Father of Mine

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

The drive up is therapeutic, despite the cold that I am fighting.  In my head–while listening to various tunes–I replay the conversation I had with my stepmother.  “I think you’re father needs to see you.”  I think back to a conversation that I shared with him a few months back.  He divulged to me issues with his health then avoided any follow-up questions I asked.  That conversation, mixed with my stepmother’s words hold a knot in the pit of my stomach. 

He seems okay, I tell myself.  His tone of voice sounds fine and overall he seems happy.  I decide not to take any chances and hop in my car; destination:  Wilmington, North Carolina.  On the drive, I receive several calls from Bryan, where we cover the same mindless drivel that has become obligatory in our one-on-ones.  I also get a call from Debbie.  I decide to take it.  We talk for an hour.  It’s a decent conversation, and we clear the bad air between us.  No discussion of getting back together, no misconceptions about pursuing a friendship now that the dust has cleared.  Just a conversation that says, “It happened, it sucks, but we’re okay.”  The conversation leaves me feeling good.

After the 9+ hour drive, I arrive at my destination.  My father looks older, moves slower.  My stepmother is the same.  My stepsister is fatter.  This pleases me.

First chance I get, I ask him how he’s been doing, how he’s feeling.  He assures me that everything is fine, and I have nothing to worry about.  Something in his tone leaves me skeptical.  I decide I should talk it over with my stepmother.  That night, before he goes to bed, he downs a dozen different pills.  This secures my need to have the conversation.  It takes another day for the opportunity to present itself. 

At the Melting Pot (thumbs down), my father excuses himself and goes to the bathroom.  I ask my stepmother about how he’s been feeling.  She tells me that in the past few months, he has become slower.  His movements, his actions, his responses, everything is lagging.  His pace is down.  She tells me that his back has been giving him problems, his bladder, his cholesterol, blood pressure, the works.  She adds that he has been showing early signs of dymentia.  It runs in the family on his side.  My grandfather had no idea who anyone was before his passing.  This makes me worry.  She says that it has been slowly but gradually getting worse.  I immediately wish my brothers were with me, and I wish I wasn’t terrified to talk to my father about it.  He returns to the table before we can finish the conversation.

I have yet to be able to pick up where we left off. 

The nights so far have allowed my father and I to bond, to discuss things past, present, and future.  He pressures me to go back to school.  I’m honest with him and tell him that I have no desire to go back, but know deep down that it is seemingly the only viable option at this point.  I want to bring up the dymentia, but I opt against it.  I simply enjoy the conversation with him, happy that at this point in our lives, we seem to be bonding–the men who we truly are–for the first time. 

I don’t want to ruin it. 

I am happy that I have driven up, that I have seen him.  For all of his faults, he is my father, and half of me is him.  I am reminded of how funny he is, and we laugh a lot. 

Through it, I wish that I could step away and call Walt, talk things over with him.  Talk about the dymentia, get his perspective.  Tell him about the bonding and what it means to me.  I sense in the near future, I will be having that conversation, and I look forward to it.

In the meantime, I will enjoy these conversations, knowing that the number of them that are in my future are finite.

Step 1

Posted in Uncategorized on May 1, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

I have plans this weekend.  I will be going downtown two nights in a row, and I will be doing some drinking on both nights.  Keeping this in mind, I am making the following vow to myself.

At some point this weekend, I am going to talk to a girl.  I don’t know who it is going to be, and I don’t know the circumstances under which I will be conversing with her.  But I am going to do it.

This may not sound like anything big, but for those of you who know me very well, know that this is out of character for me, but I say screw it.  I’m doing it.  What do I really have to lose?

Stay tuned.

GGLI

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

I do my best–time after time–to understand the thought process of one of my best friends that I have, yet I still cannot put my finger on where he’s coming from.  He and I talk almost on a daily basis, and I vent to him my frustrations with the opposite sex.  Over the years, he has been intimately knowledgable in all my romantic misadventures.  My latest venture, or lack thereof, seems to have inspired him.  He has recently taken to posting ads all over facebook in an attempt to get me laid.  People find it charming and funny for him, but I mostly just find it humiliating for myself.  The kicker of this whole endeavor of his…is that he actually thinks this is going to work. 

