying down in that grass was one of the most peaceful ten seconds of my entire life. Things felt clear, things felt decided, and for just a moment, my brain didn’t feel like this burnt out, oversaturated monster that I’d felt like it had become. After that ten seconds of peace though, came all the thoughts of the post-reality that I was creating for those that love me. My mother, my niece and my dog began burning images in my head that I will never forget.

While I don’t believe suicide is a cry for help, I do believe it is a selfish act. I know it is. I always say ‘life is already hard enough…Stop. Making. It. Harder. For. Other. People’. There is no more painful realization than wanting to truly say goodbye to the world, but realizing that your goodbye will hurt others even more than it hurts yourself. People like to tell people who have attempted suicide a multitude of things that are wrong and that are terrible, such as “you didn’t really mean to” or “you just weren’t ready”. Nope. I did mean to, I premeditated it to a disturbing degree, and I was ready to leave. But more importantly, I wasn’t SUPPOSED to leave this world at that moment.

After a couple of minutes of trying to aggressively fight the urge to care, I got up, staggered my way to a cab, went to a hospital and told them what I had done.

This stayed with me as a dirty little secret for years, until I finally told my mother.  It has also remained a secret to about 98% of my friends. To those I have spoken about it with, the constant response is genuine disbelief: “you must be lying”, “you must be over exaggerating on some details”, “You couldn’t possibly have done this”.  Their disbelief lies in the fact that trying to commit suicide goes against my character and everything I stand for. And that is true. But so is my story. I can’t express enough that we do not know the battles that others are constantly fighting. The happiest people can be the unhappiest. The people that make you laugh the most, can be the ones who spend all their time alone crying.  The ones who love you the most can be the ones who feel they are undeserving, or unworthy of receiving love themselves.

Which brings me to this morning.  I’ve been having a rough time. I had decided to take a “creative break”.  I came to the realization that I was saying yes to too many things.  I was filling my schedule with projects, shows, and side gigs, as a way to literally fill my life, so that I didn’t have to focus on me. If I can’t focus on me, I can’t focus on problems. If I can’t focus on problems then I can’t fix or change things. So it was time to take a step away.

Stepping away has been great in many ways. I rediscovered that I actually love sleep.  I’ve been reading and catching up with people who mean the world to me.  I’ve been eating food for my soul, listening to music for my soul.  I have been able to say yes to activities for ME, as opposed to my normal answer of “let me check my calendar. Nope, sorry, can’t.”  And what I realized since taking this ‘step away’ is that my life can be filled with so much light, that there is no need for any darkness.

Stepping away has also been a little hard on me, to say the least. First, separating my being from what I do as an artist, producer, and a voice has proven difficult. “Who. Am. I?!” when I am not doing those things? And how much do I matter, when I am not doing those things? Also, having the time that I’ve wanted to be left alone in my thoughts has been a constant battle. When you’ve stripped everything down around you, and it’s just you and a mirror, your mind can be the scariest and most dangerous place on earth (*cue Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone song*). Sorry y’all, I had to throw some Kenny Loggins in there.

This past week has proven especially hard for me.  I’ve had men of my past resurface & as well as those who are part of my present, making me feel less than. I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in in years, and I’ve learned in a pretty harsh way that others are starting to notice this too. I’ve spent hours pinpointing and writing about bad cycles that I’ve created and really brainstorming on how to begin to fix them. And I’ve started wholeheartedly trying to change bad habits and lifestyle choices that I want to, and need to change. I also was sexually assaulted this past weekend which triggered hardcore PTSD from childhood abuse, found out my dog is going blind and realized that there are some situations that simply aren’t going to go the way even though I’d like them to.

This isn’t a pity party but I’m sure it sounded that way. This is just the reality of my past week, and it had left me feeling alone in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever possibly experienced. I saw a movie recently where a character said: “I think loneliness kills more people a year than cancer.” It struck a chord because I believe that that is indeed true. My state of loneliness has been so heavy, and the worst part was that most of it felt self-inflicted.  I have been alienating myself and falling out of touch with so many people who have simply tried to love me.  All the while giving anything and everything to those who have simply wanted to take, take, take.

Please, please, please know, that eventually, you will indeed run out of things to give. Any relationship in your life must be a scale. There must be balance, otherwise, you will be left empty, and when you are empty, you are no longer you. I stress this to others constantly, but of course, as a lot of us do, am painfully horrific at taking my own advice.

I felt lonely all day yesterday, and yet I still tried to give, give, give. But I had nothing left to give. I was empty. And I, in owning responsibility for my actions, got very ugly towards a friend that I probably wish was more than a friend.  I thought driving him away was the easiest form of letting him know I had nothing else to offer him.

After that, I was left alone in my thoughts, and shit got real. That tiny little gear in my brain went *click*.  It became a kaleidoscope of every terrible thought, comment, action, and memory that could possibly flood my brain at once, shapeshifting at a rapid pace. Then my brain went *click*, again, and my thought was “you can make all this stop.” And again, my brain was clear for two seconds. It’s that clarity that scared me the most, yet also felt the best. It’s as if a sea had parted, and as opposed to treading water, I could see land.

Yet, again, this ‘land’ was not my preferred destination. That’s not the island I want to spend eternity on. I am a fighter and I still have so much more to offer. There are so many more chapters left to write, so much more music left to sing, so many more nights left to dance, and so many more people that I want to lift up in the air and show them how good the sun feels. Light. All I want to do, every day, is show people that they are the definition of light.

