Authors: Jolene Cazzola
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is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
I owe a large debt of gratitude to all the people who helped and encouraged me as this writing project began to take shape. Some I have known all my life, some a mere 5 - 30 years, some are new friends and some I have yet to meet personally. But no matter where they fall on the time line, all of them made a contribution, in some form that helped this book come to fruition.
Thanks to Sharon Zurek for shuttling me around the City of Chicago as I re-discovered my connections with that vibrant, ever-changing city and for listening to all my struggles. To Christine Hastedt and Helen Green for being fantastic beta readers and providing invaluable feedback. My thanks also to Kate MacKinnon for her reading, proof-reading, and feedback prior to publication, as well as her marketing and social media expertise. To Clinton Eastman for his extraordinary talent as a photographer and to Paige Smith, my talented hair and makeup stylist.
And to Joanna Penn of
, who without ever knowing it, gave me the courage to be an Indie Author through her fabulous website and podcasts, as well as providing referrals or leads to many of the professionals listed below.
Editor: Paul Simpson with
Cover Designer and banners: James with
Book Blurb: Bryan Cohen,
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Copyright © 2015 by Jolene Cazzola
All rights reserved.
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), except for brief quotations in reviews, without the prior written permission of the author. Scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means, constitutes unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
For my daughter - may you have a life filled with challenges, success and love.
I’ve always lived in a dream world. Ever since I can remember I fantasized about what life would be like if I were someone else. It didn’t really matter who – just someone else, anyone else. I could be that girl over there – she was pretty; or that one next to the window – she had beautiful hair; or maybe even that girl running around the playground over there – she can kick that ball, as good as any boy, hardly ever misses. I’d create whole lives, wonderful tales around tiny observations, and wonder what it would be like if…?
Like most children, I couldn’t wait to grow up. Things would be ever so much better when I was older. I could decide for myself what to do, or better yet, what
to do. I could eat when I wanted, sleep when I wanted, not have to get ready for school, and definitely not have to go to church. I could tell people what I was thinking, and they’d listen to me instead of thinking I was just some dumb kid. I’d dream of those days to come when I’d enjoy being me, and live happily ever after – just like in all those fairy tales my mother used to read me, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and on and on… there was always a happy ending. I delighted in imagining my prince riding up on a white horse with a glass slipper that only fit my foot. He’d be handsome and brave; he’d protect me, and he’d make life perfect… we’d live happily for all our days.
Why did the world tell little girls that some man would ‘make them happy’? Why? Should I blame Disney? No, no… it started way before Disney. I’m sure the illusion started with the beginning of time, back in caveman days when protection was the name of the game, and has been evolving ever since. As time passed the perfect man changed from someone who could kill food with his bare hands to an exquisite prince whose kiss would be magical, and make the world a perfect place. It was just my dumb luck to grow up at the intersection of Ozzie and Harriet and the Cultural Revolution… when the truth of those stories met the cold reality of life – the shared experience of a generation. I’ve thought about that more than I care to admit, but most of all, I’ve wondered why was it so easy, so comforting, to believe the fairy tale? I actually believed that shit!
But my reality, a reality I’m sure I share with a lot of women – the life I’ve lived all these years has been anything but picture perfect. It’s been full of challenges and disappointments and struggles to get through the day. It’s been a search for contentment, for peace, for relief from the world, and from myself; a quest for lasting love - a search for my prince charming, for my ‘happily ever after’, and a search for my own inner strength.
I’m old now… as I write this. Nothing happened like I imagined it would, like the fairy tales promised. I’m only now able to relate the story – the price I paid was high, but now, from this vantage point, I finally think it’s safe to say I won.
~ Jackie Moretti ~
I was unceremoniously draped around a telephone pole. On my feet, but draped nonetheless, with no firm memory of how I got there – just stoned and maybe drunk,
yes I remember drinking more than usual –
why the hell had I done that?
… out of my mind, leaning, swaying, trying very hard to maintain an upright position, and wondering how on earth I was going to manage to walk the three blocks to my apartment. The street was deserted even for the wee hours of the morning, which I knew it had to be since I worked until 4 am. Only an extraneous car here or there.
But what am I doing out here?
I wondered. I knew this corner well – Diversey and… what’s the name of this little street, it doesn’t matter… just one, no two, short blocks from the main intersection of N. Clark Street and Broadway where I could see cars going by. I’d been there a thousand times or more – everyday, as a matter of fact, since moving to this neighborhood in Chicago. Diversey was never deserted – was I just not seeing the traffic? I shook my head – trying to clear my brain, but the movement caused the street lights to blur and whiz around almost knocking me off my feet. Oh fuck
… I was going to puke!
