Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Noni. My Angel.

 You should listen to Brother Iz as you read this.



It has a been WAY too long since I've posted on my blog. Life happened.

I lost my Noni to breast cancer on 1/13/14.

It's hard to even type any more.




When I was little, I went to my Noni's every day. My mom worked as a nurse, so she always had some crazy hours. Every day, I'd pull up to Noni's house and say, "Hi Noni's house!" We would have our cheerios and watch our TV. Noni never changed the channel. The TV was on channel 2 (CBS) all day long. We would watch The Price is Right and then as the news came on, it would be time for lunch. Peanut butter and jelly. Every day. Then I would go down for my nap as she watched her "stories." And at 5:00, every day, Grandpa would come home and dinner would be on the table. He would put MASH on. I can still hear Noni yelling, "IACER!" to the MASH theme song.

Sometimes, my day with Noni would start at my house and she would eventually take me down to her house. On the way, we would count all the American flags. There were always 13.

In summer time, Noni loved to sit on her porch. All her neighbors would come up and visit and talk with us. Noni knew everyone. She would always say to me, "I just talk to everyone. Life is too short." I could sit on that porch with her for hours. She had this little black and white TV and we used to watch her stories on when we sat out there and she would do her crocheting and wave to every car that went by. She had so many friends, her neighbors, her card buddies, her church buddies, her Democratic Committee buddies - she knew everyone. And everyone knew her.

Noni's birthday, some year ago.

I remember when I was trying to decide where to go for college. Noni would always tell me about Marywood and the history and the sisters and then she would, of course, add, "If you go to Marywood, you can come visit me for lunch." And that's exactly what I did. I would make my school schedule so that I would have afternoons free to go have lunch with Noni. She always bought me my lunch meat and my cooper sharp cheese. Grandpa would always say, "Noni buys that just for you." Then, we would do the same thing. Watch our TV. Her stories, Judge Judy, Inside Edition. Last year, we bought her an iPad for Christmas, so as we sat watching our shows, she and I would sit on our iPads playing Slotomania or Candy Crush or Bingo or "Mahjahongy" as Noni called Mahjong. Every day.

The iPad Christmas 2012


On the weekends, the channel would actually change (WHOA) to the Game Show Network, where we would sit and watch endless episodes of Match Game and The Newlywed Game. I just enjoyed sitting there with her. Knowing she was there. She was like my best friend.

On her 75th birthday, we took her to her favorite place at the time - the Olive Garden. We had the greatest time. And she told us not to tell the waitstaff it was her birthday, but we did anyway. And she loved every second of it.

Noni's 75th


She loved being with her family more than anything. She loved our trips to Maxie's, our trips to the girls' basketball games, going to the Iacovazzi family Chirstmas party every year, having Christmas Eve with the Coleman's and just sitting and eating her homemade sauce with her family.

Noni was a big card player, and we would sit for hours playing our Kansas City Rummy. She played every Thursday with her friends at the Abington Senior Center, so I knew on Thursdays - I couldn't go over before 1:00. In the summertime, she literally played one day a week my Aunt Janet and their neighbor from 9-5.
 
Noni loved her Bon Ton and her Boscov's. The last place I actually took her was the Bon Ton before they went out of business. We had to get a new coffee pot. It was still too expensive in Bon Ton. I remember taking her to the Bon Ton in Wilkes Barre and she hated the highways so we would take all the back roads down there. Their Bon Ton had a bigger selection of her Alfred Dunner and Beckenridge. She always loved to show us her Beckenridge outfits with the tops that perfectly matched the bottoms. If the top had a sailboat on it, the bottom had a sailboat on it. We went on countless trips to the new Walmart in Taylor and every time we walked in there, she would say "Where do all these people come from speaking these languages? It's like we are in Puerto Rico." Every time. She used to take two other older ladies to the grocery store every Tuesday. When Noni couldn't drive any more, my mom would take them all. I took them once and Noni and I perused through the store and she would make me wait at the deli counter because they took too long for Noni to stand there and hold up her friends.

