Friday, September 30, 2005
My cell phone rings. I see “Dad” coming up on my caller id. Oh Lord. I know he is out on the job working on some machine doing excavating. Why does he want to chit-chat with me now?
“Ah, yeah—is this Dempsey Pipes?”
“Dad, you dialed me idiot!”
“Ha-ha-ha-ha!" His big wheezy laugh was blaring out of my Nextel speakerphone, as I shook my head in disbelief.
He had mistaken “Debbie” from “Dempsey”. I’m going to bring him to an eye doctor if he calls me one more time.
My dad is a talker. He can talk your ear off sometimes. That’s what we love about him though. He has stories that are so incredible, sometimes too graphic; nevertheless, entertaining. Often enough, we hear the same stories, over and over again. I guess it gets better with age, like a fine wine. Hmm. If you try to leave while he is talking, he will continue to do so, until he is left talking to himself. He knows everything about anything. You ask him, he’ll tell you. He knows everything from cancer treatments, foods that cure health problems, to his excavating expertise and any kind of cooking recipes you can even imagine. He’ll also teach you how to hide evidence of a body while watching Forensic Files.
“Ahh what do they know—huh? They leave evidence around like dey’ wanna be caught! Ya stupidjas! Just get yourself a good butcher and call it a night! No- dese’idiots wanna get caught. Ahhh---whadya’ gonna do? Forgetabowd’it!” As he throws his arms up in the air.
Forget about even watching a movie with this man. He will tell you what “he” would have done. If you can last through an entire movie, and tolerate his massive smoke stacks that are being distributed throughout the living room, then I give you credit. I usually have to walk out of there within the first five minutes coughing like a mule. He’s a chain smoker.
All I hear is, “Just shut up now! Shush! Don’t tell me! Just shut up!” My mother screams back, frustrated that her movie is being dictated by some ‘loud mouth know it all Italian’.
“You don’t wanna hear da’troot! Du troot of da matta is, he shoulda’ just cut all his hands, feet and his head—throw it down da river in a suitcase. Simple. But you don’t wanna hear dis! Ahh---why am I even tellin’ you dis?”
“Shut up! Just shut up now!” Mom yells at him again, then she chuckles, as I stare at her—giving her that ‘wouldn’t wanna be you’ look.
Twenty below zero weather and dad is walking around with no shirt and a pair of shorts. He grabs an ice-cream out of the freezer.
“For the love of God, you’re not in Bermuda dad!”
“Yeah, but you drink a cold beer in dis weatha, huh?”
“Well, yeah, it a big sweater and some heavy jeans...Uh, you may want to lower the heat down to 85 degrees, instead of 95 degrees pop…”
What is it when our parents get older? They want to literally live in an oven. When you walk into their house, you feel as though you just opened a door to a sauna. You run inside to make sure everyone’s okay. And they are. They’re sitting around in shorts. What on God’s green earth are they doing??? My next step is to give them a one way ticket to Florida. The heat is everlasting.
Dad just got two of his teeth pulled. After they were pulled out, he had an abscess that was really getting infected. The doctor gave him antibiotics and pain killers. This helped for only a short period of time. Now we have figured out it was a nerve that was giving him all this pain. I hear him screaming bloody murder every time he eats something or talks.
“Everytime I tawk, ---AHHHHHH!----it hurts----AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!----so----AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!---much, ya know?---AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!”
“Dad, don’t talk.”
“I can’t even-----AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!-----eat…------AHHHH!!!!!”
“This can be a blessing in disguise poppy.” I said, almost bursting into a giggle.
“Ah ya witch----AHHHHHHHH!!!!!”
As I am typing this post, dad called...
“Dempsey Pipe? Ha-ha-ha---AHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
“Dad, what did the doctor say?”
My sister interjected so that my father could shut that mouth of his.
“You were exactly right on your diagnosis. It was nerve damage and he needs to be on a certain medication and possible electronic therapy."
“Carla, we may want him to remain silent, if you catch my drift.” I said, knowing I was on speaker phone.
“What a wacko---AHHHHHHHHH!!!!” I hear him say in the background.
“Good, let him talk Carla. Poke him in the jaw for me!”
Growing up with dad, we expected these long-winded (almost blog-like stories) No wonder I am viewed as quite the "chatty Cathy" in some of my posts. I think I got it from dad.
Or as dad would say, “You got it from ya’mudda!”
Thursday, September 29, 2005
No one knows me. They think they know me. They don’t. I’m the loudmouth lipstick lesbian who gets into controversial political and religious conversations just to get a rise out of people. I’m the girl every bartender in town knows.
“Where’s Deb tonight? She always sits right in this seat.”
I have my own assigned seat in over five local bars. I have my own assigned seat in Provincetown, MA in another five. All the bartenders know me there too. Why? I’m the big flirt. I’m flirtatious with any gender, because it’s my nature. Madelene knows that my personality has a flirtatious flare to it, yet innocently done with respect. Do some people get the wrong idea? Sure they do. Straight people don’t know how to handle me, except to blush; however, I don’t do this with just anyone—I have to genuinely like them as a person. I don’t do things with an agenda. If I don’t like someone, I will become invisible to them.
Who cares if I like them? What does it matter anyway? Does it validate some sort of insecurity for anyone? For me? Maybe I’m the way I am, due to my own insecurities. My ways are unique; they’re unpredictable. Is it bi-polar related? Hopefully. Then I can have a reason for my madness. Madelene insists that I always keep her on her toes. I can’t see the fun of being on your toes all the time. It must hurt at some point. I don’t mean to keep people on their toes—I keep myself on my toes more than people realize.
Then who am I—other than who I claim to be? I’m the insecure girl who doesn’t go out sometimes, because she feels too ugly. I’m the shy girl that doesn’t speak up, because I’m not an intellectual, as I make myself out to be with mere rhetoric words and opinions that clash with others. It’s like a man who has to compensate all his shortcomings with a Ferrari. I’m that “man”. I’m the sensitive soul who gets way too offended over simple critiques and suggestions—when all along, everyone thought I was strong enough to handle them. I’m the artist that can’t take criticism; therefore, I’m not a ‘real artist’…I'm simply a walking contradiction. I’m the girl who can get over a break up easily. I can actually forget about her instantly. Thoughts of her remain in the past. I lie too... I can pretend to not even care; to simply rule out any emotion that may slip from my tongue. Eventually, those hidden feelings reveal itself in an inappropriate way. I mess up. I’m not perfect. I’m the type that needs closure. What is closure anyway? Is it shutting the door to your past, or is it simply having the past linger before your very eyes? I’m the girl who can’t let go. I hold on to things for too long. I torture myself with obsessive thought patterns that drive me into a hole of depression. Forgive and forget. I can always forgive—the forgetting part I’m having an issue with. The dead horse has been beaten up several times. I can’t stop.
I carry on conversations that may upset my partner. I should shut up, and just tell my psychiatrist, but I’m afraid he doesn’t care. I feel inadequate because my partner does so much for me. Madelene is too good to me—maybe too good for me. I don’t feel I deserve her. I’m the luckiest girl alive. I try to make her happy, like buying her a card full of love sentiments, getting her favorite bottle of vodka which sits way too high on the shelf, or just simply getting the clothes from the dry cleaners. The littlest things make Madelene happy. She makes me happy.
I’m the daughter that hides things from my mother—who already knows about ‘it’. I’m the sister that appears to be the comic relief in the family, when actually I’m the one who’s depressed. I’m the "funny lesbian sister" that drinks way too much, but doesn’t appear to be drunk. She doesn’t even appear to be a lesbian! She can hold her liquor. I’m the one who drinks a lot because I get too many anxiety attacks. It relieves me of my fears. That’s why I have two wooden legs. I’m the sister who’s unreliable, because I’ll break plans or babysitting duties, due to an unpredictable anxiety attack or bad period cramps. I have the best sisters in the world, because they already know ‘why’ I am the way I am. They love and accept me. They expect these things. I’m lucky that they’re so understanding.
My words can be fatal sometimes; killing you emotionally, with each verbal attack. I don’t mean it. I can blame it on PMS, I can blame it because something bad happened that day…The truth is, it’s my own insecurities that are hiding behind those vicious words. My words can be sweet, gentle, and loving. I can tell you something that will make your whole day. Those words are sincere. I can’t lie about positive words that I give generously, ~to those who deserve them~. I never miss an opportunity to compliment someone; they just may need to hear it that day. I try to be good, but sometimes, I can’t. I’m human. I love God, but I’m afraid that He’s angry at me. Doesn’t He know I come with imperfections? Didn’t He create me? Didn’t He create you?
Which brings me to one of my favorite scriptures:
Romans 7:14-25 “The law is good, then. The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master. I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is; In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
My flaws are ‘as is’. It comes with the package. I’m not perfect, so I’m going to accept myself the way I am.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I was sixteen years old at the time and always managed a way to miss the bus. I did this purposely, because I didn’t like the kids I rode with. They all irritated me and I would isolate myself almost next to the front seat, so I wouldn’t get agitated. I always got carsick sitting on a bus for some reason, and my poor mother always ended up driving me to school. If I could catch my sister Cathy with her awesome little white pimped up Dodge Daytona to drive me in, I would beg if necessary. Her car was done up as if she was from the Bronx: spoilers from rear to front, moon roof, a sparkly metallic red decal of her name on each side of the door, and red velvet-like interior. All she needed were a couple of dice hanging from the rear view mirror. She was ‘cool’ though. She let me smoke with her. We listened to the same music, even though we were seven years apart.