I pushed back hard against the telephone pole trying to steady myself, trying to keep myself upright, and the contents of my stomach down. I hated the idea of throwing up, I always have, ever since I was a kid; the mere thought of being nauseous sending my mind into full-fledged revolt against it. I fought with all my might against the feeling of queasiness that was overcoming me. “
No, no, no - you will not puke on the street corner!”
Only drunks, druggies, and street scum puked on the corner and I was
one of those people! I was a 20 year old college student from a decent, conservative, middle-class family; at least that was the mental image I carried around of myself. This was supposed to be one of the best periods of my life or at least that’s what everyone had told me before I moved to Chicago: go to college, get a great education, find a great job, marry the man of your dreams, have kids, and live happily ever after. I was supposed to be living the fairy tale - nowhere in that life plan did it say I should be stoned and drunk on the friggin’ street corner. But tonight, that’s exactly what I was… just like all the other scumbags.
I managed to turn so my shoulder was against the pole. It was made of wood, old and weathered and splintered from people stapling flyers for upcoming events and lost dogs to it, and it had a vague smell of tar or asphalt or something like that – that was currently making my stomach turn even more. One of the staples from an old flyer was there next to my right eyeball with the tattered remains of a show notice on a green
– was that green? Yes a green piece of worn cardboard.
What was that notice about?
It was blurry, but I could still make out the date.
October 1970 – last year for Christ’s Sake! There should be a law making people take down this old shit instead of leaving it to decay.
I remember moaning, and rolling my forehead on the wood, trying again to focus and stand up straight – trying not to smell the nasty tar, but it was no use. I needed to get away from this pole before I was overcome by the odor. And I just needed a little more time, just a little, then I was sure I’d be able to stand up and walk home – and without
I REFUSE TO PUKE ON THE GODDAMN STREET CORNER!
My hands took a solid hold on the rough wooden pole, and while muttering a wish to myself that I would be steady enough to hold on without getting tiny splinters in my palms, I managed to push my body into an upright position.
, I thought, but I couldn’t let go, not yet, not if I wanted to remain standing that was. At least this way I was back enough that I didn’t have to smell that horrid tar stench – in fact, the clear, crisp air seemed to be doing me some good. It was fall, so the nights in Chicago were cool, if not downright cold. Tonight wasn’t cold – cold in Chicago could pierce through your lungs and freeze your limbs clear to the bone. It wasn’t bone chilling cold, just cool, I was only wearing a long sleeved shirt and vest, not my winter jacket. No, no, I welcomed this cool air, and I drew in several deep breaths – relishing the relief and clarity it was bringing to my swirling head. And the coolness seemed to be having a soothing effect on my stomach too. Who would have ever thought that Chicago air, with all the cars jamming the streets, backfiring and dumping pollution and exhaust fumes 24 hours a day could actually feel fresh and soothing – of course, “
there weren’t any cars on the streets right now,
” I reminded myself. “
No, no no! Don’t think about pollution now – why the hell did that thought even cross my mind, anyhow? You have to focus on the task at hand – getting home and into bed… without throwing up on the friggin’ sidewalk!”
I was used to being stoned most nights; there weren’t many street drugs I hadn’t tried at this point – my favorites being grass and Quaaludes, with the occasional dose of window pane acid. I stayed away from poppers and cocaine or any form of speed – it tied my stomach into knots, and made it churn as though it was being beaten like egg whites into a stiff meringue topping. It gave me jitters that sent shivers and trembling throughout my body and made me totally – I mean totally – paranoid. No, just give me a nice mellow high, a soothing, mind-numbing buzz, something to help me let go of reality, allow a sense of oblivion to set in; but still maintain just enough control to keep my overall hold on life. Tenuous as it may be, I wasn’t ready to give up completely – to not care at all, to live like many of my so called ‘friends’. I still needed to be able to tell myself that I was in control and Goddamn it… I had lost that control tonight!
I blamed the nauseous feeling on the booze. I could smell it now on my own breath which meant I had strayed from my usual vodka to something else, but what? With painstaking effort, I lifted my left hand from the telephone pole, raised it to within a couple inches of my mouth, and noticed for the first time that I could see just the faintest hint of my breath fogging the air.
Shit it must be colder than I thought – why wasn’t I wearing my jacket – and what the hell are you doing trying to smell your own breath? Ridiculous!
I didn’t need to smell it; I knew what it was… only one possibility:
Janis Joplin’s drink of choice
yep, no mistaking that sweet, not quite whiskey, not quite bourbon aroma.
Southern Comfort. Janis Joplin had died a year or so ago of a heroin overdose, and I had switched from Southern Comfort to vodka thinking it would be ever so much safer.