The Great Grandchildren. Kaylee and Brooke's 1st Birthday


Noni was an avid basketball fan. And every referee in town knew who she was. I sat with her at every game, no one else really wanted to. She would take her glasses off and offer them kindly to the ref as he ran by. She would tell them how awful they were. Our favorite line was when she told the ref to "Hang his shirt up and retire."

Noni loved her animals. She inherited a bird from my cousin, Joey. She got a cat from the animal shelter, and she LOVED her dog, Mya. She always teased her and played with her. I can still hear her yelling across the house to the dog. In her last days at home, she kept telling the dog, "I'm gonna miss you, Mya."

Mya


Noni was always there to save you. No matter what kind of trouble you were in. She would really take in anyone. She had many house guests over the years. I can recall this one time, my car and I got stuck in a ditch in Old Forge during a snow storm and one call to Noni and Grandpa was on his way to save me. Sometimes I wonder - who will save me now?

I have no idea what this is from


Noni never failed to make me laugh. When everyone was on my nerves or I was having a bad day, Noni was my escape. We could sit there for hours and just be happy. And she would make me laugh. I don't think she ever really realized how hilarious she was. That's what I really miss the most.

One time, we were sitting on her porch and Grandpa came out to mow the lawn. He did the whole thing and then came up and sat on the porch and Noni said, "Iacer, it doesn't look any different. What did you do?" He forgot to put the blade down on the lawn mower. Noni and I laughed the whole time he re-did the lawn.

Noni and Grandpa's Wedding, 1958.


Grandpa and Noni were married 55 years.  He told me they planned their wedding in two weeks. He said to her, "I want to get married and I don't want to waste any time." And on their 50th anniversary, we had a huge party - all the Iacovazzi's, all the Coleman's - it was everything Noni wanted. A great time with her family.
The Iacovazzi's. Anniversary Party 2008


When Noni told me she had "the cancer' (she always put "the" in front of everything) I lost it. This was not supposed to happen. Not to my Noni. I made it a point to see her every day. I had to keep her going. To lift her spirits. I hated leaving her. I would cry every time I had to go back to school. We would still sit there, watching our Queen Latifah and playing on our iPads. Her appetite weakened and so did mine. There were so many things it felt wrong to do if Noni couldn't do them. Still, we carried on as the doctors told us she would be in remission in six months and blah blah blah. I saw her every day - they didn't. I knew it was worse than they knew, but I still carried that hope. She told me she wanted to show me the pattern for the blanket she had started to crochet. I knew, she knew. She said she was too tired today. She would show me tomorrow. Tomorrow didn't exactly come as planned. I knew - when she didn't ask for her iPad - something was wrong. Aunt G and I never left her side - day and night. On her last day home, I sat by her. I couldn't leave her. Then they took her to the hospital. She moved to Hospice within 3 days.

Joey, Lindsay, me, Noni, Iacovazzi Family Christmas Party, 2012.


Being in Hospice was like a family reunion. There were no less than like...20 people there with her. Always. Talking to Noni, telling stories, playing on our iPads, eating together. It was like we were one of those families that all live in one big house - except it was just the 7th floor of CMC. She couldn't tell you, but I know she loved every second of it. She was in room 777 - the casino room, we called it. At night, we stayed with her - my cousins: Lindsay and Joey, and I - and every move she made, we were there with her. Anything we could do for her, we would. She never left us - we would never her.

It was a Monday night when she passed. 5:45 ish. As I saw her take that final breath - my world fell apart. How do we live without Noni? The matriarch of our family.

Goodbye is my least favorite word.

Though, I can feel her. She is still here, like in the book she gave me to read once, Johnny Angel. One day, I went to visit her, and I laid in the snow next to her and it was like I could hear her yelling at me.

