Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Insanity

Another editing blunder? Editing has the same letters as dieting. They both suck. Just when I thought my book was on the press, my editor calls me up to explain that there were formatting errors. Okay, so it wasn’t an editorial blunder, it was a formatting issue.

Fine.

Eight whole hours fixing corrections, and another eight long hours of Madelene proof reading was another fiasco. Don’t editors do these things? They want approval from the author. Go with it! Take it—leave me alone now! I was getting so frustrated that I almost said, “Listen, I’ll just blog the fricken book.”

I decided not to get upset or angry, and let these agitated feelings subside. I sent the book on its way to my editor for the final revisions that needed to be fixed. I said a prayer and let the book fly. Yesterday, at 1pm, I decided that my day is officially over.

“Ma? Let’s go out to lunch, my treat.”
“Really? Great. Come down in an hour or so.”

We headed off to the place I used to bartend at. We sat down at the bar and ate lunch. It was so nice to get out of my office, and into my old atmosphere of peace and tranquility. I needed a break from the publishing company and I needed to spend more time with mom. My friends were all there, (the workers) and the chef was bartending. Hmm. Who’s cooking?

We had a nice little crowd gather at the bar. Everyone was thrilled to meet my mom. I never knew what a social butterfly my mother was. It amazed me how well she meshed with everyone, and how she needed interaction with other people---desperately. She’s retired now, and has become depressed a little. She used to work in retail for a well known company, and surrounded herself by many people. The sudden change in life of retirement had her in a state of shock. The only person she really gets to talk to is my father, and of course Madelene and I, since we both live in the upstairs apartment.

While my mom was talking up a storm, my cell phone rings at the bar. This surprised me, because I always leave my phone on ‘silent mode’, because I think it’s awful when a cell phone rings in a restaurant. My editor called.

“Everything is okay, Deb. We’re ready to go with it now.”

I thought to myself, if I would have let this stew within me all day, and stayed home waiting for his call, I would have been in my office grunting and moaning of what a pain in the butt it is to be a writer. (Or try to be.) Instead, I left it in God’s hands. I prayed before taking my mother out, and asked God to handle everything for me. He did. I had faith in Him, and I believe with all my heart that this was the work of God. He took the worry away from me. If I stayed home stewing, or if I were to go out and have fun with mom, I would have had the same answer, regardless. Which brought me to another thought—regardless of circumstances, continue your life and enjoy the journey getting there. Do we worry too much, waiting for things to happen? Do we rely on ‘ourselves’ too much—which eventually leads into stress and anxiety?

“Don’t worry about anything-instead pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers.” ~Philippians 4:6

Prayer is so underestimated. I feel as though God has a place for all of us. God knows the paths of our lives, and wants us to fulfill them. A lot of people, including myself aren’t sure about their destiny. I believe that if we were certain about our destination, then we wouldn’t need God at all. I’m grateful that I’m sort of ‘clueless’ about where I should be. I’m trusting God that He knows what’s best for me, regardless of where I’m at right now.

I’ve learned that in order to realize where we really need to be, we have to go through certain things; we have to try different things. If we don’t, we’ll be stuck in the same rut, overanalyzing why we’re in the same predicament. If you don’t try, you won’t know. I’ve tried numerous jobs, various positions in companies, and a whole lot of bartending jobs--to realize that these were just stepping stones. I enjoyed a lot of my ventures, but I knew in my heart that this wasn’t meant for me for the long run.

“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. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy.” ~Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

This even applies for the struggle over a past relationship. We all go through this one time or another. We’re meant to experience many things in life. I believe we learn from our ventures and through our relationships. It helps enable us to learn and grow; to learn from our mistakes. If it weren’t for our mistakes, we would keep doing the same thing over and over again.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity.

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If we try things with a different approach, we receive different results. We also have to go through situations in order to ‘get through' them.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn and endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” ~Romans 5:3-4

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Dotted Line

Even as a child, I always created music. I picked up my sister’s big acoustic guitar, and started strumming a bunch of nothingness at the age of four. When I started going to school, I dabbled into other instruments, playing saxophone, keyboards and then eventually the drums. I was in the school band, playing my saxophone by ear. I couldn’t read music. It was all Greek to me.

My love was the guitar. My mother always bought me those little toy guitars, but I always broke them in half somehow, and begged for another one. I was more interested in an electric guitar back then. I was ten years old at the time. One Christmas morning, my mother brought out this huge box wrapped up in a red bow. It was my very first guitar. Then she came out with another big box, which was the amplifier. That was it! I didn’t want to open another present. I rushed to the outlet to plug this thing in, and started playing horrible music. I remember my sisters all looking over and hearing their thoughts---“Ugh, she’s gonna keep us up all night with that noise!”

Soon enough, my noise turned into rock & roll. I even took lessons for about six months, just to learn the chords—then ditched my teacher, because I didn’t want all the technical mumble jumble. It ruined my love for music. I didn’t want a math class, I wanted to play guitar.

During my teen years, I ended up playing in a band called, “Airborne”. Don’t ask, I have no idea why the guys called it that—they weren’t even in the military. The drummer was the ‘head of the band’. He was from India, and we held all of our practice sessions at his house. His parents had a huge mansion-like house on a hill. The parents made one part of the house into a band room. They had stage lights and professional equipment. I was a bit envious of all his fancy high tech toys, but just grateful enough to be playing there. There were three guys, and me.

The band fizzled out due to conflict of interests, and we went our own ways. The keyboardist, who was a good friend of mine, went off to become a professional jazz trumpet player. I never knew what happened to the other two.

Still jamming in my bedroom to my favorite songs, I was content with just that. I could sit in my room for five hours at a time, playing until my fingers were torn up. Songs from Nirvana, Metallica, The Ramones, Tom Petty, to Lynard Skynard and The Who. Back then, I was a heavy smoker—so if I were stranded on an island, all I needed was a pack of Marlboro Lights and a guitar. I could easily go through one pack of cigarettes if I was engrossed with my music.

~^~CougH~^~HacK~^~

Madelene and I met, and started living together when I was twenty-three years old. We lived in a really nice condo one town away from my parents. My interest in the electric guitar was fading, due to my change of interest in music. I was more into folk music. I was missing one important thing—an acoustic guitar. I remember playing everyone else’s acoustic guitar and thinking, “This is what I need…”

One night, Madelene walked in the door with the groceries while I was cooking dinner.
“Honey, can you help me with the packages?”
“Huh? Oh---okay.”
I said, grudgingly walking out the door, leaving my pot of Italian sauce to burn the bottom of the pot.

I walked outside and almost bumped into this large case.

“What the?...........No………No!...............Oh my God!!!”

It was a huge guitar case with a big red bow on it. I grabbed that puppy and ran inside, just like the first time my mom gave me my first guitar. To my surprise, this was my ‘first real acoustic’----on top of that, it was a twelve string! I was so unbelievably happy. I couldn’t even speak. It was beautiful. It sounded incredible. I didn’t sleep that night. I played that guitar until I fell asleep with it on my lap.

I began writing songs. I never wrote songs before. My first song was dedicated to Madelene. I continued to write and compose. I couldn’t stop. That first year, I had a book full of songs—maybe a hundred; possibly even more. Each tune was on a small recorder because I couldn’t ‘write’ music, nor read any of it. I had to keep my lyrics and keep my melodies on this small recorder.

One day, my sister hands me this ad from the newspaper. There was a female singer looking for an acoustic guitarist. All her musical influences spelled out D * E * B... I called immediately.

“Hello?”
“Yes, hi, my name is Debbie, and I’m calling regarding an ad in the paper for an acoustic guitarist that’s needed.”
“Yes! Hi! My daughter is looking for a guitarist. She’s a talented vocalist, and needs someone to play for her.”
“Oh…Great, well, I’ve been playing quite a while, and I play the same music she is interested in. May I ask how old your daughter is?”
I asked, curious as to know why her mother was taking her calls.
“She’s eighteen years old.”
“Oh.”
I said, almost in a disappointed tone. Even though I was only twenty-three years old, her age sort of had me at a halt.
“Can you stop by to see if you two mesh okay together?”
“Sure.”


Ah well. I decided to go. I didn’t think much of it, what’s the worse that could happen, right? I brought Madelene along with me for the ride. I didn’t want to go alone. I pulled up to her driveway. She lived in an old beautiful white colonial house. Jessica, the eighteen year old vocalist came walking out. She looked very eccentric. She was beautiful. Her hair was dark red, with spiral curls. She wore her hair up, with tendrils brushing against her cheekbones. Her eyes were a dark green color. She was wearing a beautiful flowery dress; almost something from the sixties; yet trendy. She had a Tori Amos look to her as well.

“Hello, I’m Jessica.” She sang to me. No really. She spoke in a melody-like tone.
“Hi, I’m Deb.” I said, as I shook her delicate hand, “This is Madelene, I hope you don’t mind I brought my friend along.”
“No, not at all, this is my boyfriend Jeff.”
As she pointed to this tall guy, with his head shaved in the back, as his hair was way too long in the front, covering his eyes.
“Uhh…hi.” He mumbled.