My father and his construction crew were in the front room having coffee before work. They were all so eccentric looking. I never knew why these men would wear that kind of jewelry if they were going to run a machine or get their hands dirty. They would all come inside, filling up the entire house with strong cologne. Their hair always slicked back and done up, as if they were going out to paint the town red.
“Deb, let’s move it!” My mother shouted once again. I came running out into the living room, and we both headed out the door together. We stepped into her little Ford Bronco II. Mom started to back up the truck to turn it around in the driveway. We didn’t make it quite far, because a ton of white little cars came flying down the road with yellow flashing lights. They looked like the utility company cars. I was confused. Did we use way too much electric? Did I take too long doing my hair and suck up whatever energy they had left at the plant?
My mother looked at me. She had a look on her face as though she expected this. I looked outside my window to see all the cars surrounding my house. There were men in black FBI uniforms sprawled out everywhere with big machine guns.
“Ma? Who are they? Do they have the wrong house? What’s going on?”
“Deb, just do what they say.” Mom said, as she clutched my arm tightly.
My mother’s car door was swung open by a masculine woman. She grabbed my mom right out of the car, turned her around and then handcuffed her right before my eyes. My mother just stared at me as she was being literally attacked by this Amazon-looking broad. She read my mother her rights.
“Do you have your license young lady?” the FBI lady asked me.
“Drive yourself to school. Your mother is going to be away for a little while. I’m sure she won’t mind at this point that you’re taking her car.” She said in an authoritative tone.
I felt numb. I didn’t feel anything at all. I looked around and saw the FBI men rush into our house. All of them piling in one by one like little carpenter ants. It was ‘organized.’ Ironic word to use in this story. I felt like I was in a dream state, just watching it like a movie unfolding. This couldn’t be happening. I finally see them taking out my father in handcuffs. My heart sank. I heard the female FBI officer being incredibly mean to my mother. My mom was being castigated by this witch. I wanted to grab her gun and shoot her in the heart, but I was too angry with my parents at that point. Shouldn’t I be upset for them? What were they hiding from me? Why didn’t they warn me about this happening? They knew and didn’t tell me. As the youngest child of four, I always felt left in the dark. Everyone would whisper around me. Were they protecting me, or were they trying to give me a heart attack at the age of sixteen?
I began to climb into the driver’s seat. My body was moving involuntarily. I was in a state of shock. I started backing out of the driveway. I couldn’t do anything more to help my mother and father. As I was backing out, I stopped and looked at the house, as my father’s friends were all being arrested too, except for two of them. I didn’t quite understand it all at the time.
Driving down the road, I saw tractor-trailers hauling in backhoes and other heavy equipment over to my house. “Wow, my father must have had a big job to do today.” I thought, as I saw them all pass by. Then I saw my father’s best friend’s truck driving towards me. I blinked my lights at him to stop.
“Hey.” Tom says.
“Tom, don’t go up there. My parents got arrested for some reason, and there are tons of FBI agents on the property."
“Oh shit!” He says, as if he knew exactly what was going on.
Why am I the last to know about all of these things? I kept driving down the road in silence. No radio, no crying, just a blank stare at the road and racing thoughts. I pulled up to my school and parked in the teacher’s parking lot. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about parking tickets at this point. Reprimand me - I don’t give a shit. I wanted to see my teacher Barbara, who was also my personal friend. I trusted her with everything. We went out to lunch all the time. She was a true friend, even though we were years apart. I loved her like a sister.
I walk into the classroom. I look at her and didn’t say one word. Her eyes were fixed on me. I couldn’t break the stare---I started crying. She quickly grabbed me and pulled me out of the room. She hugged me outside the hallway.
“Deb, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”
I couldn’t answer her. It was the first outbreak of my crying. Through the sniffles and huffing of my hysteria, I tried to tell her what had happened. The only words that came out of my mouth were, “Ma’ma’ma’my parents……..uh…uh…..arrested…..uh…..uh……FBI took em’…”
“I know, I know…” She said.
How did she know this??? How come I didn’t have a clue? I didn’t even ask how she knew, I just felt better by her comforting me at that time. It didn’t matter how she knew- I just needed her. She hugged me while I was uncontrollably crying my eyes out, dowsing her nice blouse with my tears.
“Go take Katie and take the day off. Go to her house so you two can get out of here.” Barbara suggested. She was letting me take my best friend to go play hooky. Katie’s parents were never home, and we always ditched school to go to her house anyway and Barbara always knew about it. Katie was more than happy to get out of there, so she came with me. Katie had no clue what was going on until the teacher and I informed her of why we were being allowed to leave.
That day, I sat in Katie’s house. I remember how beautiful it was outside. It was a gorgeous March day, and we were sitting outside on her deck. I wasn’t saying much because I was still in shock. Katie always knew how to make me laugh, even at the oddest moments. I kept calling my house, but no one answered.
“Just stay here until someone answers. You can even spend the night here Deb.” Katie says, trying to make me feel better. It did.
I finally got my sister Cathy on the phone at 6pm. She told me that they were only holding mom there for a few more hours, but dad was a different story.
“I don’t know Deb, just come home if you can. Be careful, there are workers and FBI agents scattered all over the property. They dug a hole thirty feet deep in the driveway, so an agent will be guiding you where to park.”
“Just come home now Debbie.” She said, not wanting to elaborate any further.
I drove up the mountain we lived on. There’s a little drop, going downward to get to my driveway. As I was driving down, an officer stopped me and told me to keep to my right. There were bright orange cones surrounding this massive hold they had dug in the driveway. I parked my car and got out. I saw so many agents roaming around. It was almost dark out. They had bright construction night-lights all set up and a few backhoes. I still didn’t get it.
I ran inside the house to talk to my sister.
“What is going on?”
“They think dad and his friends buried cars for insurance reasons, that’s all Deb. Mom is coming home soon, they took her to jail shortly, and dad will be home tomorrow. He’s being questioned.”
“Did they find any cars?”
Something wasn’t being told. My sadness was now turning into anger. All these years for getting punished for minuscule things - they have the nerve to get arrested? What hurt the most was the fact that no one would tell me anything. They still wanted to keep me in the dark. “Oh she’s the baby, you can’t tell her.” All my life, I heard, “She’s the baby. She’s the baby.” Yeah, the youngest out of four, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew they were trying to protect me. I knew the reasons why they did what they had to do, but back then I didn’t understand it.
I went to school the following week. I broke out in severe acne. I was quiet and introverted. This was out of my character. On the bus going to school, the radio station the bus driver had on displayed my life, as I never knew it before.
“Two residents in our town were arrested the other day for money laundering through a local sanitation company. FBI officials excavated the property to see if they can discover bodies that were missing. This was told by an informant who claimed of the incidents. Mr. Pasquella is looking at ten years in a Federal prison and $100,000.00 bail. Now back to your favorite music!”
Everyone looked at me. I was a disease. I was to be feared, almost as if I were a vampire. I walked off that bus, and into the cafeteria to get a coffee.
“Hey Deb, bet your father’s wearing stripes right about now!” Some kid said to me, as he sat on the radiator next to the window. All his friends laughed with him. I guess I didn’t care though. Say what you will about them. I was still numb. It didn’t affect me. I grabbed my coffee and headed for the lecture hall. The local papers spread around like wildfire. They had a new story in there each day of the week following up on the case. My friend Angela and I were staying close together. Her uncle was arrested too for the same case. We sat in class together and talked amongst ourselves. We never spoke about what happened though. We just gave one another the support we needed as friends. We never left each other’s side. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one going through this traumatic experience. Even though it was her uncle, she still knew what I was going through. After all, it was her family.
“You guys! Wait up!” One of our friends was running towards us, clenching her books to her side.
“What’s up?” I asked, as Angela stood there with a puzzled look on her face.
“Mrs. Brigs said the most awful thing. She told the whole class as she was reading the current events that the people involved should get the death penalty.”
Mrs. Brigs knew us. She knew our situation. Yes, she has her opinion, but her students were apart of this family. Even though it was our family, we didn’t deserve this kind of treatment. Every morning before I went to school, I would smoke pot to relieve the emotional distress. It relieved me of the stress of walking into that building to be judged. I had my first anxiety attack. I started having convulsions in class, and the teacher had to call my mother to bring me to the hospital. The anxiety attacks stayed with me as I grew older. I quit the pot ever since that anxiety attack, but the memories of that day still live within me.
Being judged and ridiculed for the next few months of school at the age of sixteen, I quit. Enough of this. I want out. I’m sick and tired of not only students criticizing me for my parents’ actions, but the teachers were even worse. I couldn’t handle it much longer. My acne problem grew worse, my anxiety attacks were fierce, and my attention span was next to none. I had no interest in school, learning or trying to make a better life for myself. I’m not blaming my parents, I’m blaming myself of the way I handled the whole situation.