It started as a joke that he and I had during one of our daily conversations.  He had jested about the possibility of starting a pool, to have people bet on the next time that I would get action.  We laughed and joked about it, and the conversation shifted on to different things.  A few days later, we were talking again, and this time, he discussed a process of elimination that would involve 16 women who I had a “close call” with in the past…the one that got away…or rather, the 16 that got away.  More jokes followed…and again, that was the end of it. 

Or so I thought.

A few days passed, and I thought that these conversations were behind me.  But I was wrong.  I casually checked my facebook one day only to find a note that my dear friend had posted…one dedicated to getting me sex. 

Hence, the Get Gary Laid Initiative (GGLI) was born.

Since then, he has taken the time to create posters and ads, and incorporate bonus points into his movie trivia game to anyone who will contribute to the GGLI.  It’s funny.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have been laughing through it.  But at the same time, I can’t help but notice that it is also painfully intrusive as well as embarrassing.  So many people–friends and strangers alike–now know what is happening in my personal life.  From being unemployed to not being able to find a lady….and I have to say, I’m a little put-off by it.  Not to mention, in the event that I DO meet somebody worth meeting…what would SHE think of this nonsense?  What would she think of ME as a person?

So why not tell him to stop, is what you’re all thinking.

The answer is as ridiculous as the rest of this information.  While I’m embarrassed and aggravated and genuinely sympathetic toward my friend who clearly has no better way to spend his time…I’m still deeply entertained, and curious what he is going to think of next. 

I’m just waiting for him to bust out the video camera and start his own online reality tv show about it.  That was yesterday’s conversation with him, and we all saw how the previous conversations turned out.

Gonna’ Fly Now

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

I step outside of my house, dressed in a pair of sweatpants and a torn ratty old wife-beater tee, I take my first and last invigorating deep breath that will have to hold me over for the next hour or so.  I drag myself to the driveway, wishing that what was about to happen wasn’t going to happen.  I begin to stretch.  My legs, my arms, my torso, my back.

I already feel pain, carried over from having undergone the same experience yesterday.  The stretching aches, but it’s the good ache.  I know that yesterday was productive.  I can already tell that today will be too.

When I’m done with my stretches, I walk at an accelerated pace to get my heart rate going.  Once it’s up, I begin to jog.  My endurance is laughable.  I’m already huffing and puffing before I take my first corner.  Thanks, cigarettes.

As I run, I listen to my I-Pod.  Normally, I would listen to the Rocky soundtrack to get into the zone of inspiration and unadulterated testosterone.  I take a different approach today.  Today I listen to every song that has reminded me of a girl, a bad break-up, an argument, if a memory is attached to it, I hear it.  A few from the list:

“Palm Reader” by Third Eye Blind; “You and Me” by Vega4; “Crack the Shutters” by Snow Patrol; “Warning Sign” by Coldplay; “Blackened” by Metallica…

Okay, that last one doesn’t remind me of anybody, but it comes on shuffle, and I am feeling it.  So as I run and listen to these songs (among others), a series of memories flashes through my mind.  I work them out in my head; I use them to keep pushing a bit farther.  I ignore the pain I feel in my back, my thighs, my shins.  I decide to torture myself and if I have to stop running, I make me pay for it.  Ten push-ups.  It happens twice.  I do three more sets when I finish up the jog.

My reason for deciding to work out and finally putting some focus on my diet is simple.  It’s not about health.  It’s not about having more energy or endurance.  I will be that guy who has no shame in admitting this.  I do it for the ladies.  Period.

I’m tired of getting the “no.”

A wise man once responded when asked about the ladies, “I’m getting a lot of no.  Could use some yes.  But getting the no.”

I feel you, brother.  And I’m right there with you.  So I’m submitting to my vanity for the time being, and I’m gonna’ keep going until I’m satisfied with the way I look naked.  And that’s all there is to it.

Because I could use some yes.

But tomorrow I go back to the Rocky soundtrack.