Jessica and I played for months. We took turns going to each other’s homes. My home turned out to be more efficient since there was no ‘mom’ to come bashing through the doors asking, “Well girls??? How’s it going? Anyone for some pie???”

Total stage mom. Way too into our music. I could just tell. She would beg to sit in sometimes and Jessica would lash out in this bi-polar wacky psychotic way,
“MA! GET OUT NOW!”

Okay. This was starting to get scary now.

Jessica and I would head out to open-mic night at my friend’s bar. The owner never asked for id from one of my new friends who joined me, because he didn’t have any idea that one of my friends would be eighteen years old. We sat there with our other friends, drinking beer and listening to all the other musicians. We were not ready to play out yet. We sounded great on our tape recorders and to our friends, but how would we sound if we were to get up there and play for the entire bar full of drunken people? No one even listened to the bands up there—they were muffled out by the loud voices and piles of mugs clashing together.

While Jessica was on her fourth drink, she started blabbing away about how her and I were playing together to the guys sitting at the end of the bar. She raved about how talented her guitarist was. Then she pointed to me. Of course I shot back and said how talented she was---and thought that would be the end of it.

“Well you know, this is my open-mic gig, I do this for Frankie (the owner) every Tuesday night.” The guy said.

Moments later, a guitar was flopped on my lap.

“You’re on after this guy is through.” The guy said. I looked at Jessica and wanted to slap a dishrag on her face. Then again, who would hear us anyway, with all this noise?
“Jessica, I am so not ready to play in front of everyone.”
“Oh come on Deb! Let’s do it! Let’s go into the dining room where it’s empty and practice a song. We’ll play just one!”

We practiced, “You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel about two times in the dining room, while the Mexican workers in the back came out to hear us—playing for only them. They clapped when we were done. Was this a good sign? Or were they merely trying to be nice? I didn’t know.

They placed two bar stools up on the stage, and dimly lit the stage with a blue light. I couldn’t see anyone anymore. I was not only drunk, but I was blinded from this blue hue piercing my cornea at this point. My legs were rested upon the lower rung of the bar stool. I then noticed that one of my legs was shaking out of nervousness. How could I play this guitar with one of my legs shaking uncontrollably? It wasn’t noticeable to others, but I could feel the guitar sitting on my lap quivering a tad.

Jessica nodded to me, as to tell me she was ready. I began to play. The guitar sounded incredible, the acoustics in the room were unreal. Then Jessica began to sing. She sounded as if she’s been doing this her whole life, and her stage presence was awesome. The noise in the bar went silent. I peeked at the crowd, and noticed everyone staring at us, not saying one word. Then I saw people coming out of the kitchen—just to hear us play. No noise; just us.

When we finished the first song, people sat up from the chairs clapping, and those who were standing, raised their beer mugs and drinks yelling, “Another one! Play another one!”

We then started playing the list of songs that we practiced at home. Jessica turned to me periodically with an excited smile. I knew she was happy. I was happy. We were a regular gig there soon enough.

Our practice sessions became an eight hour ordeal. We didn’t realize how much time passed by. We were so engrossed with our music, that nothing else mattered. My weekends were consumed with music. All of this, just to play out on a Tuesday night.

Every Tuesday night, everyone came to see us again. This included Jessica’s mother. She sat right in the front and coached Jessica a tad. She even suggested a few things, which irritated the hell out of me. “Go home!” I thought. This was getting crazy.

We constantly sent our recordings out to music agents and anyone else who would hear us. Jessica’s goals were to become famous. My goals were to just play guitar in a bar. I didn’t have ‘high hopes’---I just wanted to play and have fun. I know that sounds as if I’m belittling myself, but it was more of a hobby for me, not a ‘career choice’. I felt bad, because I knew how bad Jessica really wanted to be on “MTV” as she put it.

“Well you’ll see when we’re on MTV.”

Do I even want to be on MTV? If anything, probably the one hit wonder disasters.

Well, after all of Jessica’s perseverance, Ray Goodman & Brown noticed our music. They wanted to meet up with us at one of our homes. We set it up at Jessica’s, because her mother was way too involved. Whatever.

First of all, being a folky white girl, I had no clue as who Ray Goodman & Brown was. They’re the ones who wrote, “I Found Love on a Two Way Street”, an old song that was a big hit back in the 70’s, then also charted for Stacy Lattisaw in 1981. I remember that song, but never heard of these guys. They were famous apparently. Madelene even knew who they were.

The doorbell rings, and Jessica’s mom jumps up as if it was Ed McMahon from American Family Publishers, with the million dollar check in hand.

The two well dressed black gentlemen walked inside and introduced themselves. The mother was more thrilled than I was. I was grateful, don’t get me wrong, but I it didn’t “thrill” me as it did with the stage mama.

“We’re here because we are excited about this song.” He plays his recorder with a song that I wrote for Madelene.
“Oh my dear! Can’t you tell that my daughter is just in love with her boyfriend with that song?” The mother pipes in.
“Umm, I’m sorry, that was a song that I wrote three months ago for my girlfriend here.” I corrected her.
“Mom, that’s Deb’s song.” Jessica said.

The mother gave me a look that would kill. She wanted me dead at this point. She was so angry that I took credit for the song. After all, the only thing I did was write the lyrics and compose the music for it. Hmm.

“This is how you two presented it…” Mr. Goodman said, as he played it in its original format.
“Now this is how we would present it to the record company.” He started playing our song, with studio music enhancements. He practically R&B’d us up. It was different. I didn’t like it. Yeah, it was ‘mainstream-sounding’, but it wasn’t how I wanted to present ‘my music’.

“You do have this copyrighted, don’t you?” Mr. Goodman asked me.
“Copyrighted?”
“Yes. If you don’t, you can simply mail this to yourself, have it dated and stamped—never open it, and keep this in your file for proof that this is yours.”
He stated.

The mother shot Jessica a glance. I went home and copyrighted that song as soon as possible. I checked if Jessica did it first in the files of the copyright office, and I beat her to it. I don’t know if they intended to copyright it at all, but I had a weird feeling about stage mama. Her intentions of possibly stealing my work was evident.

“After you do that, get back to me, and we’ll come back and have you sign on the dotted line. We’ll get you in the studios as soon as possible to record your songs. Here’s what the contract looks like. You can have an attorney look at it, and get back to me with your decision.”

A few days later, I get a phone call from Jessica’s boyfriend—the silent guy who never said a word.

“Deb, sorry to call you, but Jessica’s mother is planning on taking the rest of your music and copyrighting it herself. They play to go through with this on their own. I think it’s shitty on their part and I can’t keep this in anymore.”

Thankfully to him, I sent out all my music---and was grateful to see I was the only one to do this. They couldn’t copyright it any longer.

I called Jessica and told her that I didn’t want to be involved in this any longer. I ended our music relationship. She asked what I was going to do then. I simply just wanted to go on with my life, appreciating music as a hobby. I didn’t want to be dictated by a stage mother any longer. She was eighteen and had a mind of her own---or did she?

I never went through with Ray Goodman & Brown. It wasn’t my dream to become famous; nor to become someone’s guitarist just to get burned in the end. My songs are still out there, for anyone to take a look at---in case they want to buy the lyrics. I’m willing to sell my lyrics, but I am not willing to sign on the dotted line to sell myself short.

As a result, I still play guitar more than ever. I still write songs, and I still copyright every one of them. I sometimes accompany my good friend Alyssa (http://www.bleudogproductions.com/about.htm) when she is doing her gigs on stage. She’ll call me up for a few, and to me, there’s nothing better than joining someone musically---for the mere pleasure of music, and not for the business.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Religions Based On Hate

This time of year, my girlfriend and I enjoy spending a weekend in Manhattan. We love to go shopping, dine out and of course, see the Christmas tree. I know, it’s so ‘touristy’ of us to do that as ‘New Yorkers’, but there’s nothing like being among people who are in the holiday spirit. There’s something magical about it.

This year, we won’t be going. It’s mostly on my part. My fear has increased with each news broadcast I see. A few weeks ago, al-Qaida had blown up two Baghdad hotels. They were all suicide bombers in vehicles. Their mission is to kill all westerners—mostly American journalists. They ended up killing Iraqi civilians. They’re taking the risk of killing themselves, as well as their own people.

What about New York? All it takes is a truckload of explosives to take down one hotel. They proved that in Iraq already. They have such hatred towards Americans. They claim that their God wants them to do this; to fight against anyone who is not Muslim. Their God wants them to commit suicide while murdering other people. On top of that, do they really receive 72 virgins when they arrive in heaven? Just think about that sentence alone, and see how ridiculous that sounds.

I had an ex-boyfriend when I was younger. Yes, I dated men before. He was from Pakistan, and was Muslim. I respected his religion, as he respected mine—although, I wasn’t quite ‘into’ Christianity as I am today. I was only sixteen years old back then being raised as a Catholic. I remember him teaching me all about his religion. His religion was ‘loving’, just like my belief in Christianity is. His religion taught him to be kind to others, and to love---as Christianity teaches me.

