I really need to try to update this damn thing once a week like I want to.

Anyway.  I’ve reconnected with an old friend (who coincidentally will be painting my basement) and to be honest it’s brought about a lot of old feelings, emotions, memories.  I don’t get the chance to sit in a room and just…think much anymore.  On this night however, it just so happens I have quite a bit of time to just sit here and sift through the random thoughts my mind has concocted.  Interestingly enough, I have been sitting here thinking of my life ten years ago and how different I am.

How did this all begin?  Well I knew my buddy was in the painting business, so I contacted him to give me an estimate of my basement.  I have not spoken to said friend in probably 4-5 years.  We had gone to St. Joes together for eight years for grade school.  We were also especially close during High school.  Back in the day we used to pretend to be wrestlers and make videos of us and other friends fighting in his trampoline.  Sounds corny by today’s standards, but in reality that was in “in” thing to do ten years ago.

So we were reminiscing about the old days while in my basement and it began to conjure up old memories.  This continued when I met up with him at his house to get an estimate as we actually watched one of the old videos of us wrestling.  At face value it was exactly how I remember it:  VHS quality video of a bunch of 15 year olds pretending they knew what they were doing.  However, deep down it was opening up a flood of memories, thoughts and emotions.  I tend to suppress memories of my high school experience.  In fact I can’t remember the last time I thought about when I was 15. 

::insert dream cloud and cool effects as if going back in time::

Joe McDonald at 15?  Freshman at Chichester High school.  I worked at the United Consumer’s Club as a warehouse worker; my first job.  I was obsessed with Britney Spears, listening to Nirvana, and basically being alone.  I could be found hanging out at Granite Run Mall, the AMC theatre or possibly Wendy’s.  At the time I was going through the shock value of being at Chi High and trying to survive.  Like any stereotypical teenager I was pretty much depressed and afraid of change.  All of a sudden the simple structure and typecasts of St. Joe’s grade school didn’t seem that bad.  My money went towards music CDs, shirts with wrestling logos and insignias on them and art supplies.  I was big on drawing back then.  Hell I was "Livin' La Vida Loca," I think.

Anyway, my friend let me borrow a few old tapes from 1999 and 2000 when we made this videos of us wrestling.  I was watching them and at first I was laughing hysterically at everything:  the way we were talking, the fact that we tried to make intricate storylines and our horrible wrestling abilities.  However when I was done watching them…I paused.  As shitty as that time was, I suddenly realized that I needed to go through that awkward phase of life in order to become the person I am now.  Folks, they don’t call me “Classic” for nothing.  My head is constantly on the past.
It just became odd.  All of a sudden I began to remember so many things.  I wouldn’t say I embrace when I was a fifteen year old, because I don’t.  I can recognize that was an EXTREMELY difficult time of my life and not many people even knew that.  Hell, I still have old journals and audio tape from those days.  You can see the writing on the wall that I was a kid full of anger and sadness.  The funny thing is…those weekend wrestling events may have been some of the only fun times in my life at that time.  Scary huh?  It’s absolutely amazing what you can remember or decipher when you take the time to remember.
Every time I want to turn my attention back to my site, something seems to happen.  For months, despite some of the most joyous moments in my life, it seems like the emotions that are holding me hostage most are anger, frustration and great sadness.  So is life, but I have found it quite difficult to maintain my usual quirky, yet dynamic persona so coined “being Classic.”  The past two weeks have been no different, as I suffered a tremendous loss that on July 8, 2010 the world lost Angelo J. Mantegna.  To most he was known as Angelo, Ang or “Lope,” but to me he was “Pop Pop.”  He was my last grandparent alive, and most likely the one I was closest to if I have to be honest.  For me and my family, this was the greatest loss we could suffer as he was a great man, a loving husband, a caring father and a wonderful grandparent.

I am not a selfish person; he was ailing and for the last few months the quality of his life was less than a 100%.  For me to say I wish he was here would only be in true nostalgia.  The truth is…it was time.  No one should want him to stay alive for our own entertainment, especially if he was ill.  He fought hard for years and would do anything for his family.  There are few people on Earth I respected more than him.  He was a tremendous role model for all of us and we certainly can take the knowledge he passed down to us and use it for the rest of own lives. 

The day of the funeral was almost unbearable, but with the support of my cousins and the rest of my family…we were all able to get through it.  The truth is that I have not spent this much time with some members of my family in a number of years.  It was good to just be there with them and catch up.  Once upon a time we at the very least saw one another on a regular basis.  Now I’m lucky I know if some of them are even alive.  Perhaps with Pop Pop’s passing we will all realize how precious life is, and that will make us grow as a family.  Likely?  Not really, but you never know.

With this being my last grandparent’s death, I now have no buffer from the Angel of Death and my parents as the next in line.  I know that is silly, as that is not how death works.  Anyone could go any second, but in a childish, naïve sense…your grandparents are theoretically supposed to pass before your parents, as they are older.  Logic dictates that the older you are the increased chance of dying.  Well, instead of watching my Mom be hysterical in thirty years…I may be the hysterical one.  A gloomy way to look at things, as this is natural and we all eventually go.  My Pop Pop’s passing has conjured up sad thoughts of what the future holds and made me realize that it is important to enjoy every moment not only that I have…but the people around me as well.

Rest in Peace Pop Pop.  From your thoughtful gifts on Halloween to the toast you made to my engagement at your 80th Birthday party, I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for me.  I love you.