Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Glass Half Full

There was a howl to the wind yesterday morning, almost like screaming a message while tears of raindrops stream down my windows. I heard sirens going off every ten minutes or so, indicating that perhaps a tree had fallen down or an accident happened somewhere. I thought at some point during the day, the electric will finally let up and I would be left with a candle, a battery powered laptop with no internet connection and the sounds of mother nature giving me her wrath. On top of everything else, while I was working, the rain had somehow managed to make its way in from the skylights, dripping slowly onto the side of the leather sofa. I had to place a huge pot underneath, which gave me a tempo of rhythm that somehow was driving me to the brink of insanity. “Plink, plink, plink, plinkity-plink, plink, plink.” The classical background music didn’t help much at this point. It just made it more “dramatic” if anything.

I had planned on doing a promo video for a local gallery nearby, but with the rain seeping into my living quarters and then hearing on the other side of the condo, there may have been another possible leak into the attic, I had to call the big guys to come in and check it out and cancel my appointment with the gallery. I thought living on the bottom units had it bad, but didn’t realize that problems could arise on the top bunkers. I usually enjoy a nice stormy day, but this time, it was hindering everything I had planned. At the end of the day when all the guys left the building, I quickly grabbed Madelene when she got home and brought her out to the local bar & grill nearby. I needed a drink and my anxiety levels were horrendous. All I wanted to do was grab a drink and a bite to eat - just Mad and me - no “socializing” - just peace and quiet at the bar. We knew it would be empty because everyone was sump pumpin’ their way out of misery.

We sat down in the middle of the bar and ordered a drink and some soup. Before even attempting to warm up with my soup, I hear, “Well whaddya’ know - it’’s Deb!” My spoon drops and I noticed it was an old family friend from years ago - I mean YEARS ago. To make a long story short, he basically told me his entire life starting from the last time I had seen him, which was sixteen years ago. That’s a whole lotta’ tawkin’. I even heard about everyone else’s lives, including people we mutually had known. I admit, it was so nice to see him, but there should be some sort of social limit when two people are eating dinner at the bar. I guess I’m contradicting what I have said in the past, that if you’re at the bar, don’t expect people not to talk to you. That I understand, but this guy was now wedged in between Madelene and myself, talking so closely, that the only air that I breathed in was his bad case of halitosis. It was so bad, that I had to turn my head at times and make myself cough to get more oxygen. My soup got cold and the bartender asked, “Deb, do you want me to reheat this for you”, as she looked at the guy and looked back at me to give me her condolences. “Naw, I’m good,” I said, shaking my head like there was no way I’m getting out of this vice grip.

Faux pas #1: When going to a restaurant - never, and I mean never stay more than one minute if you’re going to say “hi” to old friends sitting at a table. You can run over and say hello----but no stories or anything that would keep their fork in midair for more than ten seconds at least.

Faux pas #2 When going up to the bar - do not wedge yourself between the two people you are speaking to. You have every right to chat it up if you are still sitting in your seat. It’s a bar for the love of God, no one wants to turn away from it. If my back is turned from the bar, I’m going to be one miserable barfly.

Needless to say, I didn’t get to eat dinner, nor finish my glass of wine. It stayed half full. I guess that’s a positive statement, because I could have said "half empty". I came home, had two bites of a pizza and watched TV. It was so NOT what I had planned, but maybe drowning my miserable day into a glass of wine would have caused me great aches the next morning. I guess it could have been worse.  All in all, it was nice to see an old friend again. Next time, hopefully it'll be in moderation like my alcohol intake last night. 

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My friend Heather just started blogging. She's a computer tech guru, opinionated like me & lots of fun to read!  Please stop by and say hello?  Check her out---click here

Monday, March 29, 2010

Imperfect Christians

The other day, I was talking to my friend Ellen, who happens to own a local Christian store with many trinkets and bits of jewelry with spiritual sayings and symbols. She had mentioned how some customers will walk into her store and will ask her detailed questions about Catholicism or they ask her beliefs upon a Christian-based semi-controversial topic. Some ask out of sincere questioning, while others will ask just for the mere purpose of a good debate. Why “religion” has to be so debated upon is beyond me, but I do understand it since my earlier blogging years were all about debating upon Christianity and different views, beliefs and whatnot. On the wall, there are framed pictures and items that say, “peace and love”, to which I believe is the perfect description of God. For others, “God” is the wrath of the creator - death and destruction for all who go astray and fear for being...human. Religion then starts to sound pretty scary, doesn’t it? For these people, it also means correcting your fellow Christian. “Correcting” - doesn’t that sound so authoritative and condescending? Here’s a scenario: a man who just divorced his wife and remarried while his ex is still alive, is “correcting” a homosexual who is in a loving, monogamous relationship. Think.