Then why is his religion different from those who want to commit suicide and murder? My ex does not believe that he will receive 72 virgins if he does kill westerners for his God.

Look at it this way—the Ku Klux Klan are Christians. They believe that burning crosses on people’s lawn is a good thing. They also believe that name calling, such as “kike, nigger, faggot and gook” are okay. Can you imagine walking into an Assembly of God church, and hearing those words come out of the pastor?

Just like different sectors of Christianity, there are different sectors of the Muslim religion. What bothered me the most, was when after the 9/11 attacks, some American civilians took it upon themselves to go out there and attack and kill “any” Muslim they could find. They did it out of anger. They thought that all Muslims were the same, and believed in the same thing. They’re not all the same. Just like Christians.

If the KKK is so against the Jews, then why are they worshipping Jesus? Wasn’t Jesus Jewish?

If the Muslim religion teaches about love and respect, why do some people of this religion murder for the sake of their God?

Does God truly want us to act out in hate? In any religion that believes in a ‘God’---how can God hate? God is supposed to be ‘all love’. Love does not kill.

So next time you see a Muslim person, forget about what others have done for their religion. Look at the person; look at their heart. And the next time you see me, forget about the cruelty that has been done for the sake of ‘Christianity’. I hope that you will see I’m not full of hate.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thank You

Well, I think I gained back the seven pounds that I lost from dieting. If any day will due that, Thanksgiving Day will. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Whether I’m surrounded by my entire family, or just spending it alone with Madelene, it has to be the best holiday ever.

It’s about being thankful, and of course—giving. This year, Madelene and I stayed home. We sometimes share it with my family, or we go to her family’s house. We stayed home last year, and realized how relaxing it was to just stay home by ourselves, cook and enjoy each other’s company without leaving to go anywhere.

Yesterday morning, I woke up at 8am to put the turkey in the oven. As I walked over to the window, I noticed it had snowed. It looked so beautiful. It felt like an official holiday—it set the scenery. The mountains were capped off with snow, my lawn was covered with a thin layer, and my deck was covered in a soft white blanket. I took in the beautiful view for a while, because I knew it would melt off as the day went on.

As I sat there sipping my coffee, looking out on my deck, memories of friends in my life have been engraved in this wood forever. It was then that I realized how thankful I was for sharing my life with these certain people.

I want to thank each one individually.

*Madelene and I always ate breakfast out here in the morning when it was nice out. We would talk over coffee, and watch the sun rise up from the mountains. Sometimes we would come home from a night out on the town around 4am, and wait for the sun to peek its head over the mountains and lake. It was magical.

In August of 2004, we had a major blackout on the east coast. It was so hot out. The fact that it was so hot & humid made the house heat up like an oven. It was cooler outside than it was inside. We took our pillows and blankets and slept outside on the deck. It was so peaceful and quiet.


Madelene and I would sometimes spend the entire Sunday out there, drinking our favorite beer and listening to music. We talked about the future and of our past on that deck. We shared our beliefs in God, and how we both shared the same faith. I’m fortunate to be with someone that believes. I’m thankful to have Madelene in my life back then, in the present, and in the future. Thank you Madelene.

*Heather and I would grab some Chinese take out and a bottle of wine, and talk for hours on this deck. We shared intimate details of our past, and opened up to one another. One night we fell asleep out there, under the stars along with her little Miniature Pincher named Sammy. I woke up, and saw little Sammy staring right back at me; sitting on my chest as if she were protecting me. She’s no bigger than a squirrel. During the summer, we would grab a few beers, hang out on the deck—and even play quarters. We laughed at how juvenile it seemed, but we had so much fun. One of my last memories with Heather was on July 4th of 2003. We watched the fireworks from across the lake and some were shooting off in the mountains somewhere. I’m thankful for sharing those moments with her. Thank you Heather!

*Lisa and I would come back to my house after a night out, and finish off the last remains of our Pinot Noir. When the wine wore thin, I would make us the most delicious cappuccinos and bring them outside on the deck. Of course, we never could sleep after drinking those, so we usually broke night. There was one evening, where Lisa, Madelene and I were outside on the deck having a great time, enjoying the beautiful weather, when we got a phone call from my father downstairs.

“Debbie! That b*tch called. (My neighbor) And she is complaining about the noise outside. I don’t hear anything, but she said you were making her dogs bark…I should have told her off! Don’t go back in on the count of her.”

My neighbors two German Shepherds are always outside, barking nonstop 24/7. Every neighbor complained about these dogs. They’re neglected and left alone. They want attention. My neighbors are never home, and they keep them in this huge kennel-like cage—to bark all day, and all night. She has some nerve telling me to go inside---when her dogs are the ones leaving me and the rest of my neighbors with bags under our eyes.

I had a lot of fun with my friend Lisa out on this deck. There were plenty of times where I was depressed, and she would rush over (of course with my favorite bottle of wine) and make me laugh till I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m thankful for those memories.

*Bri and I always woke up with huge hangovers from being out at the club all night. I never let my friends drive home after a night out, or drinking, so they usually stayed over. In the morning, I’d knock on her door, to realize she’d been up for quite some time. We grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out on the deck.

“Motrin?” I asked.
“What?”
“Motrin. You want some Motrin?”
“That was random! Uhh, yeah, I think I need some.”

As the ibuprofens soaked into our bloodstreams and relieved us of our pounding headaches, we sat there enjoying the view, and talking about the night before. We laughed over the things that happened, and we also laughed at some of the things we didn’t ‘realize’ happened. That was usually my part.

“I did what?”

I’m thankful for sharing those times with her. Thank you Bri!

*Kim would come over before nightfall, and we would have cheese and wine parties outside on my deck. It was just the two of us hanging out. We told stories of our past, and spoke of our ex-girlfriends---can’t get better than that, can it? We laughed over our silly stories and spoke of personal stuff that only two good friends would share. We were both going through relationship woes at that time, and relied on our friendship to cheer us both up. It was therapeutic and very much needed. Thank you Kim!

Lisa #2…Yes, I have a lot of Lisas in my life. Lisa would drive three hours to come see me. No doubt, I knew that it was always a guaranteed good time when we saw one another. We’d go out to dinner, have a few drinks afterwards, and hang out on my deck later on that evening talking about everything---and anything. Lisa trusted me with personal details of her life that I am so grateful for. She shared her life with me out on that deck, and made me feel valued as a friend. She accepted my flaws and imperfections of being human, and never once judged me.

She’s an awesome photographer. She would take pictures of the view from my deck. There were days we were out all day driving around with our cameras trying to get the perfect view—but it was usually right in front of us as we sat there on the deck.

Thanks Lisa!

*Tara, my little city friend. We never really did sit out on the deck, but we would hang out on my patio drinking Stella beer till the wee hours of the night swinging from a hammock under the stars. We told so many stories and laughed so hard over stupid things we did in the past. Tara holds many secrets of mine, some which she could blackmail me for—but I know she wouldn’t do that…I think? Tara is one of my closest friends, and I hope to have her in my life forever. She is loved not only by me, but Madelene treasures her friendship as well. She has become ‘part of our family’, and I hope she knows that my door is always open to her—anytime she wants to spend the night at the good ol’ B&B up in the country. Sometimes she needs a break from the city, so she comes up here. She used to say that I lived up in Alaska—because I’m considered ‘upstate NY’, but when she found her girlfriend, she realized what upstate really meant. That three hour commute must mean love!

I hope your new girl realizes what a great woman she has. Thank you Tara!

Each time I walk outside on my deck, staring at the view, I'm reminded of all the wonderful times that I spent with friends and loved ones. This Thanksgiving, I thank everyone who has touched my life, whether they are still with me, or in my past. Their presence may leave, but the memory of them still remain in my heart forever.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tip of the Day


I don’t know why this is pissing me off now, but I’m sitting here this morning stewing over it. My hair has always been long. (I’ll get to the point—just bear with me) My hair has now reached down to my waist. It’s too long. I usually get it trimmed, so that it reaches the middle of my back. I’m comfortable with that. The ‘getting ready’ process is just God awful. It sometimes takes me literally two hours to get ready. One hour to get dressed, put on make up, and one hour to dry my hair.

I’m due for a haircut, as you can imagine. I usually go to my friend’s salon. Now, usually I prefer people to do my hair- who have ‘nice hair’. It’s the same anywhere, you wouldn’t get a personal trainer who never worked out, who’s overweight and only ate donuts, would you? Same concept. My hair is usually cut by this woman named Tammy.

Now Tammy isn’t quite the typical person you would find at this ‘foo foo’ salon. She looks like a fricken mountain woman. Her hair is almost down to her thigh midway. It’s long, stringy, dirty blonde, and looks as though it hasn’t been washed in a month. She wears the same black faded out jeans all the time. The jeans are tapered. Hello Miss 1982! Her mouth sounds like much like a truck driver’s. Practically every sentence has effin’ this, or effin’ that. It’s enough to make you want to cringe in your chair and put the smock over your head.