I know she's with me. Every day.
I know when I'm running late and all the lights turn green, that's Noni.
I know when I'm having a bad day and I find a penny on the ground, that's Noni.
I know when I'm watching GSN and I actually get an answer right, that's Noni.
I know when I'm worried about a test and get a good grade, that's Noni.
I know when I've lost something and it turns up right by me, that's Noni.
I know when I need guidance, my guardian angel will help. That's my Noni.

Kaylee and Brooke's birthday, 2012



She taught me so much. I was lucky to have her in my life as long as I did.
I love her so much, and I will miss her always. 
My Noni. My Angel.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Does Sutter Do That?

    I have always known the power of television. Yet, never have I known the power of television in the sense I had discovered most recently through - WAIT FOR IT - Sons of Anarchy. Last night, they killed one of the main characters. And though I hated this man with all my might, it was weirdly heartbreaking. HOW DO THEY DO THAT? My whole twitter blew up like it does every week. People are way too passionate about this show, myself included, with their Team Tara/Team Gemma nonsense, (TEAM GEMMA!) the amount of time they spend really truly hating a character, the amount of time they spend mourning over a character, (RIP Opie) and talking about the show in every day life like all these people and story lines are real. I do all of these things and I'm glad to say, I'm not alone.
    I went to Asbury Park last week for the Sons for Sandy event. Theo Rossi, Kim Coates, Katey Sagal, and the genius himself, Kurt Sutter were there. I could not at all believe the people that showed up. There were people of all ages from all over who came to see them. There was a lady in line behind me with her oxygen tank. They did a question and answer session, and this older couple got in line to ask Kurt a question. It was like my Nana and Grandpa or Noni and Grandpa getting in line to ask Kurt Sutter a question. I was mind blown - as Sutter often leaves you. 
    They showed up the next episode before it aired and I wish I could watch it with 2,000 other fans every week. People yelling and cheering and CRAZINESS. Yelling at the people they wanted dead, yelling for the people they love, laughing at the Nero/Unser dynamic. It was awesome. So then, watching that episode on Tuesday in my living room felt empty. The episode didn't have the magic it did when I watched it with all the other SOA fans. They're all nuts. So am I. How great is that.

                                                    Sorry, iPhone pictures suck

     I spend my week on my twitter timeline with my SOA friends trying to figure out what the heck is going to happen next. Where is Sutter going to take it? And when we think we've come up with this great idea - he goes a whole different direction. Every week, we are shocked. ESPECIALLY last night. That look through the blinds was like a bullet to my heart. 
      You become so invested in every character. It's hard to see them go. And then it's even harder to remind yourself - hey, this isn't actually real life. I'm one of those irrational people Kurt was talking about because Gemma is my favorite character - she's so cold and evil but I love her, she's a queen - and if she dies (which is Sutter sticks to the Hamlet arc, will happen) I will be a wreck. I'll probably have to take some time off from my life to re-cooperate. But, really, think about it. How cool is that? Someone is just writing this fictional story and people treat it like it's real life.  That is just amazing to me. HOW DOES SUTTER DO THAT? It's incredible. It's incredible storytelling - and directing and acting and editing. But the story comes first. Props, Kurt.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

This is Your Wake Up Call

    I'm not sure where my writing inspiration has been lately, but it's left the building.

    Anywho -

    I was thinking about something the other day that has now been bothering me ever since. There's things that have not existed forever, I know. I'm sure my little cousins can't IMAGINE the world without iphones or ipads or ipods or iwhatevers but I lived through that time where those things didn't exist.

    However, I've always had an alarm clock in my life.

    I don't know exactly when the alarm clock was invented. I tried to look it up on Wikipedia but there was a whole lotta reading - going back to Plato's days. I saw some things about water alarms (I don't know either) and clock towers. (Did the clock towers wake up the entire town? I don't know either.) But seriously, what did people do before alarm clocks? I picture all these people in an old timey town - girls with their awesome big dresses and men with their weird baseball-like pants and navy jackets - prancing around their non-paved street and tiny little wooden homes town and waking up whenever the heck they want.