There are some people who believe that “religion” was a tool used to control the masses. It was a system that was ‘sprung up’ by man, so that morality could be instilled in us. Historical events defies it, however scientific evidence can prove any sort of spirituality nonexistent. Spirituality and science are like oil and water. If God made the world and created all of us, why would he let us experiment with science to figure His plan out? To figure God out is like fish trying to comprehend algebra. It’s impossible. So when people say “scientific evidence leads us to believe (dot dot dot)”, I sort of glaze over them hoping that there are any real signs of an intelligence inside that physical shell of theirs. Even if you don’t believe in God ---wouldn’t it make more sense that (to you) 'if there was a God', why would he make it that easy for us to figure him all out? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that any amount of scientific evidence will not measure up to spirituality or the likes of God. He’s got that covered. I’m sure I’ll see a few of you with EVP detecters and ghost hunting equipment trying to find Jesus. He’s right in front of you, undetected, waiting for you to notice Him.

What a boring world it would be if we were all alike. I work along with people in the comedy business and enjoy people with a good hearty sense of humor. Do you think God expects us to be all conformed into Church going holy rolling people who hide the real spirit inside? I’ve met so many “church goers” who hid under a shell of “the good Christian”. We’re all imperfect and that’s the whole beauty of it: we are unique in ways of imperfections which God loves about us. If we didn’t have these imperfections, problems, crosses to bear, then we simply wouldn’t need God. And sometimes there are circumstances where you need the imperfect person who is a bit more extreme than the next, to show you how God works into everyday life. It’s not just getting messages from your pastor or priest, it’s listening to those, whom society would least expect a message from God to slip out from their lips. To make it even more interesting: what about those who find Jesus in prison? Their lives were ruined by drugs, crime, murder, you name it ---and yet God has taken their lives as an example and used it to His will. Sometimes we have to go through certain things in life in order for God to teach us and other people about the small scope of His plan.

How many times have you sat in church or temple and drifted off into a daydream because the priest, pastor or rabbi dribbled on and on about God? When you listen to someone who doesn’t quite fit the bill of ‘the perfect Christian’ about God, it makes it seem more real; more tolerable to comprehend because that person isn’t pretending to be perfect: the person is just like you and me. What makes one sin worse than another? Some sins are full of evil intent---that’s different. But the sins of man, that has been washed away by Jesus (our birth sins) is the reason why God gave His only son, in my Christian belief. For some, it’s about the imperfections of being human, where sins are our shortcomings, and we strive to be better people knowing that there are always crosses to bear and walls to tear down. The tests of God are unknown, but it’s one of my beliefs, to which God has us down here: to test our faith. How strong is your faith? What will it take to see a small scope of God’s plan, or at least believe in God? Science is never going to prove that for you.

The most discouraging thing with most religions are the judgmental people who criticize others with hateful words and make God out to be some angry force in the sky ready to strike lightening on anyone who goes against the grain. This is why it is so important for me to have the gay and lesbian community who have faith in God to discuss how important their faith is, as well as the adversities they have faced with judgmental religious people. Many religious people will discourage the LGBT community simply out of judgments. “You’re not good enough” is all we can hear. Haven’t we heard enough of that in our lives? It’s also the reason why it was so important for me to have published my book so I could show the LGBT as well as heterosexuals that God loves us regardless of who we are, where we’re from and who we love. With good intent, a love for God and treating others the way we want to be treated---that’s what it’s all about. Do we mess up from time to time? Sure we do. We’re. not. perfect. Like my book, I don’t expect one dime out of this documentary--I expect to encourage gays and lesbians to have more hope and more faith that God loves them and that judgmental people who tear them down with words are only demonstrating their lack of faith. We’re supposed to edify one another as Christians, but unfortunately, many “religious” people see one sin better or worse than another.

I’m still looking for more people to interview for my documentary. Right now I am seeking gay males of faith to take part in this powerful documentary. I’m excited to get this out as soon as possible and show the world that there are gays and lesbians of faith! We’re here! We’re not going to be discouraged by your judgmental views and criticisms any longer. With God on our side, who can be against us?

Contact me if you are interested in being part of the documentary, “Gays & Lesbians of Faith”. Interviews are held in NYC and upstate New York. Email me: deb@debrapasquella.com for more details.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Misconceptions About Twitter & Facebook

Granted there are many people who don’t think Facebook or Twitter are very useful, while others feel it’s their biggest source of promotion due to whatever business they’re in. My question is: is too much promotion for your business on either social networking sites a good idea? Even though I use it for both: promotional business marketing (for others and for myself) as well as socially interacting with my personal friends and family, there is one rule that people should take into consideration: do not mass email everyone in your Facebook account about an event. Send an invite through Facebook instead. If it’s a small party for just a few people---fine. I’m speaking of people who are promoting their shows, broadcastings and other things through personal emails, but in bulk. If you want to promote, put it on your page and it’ll send right into your feed for people to view at their leisure. Simple.