Conversations I had with my friends over the phone had to be at a minimal amount of ‘dirt’. All our phones were tapped. We were constantly being watched by the FBI. We even had two or three FBI agents sitting in trees outside in the woods, keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity. I always saw a gray van with tinted out windows up on the top of my hill. I felt like giving them the finger each time I passed by. I could understand if it were someone else they were spying on, but this was my father…and my family. It made me feel strange. Nevertheless, I guess it was necessary.
My father finally had his day in court. He had to go to Allendale Federal Prison for six months and six months home probation. That wasn’t so bad, but bad enough. The news did inform the public that there were no bodies found in my backyard. Why would anyone do that? It was a man who lied to the FBI agents in order to get out of his own mess. It was all hearsay and nothing else. The only crime my father was guilty for was being involved in a money laundering scheme that put him away for six months and not being a rat. He kept his lips shut and did his time. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes. My anger subsided and I forgave my parents for being so secretive with me, and doing what they did. They were trying to support their family, but in a non-conventional way. During the time my father was away, I wrote him letters, and drew him funny comic pictures to keep him laughing. He loved it. He wrote me a letter. It was the very first letter I ever got from my dad. I still have it till this day.
My family stuck it out together, as a team. We didn’t turn on one another, as some families might have done. When my father returned home that first day, we had the whole family there to greet him. It was a new and fresh start for him, and for us.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
“Your shading is off. The light is coming from behind the pile, not in front of it. Change the lighting.” She badgers me once again, as she took her enormous eraser, and made my shading disappear herself; as though I was just some little kid trying to finger paint.
“Deb, you’re an artist, why can’t you get this down right? This isn’t correct and I don’t want to give you a low grade.”
“Is art supposed to be ‘right’? I’m not into ‘draw what you see’ type of art. My type of art is very different from this. Art to me is supposed to be original.” I said, all frustrated with her comment. I give people credit that can sit down, and draw something exactly how it is.
“Do you want to pass my class or not? I’m trying to help you here.” Miss Griffen said, in a stern type of voice, almost as if she was giving me some sort of serious lecture—wearing nearly next to nothing. How was I supposed to concentrate when I was head over heals with my own teacher?
Needless to say, I purposely failed that class, to repeat it several times. Miss Griffen was known to get in trouble by our principle for wearing skirts that were the size of headbands. Was he gay? I didn’t get it. Why was he attacking this blonde bombshell? Well, now, being in my thirties, I know why. When I was only sixteen, I couldn’t fathom it. She was a work of art; a masterpiece. Her long blonde curly hair, which fell right near her waist, mesmerized me all throughout class. When she spoke to me, her huge, doe-like eyes would penetrate my every being. Her make up was a bit much, but in my eyes, I didn’t care if she needed a shovel to remove her foundation, I was in love. All the boys walked out of there crouching low, so no one would see their excitement.
She was on to me. She saw my artwork before by my former art teachers. I’m guessing she realized my motives. What were they anyway? For the love of God, I was only sixteen years old, and she was twenty-six! I always looked older than my age, so I thought it would work to my advantage.
“Okay, that’s it for today, remember, you have a test for tomorrow on the history of famous artists—be prepared folks! And Debbie, please stay after class, I need to speak with you.”
My heart raced and I was more than thrilled to stay after class. It was eighth period, the last class of the day. Was she going to ask me out for a bite to eat? Did she want to hang out with me? Is she going to confess her undying love for me?
Miss Griffen walked over to me with her high heel boots, her torn up tight jeans, and a blouse that left little to the imagination. Her eyes were fixed on me. As she approached me, she started to grin, as if she knew something.
“What’s going on Deb? I have seen you do some awesome work, and now you are hanging by a thread in my class. I don’t understand this.”
“I’m not good with art that is dictated.” I said, being both serious and facetious.
“Deb, this is simple stuff, you can do this.” She said, now resting her foot on the step of my stool, leaving her knee to touch mine. I was getting more nervous, and unable to look her in the eyes.
“I’m sorry if I’m not good enough in your eyes. I guess it’s a matter of opinion.” I looked down, and wanted to leave desperately at this point.
The sad part is, I really did try to do my best at the art, but I couldn’t comprehend or pay attention to any of the history of our famous artists. Back then, it would just give me a bad case of A.D.D. It was boring to me. I had no interest in it at all. Now, at my age, I’m trying to grasp all I can learn.
I gave up painting and drawing. I recently went into photography. I sold some of my pieces which I had on my website. I also sold prints on eBay. People who received them from all over the states were very happy with their purchase. I never had a complaint from these strangers who requested my work. As an artist, I can take critiques; that’s just part of the game.
I was asked to do a competition for a show that was being held at the gallery nearby, where I work. I was more than happy to show a few pieces that I had. The director of the gallery is very meticulous about the details that go into displaying your work. I admired that quality in her, she respected art, and she respected the pieces that belonged to others. As an artist herself, there’s no better person to display them.
Being in a competition doesn’t mean that they have to like your work. Everyone has a different opinion on what is ‘good art’. I know there are basic rules and guidelines regarding photography, but in my eyes, if you like what you see, and it touches a chord with you—then it’s good art work. There are prizes that are given away to the ‘best artist’, and people are able to purchase what is on display.
I recently spoke to a photographer for the National Geographic magazine. He has seen my work and has critiqued it very freely. Being an amateur, I don’t expect every single person to fall in love with every piece of mine, but somehow, I got discouraged once again. It brought me back to when I stopped painting and drawing.
These were his words:
"I'll tell you the truth. You are an amateur at photography, and hence your work should look like an amateurs, and people do not buy that kind of work unless the person is of super talent. (I have NEVER seen any of those around) Galleries are even less interested in amateur work. I have seen your images on your site, and there is good and bad. The good is that you have good exposure of the images, and some good colors in them. The bad is that being new to the craft you do not have the experience to see and compose good photo subjects. You have a wheelbarrow shot that is interesting, and the two B&W ones have promise, but the rest of the images are mostly what most photographers would call, "snapshots" like anyone can take. A gallery owner will see that and will have no interest in them. Even images that are on the above average side, a gallery or even gift shops, do not want them for one main reason that I hear all the time; "People do not buy framed photos if they are of anything that they feel they can go out with a camera and shoot themselves." It is that simple. To sell framed prints they have to be so good that the viewer will say, 'I wish I could take pictures like that!'"
I appreciate honesty, especially coming from a professional, but sometimes I guess I can be a little fragile and get discouraged quite easily. Here are some of my photos that I sell, and have had success with.
I'm sure he's right. Anyone can take these photos. For me, it's a matter of sentimental work. All of these places I have been to. All of these places made me feel calm. The sunrise is what I wake up to everyday--my home overlooks this. The picture of the building with the brook going through it, is where Madelene and I sat on the bridge, talking over coffee. Each picture represents something special to me. One lady who received a framed photo who lived in Iowa said, "I love this picture of the train tracks! I used to live in Warwick, New York, and as a child I walked these tracks with my friends. It brings back memories for me." Another gentleman bought the picture of the sunrise, because he lives on the actual lake that is shown in the picture. He couldn't believe that there were mountains behind his lake. I have many other photos that are very sentimental to us--which is the reason why they are all hanging on the wall in our home.
So, to me, art is a matter of personal opinion; it's what touches your heart. When I go into an art gallery, I rarely buy anything--unless is tugs at my heart.
Why do you buy art?
“I’m thinking the same thing.”
“I mean, he just sits there and stares at me as if I had two heads.”
“There’s no other psychiatrist. They’re all booked up, Deb.”
“I’m going to sit there, and play with his plants like I usually do.”
Driving up the thruway heading towards my doctor’s appointment, Madelene starts sneezing her head off. By the twentieth sneeze, instead of “God bless you”—I was simply going to tell her, “SHUT UP!” She’s too cute though. Besides, she is coming along for the ride to be bored out of her skull waiting for me to get analyzed by some quack.
We get into the office. It’s a very large square office. Each door has a different type of doctor inside. You walk into this square room, full of chairs surrounding the door of each doctor. We head over to where my psychiatrist’s door is. It’s usually dismal and dark over in that corner; quite eerie to tell you the truth.
“Psst, you think he’s going to charge me for the days missed?” I whispered softly, so nobody could hear.
“No, he never does that to you.” Madelene replies in her normal voice.
“What? Who cares?” Madelene says, laughing at my ridiculous behavior, as if I were plotting something against my shrink.
Madelene fumbles through her dirty magazines. No, not porn. I mean the magazines which all the other people who were sitting there before her touched. People come in here because they’re sick or they need mental help. The magazines are rotated, so you can’t just assume that they’re the shrink’s magazines. My OCD is kicking in big time all of the sudden. Thank God when Lurch (my shrink) comes out to get me, he holds the door open for me. God forbid I should touch that doorknob. I’m safe though, I always have my anti-bacterial gel handy at all times.
Lurch appears at the door. He nods. I instantly sprint up, almost tripping over my own feet. There I sat, on that fake leather couch again, making that awful squishy noise.
“Haven’t seen you in quite some time, what’s been going on?” Lurch says.
Can you believe this? He spoke! He said the first words! I am so impressed with his progress. He is coming out of his shell, and I am happy to say that he may be coming out of his introverted world. I start noting my pad.