    Did they just begin their day whenever they woke up? My sister suggested that maybe they had someone who would go around and wake everyone up. But then, how would that guy wake up? I asked my twitter followers and someone said a rooster. I guess in your little wooden home you could definitely hear a rooster. Cock a doodle doo.

    Then I started thinking - how did they know what time it is during the day? Yeah sundials and all. But how would you describe that?
    "Hey, what time is it, John Smith?"
    "Shadow's at the 2/16 of the dial, Paul Revere."

     It's much easier to say 2:00. If that's what 2/16 of the shadow or whatever is. At least they had no TVs in those days so they didn't have to worry about what time their show was on. Plus, I'd imagine having your clock outside is pretty inconvenient. As inconvenient as the word "inconvenient." I can never ever spell that right.

     If anyone really knows what people did before alarm clocks, I'd like to know because what if you couldn't afford a rooster? Or lived in a city? Did big cities exist in those days? Was it normal to have a rooster in big cities in those days? Who knows?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SHUTDOWN

I was with the rest of the nation last night tuning into Dick Clark's Government Shutdown Rockin' Eve hosted by Ryan Seacrest, counting down to the first government shutdown in 17 years. It seems as if Congress is taking the end of Breaking Bad pretty...badly. Though this is a serious situation, my Twitter friends and I were having a ball with it. It was fairly entertaining. And what's even better is that right at midnight, Lifetime began showing Hocus Pocus. Best government shutdown ever!
Also at midnight, Google changed their header to a collage for Yosemite National Park for its 123rd anniversary. Hilarious much? It's the park's 123rd anniversary, and congratulations! SHUTDOWN.
Anyway, I saw many "myths" going around about what will happen during a government shutdown. I'll let you decide which are myths and which are facts.

No mail service.
The reflection pool will be drained and turned in a skate park.
Free HBO Go accounts.
No more student loans!
Sarah Palin's view of Russia will be blocked.
All copies of National Treasure will be ceased.
Joe Biden's hair and makeup team declared "super-essential."
Abe Lincoln will leave his chair.
In an effort to balance the budget, postal service will increase cost of a first class stamp to 16.8 trillion dollars.
Who you gonna call? Not the Ghostbusters. They've been SHUTDOWN.
Big Bird will be put on leave.
Mitt Romney's car elevator will be SHUTDOWN.
Obamacare will be delayed.
The National Zoo animals' paychecks will be delayed.
Ted Cruz will be giving toasts at every wedding.
Air traffic controllers will be allowed nap time.
No more re-runs of The West Wing will be shown until further notice.
You will know longer be able to use the "John Hancock" phrase.
The Illuminati will begin takeover.
The heads on Mount Rushmore will roll off like that meatball on top of your spaghetti all covered in cheese.


Ok, none of those are actually true. But really, we can shut down the government and we still can't give that silly rabbit some Trix? This is absurd.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Crushing Candy


    I have to address an important issue that has come about in today's society.
    It is taking over the lives of many people I love and I hate to see what it does to them.
    Up all night, cursing, screaming, frustrated, thinking you won't be able to move on....
    I have sadly fallen into it as well.

    Candy Crush.

I finally beat level 125 on Candy Crush. I was stuck on it forever. I cried tears of joy.

    But I am Erica...and I am addicted to Candy Crush.