“Oh great Deb! Just go sit by the f*cking sinks and I’ll be right there to give you a wash.”
“Umm, okay.”

She struts over to where I am and throws a smock around me, and nearly chokes me with some paper towel around my neck.

“So how the f*ck are ya’ man?” Always using ‘man’ at the end of her sentences drives me batty.
“Good Tammy, what’s going on?”
“Oh nuttin’ really. Got the f*cking truck fixed, and now we’re working on the f*cking floors…you gotta see them, it’s f*cking great!” She says loudly, so the whole entire salon hears her.

She tells me about her home improvements that she does with her husband. They’re both hunters too, so they hunt for deer as well as bears. She lives about an hour north up in the country somewhere, and looks the part. Dead bears and corpses of deer that were gutted beyond belief, are all hanging up as 'pictures' on her mirror. Usually, people have pictures of loved ones on their mirror---not Tammy. She is a proud hunter, and loves to display her ability to shoot down big ol' bears to the world.

“So what are we f*cking doing today man?”
“Well, I just want to get three inches cut off the back with long layers—the usual.”

“Cool. Don’t ever cut your f*cking hair Deb, we’re the last of the breeds man!”

She is now putting me in her category. This definitely makes me want to shave my hair off at this point. I don’t want to be put in ‘the mountain girl column’. I wish I could put her picture up here without the possibility of getting sued for slandering someone. Just stick with my description.

I get my manicures and pedicures there as well. Yes, by her usually. I try to get appointments where I know it's her day off. Never happens. I think she fixes it that way. The girl who sometimes fills in for her does such an amazing job. I feel bad to say anything because I have been going to this mountain woman for almost seven years now.

“You f*cking going out tonight or something?” She asks, as she is filing down my peds and clipping my toenails. I literally saw her wipe her pants off from the previous person’s dead skin. This bothered me. Now my DNA is all over her pants along with someone elses. Lovely.
“No, just getting it done for this week, may go out tomorrow though.” I answer back, looking at her ‘sanding skills’. She must think I’m like her hard wooden floors she’s trying to get done back at home. I’m practice to her.

While my peds are drying, she runs over to do a fast manicure on me. She’s actually really good at it. She’s fast, efficient, and she knows how to cut my hair the way I like it. I usually give her almost half of what the bill is, for a tip. I tip her generously----all the time. I walked up to the counter to pay the bill with my credit card, because I noticed I didn’t have any cash on me.

“Do you mind if I leave the tip on the credit card itself?” I ask the lady behind the counter.
“Oh sure, a lot of people do it that way—that’s not a problem, Deb!”

At that time, I went to say goodbye to Tammy, to let her know the tip was in the credit card info, but she was in the skincare room giving someone a facial.

The owner, a family friend came over to me one time to thank me for taking care of her staff so well. It didn’t bother me, because her staff (mountain woman) always caters to me, runs to get me coffee, and sometimes has my favorite wine stashed in the back. She lets me enjoy a glass of wine while getting my peds and hair done. It’s nice over there. I was comfortable, and I was able to talk to all the other girls there too. (Which was another nice perk!)

A month later I come in for my appointment.
“Hey! Pick out a color and sit at my station, Deb!” Tammy says, as she wraps it up with another client.
“How the f*ck are you??? Listen, man, the last time you were here, you kinda’ forgot to leave me my tip.”
“What???”
I said, shocked, because I never, ever forget to tip.
“It’s f*cken cool---you can just make up for it with this session.”
“No, it’s not cool, because last time I tipped you even higher.”

I quickly go into my wallet, and flip through the stash of receipts that I keep. I know, I’m weird, but you never know when you may need to use them. In this case, I needed to use them.
I then pulled out my rebuttal. I put it down on the table. Tammy stared at it for a few moments, and then she walked up to the lady at the desk. I thought—problem solved, right?

Wrong.

“Yeah man, you gotta give me cash or let me know that’s being done.”
“Well they need to give you that money, because they charged my account, Tammy. You were in the skincare room, so I couldn’t just go in and get you…I thought that this place would inform you of this tip.”
“It’s cool man.”

I felt as though I still was being reprimanded. First of all, she has some nerve to complain about this. Second of all, I tip her almost half the bill---she should be so lucky. If someone were to tip me like that every single time, I would actually give them a complimentary manicure—something to show my appreciation.

That day, was the very first day I decided to leave almost next to nothing. It was my last day there. I was highly insulted. I was a regular customer there—knew the family who owned the place and loved the staff. They valued me as a customer- except for the mountain woman.

I explained what happened to the owner, and told her I will no longer be coming back to her salon. She was upset, and asked if I could come in on Tammy’s day off.

I didn’t. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Would you have gone back?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I'm a'Not Gonna Take It No More!

“She totally reminds me of Benny Hill running around like a chicken with its head cut off---look at her!” I said, laughing at Katie, the bartender at our favorite restaurant. She was filling up a million drinks and shaking martinis by the second. She was incredible to watch. This woman had talent. Madelene and I were the only ones sitting at this huge bar. There were a few parties going on at this restaurant, so our bartender was extremely busy making drinks for tons of people other than her own bar.

“Whatsa’ matta witchoo? You gonna work here, you needa’to be a fasta! You dink’it’s busy now? Wait until a’Christmas, wait until a’New Year’s—you see---you need to be fasta’!!!” Tony, the owner yelled out from the kitchen doors with his thick Italian accent.

Katie started fumbling. The pressure was on. She needed to be much faster than a Benny Hill episode on crack. Katie started dropping glasses. She cut herself in the process.

“Katie? Are you okay?” I asked.
“Uhhh…He’s relentless, Deb. I can’t do this any faster. I’ve been a bartender for years, and he expects me to do everything without a bar back.” Katie said, almost about to cry.
“Want me to talk to him? I’ve known him for years; I’ll give him my two cents.”
“No, Deb—thanks though. He’s always like this.”
Katie says, as she started pouring Jack Daniels into her cup full of soda.

“Whaddya doing now? For the love of God—you can’t a’be talking while da’people need’a drinks! You’re goofin’ off while a’people are a’waiting for dare’drinks a’Katie!”

Katie starts making more drinks; her face red with embarrassment due to Tony yelling louder, making people turn around to stare.

“This is the way he treats his employees? Is this the way he wants his customers to know how he really acts?” I said, loudly, so it would flow into Tony’s ears.

Tony walks across the restaurant. From afar, he looks at me, and kicks up his one leg, and points to me. I guess he wants to kick my butt for siding with Katie. Then he walks over to the far end of the bar and brushes his hand under his chin, as an Italian gesture to f*ck off. Lovely.

“Come here, Tony---let’s take this outside you big bully!” I said, chuckling, because Tony and I have known each other for years. We never bickered about anything other than the horrible steaks that were always burned beyond belief.
“You gotta’problem wit’me? You don’t a’know what I go through! She’s gotta a’be fasta!” He yelled, throwing his hands in the air, walking over towards me.

I put my arm around him, and told him how hard she has been working to please all the waitresses as well as serve us dinner and drinks. If she went any faster, she’d pass out.

“Do you realize she cut her hand on a broken piece of glass, because she got nervous?”
“She a’needs to be a’more careful!”
“No! You need to be more patient with her. She’s the best you got. Treat her like that!”

Katie heard Tony and me arguing over his treatment of his employees. She then realized that he was laughing and joking---and it eased the tension between them.
”Yeah Tony! You need to calm down!” She said; brave enough now to stick up for herself-- since she knew I was in the middle of this all.

Then Tony confessed…

“I haven’t a’gotten any sleep because of da’baby. I’m a’so tired, Debbie!”

He recently had a baby, and the stress level made him agitated. I always heard Tony was a tyrant to work for, but this was beyond reprimanding your employee, it was embarrassing her in front of the customers.

Sometimes we act out when we’re stressed about something in our lives. We lash out at our loved ones, we yell at our employees, and then regret it afterwards. Even if you have a boss that’s hard to deal with, remember, it may not be ‘you’. He/she may be dealing with other issues in their lives, causing them to be aggressive.

I used to take things so personally when a boss or a superior would yell at me for something. There are tactful and more effective ways to go about treating people who work under you---or anyone for that matter. Sometimes we’re pushed beyond our limits which lead us into having some sort of major tantrum. I’m no stranger to that, believe me.

1. How would you handle your employee if he/she were a bit too slow for you liking?

2. How would you handle an overbearing Italian 'know it all' boss that is constantly breathing down your back?

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Evil Twisted Cross


In my own backyard, dozens of white supremacists gathered in the streets of Kingston, NY to display their hatred. They greatly outnumbered the people who were against the rally. White men dressed in Nazi uniforms stood stance, as if they were hailing Hitler with their stiff Nazi salute. Tons of people holding picket signs on one side of the rally and spewing racial slurs into megaphones screaming, “Equal rights for whites!” and “90% of crime are committed by blacks!” The other side chanted out, “Racists have got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho!” The counter demonstrators were full of white, black and mixed races, all united to stand as “one” to demonstrate against these white supremacists.