I basically sat there and amused this man for forty-five minutes.
“Anxiety at night and bad PMS rages per month. I can’t believe this plant is real!” I said, playing with his plants that overwhelm his office. My A.D.H.D. is now coming to a head.
“Still taking the ativan?”
“Is it helping?”
“Why do you think it’s not helping?”
“Because I am experiencing anxiety attacks.”
Already he has his third party papers ready to be scripted up, and flung into the pharmacist’s basket. I love how head doctors are so itchy to get you on more medication. If it doesn’t work—take more! That’s my motto with my bloody marys, but we won’t tell him that.
The word “kickbacks” is what “t-bones” mean to a hungry German Shepherd.
“Acupuncture. What do you think of that option, Doc?”
“Well, it works differently for everyone. Sometimes it can all be inside your head though.” He replies, sounding more and more like my mother.
“So what do you suggest I do for my frequent anxiety attacks?”
“I don’t know. What’s bothering you?”
“Check please!”—Wait, wrong scene.
I walk out the door, and Madelene is sitting there all studious reading some article about GM products. She’s a car saleswoman, so whenever she gets a good read on a competitor, she’s all up in it.
I motion to leave.
“Let’s go!” I say in a demanding voice.
“OH!” She says, surprised that we weren’t going to stay for a cocktail with Lurch. Did she want to stay there and read every article Home and Gardens has for her? I’m not sure.
We both ran to the truck, as the rain came down hard. In front of my car, was a very tall man getting out of a Mini Cooper. It amazes me how many tall people drive these little itty bitty cars. It’s kind of like, how many clowns can you fit in this car?
“So, did he help today?” Madelene asks.
I just gave her a look that said a thousand words.
“Yes, he did help me.” I held up my prescription and smiled. Madelene shook her head and laughed. Minutes later, Madelene has a sneezing attack while we are driving down the thruway. It didn’t stop until we got home. This was unlike her usual twenty or thirty sneezes in a row, this was more like fifty.
Now that I have recovered from being sick, I have to report that Madelene has been given my bug. The best way to get rid of your sickness, is to give it to someone else, right? Mission accomplished. Now I have to play nurse for a few days. And no—I will not wear a nurse’s outfit because I look like a big fat German tank when I wear white.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Anyway, that Saturday evening was horrific. I didn’t sleep. I just kept upchucking my eternal organs because there was nothing else I ate that day. My head began to pulse like a drum; as if my brain was being smacked around my huge scull. My body ached from all the hurling and coughing that night. It was awful. I don’t wish this on anyone! All I wanted was my bed.
Here’s my discoveries while being sick. Lifetime. Oh yeah. Big top ten on my list for those entire three days. If I see another wife beater, another pedophile stalking little girls, another family breaking up due to an alcoholic father—I’m going to scream bloody murder! It’s almost as if I have this morbid fixation on Lifetime. You know it’s corny and has a predictable court scene ending, but you sit there and watch it anyway.
4pm...Judge Judy. She reminds me of a mean teacher I once had in high school. You can’t help but laugh when she is reprimanding someone, but you also can’t help but go back in your own memory file, and think of that one particular teacher who used to badger you like the way Judge Judy does in her courtroom. When she reaches her high point of anger, you can almost see her dentures trying to make their way out of her mouth. One day, it’s going to pop out and smack someone right on their forehead. That’s the show I don’t want to miss.
“Excuse me, sir? What do you do for a living?”
“Err, umm, I’m in between right now, your honor.”
“So you’re a LOSER!!!”
“Umm, I’ve been trying to look for a job.” The poor kid tries to explain himself.
“Well try harder!” Judge Judy screams, as she gives Bird a look of disgust.
Bird. What a name!
Another obsession of mine even before I was sick, is COPS. I cannot stop watching this show. The sad thing is, they have marathons of it. Madelene will come home to find me sitting on the couch fixed to the TV in a daze. None of these criminals that they catch have shirts on. Their potbellies hanging out, overflowing their jeans, some wear those wife beater tees, but the rest are usually without a shirt. You always get the scruffy white guy that hasn’t taken a bath in months getting pulled out of his mobile home by the cops, screaming, “I didn’t hit her ossifer! I didn’t do nuttin’ ossifer!” It’s really sad actually. I don’t know why I keep watching this show. It’s almost become a sickness. The best scenes are the ‘set up’ ones, where the cop dresses up as a civilian, and tries to get a hooker. They have cameras all hidden in the hotel room. Once the undercover cop gives her the money, they all come busting through the door as though the hooker was a complete serial killer.
Back to my ‘sick status’. I am feeling better. Madelene has taken great care of me, but refuses to wear a nice little nurse’s outfit. She has forced me to drink a gallon of water a day and tons of Gatorade, which I am now waterlogged. I don’t think I’ll be turning on the TV for the next month or so. Ugh.
Friday, September 23, 2005
“Honey, where’s my cream colored blouse that I just got out of the drycleaners?”
“It should be in the pile of the clothes that you brought back, Deb.”
“No… Nothing.” I said, fumbling through garments wrapped up in bags.
“Well when did you last see it?” Madelene asks.
I hated when my mother used to ask me that very same question when I was interrogating her for a lost item. That question alone has to be more absurd than, ‘Are you sleeping?’
“Never mind, I’ll just wear this.” I replied, avoiding all arguments regarding that stupid question. I wasn’t about to reply, ‘Well if I knew where I last saw it…………” (You know the drill)
At the age of twenty-three, I thought I would have a little more tolerance for life. I was agitated and way too combative for my own good. Yes, even worse than I am at the age of thirty-one. Plus, how can I start an argument right before going to church? I’ll wait until tonight. I’ll feel much better then.
Madelene and I are both Christians. We wanted to find the perfect church to go to. We didn’t expect to be 100% accepted as a homosexual couple; we just wanted to seek God more, and be surrounded by other believers. We both have our own relationship with God, so it was important that we attend church, in case there was a message that we were supposed to hear that day. We started going on a regular basis, and enjoyed it.
I was a bit taken back when I first started going. I was used to the mundane and monotone voice of my priest at Sacred Heart—which is a Catholic church. I wanted to go to a church where they had enthusiasm for God. I didn’t want to sing the “Our Father” in one single note. It reminded me much like those horror movies, when those Satan worshipers would gather around a circle and sing monotone evil tunes. It gave me the creeps to sit in a Catholic church to hear this very same song, but in different words. The whole church would sing together, like one big evil chant. Ew. If I were God, would I want to be worshipped like this? Give me some music! Give me some dancing! Let’s have a good time here! Of course, bring out the wine!
I recall the first day of attending service at the Trinity Assembly of God. It was a born again Christian church. People were greeting us at the door as if they knew us all our lives.
“Hello! Welcome! How are you?” One elderly gentleman says, holding our hands in his.
This was a bit ‘too welcoming’, but it was much better than Sister Rose snarling at us, because she saw a wrinkle in one of our skirts. These people at the Catholic church were so strict and rigid, that it made the whole ‘going to church’ such a drag.
Each Sunday, we would return. We would all sing, dance and worship for the first half hour, and then for the remaining hour and a half, there would be a sermon from the pastor. He spoke of everyday life, and his topics were very down to earth. Sometimes he would go on a rant that was quite garrulous; however we hung on every word. He was mentioning that next Sunday was a special day for the gay & lesbian community. I looked at Madelene sitting besides me in the pew like, ‘You gotta be kidding!” I was thrilled. A church that finally accepted gays and lesbians?
All week I was anticipated their dedication to our community. I was thrilled that they acknowledged us. We’re not bad people. We’re just people who ‘love’. How can that be a sin? Promiscuity is another thing. In my belief, that’s merely ‘lust’, which is one of the deadly sins. Then again, what makes one sin so much deadlier than another? I always wondered that. What about the Ten Commandments? If homosexuality is an ‘abomination’, then why isn’t it listed on the ‘top ten list’ of commandments? Why isn’t it listed in the seven deadly sins? It confuses me. In the bible, in clearly states that no sin is greater than another. What gives?
Sunday approaches, and we are headed off to church. We sat closer than usual that day. There was a woman speaker about to do this dedication for our community. I was thrilled. As she was speaking so eloquently, she said some really nice things. She went on about how we shouldn’t miss the bus. It’s like coming home, and everyone is gone. You run to the kitchen, and there’s a pot still cooking, bringing aromas throughout the house—so someone must still be home, right? Basically saying, you missed your ticket into heaven. You can't ride on the coattails of other believers.
She was giving an analogy about missing an opportunity to get into heaven.
“I’m a former lesbian. I suffered for many years living a life full of sin. I knew it was wrong, and a direction that only led to a dead end. I changed my ways, and went into the ministry.”
Okay, now I was fuming. I was actually upset and angry, watching this woman walk into the aisles spewing out words that were unpleasant to my ears. She offended me. Hypocrite! They got you! The ministry has brainwashed you.