    I started playing a short time after the Christmas of 2012. Right away, I was hooked. That wonderful feeling you get when you combine a striped candy with the sprinkle donut ball...uhhhhh so good. I would be up all night every night crushing candy. No sleep was needed. No work needed to be done. It would all get put off for the magical world of Candy Crush.
    Even if I tried to put the game down for a minute, I would still be playing it in my head. I would put Paddy my iPad down at night and I would see the candy in my head. I would make the moves in my head. I did not care about anything or anyone else. Just crushing that candy.
    Level 65 was a rough time for me. I found myself slamming my iPad down, wanting to throw it out the window or break it in half. It caused a violent streak in me that I never want to go back to. Poor Paddy was abused and I did not mean it at all. Candy Crush just makes you do things you don't want to do.
    For instance, spend 99 cents on 5 extra moves. 
    Around June of 2013, I rid myself of my Candy problem. I was back to normal. I was sleeping at night. I was functioning normally during the day. I wasn't calling my friends at 3AM asking them for more lives. I wasn't seeing Candy Crush boards in my head when I wasn't playing the game. Everything was back to normal.
    Then one day, someone asked me to help them with a level. I did not want to, but I couldn't help myself. It was right there. I had to do it. I beat the level on the first try and the high was back.
I was one month clean and I had thrown it all away in an instant. Major relapse back into a life I had once known and tried so hard to rid myself of.
    Now I'm back to late nights, crushing candy, bothering my Facebook friends for lives, getting EXTREMELY frustrated when I miss a chance to match 5 candies and make the sprinkle donut thing, and abusing Paddy. Someone I work with even posted a picture on my Facebook wall of a sign outside a building which read "Candy Crush Rehab." I am back to that dark place.
     This post is my cry for help.
     Help to unlock the next episode.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Noni's Porch

    My family and I joke that we should write a sitcom based on our lives and entitle it "Noni's Porch." Because I'll tell you, my Noni's porch is where it all happens. (see post: My Life is a Sitcom)
    I've had some of the best times on that porch.
    I enjoy sitting with my Noni on her porch. If I didn't have anything else to do, I'll do it all the time. We sit there watching the planes landing in Avoca, observing the cars that come by, and watching all the neighbors and their daily shenanigans. Sit on that porch for a few hours and you will learn so much about everyone on that street, it's unbelievable. Sit on that porch with Noni for a few hours and you will learn those people's life stories.
    That's what I love the most about it.
    Other people's life stories.
    I like looking into other people's lives.
    I once read this book by Maya Angelou. I cannot remember really anything about it including the title, but a girl was with her grandma and they were walking along the streets of a busy city and the grandmother told her to look beyond the faces of all those people because each one of them has a story. I have never looked at people the same way since.
People walk by Noni's porch and some say hello and some just go about their business. I learn who's married to who, who divorced who, whose kids are who, whose grandkids are whose, where all their relatives live, who has a drug problem, who has a mother-in-law problem, who has problems with the other neighbors, whose dog likes whose dog, who has what kind of car, who throws slippers down the toilet.....an array of things that I find fascinating. I don't really know these people. There's a few if I saw out, I would say hello to. The rest probably have no idea who I am.
But then, I sit there and wonder. When Noni sees someone go by, she'll say, "oh that's so and so's granddaughter." I wonder if when I drive by someone on their porch if they say, "oh, that's Mary's granddaughter." It fascinates me.
    And Noni seems to know every thing about everyone. I reallyyyy get a good look into these people's lives.
    Tonight Noni and I sat out there for a while, waving to cars going by, talking about the neighbors, watering the tomato plants, watching the planes come in, and catching some fireworks from all over town. It was better to me than being out doing anything else. She has the TV on in her room and we turn the volume up loud enough so we can hear it. Saturday nights = the Pennsylvania Polka on WVIA.
    It brings me back to when I was younger and I went to Noni's every day. I'd get there and eat my cereal and Noni would sit in her front room and watch TV. The channel always stayed on WYOU. We'd watch The Price is Right and then I'd eat my lunch during the afternoon news. Then I'd go down for my nap while Noni watched her stories. I'd wake up and Montel would be on or I'd catch the end of As the World Turns, and before you knew it, it was dinner time. Noni would be yelling to the other side of the house for my Grandpa. I can hear it perfectly. "IACER, DINNER! COME ON LET'S GO!" And Grandpa would come in and sit in his chair and would change the channel on the little TV in the kitchen. Dinner was not complete without the M*A*S*H theme song in the background. I can still see it so perfectly.
    Some days when it was nice out, we'd sit on her porch where she had the little TV with the antennas. She'd watch her stories on that little black and white TV and I'd sit on the swing or play on my bike or with my Barbies. And she'd sit there and wave hello to who ever passed by. Sometimes we had some visitors, like Rosie across the street or Bonnie down the street, or Joyce down the other street. The same few people who still come around today when Noni and I are sitting out there. They'd come up and talk for hours and we'd learn even more about the rest of the neighbors' stories.
    I'm a lot like my Noni in many many ways. But I think we are definitely both alike in that we like talking to other people and learning about other people. Maybe that's why she's loved her TV "stories" so much. Soap operas are a direct look into people's lives. Pretty dramatic ones, but whatever, still a look into a whole heck of a lot of people and the way they live.
    And maybe that's why now, when I babysit my little cousin and put her down for a nap I find myself watching those "stories," though only our Young and the Restless and Bold and the Beautiful are left.
    Maybe this is also why I feel old.
    But times on that porch with my Noni are some of the best times.
    And she's just like that grandma in Maya Angelou's story. She looks beyond the faces of these people. And now, so do I.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Colors of the World! ___ Up Your Life!