Two hundred police in riot gear were sprawled out everywhere, while other uniformed police officers were riding on horses, in case violence struck out. These types of things don’t happen in upstate New York. (So I thought.) This was the same type of rally that took place in Toledo, Ohio not too long ago. Toledo, Ohio???

What year are we in? I didn’t even know we were at that point again. Not only are we having holy wars with people of different religions, but now we’re back to racial wars. Has the hate ever stopped? Do we pretend to like one another, regardless of different race or nationality?

Events such as these make me sad to think that someone may label me as, ‘one of them’; a white supremacist. I have two things the Neo Nazi’s would kill me for-- #1. I’m Italian and #2. I’m a homosexual. I’m a minority too.

Not too far away from where I live, reside members of the Ku Klux Klan. Ironically enough, they call themselves, “Christians”. In 2003, a school custodian in an elementary school was passing out flyers and material to students regarding the KKK members, and how to be more involved, using Christian tactics and other misleading lures.

How sad to think we still live in a world that we thought we were once freed from. At one time, I sincerely thought we were past all of this, but we’re not. It’s still alive, more than ever.

When I see you on the street, I hope you look at my heart; not my Mediterranean features, or the girl I’m holding hands with—look at ‘my person’. I possess similar qualities to your sister, to your mother and to your own flesh and blood. I may not have the same appearance you may hold so dear, but I’m human—like you—like your own family. If God were to pick you up into the skies and give you a makeover—taking off your white hood, removing the swastika armbands, changing your skin color a darker shade, and dying your blondish colored hair, how would you feel walking down the streets everyday?

Funny…they call themselves, “Christians”, yet they’re full of hate. Aren’t Christians supposed to be full of Christ’s love? Their actions speak out against the whole concept of, “WWJD”.

What would he do?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Just Breathe

Black coffee, an inhaler, cough syrup with codeine and occasionally steroids, can be on my table usually in the winter months. This time of year gives me anxiety. I usually find myself waking up with croup cough and an asthma attack in the middle of the night. Madelene then rushes me to the ER. On the way up to the hospital, it usually clears out due to the cold air. I’m not sure why this happens, but it’s typical of asthma patients and people who suffer from chronic bronchitis.
Forced air heating systems and smoke, usually cause me to have these attacks. Madelene and I both share a house with my parents. We live upstairs, in a separate apartment which is very spacious, and my parents reside downstairs… Both my mother and father smoke. My father is more like a chain smoker. Even though doors are closed and we are very separate from being near them, the smoke will flow through the air ducts and/or doors, making me cough my lungs out. On top of that, we have vents that shoot out hot air---which leaves my throat and lungs dry. Even though the house is quite large, I can detect anyone lighting up anywhere in my house.

When I was younger, my parents would smoke around me all the time. I remember every night while eating dinner with the family, my father would light up a cigarette—even before we were done. I never thought anything of it, because that was all I knew. Even when my mother was pregnant, she still smoked.

One night, I woke up coughing up a lung. I couldn’t even talk, and if I did, I sounded much like the exorcist. You could hear me breathing in and out—but through that croupy windpipe that was closing up each second. Madelene would turn the hot water on in the shower so I could get some steam. Moisture usually helps me. In this particular case, it wasn’t working. Mom would always hear the ruckus and come up to my pad and see what was going on. Mom would be making me black coffee, while Madelene would be rubbing my shoulders giving me my inhaler. This should definitely do it.

Nope.

It got even worse--my throat was closing up…I couldn’t get air in or out almost. Madelene threw some sneakers on me, and rushed me off to the emergency room. It was cold, probably about twenty degrees outside. My breathing was calming down a tad, due to the cold air, but not much.

I sounded like a mule walking into the hospital as my coughs wailed throughout the corridors. We finally get into the emergency room, and Madelene flags down a nurse.

“Excuse me? Can you help us? She’s having an asthma attack!”
“Sure…just sit right at this desk, and someone will be with you to fill out your insurance information.”
“Maam!!! She’s having an attack now! Can we get to that after the doctor gives her something? This is an emergency!”
Madelene cries out to her.
“Well then—sit right here and we’ll be right with you.”

We sat down on a chair in the emergency room. To my surprise, there was only one person in the whole ER! An old lady who was sleeping. There weren’t ANY emergencies. People are walking around; doctors are strolling about, and nurses passing me by—hearing my croup cough, not saying one word. Not one person looked my way.

“Deb!!! Are you okay??? Deb!!! Help! Someone help us!” Madelene screams out.

I fell on the floor because my breathing was making me dizzy. My windpipes were closing and I had hardly any oxygen left. It was then, that the doctors thought it may be a good idea to take a look at me… Finally. Sorry to interrupt their coffee clutch.

They carried me on to a bed, and put an IV in me full of muscle relaxants. The doctor gave me a cup of cough syrup with codeine, and the other nurse filled the IV bag up with steroids. Between the codeine, steroids, muscle relaxants and the coffee I had prior, I didn’t know whether to relax, or bounce off the walls. The muscle relaxants took over, and my throat began to open up. The doctor also had me sucking on a nebulizer pump full of albuterol. Another stimulant--great...

I go through this almost every year. I don’t even have ‘the typical asthma’----it’s only smoke induced and it happens when the air is way too dry. My parents always say, “Oh you were brought up with smoke around you—this shouldn’t bother you…” HELLO? Maybe this is the reason why I’m having more and more ER trips? Naw…they don’t think so. It’s “all in my head”… I’m just crazy and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Now---someone in my family may get upset over this next topic because I’m airing this out on my blog---but “I’m upset” over this.

Family members: Feel free to make a rebuttal if you wish, or debate me on my next topic.

My sister brings over her daughter---my little niece who I love & adore… My mother watches her, because my sister goes on business trips frequently. It’s nice having my niece over, and getting to see her in the middle of the week…but I have a major concern.

Both my mother and father smoke in front of her. She is only three years old. Her lungs are impressionable and shouldn’t be exposed to that kind of environment. They’ll sit in this one room where the TV is, smoking up a storm. I’ll walk in to say hello---and walk right back out coughing my lungs up.

How can my little niece sit there in that cloud full of smoke? The question is----how can my parents smoke that much around her----or at all for that matter?

“Oh you grew up on cigarettes…” My mother will always debate with me.

Now yesterday morning, I got really upset. My niece was up, I walked downstairs to say hello, get my coffee and head back upstairs… My niece was coughing so much. She had this croupy cough---the one that sounds way too familiar. My heart broke right there.

Then I hear my mother on the phone.

“I don’t know why she’s coughing so much…She doesn’t look sick…What can I do?”

STOP SMOKING AROUND HER!!!

I love my niece, and I don’t want her growing up to develop what I have. My other sister has two kids. A son and daughter who are adorable…same age range too. She doesn’t come over that much, because she knows that the smoke is bad. I don’t blame her. I find it extremely sad that my parents are letting their smoking habit interfere with their relationship with their grandchildren. Can’t you at least stop smoking during their visit- or just go outside if you need a cigarette? I don’t get it. It’s a blessing now that my sisters all have holiday dinners at their house. Smoke-free and you can actually breathe!

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my parents with all my heart, but I wish they would realize how much this can affect their grandkids…They should know by what I go through. Or is it ‘all in my head’?...
Here's a picture of my niece. She's already trying to grow up way too fast--wearing my high heels and drinking Bailey's on the rocks.

(It's chocolate milk in a huge sniftor glass)

As long as she doesn't play with candy cigarettes, I'm okay with it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

S.A.D.

Yes, it does mean what it appears to be, but more so in a diagnostic way. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of extreme mood cycles that usually strikes most people in the winter season. The day is shorter, leaving us with little time for sunlight—which is essential for our source of vitamin D. Ultra-violet rays gives us that vitamin D to give us that ‘happy feeling’… I usually hide out in my gym this time of year, and use their tanning beds. That helps a great deal---it’s the same as being out in the sun for fifteen minutes. People actually go out and purchase one of those florescent lights especially made for that purpose. People will sit in front of it to feel its affects.
I felt the affects of SAD yesterday. So not only do I have OCD, ADD, & PMS, I now have SAD… Anyway, it was such a dreary day. The rain was nonstop, and the atmosphere was gloomy. I couldn’t focus on my work, and ended the day at 3pm. I grabbed a nice cup of green tea, jumped into a pair of oversized sweatpants and sat down on my couch, watching Judge Judy. I needed someone else to vent for me, and she was the one to do it. Just look at her face---it’s enough to just plead guilty- even if you didn’t do it. These poor souls get the wrath of Judy as she crushes their souls deep into the ground.

“B-b-b-b-ut I was trying to tell him to get off me. He had a knife your honor.”
“You’re a nut!!!”
“What?”
“You’re a complete wack! A little wacky—you’re case is dismissed!”