Ketchup

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

I have not left the house in four-and-a-half days.  I get a text message from my friend Alexis, who I have not seen in a year; give or take.  She wants to go out for lunch.  I tell her that I cannot afford lunch, but I would love to see her anyway; I would be glad to simply tag along.

About an hour later, she picks me up.  In the backseat of her car, there are three small children, all belonging to her.  I am going to lunch with Alexis and her three sons.  They are all under the age of 3.  Alexis tells me that she was trying to get in touch with her husband to get permission to go to lunch with me, but she was unsuccessful in doing so.  She then quickly adds that she would have picked me up anyway even without his permission, which is clear because that is what she is doing.  She assures me that this isn’t a personal thing; her husband is simply protective and does not know me.  I assure her that I understand and then I feel guilty that I am going to lunch with the wife of a man who does not know me, regardless of who I am to her.

I tell her this.  She tells me I’m being stupid.

We go to Steak and Shake, and Mikah–the middle child–sits next to me.  I feed him apple sauce, and he says “hello” to me over and over again no matter how many times I greet him back.  After half of the cup of apple sauce is in Mikah’s belly, and the other half is splattered all over the two of us, Alexis and I catch up on what has been happening in our lives.  Her updates are a lot more apparent than mine.

Alexis insists on ordering me food.  I beg her not to, but she does anyway.  I feel embarrassed, but I don’t let that get in the way of chowing down.    Once we are done eating, we leave.  I help her put the kids into the car.  When I pick the oldest up and put him into his car seat, he tells me with sincere enthusiasm, “You’re really strong!”

Both Alexis and I get a kick out of this.

We drive back to my house, and she drops me off.

It was nice to see her.  I enjoy catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time.

I reconsider attending my upcoming high school reunion and think about the conversations that I might have with the people that I might see.

Yeah, maybe I’ll go.  Maybe.

First Breath After Coma

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

Like many mornings before, I am awakened by the light rapping at my bedroom door.  My eyes are puffy, and I can barely see.  I have been prematurely woken up from a deep sleep, and I am temporarily confused about my whereabouts and what day it is and so on…

My sister asks me in the sweetest voice she can muster if I can drive her to school, presenting me with a glass of orange juice.  I grumpily snatch the juice from her hand and get my shit together.  We drive in silence, listening to Smashing Pumpkins’ “Stand Inside Your Love.”  I love everything about this song.  Dana seems unimpressed.  I consider putting her in a headlock and allowing the car to swerve off the road.  Instead, I stay the course and get her to school.  I groggily tell her, “Have a good day.”  She replies inaudibly.

I drive off, and Vega4’s “You & Me” comes on my Ipod.  This song used to be Debbie’s ringtone.  I thought about her last night and reflected.  I didn’t miss her, and I wasn’t longing for her.  As I drive in the car and this song plays, I realize that I feel indifferent.  I simply enjoy the song, and I see that I have passed through to the other side.

There has been so much soul-searching lately and so much self-realization, so much dusting myself off and picking myself up.  She seems at some point to have fallen out of my pocket, and during one of those little spells, I decided not to fish her out from between the cracks in the sidewalk.

But what I did retrieve was…

Walter, Third Eye Blind, Dedication, urban exploring, Justin, Chuck, St. Patrick’s Day, back porch conversations, Cassettes Won’t Listen, Carolina, BackBooth, Lymelife, Bryan, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Status, Megan, Dawn of the Dead, “Right Back Where We Started From,” AIM, The Spill Canvas, Paul Newman tributes, Alecia, Adventureland, Bloc Party, CastaHatch, Blogging, Kitty, “This is My ______!”, a Path, Epcot Center, Melissa and Jeanne, Australia, Tijuana Flats, Carolina Liar, Starbucks, Flicker, Rosemary Balboa, Skype, The Perishers, Facebook status updates, blogging, the Florida Film Festival, Myers-Briggs, more Starbucks, and reluctant abstinence.

…and went about my merry way.  And this curious list has led me to today, where I feel pretty good.