    I've been having a lot of those "I feel really old" moments. I'm not a fan of it. At all really. It makes me feel like I'm on a whole different level from some people. And it's not like this has just happened to me once or twice recently, but like 100 times a day. I can't recall ever having an "I feel old" moment in my lifetime. All of a sudden it was like "OLD."
    I'm really not that old. I'm 20. But all of a sudden, I feel it....the oldness.
    I was playing taboo with my sister and the word was "Spice." So, obviously, I said, "Colors of the world, ____ up your life!" She looked at me like I was a Martian. It was my first real "I feel old" moment. I couldn't even continue to give her clues. I was dumbfounded. She really doesn't know the lyrics to a Spice Girls song? How could this be? When did this happen? Everyone knows the Spice Girls right? Every boy and every girl, SPICE up your life! How could she not know that? This is common knowledge. When did I become my grandmother? How in the Spiceworld am I going to get through life now knowing there are people who don't know Spice Girls lyrics roaming around this Earth? Why won't the Spice Girls get back together? Who am I?
It was an awful moment in which I have pondered many days and nights.
    Just the other day, I was playing Heads Up! (which, by the way, Ellen DeGeneres, is a fabulous app. I love your work. Put me on TV.) with my cousins and aunts and uncles and sisters and mother and who ever, and I picked the Just for Kids category. A thing called "Wonder Pets" came up. What in the world is a Wonder Pet? Does it pick up after itself? Does it lack bad smells? Does it not shed? How WONDERful would a pet like that be? Well, apparently, it's just a silly toy.....that I had never heard of. OLD.
    I keep thinking this old thing will pass, but in my heart I know, it will only get worse and I will have to get used to it. In the mean time, I'll be sure to educate the younger generation on the Spice Girls and, ya know, Barbie. (since she's not politcally correct and all and teaching us bad things or whatever) BARBIE IS THE QUEEN.
     Anyway, my rant on Barbie haters can be a whole other blog post...or book.
     Be sure to Spice Up Your Life today.
     Every boy and every girl, spice up your life.
     Never give up on the good times, livin it up is a state of mind.
     If you want my future, forget my past.
     Get down, get deeper and down. Saturday niight.
     All that I want from you is a promise you will be thereee.
     Slow down, baby, gotta have some fuunn.
    I remember when the first NOW! CD came out. I saw NOW! 45 in Walmart the other day. Holy old. You know what was on the first NOW! CD? My favorite Spice Girls song, "Say You'll Be There." See one of the lines of lyrics above.
    NOW! 45. Wrap your head around that.
    I remember when it was 37 cents to get on the Turnpike. It's now like... a dollar. I feel like I'm a part of an elite group of people when I drive the turnpike any more. That's a buttload of money to drive on a road for a little while...and then to go farther, you have to pay another dollar. Crazy stuff right there.
    37 cents.
    Thank God for the EZ Pass.
    And now I sound like every old person in the book.
    Oh wait, in my day, I walked through ten feet of snow, uphill both ways, just to get to school.
    There, now I sound like every old person in the book.