~^~^CLANK!!!~^~^

In a strange way, this makes me feel better about my life. Her anger is what makes me think, “I’m okay…I’m not that mad.” I’ll even flip over to COPS for a sick source of entertainment…Just looking at all these poor souls getting busted in their dilapidated housings, wearing nothing but boxers and a dream—it’s enough to make you either feel very sorry for them, or feel very sad about how the world is ending up. Everyone is on crystal meth these days. Crack is out—crystal meth is in. What ever happened to good ol’ pot? Not that I’m a fan of drugs, but is it me—or are people getting more and more hooked on bigger and better stuff? This stuff doesn’t even relax you—it’s supposed to not make you sleep for days! Who would want this? Just spend the night at Starbuck’s under their taps.

Another frightening drug is heroin. The thought of putting a needle to my arm scares me half to death. I had a close friend of mine that had a problem with heroin. Her weight dropped all the way down to eighty-five pounds, and her face was all withdrawn. Seeing her made my heart break. She’s a good person, with a huge heart, who also had a huge addiction. She had to go on methadone to wean off. Once she was clean, she decided that she no longer could live here, in New York, because she knew way too many contacts. Her dealer lived right in the Bronx, and she needed to break loose from this vicious cycle, or she would die. She now lives in Florida with her girlfriend of eleven years, and has not been using. Her drug of choice these days are coffee, cigarettes and alcohol. At least it’s ‘legal’ and less harmful.
Right now, I just hope my friend is doing okay over in Florida, as she says she is… She’s also of Christian faith, and has inspired me many times.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.” ~Romans 5:3-4

Do we all have our little addictions? Whether it be drugs, alcohol, food, the internet and unhealthy relationships—to even sexual addictions? (Hmm… Some of you—don’t answer that last one!) It is true though---sex can be an addiction. I’m talking about the reckless kind; the type where it’s with strangers to get that thrill they seek. It’s a thrill seeker. Even with unhealthy relationships---the addiction---or the ‘drug’ if you will, is ‘thrill’… if the ‘thrill’ is gone, then there’s no more fun. They need more, or move on to the next drug, and/or victim.

I must admit, my addiction is alcohol. No, I’m not that stumbling drunk you find in the bushes knocked out cold in your backyard…(well sometimes) I’m the type that no one would suspect. I’m the girl that can drink five to seven glasses of wine, still be standing, still be talking coherently, and yet I am absolutely ossified. I’m the undetectable one. I can walk into a pub, drink eight to ten pints of black and tan beer, and still be walking, after my friends have three, and stumble all over themselves.

“No, she’s not an alcoholic.”

They stereotype alcoholics as “clumsy and disoriented”…We come in all forms...What about those who have their wits about them; their tolerance has built up to an all time high? They’re not considered, ‘alcoholics’? Many of my posts have stories of waking up to a delicious bloody mary to cure a hangover...HELLO???

No, I decided not to go to AA…I refuse to sit on cold steel chairs drinking coffee out of Styrofoam cups eating baked goods and listening to stories of drunken pasts. I’ll be sober alright, but I’ll be one fat chick!

You all remember when I told you about the diet race Madelene and I are on, right? Well, *hehe* I’m winning!!! Apparently, our diets aren’t bad…not at all. We eat veggies, lean meats, and everything that you should eat on a diet. Why were we gaining weight? Alcohol. I have been sober for two whole weeks, and I have lost a total of five pounds. Okay, five pounds isn’t an awful lot, but it’s still enough to keep me motivated. Keep in mind, I haven’t been exercising due to my back, and I haven’t been doing anything different, other than not drinking, and slightly cutting back on portions—which I wasn’t a huge eater anyway to begin with.

I always said, “Oh alcohol never puts weight on ya!” I used to prove this theory as well. Years ago, I would tell my friend that you can lose five pounds in one night by drinking light beer. She didn’t believe me. I hopped on the scale, and weighed in at 130 lbs. The next morning, I went on the scale, and weighed in at 125 lbs.

So how can alcohol be fattening?

#1. I weighed in at night. Worst time to even attempt such a thing.

#2. Lots of beer will drain you out. The next morning, of course you’ll be lighter, but watch weeks to come---you’ll bulk up.

So this raises the question of, “How come some people can drink drink and drink, and not gain a single pound?”

Everyone’s different. Everyone’s metabolism and body breaks down food and sugars differently. For me, my body cannot tolerate sugars. I would hear, “I can’t believe it-- she hardly eats a thing, she works out two hours per day, and she is not skinny!” It baffled me too. I couldn’t understand why I was on a plateau and couldn’t get off it. I maintained the same weight- didn’t lose, didn’t gain---until I stopped working out due to my back. I’m happy to say that I am back into my old jeans. Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer that I continue this new healthy lifestyle. Any tips or advice is appreciated. I just need to know how you can go out and have fun, without the alcohol involved.

Anyway, enough about addictions---I need my coffee---BAD!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Letting Go

Little by little, I am starting to understand why things happen. It could be from losing a job, and finding out there’s a better one to follow—to a break up, and realizing it wasn’t for the best.

“Oh everything happens for a reason…”

I’ve heard that so many times. I’ve said it so many times. After some time elapses from the sad event of losing a job, a lover, or a friend, it’s important to look at the ‘big picture’. Was this person or job taking away the quality of your life? Did that person have negative impacts on you? And a *personal* one of mine---did this person take you away from “God”.

I’ve been in relationships where my primary focus was on ‘her’. I woke up, thought about her; tried to make her happy in every way. I spent time, money and energy on her. I didn’t have time for “God”. The chemistry is what makes you run back for more—but, remember-- emotion eventually leads to commotion… I finally became a very miserable person, resenting everyone around me, when I was the blame. My choices led me into a deeper level of depression. When we broke up, I believe with all my heart that it was God’s will.

Friends can have the same impact. This can be on different levels though. Some just drain the living energy out of you---leaving you exhausted and wilted after they have spewed their life’s woes upon you. Aren’t we supposed to help our friends? Aren’t we supposed to be their ‘crutch’? A true friend stands by you no matter what...right?

What if it’s one sided? It can literally make you exasperated. It’s always good to help people when they need it—no doubt. I also learned that people need to do the same for ‘us’. We need to take more care of ourselves; to love ourselves more. Sometimes we give give give and give some more, to end up tired and full of resentment. We’ll store up all this negative energy in our bodies, thinking it’s only “emotional turmoil”. In actuality, emotional turmoil will find its way out into the physical nature.

There are other circumstances of letting ‘a friend go’, in a healthy way. Some people have to part, due to different reasons. I recently had to let a very close friend of mine go. We’ll call her, “Jackie” for now…

Jackie and I were the best of friends. We did everything together. We went out for dinner on the weekends, and then headed off to karaoke at this dive. We usually stayed till last call, and then she would crash at my house. The fun didn’t stop there. We usually woke up, had a big breakfast, and of course---our hangover remedy---the bloody mary. Our buzz didn’t stop until Sunday evening.

Jackie was single back then, and I was just getting back into a relationship Madelene. Madelene and I were separated still, but trying to work things out. Sometimes, all three of us would go out together. We always included Jackie in everything we did. We usually got a group of girls together, and headed off for another evening full of adventures. We vacationed together, and usually spent every weekend having the best time. We would laugh the whole time together. We both used to comment of how much we felt as though we were teenagers again.

While having a barbecue one summer evening at my house, I remember Jackie coming up to me. She looked like she had something serious to tell me.

“Deb…Please promise me one thing…”
“What, Jackie?”
“Don’t ever not talk to me if you and Madelene get serious again.”
“I promise! You’re my best friend; I would never do that to you…”
“I mean, I hope things don’t change if you two do work it out.”
“Jackie, single, or coupled up, I will always be here for you.”

With that being said, I believe Jackie felt this sense of relief that Madelene wasn’t a threat to our friendship. Sometimes we can feel as though a friend’s significant other can be a threat, but in actuality, it can be a blessing. You just make another friend.

July quickly approached, and Jackie met a wonderful girl. She seemed happy, and wanted us to all get together. We hung out a few times, but I found something different in Jackie’s behavior. She wasn’t as comical as she used to be, and her demeanor was a bit ‘off’.

Okay---maybe she’s just nervous. That happens though… You get into a new relationship, and you’re a bit hesitant to show that ‘comical’ side that usually pours out of you after a few drinks. I tried making conversation with her new girlfriend, and only got one word responses. No problem…Maybe it was “me”… Madelene went up to her girlfriend and got the same thing…One worded responses…Hmm…Maybe she just doesn’t like us. Then our friends approached her—to notice the same exact thing.

Verdict: She’s just shy.

Okay. We established that Jackie’s new girlfriend was a bit shy. The next time we ventured out, I made a conscious effort to make Jackie’s girlfriend feel at ease with us. When she met us at my house, I gave her a huge hug, and told her how much I appreciated her coming out with us. We headed off to a bar to watch my friend play in a band. It was a fun night, and we all were dancing, drinking, and having the best time.

I noticed that her girlfriend was coming out of her shell. I found her! There she was---with a wonderful personality with this warm compassionate side about her. This was amazing. A little effort on my part, and I got to see what an amazing girl she really is.