There’s this poster hanging up in the guest bathroom of my father’s house, and it’s of an old show called “The Most Happy Fella’.”  I’ve never seen this show, and I’m pretty sure I never will.  But on this poster, there is the painted image of a middle-aged man strolling through a heavily-wooded area…a park, perhaps.  This poster has always cracked me up, and I’ve shared the knowledge of its existence several times over with Walt and Justin.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m THIS guy or anywhere near him, but I’m no longer ruling it out.

I feel good.  And it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.

When I get home, I step out of my car and think to myself that it’s around the time that Walt usually shows his face online.  I take one deep, fulfilling breath and rush inside to check.

The Birthday, The Culkins, The Castahatch

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2009 by Gary Giaimo

A debate between me and myself has been on-going for the past week or so.  Does one call their ex on their birthday?  Yesterday was the day in question.  I don’t call her.  I send an e-mail.  A heartfelt one.  About a half-hour later, I get a phone call from a mutual friend, calling to “make sure that I’m okay.”  She figures that because it’s Debbie’s birthday, I would be thinking about her, which in turn would make me miss her.  She then proceeds to tell me that Debbie has gotten back together with her ex.  I tell her that I was fine until she told me that, “damn it.”  I get off the phone with moron and find myself to be upset.  Pissed off.  Frustrated.  Invalidated.  Embarrassed as SHIT about that stupid e-mail, that Debbie has now read and responded via text message, saying a hollow “thanks for the birthday wishes.”  She throws in a smiley face to add flavor.

I tell myself that I am not going to let this tidbit of news ruin my day.  I go outside and inhale a cigarette and let the disgusting heat cool me down.

When I go  back inside, I’m still frustrated.  But now I’m also sweaty.  The rest of the day drags on.  I wait impatiently for it to be time for my evening plans to go see a movie at the Florida Film Festival in Winter Park with Carolina and her friend from work, the Hatch, whom I have never met.

The time comes and I dart out of my house.  Of course, I-4 is littered with traffic because of the Magic game, and it takes me forever to arrive.  Once I do, I meet up with Carolina and the Hatch.  Introductions are short and small-talk is made while we wait in line for the movie to start.

The movie is called Lymlife, and it stars Rory and Kieren Culkin, along with Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessey, and Timothy Hutton.    Five minutes in, I already know I’m going to love this movie.  I am right.  The script is amazing, the performances (especially from the Culkins) are surprisingly solid…Baldwin and Hutton weren’t very surprising.  They’re always awesome.  I recommend it to all.

After the movie, I am temporarily silenced, reflecting on what I’ve just seen.  I overhear Carolina and Hatch discussing how they liked it, and I fully agree with them.

We get outside and I light up a cigarette, which I have been desperately craving because everyone in the movie smokes.  As I smoke, we discuss the movie.  After a while, Castahatch decides that they want ice cream.  We stroll on over and they get some.

What follows is some of the greatest conversations that I’ve had all year.  I am instantly engaged by Hatch.  She is funny and intelligent, and her stories and outlooks are entertaining and interesting.  As always, Carolina is awesome.  We talk about such varying topics that it almost makes my mind spin, but it is great.  I lose myself in the conversation, and I forget that it’s Debbie’s birthday, and that I feel like a fool.  Those thoughts are instead replaced by laughter and insight and bonding, and it’s great.  About 10 cigarettes later (all smoked by me), we decide that it has gotten late and we part for the evening.  I am genuinely disappointed that the night has to end.

On the way home, I think of Justin and how I haven’t spoken to him in a few days.  I call him to catch up.  He doesn’t pick up, and this bums me out.  I blast familiar music on the radio and let the wind rush across my face.

I get home and sit pensively on my bed, trying to decide what movie I should watch.  It’s always hard to bounce back into a follow-up movie after having watched a movie like that for the first time.  Just then, Justin calls me back.

I am able to wrap the day up with a quick conversation with him about all the things in life that make life worth living…well, our lives anyway.

After I have gotten off the phone with Justin, the moment I have been fearing all day arrives.  I turn the lights off and lay in bed, afraid to confront my thoughts.  To my surprise, I have none.  I fall asleep quickly, and I don’t dream.

Another stone has been turned, and I am one step closer.