In 32 years, I have never asked for help. I’ve hinted at it before, but I’ve never once blatantly said: “I need someone to talk to”. I did that for the first time this morning because I didn’t know what else to do.  At 7am, I had an extraordinarily beautiful human being call me (and everyone who knows me, knows how much I loatheeee talking on the damn phone) and talk for three hours till I literally fell asleep.

Maybe I don’t hate talking on the phone as much as I think I do.

Like every blog I write, I worry I may regret having it published. Honestly, I think I’m just doing this as a form of accountability. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to be accountable for one’s actions. It is so, so vital to become the best person you can be. Also, sappy AF, but you, yeah YOU, guess what? You’re not alone. I’m a mess too, and we’re going to get through this. Why? Because we have to.

You are not alone.
You matter.
You are light.
Shine.

Now, I have some phone calls to make. Xx


peter2Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorkers, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.

His professional passions include:  film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all around storytelling

His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in third person right now).

His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth❤

Losing My Religion

BY: Janis Gaudelli – “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism”

Disclaimer: Religion is a pretty controversial topic, especially in the current climate.  This blog is about my relationship with religion.  It is not meant to be divisive in any way.  I did not write this to dishonor anyone’s belief system(s) or faith in God.  This is the story of a girl who, from a very young age, questioned and struggled with her faith.

I remember it clearly: I was in 3rd grade sitting in religious ed., and my religion teacher, Sister Edith, was sharing a lesson from our workbook about Lent.  I asked a question that I still ponder today: “How do we know there is a God if we can’t see him?”
She looked at me, unhappy and a bit taken aback, and responded, “Never mind, God is all around us.”

I remember thinking, as most curious kids do, “what does that mean?”

Then a few other classmates and I looked around, seeing if we could spot this God she spoke of who is all around us. Ha!

I am still that curious little girl questioning the concept of “God.” I have always been in awe of those who just ‘get it’ and believe without a doubt in their minds.  Those who speak to him because they believe he can hear them.  Those who leave their wants, needs, and decisions in his hands, believing he will provide an answer.  Those who live their lives by his word.  I struggle with all this, and more. I always have.

I grew up in a traditional Catholic household, where my siblings and I accompanied my parents to church every Sunday.  My Dad & Mom were Sacristans, and my Aunt was a former nun teaching in the Catholic school system.  We had religious paraphernalia in our house (crucifixes, photos, prayers, bibles, etc.) to showcase our family’s belief system.  However, I had the most trouble connecting to it all.  I had all these questions and only received empty responses, as if nothing was ever open for debate.  I received a lot of the replies like: (the ever-popular) “never mind”, “because that’s the way God wanted it”, “you don’t question God”, and a few others that dismissed my inquiring mind.  Those answers didn’t work for me then, and they certainly don’t now.  Growing up Catholic, I was asked to follow a belief system I questioned, and why shouldn’t we question something we’re simply curious about?

Therefore, I grew up conflicted about religion. At least, about my religion and my God.  I didn’t feel I belonged at mass, and I am sure most kids my age felt the same.  I wanted the priest to have it all make sense for the 7-year-old me, the 10-year-old me, the 15-year-old me, the 25-year-old me, and so on.  I wanted him to apply what he was reciting from the Bible to modern day.  I wanted him to reveal how we could apply these lessons and messages to our own lives.  But, instead, I felt like my wants were ignored and talked over, so I became bored and disengaged.

As I got older, my attention veered away from the pontification and I started to take notice of the believers that sat with me.  Some followed the word of the lord and lived it authentically, on the daily.  While others sat in pews, practicing, accepting and believing, yet once that hour of worship was up, they all went back to being really shitty humans (clergy included).

As religious as my parents were, they didn’t put us in the Catholic School system.  But, ironically enough, I attended a Catholic University: Seton Hall University.  The lure was anything but religious, in fact, it was almost a deterrent until I met a priest on my school tour who shockingly answered questions. These were straightforward questions, like, “Are the students required to go to church every Sunday?” and “Are Catholic studies part of the curriculum?” One bold rebel asked, “What if we don’t abide by every Catholic principle?”

I expected the priest to reply with some of those canned answers I had heard as a kid: some ‘never minds’, a few ‘that’s the way God wanted it’, etc.

But he surprised me.  He replied: “You are not required to go to church” (say what?), “You do not have to study Catholicism as part of your major, but Catholic studies are part of the core curriculum”, “We offer other religion courses aside from Catholicism, it’s your choice.”

His reply to the bold, curious rebel was the clincher, “You’re an adult now, you can make your own decisions and that includes what or who you choose to believe in.  And whatever that is, it shouldn’t alter your educational experience here. Any other questions?” After that tour, I returned home and immediately sent in my acceptance letter.

I began to explore my spirituality during my 4-year college career.  There was one class that changed my outlook on the whole concept of faith called “World Religions.”  We studied belief systems ranging from Buddhism, The Whirling Dervishes, and Hare Krishna, to Jehovah Witness, Baptist, Judaism and a myriad of others.  I was fascinated.  I talk about that class to this day, and how it changed my perspective on faith.  That class allowed me to widen my lens on all these different religions and helped me understand which deity & set of principles I aligned with best.  It made me realize that my curiosity was actually celebrated by some of these religions, in which parishioners were empowered to ask questions and obtain the answers needed to grow deeper in their faith.