“Evil spirits! Be gone! I rebuke you Satan and your homosexual ways!” I can just hear it in my head, all the priests and pastors laying hands on her, trying to get these ‘gay demons’ out of her system. Certainly none of those ‘priests’ were gay. To even commit some sort of malfeasance in their hometown would be a disgrace to the whole community. It’s quite ironic that they call themselves, ‘former homosexuals’. Former? Okay. Isn’t it quite the same as calling an alcoholic, a ‘former alcoholic’? They make it quite clear that you are an alcoholic, even if it has been twenty years since your lips wrapped around a bottle of beer.
These priests, pastors and speakers never sin, right? They never have an impure thought, or partake in any gossip. They’re perfect. They can cast the first stone, due to their righteousness.
We are all human. We’re all inadequate. We all fall short of God’s will. He expects us to be imperfect. Now, if God came down to earth today, and said,
“Each and everyone of you who lied, committed adultery and spread gossip about another, please stand here.”
Now there’s 70% of everyone in the world.
“Each and everyone of you who has had premarital sex, please stand here.”
Okay, there’s the other 30%. Are we all going to hell? Did God put us on earth, to just chuck us down to hell? Our carnal and physical nature weighs out our spiritual side in most cases. If you are a tough cookie and could withstand the test of sin, I commend you; however, not all of us are that strong.
For instance, did you know that eating shellfish is a detestable sin? (Quoted in the Old Testament) So, no shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster or scallops. Forget about it. They’ll serve that in hell for you. Come on!
Read this scripture:
Leviticus 11:9-12 As for marine animals, you may eat whatever has both fins and scales, whether taken from fresh water or salt water. You may not, however, eat marine animals that do not have both fins and scales. (shellfish) You are to detest them, and they will always be forbidden to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies. I repeat, any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is strictly forbidden to you.
Now, here’s a thought you an ponder on. If you sit next to a woman on the same couch while she is menstruating, you will be defiled.
Leviticus 15:19-29 Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. If you touch her during that time, you will be defiled until evening. Anything on which she lies or sits during that time will be defiled If you touch her bed, you must wash your clothes and bathe in water, and you will remain defiled until evening. The same applies if you touch an object on which she sits, whether it is her bedding or any piece of furniture. If a man has
sexual intercourse with her during this time, her menstrual impurity will be transmitted to him. He will remain defiled for seven days, and any bed on which he lies will be defiled.
If the menstrual flow of blood continues for many days beyond the normal period, or if she discharges blood unrelated to her menstruation, the woman will be ceremonially unclean as long as the discharge continues. Anything on which she lies or sits during that time will be defiled, just as it would be during her normal menstrual period. If you touch her bed or anything on which she sits, you will be defiled. You will be required to wash your clothes and bathe in water, and you will remain defiled until evening.
When the woman’s menstrual discharge stops, she must count off a period of seven days. After that she will be ceremonially clean. On the eighth day, she must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons and present them to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle.
Interesting, huh? Now all of this is taken from the Old Testament which mainly has a lot of scriptures regarding homosexuality.
Leviticus 20:30 The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have committed a detestable act and are guilty of a capital offense.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.
I no longer go to that church. I watched two women give a speech. They were together for twenty years. They are ‘former lesbians’ in the church’s lesbian ministry. I watched one lady get up to the podium, and cry her eyes out, as she said she was no longer a lesbian. Her love for her partner was evident. They still resided in the same household. To watch this lady suffer, and be tortured, to not be with her partner in a romantic way was killing her spiritually. She loved God, and she also loved her partner. You can involve God in your relationship—it’s possible.
Madelene and I decided that we will not be tortured like that; however, we will include God in everything we do. He comes first, above all. Without God, we are nothing. I’m just thankful that all the guilt that I had in the past, is gone. Being in love with Madelene with all my heart gives me happiness; having a personal relationship with God, means the world to me.
Remember, whatever it is you’re struggling with, God loves you regardless—and He loves you more than anyone can ever possibly love another human being.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
“That’s no problem, as long as I get the status of where my book is, and if it is in the printing process, I’m fine. Do I need to correct any errors that you can see?”
“Not at this time, Debra. It is in the ‘acquisition’ stage, and you should be hearing back from Rebecca shortly after that.”
“That’s fine, Robert, as long as I am informed so we can get this moving, I’ll be more than happy to make additional corrections as needed.”
Having this be my third time around with my editor correcting punctuation and margin errors can get frustrating. The most challenging aspect of this all, is dealing with four people at a time who are working on my book to be published. Great, four people, right?
I got shuffled around to four people handling matters that were frustrating. I first went to Brian, who then sent me to Tammy, who then sent me to Susan, who then sent me to Rob. All of them say, “Please contact only me, regarding this.” Then when I do, they say, “Well so & so will be handling this from now on.”
Then I receive an e-mail.
I have reviewed the files you submitted for your title. There are a few concerns that need to be addressed before we can continue forward.
You may wish to view your formatting marks to assist you with finding the next concerns. Go to tools > options > view > formatting marks and select the box next to "all". **Please remember that if you are using a program such as notepad or WordPerfect to create your file, the following instructions will be different. Please contact me for further instruction if you are using a program other than Word and are unable to use the following instructions to make your corrections.**
We require the use of page breaks instead of hard returns to indicate places, like the end of a chapter, where the next text must begin on a new page. To insert a page break in Word go to insert > break > page break. To remove the extra hard returns, backspace through all of the blank lines until they are gone.
You have used text throughout your document that will not flow into our templates and may very well cause conversion errors during the formatting process which will result in your title being rejected during formatting. Please make sure the document is in either Times, Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New font. The text font will then be set up according to the interior template you have chosen.
The crosses on page one of your text file will not flow into our templates. These will result in conversion errors if left in the document and must be removed.
You have used the space bar and/or tab key to center areas of text throughout your document. This is indicated in your text by a row of dots and/or arrows preceding the text. You will need to remove all spaces (dots) and tabs (arrows) that appear before the text and center the text using the align center text button on your toolbar.
You have randomly placed a hard return (pressing the enter key) at the end of a line, in the middle of sentences. You will need to remove the hard returns at the end of every line. Text must flow from line to line without interruption. You only want to enter a hard return at the end of a paragraph to begin a new paragraph. Your interior text will be formatted according to the interior template you have chosen. The extra hard returns will disrupt the formatting of your text and therefore, need to be removed.
The asterisks that you have inserted, for instance on page 169 will not format as you have intended. If you would like to insert a sort of section break that will add fleurons (symbols) in your text, you will need to use the section break notation as follows:
The proper insertion method for this notation is to place 3 asterisks, side by side on a row by themselves with no spaces before, after, or in between:
You have smileys inserted throughout your text, For instance page 174 after the words "Good Evening". We are unable to format these in your text file and will need to be removed.
Please make the necessary changes to your file and reupload it to your author panel for further review.
Hard returns. Fine. I tried to list off a scripture from Psalms that needs to be formatted as so. Without the hard returns on the scripture, it loses it’s poetic depth to it. It’s not supposed to be jumbled up into one big fat paragraph!
“Well, it cannot fit into our templates, and it will end up making a mark or arrow in place of the hard return.”
Fine, but what year are we in? What do poets do regarding chapbooks??? I don’t get it, in this day of age, we cannot format accordingly to the author’s request? It baffles me.
I finally end up speaking to Shannon, the manager of the publishing company to discuss my concerns.
“All your reps sounds as though they are incompetent and don’t know what they’re doing- on top of that, they never call me back! To me, that’s a ‘no no’ in customer service.”
“Yes, we do understand your concern, and we will have a conference call with you. What time would you prefer?” Shannon asks, as her words were mellifluent; calming me down.
“10am. Is that okay?” I ask.
“Yes Debra, we’ll call you exactly at 10am Thursday morning with our team, and we will assist you step-by-step and get this book rolling.”
“Thank you so much, Shannon. I really appreciate this.” I said, relieved that something was going to happen.
Thursday morning. 10am. Silence. No phone call, no email, just the sound of my fingers tapping on my desk waiting for my phone to ring.
“Damn it!“ I said out loud. I call my first rep that I dealt with, hoping that he remembers me.
“Hey Deb! How’s it going?”
“Not good. No one likes calling anyone back it seems.”
“Ah man, that’s not good, let me send them an email to remind them” He says, in his 'cool dude' voice. He sounds as if he's nineteen years old.
“No, I have called their voice mails and left numerous messages. The next step is, another publishing company."
“No! Wait, let me at least get in touch with the managers and get back to you.”
I have never dealt with such awful customer service. Is it the publishing company I’m dealing with? Or do any of you go through the same thing? I’m venting this, because I know that there is a writer out there who has experienced this horrible phase that I’m going through. I don’t mind making corrections, but what I do mind is lousy customer care. That makes my blood boil. I was tempted to get obstreperous like a little whiny kid who didn’t get their way, but I refrained and tried to calm myself from these idiots who seem to be bouncing off one another debating who should call her first.
If any of you writers who has had a book published—please comment and let me know your experience with your agent/publishers, etc. Does it have to be this hard? I’m getting really discouraged as a writer, and need some feedback. This whole scenario makes me discursive and agitated, so I apologize for this weird rant I’m doing today.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
“What does a lesbian look like?” I ask, even though I already knew Diane’s stereotypical assumption of what a lesbian ‘should’ look like.
“You know—more masculine features, more tomboyish, and just rough around the edges.”