Each time we hung out, I noticed Jackie’s demeanor a bit down. She didn’t speak much, she didn’t laugh much, and on top of that---she didn’t talk much. This baffled me—as well as it did Madelene. We couldn’t understand why Jackie’s personality changed so quickly.

Soon enough, the phone calls, the emails, and all the visits came to a huge halt. We only saw each other on special occasions and holidays. No more, “What are we doing this Saturday…” It was more like, “Oh let me check my calendar……..for NEXT MONTH!” This kept up for approximately one year.

Questions were raised in my head… Can a relationship totally change one’s personality? Can there be something about that relationship, which Jackie isn’t willing to discuss? I was getting concerned, thinking that Jackie no longer wanted to be friends with us. So, I decided to invite her to our parties, regardless if I knew the answer would be ‘no’…

Jackie and I used to get impatient for the weekend, and go out on a Wednesday night for dinner and cocktails. No more… It was inconvenient for her now.

“Jackie, listen, what are you doing next Friday night? Do you want to go out for a bite to eat and some drinks?”
“What? On a weekend???”
“Well, yeah, so we don’t have to wake up early the next morning.”
“Oh, that’s not good. I can’t do that to my girlfriend.”
“Does she mind you going out with a friend? I go out with friends sometimes and Madelene’s okay with it—vise/versa…”
“Well I feel bad leaving my girlfriend here on a Friday night.”

Now keep in mind, I always include her girlfriend with all our outings, but I just wanted to see my friend, and talk to her like we used to—without our significant others. (Not in a bad way) I was asking for a happy hour outing, not a romantic dinner and wine back at ‘my place’… And if that happened, Madelene would be there to share that wine. No threatening situations here.

All four of us went out one evening to this sushi/Japanese/American fusion type of restaurant. We all ordered, had our drinks in front of us, and to my surprise---dead silence. I tried to conjure up a conversation with Jackie’s girlfriend…Again, one word responses---in fact---I only got ‘nods’… I then went to make conversation with Jackie, and she was very limited with her words as well. Madelene and I both noticed that there were no eye contacts made, just nods and small talk about the food. Madelene and I decided to just keep the conversation amongst ourselves. It was like pulling teeth to try and communicate with them.

What happened to my friend? It was as if she has a muzzle on her mouth. She couldn’t even look at me—no less talk to me. Her girlfriend observed every move, every word that came out of everyone’s mouth---but none of her own.

After realizing that there seemed to be some sort of guilt factor or controlling issue within that relationship, I made the decision to back out of that friendship. Something was wrong. I wished her the best, and explained my uncomfortable position regarding this. She didn’t understand why I was backing out of the friendship. She stated that they were very tired that evening. I’m not talking about one evening here-- I’m talking about the past year... She’s been tired for one year???

I still love my friend with all my heart and I just hope she is as happy as she says she is. I hope that I didn’t do anything to offend her, or make her feel uncomfortable—but I miss my ‘old friend’----the one that was comfortable around me. Do you think I made the wrong decision to not stick it out? Or do you think this is the case of, ‘everything happens for a reason’?

I’m no longer ‘comfortable’, so I’m stepping back for now…

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Just a Bad Bad Morning...


This isn’t good. The day has to get better. I’m not off to a good start. Madelene wakes up, and starts getting ready before I do. She always turns on the TV in our bedroom to see the weather forecast, even though she saw it on the ten o’clock news the night before.

Fine.

Anytime she touches this TV we have, something goes wrong. We recently purchased two TVs, one in the bedroom which is a liquid flat screen TV, and one TV in the living room- which is a 48 inch flat screen plasma. These TVs do not make any sound when you turn them on or off. Just ~poof~, and it’s off. They’re very silent that way—even while changing channels.

For some odd reason, when Madelene touches these TVs, something goes wacky. This morning, the sound went off. I tried fiddling with the options, and nothing. I tried turning it on, then off, then back on—and nothing. I finally waited five minutes, turned it back on again, and voila---there it was---sound and all!

Madelene leaves, and then I head into the bathroom to get ready. The toilet doesn’t want to flush. Did she notice that there was a problem? Or did she leave this for her girlfriend 'the plumber' to fix? Okay, fine. I go in there like a trooper and fix the little sinky-dingy that makes it flush—(oh shush, I am not technical with plumber’s terms)… Toilets are more complicated than one can imagine...Problem solved…for now.

Ah...Time for coffee! I need a little pick-me-up this morning, because I’m still feeling tired. I decided to make myself a cappuccino. My cappuccino is more like black espresso. No milk, no sugar—no nuttin’… Just your pure strongest cup of coffee ever. As I’m making my delicious cup of java, I notice that the coffee is struggling to pour out. I start to wiggle the nozzle a little, to loosen up the coffee grind holder. The machine starts spraying out piping hot coffee all over the place, and all over me! Not only was I scorched, but the entire kitchen was showered down with brown puddles of coffee everywhere.

I start playing Cinderella, and begin wiping the floors on my hands and knees. After cleaning every drop that was left, I grab my coffee, and head back to my office to work. This should be it. No more problems. I was all set and ready to start the day. Nothing could go wrong at this point…naw…

I had to get some papers from the other room to bring into the office. My desk has been a little cluttered lately, which gives me anxiety, so occasionally I will overflow my work into the other room. As I make my way into the office, holding my hot cup of espresso and a pile of papers, I slip and fall, and the coffee goes everywhere. Let me tell you how delicious my house smells this morning. It’s like walking into Starbuck’s. Papers everywhere with little brown drops of java, and coffee spilled throughout the wooden floors, I managed to pick up my mug that was amazingly still in tact, and head over to my desk. I think someone is trying to tell me to do a little spring cleaning around here. I’m just hoping that nothing goes wrong at my chiropractor’s office later today. I pray that he isn't experiencing the same problem I am.

I feel like I have no control over myself. Everything I touch, falls, and I can’t even balance myself on my own two feet. No, I have not been drinking. Someone once told me this interesting little ‘theory’—if you will…Please excuse me if I don’t use the correct terminology for those who study these things…But I was once told that something in the atmosphere makes us more clumsy and unbalanced at certain times of the year. I’ve heard the term ‘mercury’ used several times to account for these incidents. I’ve heard it used more so when someone fumbles with their words. They say everything backwards.

What is it that makes us clumsier than other days? I’m pretty careful when it comes to that kind of stuff. Madelene, on the other hand, bumps into walls, falls over her own feet, and knocks herself into everything she comes across…that’s just ‘her nature’…She sometimes comes home with more than a few bruises.

Can anyone explain this to me?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monkey On My Back

Enjoying my morning coffee while vacationing, I read an article in the local newspaper that I found interesting...

In Beijing China, a chimpanzee developed a smoking habit. No—true story… At the Qinling Safari Park in the late 1980’s, Ai Ai, (the chimp) began picking up cigarette butts left by the people who passed by.

Realizing that the chimp was sucking on these cigarette butts, the zookeepers started giving cigarettes to Ai Ai—and even lighting them up for her. She then learned how to light the cigarettes up herself, and developed an addiction for nicotine. She was smoking half a pick a day...

When the zookeepers realized it was beginning to be a problem, they decided to help her kick the habit. Ai Ai would cause a ruckus in her cage, begging for a cigarette, due to her withdrawals. They even used meat dumplings and music to distract the twenty-six year old chimp from her addiction.

I thought that article was fascinating, because it truly tells you how similar we are to these species. Or are we similar to all animals? Do we all possess addictive qualities? We smoke too much, we eat too much, we drink too much—who does anything in moderation these days? We focus in on something we like, and we overdo it. Whether or not smoking is your addiction, it can be something else—like being on the computer for too long. As most of you reading this are ‘bloggers’ yourself, you can see where I’m going with this.

Recently, it’s been told on the news that the school systems are now going to teach the theory of evolution in their classrooms. While this contradicts the concept of God making us the image of Him, and that Adam and Eve weren’t the first ‘humans’, it’s been drawing quite the controversy.

Some people are furious that they still use “God” while saying the pledge of allegiance. God’s been there the whole time---why change it now? There are increasingly more numbers of people disgruntle over the fact that God is included in our everyday lives.

This brings up the topic, should the theory of evolution be taught in our classrooms? If God offends these people who believe in evolution, wouldn’t it be offensive to those who have faith in God? President Bush decided that if they are to teach evolution in the classroom, then this means that people have the option of still keeping “God” in our schools.

My thoughts…

Are we like chimpanzees? We seem to possess similar traits, features, and of course, addictions. This one story really baffled me. I couldn’t believe how intelligent these animals are. They walk like us, they seem to understand a lot more than your average animal, and they possess certain traits that have to make you wonder—are we made from these creatures?

And for those of you who abide to the Old Testament, there is a whole lot of history in there. The history of how we were created---(in my beliefs)…

“’Then God said, 'Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life—the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals.’
So God created people in his own image;
God patterned them after himself;
male and female he created them. “ ~Genesis 1:26-27

My faith in God is to rely on the words of the New Testament. My faith as being a Christian, is to rely on the sacrifice that Jesus gave to us; therefore making the Old Testament the ‘base’ of our history.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Interracial Lesbianism

“But you’ll never have a good life if you’re gay, Deb.”
“Ma, how can you say that? There are lots of women that have high profile careers, and yet—they’re gay.”
“Yeah, but…no one’s going to accept you. What about when you two start living together, and then your neighbors find out? It’s going to be a hard life, just as if you were an interracial couple. They’ll stare and say things.”

