Tonight I spent a few hours at a wake of one of my family members.  She was a first cousin but we always called her Auntie because of the age difference.  You see back in the day when my Catholic Italian grandmother was having her younger children her older children were already starting their families.  That was how it was back them. There was a 27 year age difference between my cousin Connie and I and she was closer to my father in age than me.  The younger generation of today have a hard time grasping that and when I say there were 11 children it damn near drops them to the floor.  At least I think there were 11.  Nancy, Nellie, Grace, Anna, Dolores, Pam, Lena, Jimmy, Tony, Joe, and Graziano (my dad). They all had Italian names, not just my dad, but tonight they will have their American ones.

Tonight I sat with the cousins that I grew up with. Cousins that were like my sisters, though we have certainly grown apart over the years.  Not because of any differences, merely because we grew up, had our own families, and got busy. I miss my cousins.

Then there are the other cousins that I didn’t grow up with.  Their ages are in between mine and Auntie Connie. Closer to mine, but still old enough to have been grown when we came along. They were from Italian families (unlike mine which was half Irish). They grew up in Italian speaking households and they stayed living in the same city. They stayed close. We always referred to them as “the cousins” when we were growing up because we could never be a part of them. I’m not sure why, but they were different. I always remember them being nice, polite, and proper with my mother, but I think I was just a kid to them. Now we are all adults.  With the exception of Auntie Dolores, we are now the oldest generation of the family. Everyone, all of our parents, are gone.  Now I realize I missed out on being a part of that family.  We are blood related and man can you tell just by looking at us, but we are not close. Thankfully they pulled off a family reunion a couple of months ago and we were able to get together for something other than a funeral. I realize now that even though we did not grow up togetherand we are not close, I feel this bond with them.  They are family and I wish I knew them better.  I wish we were closer.  I miss my cousins.

If you have never witnessed an Italian family get together in person just think about the stereotype.  Not The Godfather or Sopranos, but the hugging, kissing, hand gestures, and noise, that is my family. I find myself listening to the way they speak and I’m not sure if it’s the Italian or if it’s the Worcester, but I usually laugh at the way we sound.  We all sound da same. We talk da same way to each udda. My name becomes Amarie, Auntie Connie is Arni Connie, Auntie Dolores is Arni Dolores, and so much more that I can’t write phonetically.  All I gotta do is tink about da family and my brain sounds like dem. This is not a put down.  I am very proud of my Italian roots.  My father was 1st generation American and he learned to speak in an Italian born household.  Til the day he died he pronounced certain words differently than we did.  I remember this very fondly and I miss my dad.

Wakes and funerals are a time to pay respects to the family members left behind but it also a time for remembering.   There are so many stories, so many memories. I hope when it’s my turn to leave this earth there will be people eating, drinking, and remembering.

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Semester One Done, Semester Two Coming Soon


Big plans, big goals, read a lot for pleasure and write a lot to keep in practice.  Good thing I do not get grades for winter break, because I would fail hands down.

During my first semester all I did was write.  There were journals, and free writes, rough drafts, final drafts, scholarships, homework, and research papers.  My brain was screaming for it to stop so that I could come here and write something that was not being graded, not being analyzed, and would not affect my financial aid in any way.  I wanted to write all those ridiculous thoughts that ran through my mind when I wasn’t thinking about incomplete sentences and comma splices.  “I will be at that keyboard morning til night getting that nothingness out.”  That was my big plan for break,  Epic Fail.

Spring semester starts in two days and I have found myself here out of fear and desperation.  I already have a 300 word discussion board response due by next Sunday and I am starting to hyperventilate over it all.  Do not over analyze and do not over think is what my new-found classmates told me last semester as I would read and reread my essays.  I could not bet below an A. In my mind that would have been failure.  When I received an A- on one of my essays I wanted to beg for a redo. In my head it was a disaster. In the real world it was a perfectly good A- which did not lower my GPA below 4.0.  I put the very unrealistic goal of perfection onto my shoulders.  Not a wise thing to do even though I came out of first semester with a 4.0 and Presidents List.

It will be a challenge to keep that GPA this coming semester.  The course work is much more difficult and my course load is more demanding. Professors are expecting more and rightly so.  We may still be freshmen, but we have a semester under our belts.  No more hand holding for us.  It is simply terrifying.

On January 20th my second semester of college begins. I cannot wait to be back on campus everyday. It feels so natural and right to be there.  I feel positive, aware, awake, and alive, when I am walking the halls, sitting in the library, or talking with professors. Yet the security of my bus driving job makes me question what the hell I am doing at my age.  Do I really expect to start a brand new career a couple of years before I am ready to retire?  YES I do. Is it too late for me?  NO it is not. I might still be able to work until I drop dead if I am doing something I want to do.   It will only be too late when my last breath escapes me and my ashes are scattered in the wind.

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Next Chapter

Tomorrow kicks off the next chapter in my life.

Tuesday morning I unofficially start college, spending time with other students. Students like myself whose parents did not attend college, are financially in need, and in my case, in need of a support system to get through school. Most likely students who are much younger than myself.

On the agenda for Tuesday?  A ropes course. I wasn’t real sure what that had to do with going to college so I checked it out. It’s more about building trust, learning problem solving strategies, and teamwork then cracking the books. For me it’s the next step in the journey that has taken 53 years to begin. It’s about over coming fear and breaking free from the mold I find myself having been stuffed into. It’s about letting the inner me emerge from the cocoon.

I am doing my best to push negativity and doubt from my mind and my surroundings. Going back to school is a very big step for me.  It is something I have thought of doing for many years, but never had the guts to try.  Mostly due to that voice inside my head telling me I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have time, I certainly didn’t have the money, and the loudest and most obnoxious voice of all repeatedly telling me I was far to stupid.  People around me echoed these thoughts and I listened.   Not any more.

I am going to college. Classes start next week and I am scared as all get out. The possibility of falling flat on my face is real, but I refuse to dwell on that.  Instead I will set realistic goals and become the someone I was meant to be.

Oh one of my classes this semester is College Writing.  Even though that is not the field I am working towards, I am very excited to be taking writing.

There’s no place to go but up from here.

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