“This is what you go by? I asked, chuckling at how many people she has missed on her way to Naïveville.
“You and your girlfriend are really pretty and feminine.”
“Well, thank you.”
“I could definitely see myself experiencing my first with someone like you. I’m so curious, I find women to be so sensual and sexy.” She says, as she gleams at me with her big green eyes.
I knew where this was heading. To even entertain the thought of being her guinea pig for a one night experiment was inconceivable. The fact that she knew I was committed to Madelene somehow made me lose all respect for her. I felt as though she disrespected my relationship; as if it was make believe, or playing house. Diane lived with her boyfriend Pete, who happens to be a very nice man. I wonder if he even had a clue as to what Diane’s thoughts were regarding being with another woman.
One evening, we all decided to go out. Madelene and I told Diane and Pete to come in our car, due to the icy conditions. We had front wheel drive back then, and thought it was much safer than driving around in their Mustang. We pulled up to their condominium, and honked the horn. Both of them came out looking like a million bucks. We enjoyed going out with this couple because they were a lot of fun to be around, and we were all very close friends.
We pulled up to this café & cocktail lounge, and headed for the bar. The café we went to was a mixed bag. There were gays, straights, bisexuals, transgender, you name it. It was so fascinating watching all the unique people having a great time in this small quaint venue. They always had live entertainment, which brought in a huge crowd. We were lucky enough to be entertained by a reggae band that evening.
A few hours passed, a few drinks thrown back, and we were all dancing. Diane was a former go-go dancer, so her moves were quite seductive. Pete was doing his little head bopping motions, trying to get the rhythm down pat. I hear Pete say something in my ear, but I couldn’t quite make out what was being said to me.
“So, what do you think about all four of us getting a hotel?”
“What? I can’t hear you—the music is too loud!” I screamed back at him.
“What do you think about all four of us getting a hotel, Deb?” He repeats.
“Oh, I’m fine to drive, thank you for being so thoughtful, Pete!” I replied, putting my arm around him in a friendly manner.
“Deb—no, that’s not what I meant. Would you and your girlfriend consider being with us intimately?”
At that moment, I heard him loud and clearly. My expectations of “Pete’s such a gentleman” went straight down the drain. I was so disappointed that he asked me this horrific question. I really liked him. I wonder if Diane knew about this.
“Awe, thank you—I’m flattered, I really am, but Madelene and I are monogamous.” I said, trying to defuse any feelings of rejection on his part.
“No, that’s cool Deb, I totally respect that. I just wanted to ask.” He said, and then left it alone.
As we were all on the dance floor having a good time, Diane and Pete sandwiched us; making us feel really weird. Their moves were a bit too much, and we knew that this party needed to end now. He totally disrespected my answer, was now is gyrating up against my backside. Contemplating whether or not I should kick up my leg and crush his nuts, was a more than satisfying thought, but I refrained. I noticed Diane doing the same thing to Madelene. Madelene and I both looked at one another in shock and motioned our heads indicating, “Let’s move over to the bar.”
“So, what do you think? I bet you two would be a blast in bed!” Diane comes over and blurts out really loudly.
“Thanks Diane for considering us candidates in your love fest, but we’ll have to pass.”
“Well f*ck you b*tch!” She yells out, having the whole café hear these words spew out of her possessed demon-like mouth.
“Diane! Calm down! We’re just not into that scene.” Madelene says, in a calming tone.
“Well, Debbie cheats on you anyway! She looks at me like she wants me. She’s not loyal to you. She’s a whore!”
“Diane! Stop! You had too much to drink, just leave it alone!” Pete says, trying to get her to calm down.
At this point, I was ready to leave. I wanted to go home and drop them off. We were an hour away from our town and it was below zero outside. God knows why we even decided to drive that far on a night like that, but we were young and stupid.
“Come on, let’s just go home now.” I suggested.
“Sounds good Debbie, I’m so sorry for my girlfriend acting up like that, I really am.”
“That’s okay, Pete. Alcohol can do that sometimes.” I said, chuckling to make him feel a little better.
“WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU TWO TALKING ABOUT? I’M NOT GOING HOME!” Diane shouts, in a drunken state of delirium.
“Please stop Diane, I just want to go home, stop, please.” Pete begged her.
“She’s nothing but a whore! You’re a b*tch Debbie! I can have any girl I want! It’s your loss!”
I decided not to say a word. We started to make our way and slide over to our car. The parking lot was a complete sheet of ice. I don’t know how we even made it there. The night got colder, and so did Diane’s mood. We started to pile in the car. I revved the engine a bit more, so the heat would kick in. Pete and Diane were sitting in the backseat arguing. Diane was now cursing off Pete at this point, being irrational and nutty.
“You’re an @sshole too for evening siding with them! She’s a b*tch Pete! A b*tch!”
Now at this point, she is in “my” car, and now my blood was starting to boil. It was below zero, the roads were very icy, and I was not about to drive in these conditions listening to her curse at me the entire time. I made a conscious decision that evening.
“Huh?” Diane had a wake up call.
“Get out of my car, now!” I said, staring at her from the driver’s seat.
“It’s below zero!” She pleads.
“I don’t give a rat’s @ss, Pete can stay if he wants, but you have to get out now!”
“Please Diane, don’t do this, please just tell her your sorry.” Pete begs her.
Diane bolts out of the car, and back into the club. Pete sat there in shock.
“I am so incredibly sorry for this evening guys.” Pete says, in a sincere voice.
“Pete, I really feel bad for you. I would gladly drive you home, but I cannot have her in my car like that. I hate the fact that I am leaving you two in this type of weather, but maybe you should just call a cab or a friend. If you want me to take you home, I will. I just can’t have her in this car.”
“I understand, please forgive me for all of this.” He says, as he struggles out of the back seat to make his way back in the club.
I sat in the car for a while with Madelene.
“I hate leaving them here, I really do.”
“I know you do, but she was really acting up Deb…”
“I’ll be right back, let me see if I can at least try to calm her down so I can drive the both of them home. I’m doing this for Pete’s sake.” (no pun)
I walk into the club, trying to push through the crowd. I saw Pete, but he looked sad. I bypassed him and went straight for the bar, where Diane was. I went to go touch her shoulder.
“Hey, listen, let’s be friends again, and let me drive you home.”
She turns around and starts making out with this tall Haitian man. No wonder Pete looked sad. Did he approve of this ‘open relationship’? Or did he only approve when it was Diane pursuing another woman? I never understood open relationships. I don’t condemn them, I just never understood the concept and how people dealt with them on an emotional level. Does an open relationship mean, only the woman can be intimate with another woman? Or did it imply that all sexes can be involved? Did anyone get jealous? I’ve heard people say that it’s more of a trust factor. Okay fine. However, I once knew a couple who had an open relationship. The husband let his wife go off with numerous women. She was bisexual.
She left him, for the other woman. They are still together till this day. The husband had no inclination that something like this could happen. It ended in divorce. If they had so much trust, so much love, why did this happen? Truth remains; you will always have some sort of risk being in an open relationship. I know this can be debated, but in “my opinion”, when you throw more people in the mix, you end up with competition. Why add confusion to an already complicated relationship? That’s what I wanted to know, regarding Pete and Diane’s relationship.
On the other hand, I know straight women who feel that being with another woman intimately is technically ‘not cheating’ on your boyfriend or husband. How can they even think this? It’s still sharing intimate moments with someone other than your lover. Would it be okay if their boyfriend or husband were to have sex with another man?
“I HAVE NO CLOTHES!”
The leather boots from last year were crinkled up from being sat upon by other shoes.
“I can’t wear these!” Tossing the pair of shoes that I loved so much.
“Madelene!!!” I call out.
“What’s wrong sweetie?”
“We have to go shopping.”
Subconsciously, Madelene starts to put her hands above her pockets, holding them tightly, as if I were about to attack her for the plastic. I know what you’re thinking--you mean her purse, right?
No. She doesn’t carry a purse. She carries around a little folder-like wallet. This thing is so packed (not with money) but with business cards, receipts, credit cards and other miscellaneous items. She keeps it closed with a headband. When we go out for dinner, she throws her ugly wallet inside my nice purse. It’s a lesbian tradition I guess. I'm just thankful she doesn't have one of those chain wallets.
“We’ll go Monday on our day off, how about that?”
“Sure.” I replied, as I sat there on the floor of my closet on a Saturday evening, exhausted from the discoveries I made. The thought of shopping for new fall clothes, and new boots, made me feel ten times better. I felt as though she had just given me a shot of euphoria. Madelene always knows what to say at the right time. Nothing is impossible for this woman. If something is wrong, let’s fix it. If you’re not happy with this, let’s do that. Okay, so she babies me a tad; well, okay, a lot, but who doesn’t like being pampered once in a while?
Monday rolls around, and I’m rolling on the other side of the bed. I bump into Madelene who is snoring away like a lumberjack.
“Mad? You up?” I ask, knowing that is the stupidest question someone can ask.
She lifts her little night mask up to her forehead, so she can see me. Yes, she wears one of these lovely satin night masks.
“Huh? You okay? What time is it?” She rubs her eyes, trying not to absorb the light so quickly.