We were tasked with visiting three services from the religions we covered in class, and I chose a Buddhist temple, a Baptist Church and a Hare Krishna service.  During these visits, I was able to compare my Catholic experience with those of three other faiths.  Other than beliefs in different Gods and each following a diverse set of rules, I witnessed a difference in the believers at these services.  The parishioners were of all ages, all sexualities, and all walks of life. All were engaged, and all were accepted.

I remember coming home at the end of that semester with a new understanding, a new outlook and a greater awareness.  I revisited my hometown church and felt the difference, the divide.  It was during that visit home that I found myself losing my religion.  I realized I couldn’t turn a blind eye to an establishment that drives people out based on personal life choices.  I couldn’t be part of a church where females aren’t allowed to profess and lead.  I couldn’t believe in an institution that is resistant to change. I couldn’t actively follow the ‘rules’ of authority figures who are committing the most horrific sins – crimes, actually – of mistreating innocent children.

That said, I haven’t aligned with a particular denomination since leaving the Catholic church.  Since then, much has transpired in my life that has challenged my faith even more.  I still struggle, and maybe I always will, but my credo lies in living a life of kindness and compassion.  Nature has become my church; it’s where I retreat to think, confess and work towards betterment.  I find spiritual enlightenment in people, places and things that do not judge or discriminate, that just love and accept wholeheartedly with no requirements, qualifiers or decree of feeling ‘less than.’

To me, religion is more than just a collection of beliefs, it’s the fabric of who you are.

My religion is Love.


janisbiopic

Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels.  She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways.  Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living.  Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

FOLLOW JANIS AND THE DAILY FEELS TRIBE @:  FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM

LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR…somewhere on the 405

BY: Julie Slater – “The Lotus Flower”

Have you ever felt like you were sitting back while someone else was driving your life? I don’t mean someone dictating what you’re doing or controlling you. Instead, you’re simply witnessing a new person at the wheel. Same height, same weight as you, but different. This person attached to your body is thinking in new ways and feeling something unique deep inside. There is definitely some unfamiliar type of confidence and swagger going on. I’m not exactly sure who this new me is or where she came from. But I’ve poured a whiskey drink and placed it on the table for her – just so she knows she’s welcome.

jul

Welcome to my life, September 2018.

I’ve really been getting along with my new me. She’s super chill, easy to talk to, and has a great sense of humor 😊 .  I alluded to this new lady in last month’s blog – talking about how suddenly there is this calm that has enveloped me. One that tells me everything is in its right place. Which reminds me of this photo I took when I was in Italy in 2014:

jul

Have you ever thought about how every single decision you’ve ever made has led you to this moment you are in now? Every single yes. Every single no. Has led to…right here.

Have you ever watched the movie – SLIDING DOORS? If you took one side step, left for that meeting two minutes later, perhaps your entire life would be different right now? It’s some heavy stuff.

What’s even heavier is what I heard the other day. I was driving down the 405 listening to a podcast. It’s called: Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller (https://www.dontkeepyourdayjob.com/).  I had met Cathy when she was a guest speaker at a UCLA Extension course. She’s super inspiring. Cathy is someone that not only writes music, but she gets it placed in films, TV, and commercials. She runs a company that helps others get their music placed. And now she does a super successful flippin’ podcast about living out your dreams and being the best you!

I was listening to her “How to Stop Overthinking” episode – August 27th. In it, she said these devastating words:

“You are living the exact life you think you deserve.”

I almost swerved my car off the road. Holy crap. I was stunned. OF COURSE, I thought! Talk about a truth bomb. That is when I decided it was time to do something about this life I deserve. Basically, I decided to go for it. To believe in myself and my talents. I will not let anyone make me feel less. Ever. And I will whole-heartedly build a life that brings me joy. I deserve more. And damn it, I’m gonna go get it.

A few days later, I was working on this audiobook (narrating). And there I was reading aloud basically the same idea. That we are all given gifts/talents. And it’s up to us to believe in them and ourselves and the magic will follow. I got chills reading this book because it’s as if this book was written for me to be reading at this exact moment in my life. You know, how “every step I’ve taken in my life has led me here now.”

Let me be the guinea pig here. I keep hearing if you go all in, set your intentions, and completely believe, that what you want WILL happen – that you will suddenly start seeing incredible things transform before your eyes.

It goes along the lines of – what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? If money were no object, what are your dreams? These are very intense questions to ask yourself. But only you know the answers.

Has there been something that you’ve always wanted to do, but talked yourself out of it? Told yourself it’s too hard to do, or that only so many people get work doing that, etc. What if you flipped the switch and changed that old story running through your head. What if now is the perfect time to go for it? What if you actually let yourself drop the protective suit and just took that leap???

jul

So, my fellow Feelers: about 20 months ago, I was thrown off a cliff – by being let go from a job. NOW, I’m the one taking the jump. I have officially leapt. (Net appearing somewhere underneath me soon.)

Until next time. Reporting from the field, mid-flight!

Namaste.

(P.S. I haven’t exactly done all that purging I talked about in last month’s blog, but it will be a big part of my current journey!)


julieblogpicJulie Slater, aka THE LOTUS FLOWER, looooves music. Besides being a musician, you may have heard her DJing on top stations: 92.3 K-Rock in NYC as well as 100.3 The Sound & Alt 98.7 in Los Angeles. She also curated & hosted a new music/indie show called Out on a Limb on 88.5 FM in LA.