At first, my mother couldn’t understand my lifestyle. She was scared. She was afraid that my life would be a complete dead end, if I lived with a woman. She wanted to accept me, but her generation looked down upon it. It wasn’t natural. Her dreams for me were quite simple. She wanted me to marry a rich man, and settle down in a huge house, raising kids and being a ‘homemaker’. It’s not that uncommon for my mother’s generation to think this way. They were raised to have this assumption about the gay community. As far as her comment regarding the interracial couples, my parents were raised in a time where people were very close-minded about interracial dating and homosexuality.

Now? I’m a lesbian, in an interracial relationship. Go figure...

“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” ~2 Timothy 3:12

My mother never said God wouldn’t love me if I was gay, however, she did make it clear to me that my partner and I would look much like a circus side show if we were to venture off and get a house together. How can I live with a man for just ‘money’? I’d rather be poor, living with someone I’m in love with. Will it be hard? Maybe. Does it have to? Of course not.

My mother has a whole different attitude with my relationship with Madelene today. She loves Madelene as if she were her own daughter. Madelene has now become part of the family. My three older sisters all get along with her, and my father just adores her…possibly more than me! They accept us now, which makes life a lot easier.

For quite some time, I had to hide the fact that I considered myself a Christian, due to my lifestyle. I thought I didn’t belong; I had no place worshipping God if I was gay. Back then, the overwhelming amount of guilt that filled my heart left me feeling cold and numb to anything that had to do with God, or my faith in religion at all. I had to be ‘perfect’ in order to be accepted by God. This means never to sin, right?

“And yet we Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ—and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.” ~Galatians 2:16

God knows we are all imperfect. So in my beliefs as a Christian, this saves me from any condemnation that some people may assume I will receive. More and more, I find such hypocrites living among us. You know the type- the ones that go to church every single Sunday—they never miss a beat. They sit in the front pews like clockwork, pray like a bunch of robots---without that ‘passion’. When they come home, it’s over and done with. They have done their job for the week as “Christians”. They no longer have to return to God, until the following Sunday. To me, this is an empty religion. There’s no relationship with God.

Even before I ‘came out’ as a lesbian, I felt so guilty for even having thoughts about being with another woman for my future. I thought I was going to hell. I always assumed, I must be a ‘bad person’, because I was gay. That’s what was instilled in my mind... The concept of homosexuality was an immoral lifestyle. Now I see, it’s promiscuity that is immoral—not merely loving another person.

“Well you need to ‘get right’ with God, then He will change you.” Pastor Griffon said.
“Change me?” I asked.
“He’ll find a special man for your life.”
“A man? Do I need to even marry? Does it say in the bible that ‘thou shall get married’?”
“No, but I can see that you want to be partnered up with someone, and living a gay lifestyle only leads to a dead end road. Remember, God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.”
“God hates???”

Isn’t God supposed to be ‘all loving’? Why would He hate His own creation if He made us?--Unless we turned against Him... In my beliefs, if we are ‘good people’ with good intentions, and we love God—yet have some imperfections & sin in our lives, don’t you think God will still accept us? If our own parents can accept us for the way we are, do you really think God’s incapable of doing the same thing? Whatever it is that you struggle with in your life—it’s all about ‘what’s in your heart’…

Madelene and I come from different backgrounds and cultures. To me, this is what makes our relationship even more interesting. I get to learn about her culture, as she gets to learn about mine. My parents realized that her culture wasn’t too far off from ours at all. Most Puerto Rican families are close-knit and come in large packs---as a lot of other cultures do. I come from a big Italian family. We are also close-knit, and we seem to live parallel to those who share the same family values. This is one of the many reasons why I love being with Madelene so much. Not only did I come into a large family by birth, but I have inherited another big and loving family as well. They all share the same beliefs as Christians too.

In the beginning, Madelene's mother had a hard time accepting the fact that she was now with another women. She even cried over this for a long period of time. It took a few years for her to warm up to me. Now, she is like my own mother. She treats me like one of her own children. She realizes, that I take care of Madelene, that I love her daughter with all my heart, as well as her family--as Madelene does the same for me. Sometimes we just get so caught up in 'judgmental mindsets'... Madelene's mom thought she did something wrong, just like my mother thought. Both of them, are wonderful mothers...so how can they even think this?

We’re so hard on ourselves. We think we’re not good enough, we think we don’t do enough, and we feel inadequate most of the time. Guess what? We are inadequate. Don’t take that as a negative term… What I mean is, God made us inadequate, because we are flawed at birth. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need God. We would go on relying on our own understanding. How dangerous does that sound?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Accept yourself more, and love yourself more…

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How Can You Be a Christian?

“Hey, what’s that on your car?” Jay, a coworker of Madelene’s asked.
“Oh, that’s the Christian fish, to symbolize Jesus.”
“Oh…You’re a Christian?”
“Yes, I am!”
She said, very happy and excited that someone was interested in her faith.
“Eh, Christianity is a bunch of crap! How can you believe in that stuff? How can you be a Christian???” He asked, in a bitter tone.
“Well, for me, I live my life for the Lord. It’s my faith that makes me believe.” She responds.

Lately, Madelene has been badgered at her place of work for being a Christian. They all know to some extent that Madelene is a lesbian. Her best friend Brian works with her, whom we always have dinner parties with. He brings his wife over, and we all hang out. He accepts Madelene and my relationship, and we respect his relationship. The fact of the matter is, when a woman is known to be a ‘lesbian’ in the workplace, it spreads like wildfire.

Madelene came home one night from the dealership, while I was preparing dinner. She looked a bit frazzled and discontent. I asked her what was wrong, and she explained to me the conflict she was having at work with one of the guys on the floor.

“I just don’t know what to do, Deb. He doesn’t understand my faith, and he puts me down for it. He’s not even asking me about it—he’s just insults me.”
“Well, what is his faith or belief?”
I asked.
“He doesn’t have one. He’s atheist.”
“Okay, well then, it’s easy for him to be confused about people who ‘believe’…To them, it’s the same as believing in Santa Clause.”
I explained.
“But he doesn’t respect me, and it irritates me when he says that my faith in God is ridiculous.” Madelene says, in this depressed tone.
“You can’t let that get to you, and there’s no use trying to explain a religion to someone who doesn’t believe. All you can do, is share your beliefs with him, but never try to convert someone. It sounds to me, that you’re trying to convince him that he needs to believe.”
“No! I’m not! But I have to fight for God. It even says in the bible that we must fight against the enemy.”

Now, to some extent, it does say that we must be strong, and to fight against evil, but to me, this is just a person who has his own belief, which is ‘not to believe’ in any God. We have to accept that. That’s “okay”, and his decision to do so. Who are we to try and convert someone to believe that God is real?

This is a scripture I found in the bible that has a lot to do with ‘everyone’s’ belief, whether it’s none at all. I think you’ll find this interesting.

“Accept Christians (or atheists) who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.” ~Romans 14:1-5

It all boils down to that each and every one of is so unique, much like a snowflake. We’re complex, with different beliefs, different values and different upbringings that may influence us on how we think or what we have faith in. We cannot force people to think like us. We’re not robots that can be programmed.

Some people think I’m absolutely nuts for believing in a God. For me, it’s a matter of personal experiences that I have had. Scientists and non-believing psychiatrists will tell you that I may be schizophrenic with my stories of witnessing Jesus. The truth is, I have seen Him, through my faith and constant struggle to ‘seek Him’---I found Him numerous times. There was a time where it was so overwhelming, that I collapsed with an unbelievable feeling of joy. Madelene witnessed this, and was touched by it as well. Call it euphoria--call it what you will, but to me, this was God.

Madelene and I have been cursed and ridiculed for even having faith due to our lifestyle as ‘partners’. How can lesbians be Christians? There are so many sectors of Christianity that believe in various areas. Some churches accept us 100%...while others will never be accepting of our lifestyle. We found a church that accepts us, and we are very grateful for that.

I also pointed out a scripture for Madelene to comfort her with her conflict at work.

“But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you.” ~Luke 6:27-31

I want Madelene to be strong when someone other than her faith, or none at all, comes to attack her with verbal words that bring her down a notch. She feels awful when someone ridicules her for her beliefs as a Christian. There is no use fighting over it. Let it go. If that person is going to change—only “God” can change someone…Not a human.

As much as Madelene and I want to be accepted as “Christian Lesbians”---this also means it has to work both ways. We also have to respect others with their faith, and the lack there of. The countervailing force that tugs her at work has literally drained her energy. She’s exhausted from trying to explain ‘why’ she’s a Christian.

Do you ever get attacked for a certain belief? If you do, how do you handle it? Do you retaliate and defend yourself? Or do you just ‘let it go’?