“10am.” I said. We never sleep in that late, however the night before we were enjoying some cocktails with my sister and her boyfriend. Madelene was clearly hungover. I need a fast remedy for her, ASAP! Now if you all know me personally, or have been reading my blogs, you know what that ‘quick fix’ remedy is…
Yep. Deb’s famous bloody marys. I decided to go downstairs to invite my mother to come outside with us on this beautiful ‘almost afternoon’, to have a cocktail with us. She was more than willing to join us. I waited for Madelene outside on our patio. Mom and I were talking and already starting our quick fix, although we had no problem to fix. We don’t like others to drink alone. Madelene comes galloping downstairs and opens the door to come out. It took her nearly thirty minutes to come out of that bathroom. Her hangover remedy was there to greet her hello. Whenever Madelene and I bring my parents to the beach house in the Hamptons, we usually end up drinking lots, and playing scrabble. We could sit out on that deck, overlooking the ocean and playing scrabble for hours on top of hours sometimes.
“Alright!” She says.
By that time, I was almost done with my drink, the sun was shining brightly, and their was this fall-like breeze that was enough to make my thoughts turn around to,
“Ugh, I can’t imagine being inside a mall on a day like this.”
I think Madelene had that thought as well. We ended up staying outside the entire day enjoying the beautiful weather. It won’t be too long until the blistering cold makes us prisoners of our own home, so why not take advantage? We’ll go shopping next Friday evening.
We all start playing scrabble. Madelene and my mother are brains. They can get any crossword puzzle, and trivial question answered, and they usually end up making me look like a big loser at the end. Shush- don’t even say it… Maybe it was the alcohol or the little sleep that Madelene got, but she got up the nerve to put this word out on the scrabble board. “I can’t believe you placed those letters down in front of my mother!!! Madelene!” I said, laughing and crouching down low in embarrassment at the same time.
“Oh come on Deb! We all know the real Madelene’s a sick pup.” Mom said, as she chuckled.
I was relieved that she didn’t give Madelene a cross-eyed look trying to figure out what really was on Madelene’s mind that morning. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Occasionally I would run behind Madelene and take a peek at her letters. Happy to report, I was first place, leaving mom & Madelene in the dust! Results: (Please take note of the notepad and the name of where we got it.)
Shopping still awaits me, but I’m glad I gave that up to spend time with mom and Madelene. Later that evening, I felt as though I had a slight hangover from the afternoon cocktails. Do I keep drinking? Or do I just call it a night? I popped a Maalox and went to bed.
Little things such as spending time with family & loved ones mean much more than trekking down to the mall, doing errands, or finishing up small tasks at home. Things like that can wait. I feel that God intended for us to enjoy this life we have on earth; to enjoy the journey. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, what your job status is, or wishing for things that you don’t have—it’s “now” that’s important. To appreciate what we have 'today'.
Some good quotes from the bible:
Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. ~Ecclesiastes 5:18
Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don't have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless; it is like chasing the wind. ~Ecclesiastes 6:9
You probably think playing scrabble may be quite boring and dull. To me, it wasn’t about the game; it was about spending time with two people I care about. When we go out for dinner, it’s not about the food or the wine list; (although that wine list may come in handy!) it’s about the company you’re in. The fact that it can be taken away from us so quickly can blind us; leaving us to take for granted the blessings that God gave to us.
If you’re one of those people who have too much on their plate, you’re bombarded by work and other tasks in life, stop and spend some time with a loved one. Ask them to have lunch with you; take them out for a nice dinner—remember, we’re here for a short time; we may never get this chance again.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
“Ma, you look on the screen.”
“The one that is on the receiver of the phone.”
“Do the callers know I can see their number?”
“Not unless you tell them…”
“When will the number display.”
“WHEN YOUR PHONE RINGS MA!”
Fancy gadgets and high tech computerized equipment are apart of our lives now. Or is it? For some, they are still living in the dark ages. Most prefer living back in the day where it was just as if you received a wrapped up present from someone, when your phone rang.
“Oh! My phone is ringing! I wonder who could be calling!”
No surprises anymore. We know who’s calling, and if you don’t want to show your number, then we just block your call. Simple as that. The thrill of the phone ringing, has now lost its novelty. We now leave the phone ringing four to five times into our voice mails, because we saw who was calling. It was no surprise, it was just a dreadful thought that we may have picked this phone up, if it weren’t for our caller id.
Do we even utilize the old fashioned phone anymore? We resorted to email communication. No one wants to talk *live* on the phone anymore, they want to just email whenever they get the chance. It’s just easier, and you don’t have to hear them answer you back. And you thought call waiting was rude.
I remember when I got my first laptop years ago. I got sick of the monster PC that was sitting on my very small desk. Wires hanging all over, this huge monitor almost taking up the entire width of the top of the table. Awful. I decided that I needed more room, and I wanted to go anywhere I wanted while I worked. I didn’t want to be chained up to my desk anymore. I would show my mother neat things on the laptop, because I would go downstairs with my new computer and show her movies, let her listen to music and show her how to purchase things online. (That was torture)
“Deb?...Can you bring down your blacktop?”
“You’re blacktop. Bring it down, I want to show your father something.”
“You mean, my laptop??” I replied, as I uncontrollably laughed at her cute mistake.
“Sure, be right down.”
Don’t even ask me if she uses a VCR---that is now obsolete. I will NOT buy her a DVD. Forget it.
I love the fact that my mother is old fashioned in a sense. She relies on simple things to make her happy. She is not overwhelmed by the amount of emails she gets, or how to reply to them, and she doesn’t get agitated when she can’t find something located on Google’s search engine. Her happiness comes from cooking good food, spending time with family face-to-face, and of course, enjoying a potent cocktail with me.
“Ma, it’s hot in here…Can you put on the a/c?” I ask her, as we’re sitting downstairs talking.
“Yeah, let me get that big stool.”
She walks over to this big stool that sits next to the bar, and climbs on top of it, to reach this fifteen foot high air conditioning unit. Now, I know what you’re thinking...
“WHY don’t YOU do it?”
I am so afraid of heights or climbing up on ladders, I would just faint. Now here’s the tricky part about this scenario. I have asked my mother if I could buy her a new air conditioning unit with a remote control, so that she doesn’t have to climb on this high stool to reach for the stars.
“No. This is a very good air conditioner. I have had this unit for years and it has never let me down.” She says, as she climbs back down from her pedestal.
Now that we have covered our central air controls in the summertime, let’s focus on the winter days. Living in upstate New York can sometimes leave you in the blistering cold of below zero. This is a great opportunity to use your heating sources. We have an oil burner. Red flagged. Yes, an old oil burner that has been red flagged. The repairman came in, and evaluated it for himself.
“I wouldn’t ever use this again, time for a new oil burner.”
“Oh, okay…well thank you for taking a look at it.” My mother replies.
Off the oil burner repairman goes, and on goes the oil burner as if he had just said it was in perfect condition.
“Did you NOT hear that it was red flagged? We can literally blow up!”
Okay. That’s that. Our other source of heating is the old fashioned and most desirable way to heat your home are the two fireplaces in our home. We usually use the one wood burning stove, so that it can heat the whole house. The problem with this stove is that the smoke blows into the house, not up the chimney. Great. My asthma is also “all in my head”… I fear the smell of wood that originates from downstairs, as they blaze a nice cozy fire. The smoke literally engulfs Madelene and me, as we are trying to relax upstairs. I start coughing like a mule and gasping for air, because my asthma is smoked induced, or sometimes triggered by a simple cold. It gets so bad sometimes that I have to be rushed to the emergency room. Yes, folks know me very well. EMT workers and I go way back.
“Ma! You gotta stop using that stove or get it fixed. Let me get you a new oil burner or have a professional take care of this.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the wood burning stove Debbie. It’s a fireplace, you’re going to smell smoke!” She says, as if I’m crazy.
“My clothes are literally black from soot!” I said, as I cough my way up the stairs to my apartment.
When all else fails, we have a ton of space heaters to supply us with enough forced air to make you gag. Below zero weather, all sliding glass doors wide open, I try to breath in the crystallized air. Sometimes Mad will run the hot shower for me, so I can breathe in the vapors. Inhalers and piles of steroids for breathing problems are a must in this household; even if you don’t have asthma. Tons of black coffee is prepared for opening up my bronchioles. The summer is a much better time for me. Air conditioning is the best thing. I dread the winter months. I’ve decided that I’m going to live inside a bubble. You can visit me, and use those attached gloves to hand me something, this way I don’t get contaminated air molecules or germs. (For the OCD part)
My parents are my best friends, even though I poke fun at them. I even bring them with me on vacation sometimes. They’re simple people, with big hearts. My mother loves to cook for a large army (our family) and my father is also a great cook. Both of them together spell out, “Anti-Weight Watcher’s”. You cannot be on a diet when you are around them. They won’t have it. “Here Deb, have a meatball.”
“Ma, no thanks, I’m trying to lose a few pounds.”
“But you have to taste this to see if I need to add anything else.” She says, in this pitiful voice.
“Alright.” I say, as I eat her delicious meatballs that she knows damn well they are incredible.