When she’s not at concerts, you can usually find her in the kitchen. And she has a slight obsession with deep, dark caernets & a well-made Old Fashioned. Cheers!

Couch Confessionals with Janis Gaudelli

CCjanisCouch Confessionals is a raw, honest chat session, where we go beyond the blog and dig into deep-truths about each of The Daily Feeler’s.  This month on the “Couch” – Janis Gaudelli, “Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism” answers the hard questions Jennifer Tonetti Spellman throws her way.  She speaks about regrets, single parenting, her favorite word, pet peeves and all that sets her soul on fire.  Check out the Q&Slay below…

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry If I Want To

BY: Padraic Maroney – “The Neurotic Urban Millennial”

It’s been quite a few weeks since we last talked, friends.

Has anyone told you having a blood clot sucks ass? Well, if not, let me be the first to tell you. It. sucks. donkey. balls. Between the almost daily doctor visits (seriously, the nurses and registration people have begun recognizing me), injections that made me look like Chris Brown’s latest victim, fighting near constant fatigue, and the doctor ordering me to basically be on bed red, it hasn’t been a fun few weeks.

giphy1

Thankfully, I am making progress. The injections stopped last week and my doctor gave me permission to walk again. No, joke this was an actual conversation:

Me: I’ve been trying to become a bus person, but sometimes they don’t come and I walk to work.

Doctor: How far is that?

Me: About 20-25 minutes.

Doctor: That’s a little much, have you thought about just walking around the block?

Me: Well, no, because that won’t get me to work…

We are now in September and I still have two more months of treatment. The doctor visits are now scaled back to weekly. Hopefully, the nurses don’t forget me with this decreased frequency. September is usually my favorite month because it just so happens to be my birthday month. But this year is different.

You see, every year I throw an elaborate theme party for my birthday. Last year, I rented a house at the Jersey shore for a week and told people to just come down for as long as they wanted. Previously, I had a pirate-themed birthday complete with a scavenger hunt around Philadelphia, a movie-themed 30th birthday party, an all-expenses-paid trip for 10 of my friends to Manhattan for the weekend, and of course, an 80s themed costume party (see me below with a Pac Man Blazer, Ghostbusters t-shirt, and heavy eyeliner).

pat

The idea to throw myself a birthday party sprung from the yearning for a surprise party. I know, it sounds counterintuitive to throw yourself a party when you want people to throw you a surprise party, but that was the problem: Growing up no one gave me one and I’m not one to passively sit around. My parents and sister all had surprise birthday parties. My older brother got one when he was leaving to study abroad for a year, and my younger brother got a surprise party for graduating college. I’ve also helped to plan countless of surprise parties, showers, and celebrations for friends and co-workers.

giphy2

I even went as far one year to provide my parents a guest list with contact information for all of my friends. Alas, no party materialized, so when I graduated college I took matters into my own hands. Birthdaypalooza, as it is affectionately known, may have started out as probably a middle finger to everyone who had never given me my desired surprise party. But over the years, it has grown into a celebration of more than my birthday. It’s an annual event to see 50 or so of my closest friends and have a good time. My birthday is almost secondary. There’s no cake or singing of happy birthday and there’s only one rule: No drama allowed.

This year’s party was well into being planned. The theme was prom and I had reserved space at a community center to give it that high school cafeteria feel. But for the first time since 2006, there will be no birthdaypalooza. With everything going on, I wouldn’t have been able to properly execute the party. Plus, on the medication, I can’t drink. And what’s the point if I can’t enjoy the half-naked bartenders (you didn’t have those as your prom?) and do body shots off of them?

I am attempting to be the most compliant patient, despite what most people might think. The only problem is that I am not used to being a homebody. I need to stay active and be planning something. It’s what motivates me. In my current state, even modifying my schedules — working from home, taking Ubers more often — I find myself still fatigued and exhausted. Because of this, I know that I made the right decision in canceling this year’s festivities. And I did it early enough to make sure that people hadn’t bought prom dresses or anything yet. No one likes plans to be canceled at the last minute!

So, yes it is September, but this is a different September than what I am used to experiencing. Rather than looking forward to a magical night with friends, I am looking forward to the next step in my recovery. And you can bet that I am already thinking of ideas for next year’s birthdaypalooza.

I always get depressed and reflective around this time of year about the previous year. The highs (going to Europe, connecting with readers on The Daily Feels) and the lows (getting into my first car accident, blood clots) are evaluated. But this year, there’s also a twinge of disappointment. Not that there will be no birthday celebration, but rather that I have let down my friends who were looking forward to the party.  Everyone said they understand, because well what else are you supposed to say? But I can’t help feeling like I am now a disappointment.

Granted, part of this I blame on the meds. It’s made me all kinds of wonky. I mean I got waaaay too verklempt during a Hallmark movie starring my former nemesis Debbie Gibson. Not to mention, I’ve been spastic and completely forgot about a meeting at work that I was supposed to be running. Sometimes, I feel like I am slowly losing my mind. I’ve always had a steel trap for a mind, but lately, it’s almost in one ear and out the other.


padriacnewPadraic Maroney hails from upstate New York, suffering from middle child syndrome.  His writing career began after moving to the Philadelphia suburbs while in high school. He wrote for The Bucks County Courier Times’ Reality section, written by local teenagers, and has the distinction of writing a weekly gossip column for a college newspaper at a school he didn’t even attend! His love of pop culture led him to intern at Teen People, where he met Janis Gaudelli, and realized he could turn being a millennial into a career. Since then he’s alternated between writing and marketing, but always focused on Millennials and everything they bring to the table. Padraic is a lover of shenanigans, 80s music, and the movie “Scream.”

You can follow his additional adventures on Instagram: @padraicjacob

 

Ain’t No Mama Like The One I Got

BY: Janis Gaudelli – The Champion of Truths, Unicorns & AWE-tism

I have dedicated an entire blog post to my Dad and often spoken of him on The Daily Feels.  Today, I devote this space to the glue and the goddess, the 5’2 spark of sass, the Gaudelli Matriarch, the fierce force I call Mom.

I hit the lottery of life when the universe was handing out mothers.  Modest, devoted, strong, giving, intuitive – the words I typically use to describe my mom to others.  Words that weave together her life story.  Words I will use to best express 83 years of a world graced by her presence.

Today is my mom’s birthday, and this blog is celebrating her spectacular life, so let me introduce you to Frances Janet Gaudelli: the woman, the myth, the legend.

mom6Happy Birthday, Mom

My mother was born and raised in Harrison, NY.  She was brought in to this world during The Great Depression to immigrant parents, Anna Reale Gatto and Dominick Gatto.  The family grew up in humble conditions.  My mom often spoke of owning two dresses as a child (alternating one each day) and cherished her only doll, which she received as a gift.  As both parents worked hard to make ends meet, my mom and her brother had adult-like responsibilities at home.  At 8 years old, my mom would come home from school to an empty house, where her chores consisted of cleaning the house and getting dinner started for when her parents returned home.

mom1Dominick & Anna Gatto and their children – Joseph & Frances (my mom)

When she wasn’t helping out at home, you could find her playing on the Brentwood streets with her friends Nancy Fraioli, Connie Sposato, The Arcara brothers, and The Basso boys, as well as her brother and his friends Bill Bisbano and the Spizzaro sisters.

She made her way through the Harrison school district and, after graduating high school, went straight into the workforce in accounts receivable at AT&T.

momsuit

She met my Dad at a New Year’s Eve party in 1958 that she hadn’t planned to attend, but her aunt urged her to go because “you might meet your husband.”  I still get the chills from that story.  The stars were aligned, and she married my Dad on her birthday, September 12, 1959. She would have been married 59 years today, how about that!

She gave birth naturally (back when meds were not readily given and women were child-bearing warriors) to four children: Fred, Annamarie, Robert, and Janis (that’s me!).  Once she became a mom, she quit her job at AT&T to stay home and raise the four of us while my Dad worked.  They sacrificed a lot. Dad worked 2 jobs and Mom kept the family on a strict budget.

mom3Dad, Mom, Fred & Annamarie

Strict is also how I would describe her parenting style. You did not pull any shit past my mom.  All we had to see was her hand raised to her mouth, her teeth biting down on her fingers, and we ran like our lives depended on it. Her exercise consisted of chasing the four of us with wooden spoons– and sometimes catching us.  Her strictness kept us all out of trouble and dedicated to doing and being our best.  She is the disciplinarian to whom we owe our well-mannered, respectful, considerate qualities.

While my Dad worked, my mom took care of the homestead and all that went with it.  She was completely devoted to raising and championing all four of us.  Mom was always involved in our school affairs: she was active in the PTA, chaperoned school trips, always cheered from football/track/basketball/baseball stands, and proudly watched her daughter Annamarie soar on stage.  She helped us with our homework, studied with us and hired tutors when it got to be too much.

She went head to head with school officials on our behalf and celebrated all four of us at every graduation, from pre-school all the way to college (that about 24 graduations total!).

Dear God, I’m tired just writing about it.

And yet, this woman never stopped hustling, before hustling was even a thing.  She is one of the strongest women I know.  She is fierce mentally, emotionally and– for a little lady– physically.  It wasn’t until I was 15 years old when I realized just how strong she was. She was diagnosed with breast cancer that year, but she wasn’t shaken by the news.  In fact, from the day she was told, she looked straight into the eyes of the ‘Big C’ and said, “You chose the wrong person to fuck with!”.

I’m kidding. My mom doesn’t curse (she doesn’t drink or curse, which makes me wonder if I was adopted), but you get my point. She didn’t let that diagnosis stop her from living her best life.  She hardly told anyone she had breast cancer.  It didn’t become part of her story.  She went about her days in deep faith, determined to fight it because the alternative just wasn’t an option.  She went into the hospital and had a mammectomy on her left breast.  Just a couple days later, she returned home (with drains coming out the side of her chest), put in a load of laundry, asked me to come with her food shopping and cooked dinner for the family that night.  She refused chemotherapy and chose radiation instead.  For 2 months, five days a week, my mom took herself to her radiation treatment.  When she returned home, life went on as usual.

And the award for badass, warrior goddess goes to…Frances Janet Gaudelli

Seriously folks, my Mom has some superhuman powers that I’ve been in awe of my entire life.