Meatballs are the heal all. If you have a headache, here, eat a meatball. If you have a pain in your neck, here have a meatball. Even if you have a stomach ache for the love of God—have a meatball! This meatball was touched by Christ! It has to heal! It’s an insult to even decline as she is already serving you one of these puppies.
Sunday afternoons, around 2pm, the whole family still gathers at the dinner table to eat mom’s ‘all day prepared’ food. I try my best to stay upstairs in my apartment when I am trying to be ‘good’. It’s just too tempting! I can’t stay away from my family though, because they’re so much fun to be around. So inevitably, I go down, and spend time with them, which leads into cocktails, which leads into food, which then leads into, “WHY DID I EAT SO MUCH?”
I have to say, that I wouldn’t have it any other way. My mother and father are my best friends, as well as my three older sisters. I’m just grateful I was born into this family, regardless of how many meatballs clog up my arteries. I’ll die happy.
Friday, September 16, 2005
“You too, got your phone?” I ask.
“Yeah, it’s on.”
“Ok, call me later.”
I walk into the bathroom to wash up. Barely seeing a thing, I put some drops in my eyes, and splashed some cold water on my face. I look up in the mirror; my face puffy from too much sleep, my eyes almost closed, and there were a few ‘pillow lines’ drawn on my cheeks. I start rubbing my face to get those pillow lines off. I can’t walk around looking like this.
“What the???” I say out loud, staring at the unknown object in the mirror.
“Where the hell did you come from?” It was a hair! On my chin! And from the length of it-- how long has this sucker been there? I immediately try to tug on it. It was so long, that I didn’t even have to pinch my two fingers together tightly to get a good grip. Forget the tweezers. This puppy was long and mean. I grabbed it with my hand, and closed my fist, and tugged hard.
No lie- this ‘chin hair’ was the size of the palm of my hand. Question remains:
“Why hasn’t anyone told me I was walking around with this long @ss hair?”
I didn’t know whether to laugh, get angry, or cry! I quickly took off my shirt to make any other discoveries.
“Shweew----no chest hairs! Thank God!”
All I could think of was that old episode of Rosie O’Donnell a few years back. She had a chin hair growing a bit too long. She decided that she would put some beads on it when it got to a certain length. I should have let the hair remain on my chin, and then took a picture of it while it was beaded. Thank God I’m not single. (I may be soon)
Was my nightmare over? No.
The HGH that I was taking claimed to have a positive affect for your skin. My face was beginning to look really nice, had a certain glow, and it was much smoother. The past few days, my neck began to develop these little red bumps. I’m not talking pimples here; they look much like chicken pox. Face is clear, the neck is not. This is not good.
No HGH today. No HGH any day.
I recently found an article that said this:
"What are the dangers?That depends on when you took hGH and from what companies. Up until 1985 hGH was a human brain derived product. Unfortunately that year it was linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) which is a variant of what is now called mad cow disease.”
Lovely. So I stay away from red meat for this purpose, to only go and get it straight from the source. I’m secretly on a suicide mission here.
“After 1985 synthetic versions of hGH were developed that don't expose the user to CJD, but long-term studies pointed to other risks. Specifically a significant risk of cancer, especially colon cancer and Hodgkin's disease. This does not mean that people with medically diagnosed hormone deficiencies should stop taking hGH, but otherwise healthy people should definitely avoid it."
I’m glad I went through the process of experimenting with this hormone, so that I can be the guinea pig I always wanted to be. I had fun the first few days, but then suddenly I started getting ~out of control~ dizzy spells, where I would fall. Can I definitely say that it was from the HGH and not my sinuses or vertigo? Maybe the lump on my head? No. I have to just assume for right now that it has something to do with this product. I am stopping it today, and seeing if I have the ability to walk, instead of feeling as though I drank about ten shots of tequila.
I also noticed that my chest size has decreased. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the measly two pounds I lost, but they did go down in size. (Or I’m just transforming into some hairy man with a goat tee.) Great. Lose weight. Decrease chest size.
Okay. Now I’m back to the agitated Deb that you all know. The person who gets upset at the slightest thing- the most sensitive soul that you can imagine. I feel it already. Something is telling me that I am not going to be a happy camper today. Hmm.
I live upstairs in an apartment above my parents. It’s quite spacious, and it’s enough for Madelene and I right now, in order to save for our own house. It’s nice, because I love my parents, and we usually have cocktail hour set at a certain time. Don’t ask. Okay—11am.
I walk downstairs to say hello to mom. I trudge down the stairs with my long work out pants and some platform flip flops on. Working at home has its benefits, no business suits. The smell of coffee was wafting through the air, almost making me feel alive again. My mother makes percolated coffee in one of those old tin pots. It’s the same one that Alice uses on the Honeymooner’s. This coffee is amazing, and yes---will put a few hairs on your chest. Hmm. (Makes me wonder about that chin hair.)
“Deb, want some coffee?” My mother says, as she walks into the kitchen.
“Oh! You made some? Great!” I say, knowing already that it’s been brewing for the last twenty minutes or so. No instant anything with my mom.
I’m finally feeling alive. Downstairs, they have two living rooms, and her bedroom is set between the both of them. I hear two T.V.s going at the same time. This is increasingly driving me insane. I try to block it out. I can’t. Two newscasters spewing out blabber at the same time about the same thing probably. My mind is flustered now. I’m agitated. I take my coffee and run upstairs to my apartment.
Ahh… Silence. Everyone knows that when they come up to my place while I am working during the day, my T.V. either has the ‘atmosphere music channel’ on, or the T.V. is off. I wonder if mom even notices that the two T.V.s are on. I wonder if she listens to both of them simultaneously getting information from two sources. She must be a talented little woman. I guess I didn’t get my A.D.D. from her. I’ll blame dad for that, and mom for the OCD. Have to blame someone for my disorders.
That leads me to therapy. Literally. Therapy is like watching grass grow, especially with my guy. He is a spitting image of the father who died on “Six Feet Under.” He wears the same long business suits, usually dark brown or back, with some brown tie on and always wears brown leather dress shoes. He is slightly balding and he is about six foot five or so. Very tall and thin.
“Oh Mad, I am so not in the mood today to sit there for an entire forty-five minutes to watch him stare at me. I just want my ativan and I wanna get the hell outa’ there!”
“He doesn’t help you?” She asks.
“Eh. I don’t know.”
He opens the door from his office and stands there, staring at me, indicating that he is ready for session. I walk in. I feel as though I’m about to attend a funeral. His entire office has three huge rooms. The first room you walk through is dark and dismal. Then he shows you the way into the room where you’ll be diagnosed and evaluated. It’s bright and shiny, and full of life. There is this huge plant that takes up almost one quarter of the room. I always sit there and touch it, to see if it’s real. I know it’s real, but who takes care of it? How did they get this monster plant in here? Okay, enough. I don’t want to waste my therapy time talking horticulture.
I sit down on the hard fake leather love seat, making a squishy, unpleasant noise. Lurch (my therapist) falls down on his plush chair and always puts his coffee right near his foot. I always wondered why he put his coffee there when he has an end table right next to him. Baffles me. He crosses his daddy long legs, then just stares at me. No smile, no anything, no comforting words—not even, “Hello.”
“So doc, what brings you in my office today?” I ask.
He starts chuckling, gets nervous, and reaches down to take a sip of his coffee. He always does this. If I ever put him in an uncomfortable situation, down he goes reaching for the java. Freak.
“So what’s new?” He mumbles, as if he just shoved a bunch of muffins in his mouth.
“I won the lottery, my sex life is great, and I’m off to by a yacht right after therapy! And you???”
What does he want me to say? Yes I have problems, but therapy is so awkward. He is an old fashioned kind of guy who knows I’m gay. He wonders why my partner has to assist me to go to therapy. She waits for me like a little angle reading boring magazines to pass the time.
“Doc, I get anxiety at night before I go to sleep. Is there anything I can do other than take a little magic pill to relieve my panic attacks?”
“Hmm…well we can increase the medication.” He mumbles.
Did he hear me? Was I speaking another language? I want to get off the ativan and start living a normal life, with no sleeping aids.
“Doc, I want to eventually get off the meds and treat my anxiety in a more efficient way, other than putting a band aide on it.”
“Well we have to keep you on the ativan, so that we can limit the amount of anxiety attacks that you have, and treat it at the same time.”
“So what do I do now? What do you suggest?” I ask.
He lifts his eyebrows up.
Where did you get your psychiatry license? (I feel like screaming at him) He doesn’t even suggest cognitive behavior therapy or any sort of relaxation techniques whatsoever.
Believe me, I tried every psychiatrist around my area. They are all booked up. The whole county must be going crazy! I need a good doctor and I can’t get one, so I stick with Lurch who absolutely has no impact on treating my anxiety disorder. He stares at me and keeps asking questions about my ex-girlfriend from years ago.
Okay. I give up. The clock shows it’s been forty-five minutes, and I am glad he is taking his third party prescription papers out.
“So two weeks?”
That’s it. No help. Just meds.
Time for a cocktail!
If you know a psychiatrist that is available in the general area of Orange County, NY—please contact me at the e-mail address provided. I need professional help. (Shut up Tara, Bleu & Lp)
If not, you can reach me at the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in a few weeks.