In 1995, that small-town girl had the opportunity to move out of the only town she’d ever known. Away from her family and friends to a land where cacti grow, and cowboys run the show: Arizona.  She immediately fell in love with the gorgeous desert landscape, snowless winters and the kind, courteous people.  She and my Dad built an amazing life in Arizona and, even since my Dad’s passing, my mom still calls it home.

momdadMom & Dad in Scottsdale, AZ

A year after leaving New York, my Mom’s heart swelled to a whole new level when she welcomed her first granddaughter, Halle, into the world.  They say something magical happens inside of you when you become a grandparent. Chambers of your heart you never knew existed are unlocked and you love at the deepest level.  The way my mother loves her grandchildren is limitless.  After Halle, she was gifted with three more grandchildren: Reese, Jadyn and Kellan.  They all call her “Mama”.

mamaMama and her four grandchildren: Halle, Kellan, Reese, Jadyn

Having been raised by a warrior like my mom, there was never a doubt in my mind that a woman could do anything she puts her mind to, and that includes having a child on her own.  I remember the day I called my mom to tell her about my plan to become a single mom by choice.  She responded without hesitation. “You can do it on your own.” She has been my greatest advocate and Kellan’s biggest fan ever since.

As my beautiful, ageless, giving, wonder woman of a mom turns 83 today, I reflect upon all that she is, all she has done, and all she continues to do. All of which I am incredibly thankful for.  So, thank you, Mom:

Thank you for breeding fearlessness and encouraging me to take risks

Thank you for always exhibiting courage and strength when life throws a challenge your way

Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself

Thank you for allowing me to always be my truest self (big hair, spandex, tattoos, piercings, all of it)

Thank you for teaching me to stand up for myself and all that I believe

Thank you for sacrificing your wants for our needs

Thank you for letting me make my own decisions, even when you didn’t approve

Thank you for showing me that my opinion matters and to raise my voice wisely

Thank you for raising a woman who supports other women

Thank you for giving me advice when I needed it most

Thank you for passing down your strong sense of intuition

Thank you for picking up the broken pieces when life felt like it was falling apart

Thank you for your fierce support, acceptance, and love for my son

Thank you for having a great sense of humor

Thank you for your generous nature.  You raised me to be a giver, and I cherish that about myself

Thank you for having the faith I so desperately lack

Thank you for encouraging my non-traditional path

Thank you for demonstrating the qualities of what makes an incredible mother

Thank you, Mom…for being my mom

Happy Birthday.  I love you.

mamafacts


janisbiopic

Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels.  She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways.  Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living.  Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 7-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.

FOLLOW JANIS AND THE DAILY FEELS TRIBE @:  FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM

“Where Were You When All Hell Broke Loose and Those Planes Hit the World Trade Center? I was on the B-Train”

BY: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”

Chapter 12: Taking the Train to the Border

911cm

Today marks the 17th Anniversary of the Greatest Tragedy of the 21st century.

Let that sink in.  17 years since we all awoke to a beautiful crystal clear blue-sky morning on our way to work or to school or to wherever the day was going to take us.  When you think about the millions of people in the country that had their alarm set to wake them to their regularly scheduled activities as they did the other 364 days of the year.  There was no warning.  No hint.  Nothing that could ever prepare us for the tragedy that would single-handedly wake the entire nation to the moment when our collective lives would change forever.

There are memories we want to keep close to our hearts and those that we bury deep in our psyche in order to survive; in order to move forward.  Often, we don’t talk about the tragedies of our lives.  We keep them filed away lest we drown in the sorrow.

However, 17 years later, I thought it was important to reflect on this incredibly life-altering “event.”

We all have our individual tragedies, but that day we collectively experienced a tragedy that affected literally every single person in some visceral way. There are moments in history when we can remember the exact details of where we were, who we were with, the smells and sounds; a complete sensory memory.

If you closed your eyes right now, can you bring yourself back to that moment?  Can you remember what you were doing before you came into the knowledge that a plane hit the World Trade Center?  Can you remember how you felt when you realized that it wasn’t an “accident” but a purposeful act of terrorism that was about to spread across the country?

Think about it.  It was a Tuesday.

When I close my eyes, I recall that I was getting ready for work.  At the time I was living in Bay Ridge in my first apartment.  I was working for Teen People and had just met my ex-husband.  We just started dating.

17 years ago, my life was really just beginning.  I had high hopes for my new relationship, and I loved my career trajectory.  We just returned from Rock ‘N Shop, where we traveled across the country to host events at malls for teens, just in time for back-to-school shopping.

Life was good.  Great, in fact.

Now, think about all the hope you had for that day.  All the plans and the To Dos.  Grocery shopping or dinner with friends.  Maybe you were going to a new class after work. Perhaps you were reuniting with a lost love.  Whatever it was, think about the innocence you approached your life with that morning.

Flash forward to the moment you realized that our city, our country and our world had changed forever.  The unraveling of our safety.  It is mind-boggling how in that one moment as those planes hit, everything else fell away.  The To Dos, the grocery shopping, the meetings were all forgotten, they were meaningless.

Nothing else mattered but safety.  The safety of ourselves, our family and friends.  Who was safe?  The worry. The fear. The horror.

There is likely someone reading these words right now that lost a loved one.  And there are no words to ever express the sorrow I feel for your loss.  I mourn for you.  I pray for you.  I send my love and hope for your healing.

My memory of 9/11 is of a horribly tragic event and an awakening.  And it is not lost on me that I am one of the lucky ones that is here to remember and be able talk about it.

I woke to the strength and perseverance of the human spirit.  I awoke to what is truly important in life.  I awoke to the hero in each of us.  I woke to my faith.  I woke to the fact that all over the world no matter who you were or where you lived, we prayed, mourned and healed together.

The crazy thing about tragedy is that it leads to healing.  And as we heal, we grow.  What I have found most interesting about going through moments of despair, is that we all rise.  We set that alarm again with the hope that we don’t face another horrific event.  But now we open our eyes with a sense of preparedness, even more so with a fierce sense of gratitude.

Today I woke wanting to share my story about September 11th, 2001.  Today I woke wanting to talk about how that moment forever changed me, for the better.  Today I woke wanting to go back in time to that innocent morning and see how far I’ve come.  Today I woke feeling blessed to be alive.

This essay was written seven years ago, on the 10th anniversary of 9/1, as part of my friend Mimi’s son’s 911 Stories Project.  I invite you to join me in remembering and sharing your story.  I encourage you to remember the lives lost on that day, the heroes that saved so many people by giving their own lives and to give thanks for every single person in your life.

———————————————————————–

9/11 – Remembered from the B Train

Written by Cherry Maggiore, 9-11-11

So much can change in a year, let alone 10.  So many choices were made on that day…some regretful and some thankful. But there is not one person in NY or the tri-state area or in the world for that matter, that lived past that day unaffected; not one person that doesn’t remember where they were when the first plane hit.

I was on the B Train.

While suspended on the Brooklyn Bridge, the train full of Brooklyn commuters couldn’t wait to get on the bridge; that is where you actually got cell service, not to mention, the most beautiful view of the city.   It was always my favorite part of the day–going and coming.  You can see the whole skyline and on a day like September 11th, 2001, it was no different.  The day before rained really hard, and so the blue sky, warm sun, and crisp air were a welcome start. I just finished putting on my makeup; like any real commuter, every second counts.  And as we approached the bridge, I looked out the window as I did every morning for five years.  And for five years that damn train always slowed to a crawl while making the “little engine that could” effort to get across. It was almost like the conductors didn’t want to rush it…like he or she loved the view as well.

But what we saw was so much different than every morning before.  Suddenly as people stared out the window I heard gasps that turned into whispers, fingers pointed and then loud exclamations.  I got up and looked out the window; I couldn’t really see what everyone was staring at from my seat.  As I stood up, there was a full view of at a gaping wound. A black hole — and it was eye level.  The bridge was precisely the level where the largest hole I have every seen infected one of the most famous buildings in NYC.  There was a moment I thought we were going to get pulled in as if a portal to Hell had opened up.  As I looked around for someone who might have an answer, I saw mouths that were open, eyes that were wide, the smell of sweat and fear.   Suddenly, that enclosed car felt like a coffin.   And as we got closer to the seeing the entire hole…the full view … we all went silent.

There are experiences in life that mark you as only great joy or deep sorrow can. Experiences that make a timestamp in your mind — and when given the chance to remember, you can transport yourself to that very moment and relive it. This is one of those experiences that I did not want to relive.  And that is why for ten years, I have not been able to write about that day — despite the fact that I have journaled important events throughout my life.  This, tragically, could not be allowed to surface without the potential of that hole consuming me again.

Strange to now write about this — what would you call it — event? This happening? Occurrence?  Or, as reported, this “act of war,” “terrorism.”  I think back to the moment I saw the hole where the plane hit and having no context or idea of what happened and then seeing parts of a plane in that hole.  I thought that maybe that it might have been a pilot’s mistake.  Like some stupid little airplane that got lost the week before might have resurfaced and just taken the wrong route and plunged into the tallest building in NYC.  We didn’t get service that day.  And no one could connect with what was happening until I got to Rockefeller Center.  I walked off that train with little facts or knowledge about what I just saw.  Clearly, I knew something wasn’t right and that people probably got hurt, but I could never have imagined what was to follow that frightful sight.

As I walked through the train station, it just felt different…it was quiet.  Not dead silence — but a nervous quiet, energy infected Rockefeller station. Security started to flow through the space at a quickened pace.  Worried faces, furrowed brows, suspicious glances.

As I made my way to the office at the Time & Life building, there were people running everywhere; usually, the only person running was someone late to a meeting or some crazy person running from ghosts or a thief running with his get for the day.  This time, of course, the running was different, it was urgent, frenzied. As I made my way up the steps to daylight, the air hit me and then I started to hear rumblings of information …” a plane hit one of the twin towers”…” what an idiot, how could you run your plane into that building”…”there is smoke and major fire at the twin towers, and massive debris from the plane that hit”…”people are being evacuated”…”not sure what happened but it’s major”…

As I got into my office on the 35th floor, I found my team in front of a TV in my boss’ office.  “What happened?” I said.  “I just saw a HUGE hole in the Twin towers…looked like an airplane hit…”  and they pointed me to the TV where we watched that building burn, still thinking it was some pilot error.  And then the truly unthinkable happened; the next deliberate act, witnessed by millions of people:  we watched as the second plane hit. And it was then that we knew this was not an accident.   We screamed out; some of us cried, others laughed out of disbelief. I just whispered, “no, no, no.”

We still couldn’t believe what we were watching; not three miles from where we were, the entire world was upside down.  The absolute awe and denial and confusion forced everyone to simply just, watch.  Like it was some movie or TV show; totally surreal.

They started to gather us up.  People took their time, not wanting to believe or maybe stupid enough not to realize that we were at risk; especially in a tall building on the 35th floor. And then suddenly the nightmare got worse…we witnessed the first tower fall.

It was like a sinkhole had just opened up and ate up an entire building.  Shock.  Fear.  Panic.  We all started to PANIC.  Anxiety attacks, rapid breathing, tears.   Odd exclamations that we were going to die. Oh, that was me. I realized I was losing it and someone had to talk me down. Verbally slap me out of this attack so I would MOVE.  Down 35 flights we ran.  RAN.  Couldn’t wait to get down to the ground.  Could breathe once I was there, with legs trembling. Everything just trembling. People with cars had their windows down as groups gathered to listen to news reports that we were being attacked.  That NYC was under attack.   Now, this was our only connection to what was happening. Bridges shut down. Trains not working.  NO cell phones.  NO hard lines.  We are on an island…stuck on an island.  Panic again.  No way to know if everyone was ok?  No way for them to know I was ok and not on that bridge being sucked into that gaping hole; now, a gravesite for thousands.

Sadness, just deep sadness. Then fear; terrible, paralyzing fear.  Where will they hit next? Then, we heard about the PA plane, then the Pentagon. Now, I looked around at thousands more people who could be the next target, including myself. Looking up at the sky for signs of another plane.  Looking at vehicles to see if car bombs were going off.  Looking at people wondering what side they were on.

My friend Janis takes my hand and says “Let’s Go, NOW.”  “Where? Where do we go now?” Uptown…uptown?  Like it was somehow the safe haven.  “We have to walk uptown.”  So we walk.  Now, it’s not weird to walk in NYC…in fact; we love to walk.  But today, there were thousands of people walking uptown, like a parade, through Central Park — with a beautiful blue sky, warm sun, and crisp air filling our lungs…while the other half of our city burns in darkness and dust.

The silence around as we walked through Central Park was palpable. No one spoke, except to comfort the crying person next to them.  Or to ask for more news. Or if you had cell service.  They talked of nothing else.  Our lives were now consumed with terrorism, with fear.  Our innocence — and maybe our arrogance — lost forever.

Then the ghosts came.  The people covered in dust and debris from the towers started making their way uptown. They reminded us that the blue sky and fresh air around us hadn’t made its way downtown…that we were stuck on an island in absolute madness.  We just moved along through the park and landed at my friend’s 400 sq foot apartment.  And waited.

There was a hole in the earth when those buildings fell. We all felt empty.  Those towers have been here since before I was born. They were always a symbol that I lived in the biggest, “baddest” city in the world.  A city where I felt removed from the terrorism that plagues the rest of the world. That is why I refuse to move from America…No war is fought on our soil.  And then, we are under attack – and one of the things you count on is suddenly torn away.  It’s like someone took a limb.

I felt the loss.  Great loss starting to shower down and become a reality.  People who were making their way uptown would stop and cry…while others tried to help them. They were frozen. They couldn’t explain. Nor did you want them to.  You heard rumors of people jumping from the upper floors; stories of bodies on the ground; talk of people running from the tornado of debris.  You didn’t want to know.

The aftermath was massive.  The repercussions of this terrorist act were experienced everywhere you went, with everyone you spoke to, and in every way possible.  I remember the burly man on the B train when I went home that Friday night. This man told me what he saw was “the most horrible nightmare…a mass murder…a horror film that I could not imagine.” He just started talking and then crying. And I thought: seeing this grown man cry somehow made the loss more real, more devastating. There was a woman at work, pregnant with her first child, who lost her husband in the black hole.  He was a firefighter, who ran into the building to save lives.  GOD— why?

I am a spiritual person, not a religious one. I don’t have blind faith, which is why it was really fucking hard for me to accept or understand when so many said: “God was there that day.” I guess it depends on which side of 9/11 you are on. The side that died or the side that survived.

But God was on my side that day. Thank God…I didn’t lose anyone close to me.  I got out of the city safely.  But when I went back, I decided to put myself to work helping at the volunteer centers…trying to help families locate their loved ones who were still missing…seeing the hope in their eyes.  But when the hope died along with their loved ones, I moved on.  Then I stood on the West Side highway cheering on the workers, police, and fireman sorting through the remnants (or now evidence) of the massive crime scene…to keep their spirits up, to know we care.  And week after week, life started to return to a new “normal.”

I sometimes think about fate and how people say “that was meant to be”…but is that only true of good events?  I can’t help but think back to that day and wonder was this some sort of twisted fate? Could fate be that cruel? Could the same fate happen simultaneously to 2,996 people? But I move on and deal with my destiny.

Gladly, the end of this story is also a beginning. And I am grateful that the plane didn’t hit the train and that the train didn’t get sucked into that hole and that we got out of the building alive and that there were no other incidents in NY and I got home to my family, and my family was ok.  I am glad my fate was to be safe that day.  I am blessed to be on this side of fate.

Unfortunately, I was scarred that day; that day I did lose something.  I lost security; I lost the safety and trust I once felt in this city, in this country.  Not safe now and never again.  And I will never forget that day; I will remember what I saw, and that is why I no longer take the B train to work, and I no longer travel on the bridge. I drive through the tunnel and somehow feel safer.

———————————————————————–


Chrisnewpic

herry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.

Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.

This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.