These days, Facebook has become more “looked down upon” if you’re one of those ‘status update frequently’ kinda peeps. See, I enjoy other people’s status messages, especially when they update frequently. Here’s the thing though: many people assume that those who update their statuses frequently are either bored or unemployed. I beg to differ. Most status messages that come from me are through my phone. I speak for many people. Just because you have a few postings per day on Facebook does not mean you’re home doing them. Facebook has become all about pseudo rules and regulations. I even tamed it down somewhat on my site, hearing my friends make fun of others and all of their status updates. I think it’s entertaining---why not? The people who usually complain about status updates are the ones who have no creativity to write a witty comment on their own. So they bitch, moan and complain about this that and the other thing. Block their updates. Simple.

Twitter. I think this social networking is one of the best and most informative sites around. To boot, it’s limited to 140 characters (as Facebook should follow into their footsteps), but you’re able to leave shortened links to informative websites or even have a photo album stored at your leisure. It’s simple, non-complicated to those who find Facebook a tad annoying and you get to interact with your friends, co-workers and even those you don’t even know. My first news source is usually found on Twitter. The first time I found out about Michael Jackson’s death was on Twitter, and then it flooded up and I couldn’t get in again because 1,987,876,572,926,026,362,721 people were on at the same time. I love when someone blurts out, “Twitter’s stupid.” I begin to wonder if they have ever sat down to even evaluate it to it’s fullest extent on their own before even making that assumption. I heard one girl say, “I can’t follow their conversations because I have to go to each account.” It’s not about following people’s conversations: it’s all about getting information at your fingertips at any given time. You can send your favorite twits right straight into your phone!

I do have some twits that I have favorited that are just funny. These people will tweet once a day and I will have a huge laugh over whatever it is they said. If you can make me laugh, think, or give me on the spot news----I’m hooked. This is what Twitter does for me. There are instances where some people will want to “protect their tweets” because they want it to be kept private. By doing this, your tweets will only be seen by those who follow you. Other than the rest of the cyber world, they’ll just have to ask for a confirmation to get into your account. For me, I don’t care who reads my tweets or even if I put up a message that “I’m here doing this now”. I’m not worried. I rarely tell people exactly where I am because that’s just stupidity. I did notice a few people who utilize a program where it tells you the location of the street your on in what town. That. is. stupid. I’m sorry, but you’re bound to get some whacked out stalker showing up at the cafe you decided to list where you’re at.

So my advice is, use Twitter safely, update your status messages whenever you’d like because if anyone’s like me, I get heaps of entertainment from it. I love when people can be themselves and write whatever’s on their mind or something funny to make everyone laugh with. Don’t fret about what others think of you---do your thang and let it shine!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hoarding Emotional Baggage

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the TV show, “Hoarders: Buried Alive”, where they show people who store ‘stuff’ in their houses until it practically hits the ceiling. It’s not just ‘stuff’ either, it’s old food left out and tons of garbage that hadn’t been taken out in like over a year or so. They claim they have some emotional attachment to these ‘things’ or ‘stuff’ or ‘crap’, but I say it’s a load of shit...literally. What makes a person want to live in a pile of rubbish? You can’t even walk through the room without climbing and struggling around their “emotional attachments”. I don’t mean to poke fun at their mental illness, which is what psychiatrists are calling it --but for someone like me, who has a huge OCD problem (as far as cleaning goes), I can’t understand it. If I see one tiny little strand of cloth from a blanket or other on my carpet, I freak out. It. must. go.

My mom kept a super clean house. She cleaned that monster every single day of her life. She’s still neat, but my father on the other hand, is not. He’s more of a clutter bug. He has this dining room-like table inside his bedroom so he can have coffee, do his paperwork and have it be his office/bedroom. But now, it has slowly become a pharmaceutical nightmare. There are literally fifty different prescriptions from doctors all from different months, years and so on. There are more meds on that table that he doesn’t take, than what he currently uses. Would we call this an “emotional attachment”? I don’t know. He has another “office” that is set inside one of the living rooms. We used to have Thanksgiving dinner there. The room is still nice, however one side of the dining room table is loaded, (and I mean loaded) with rolodexes, cartons of cigarettes, car batteries, tons of different hats, hunting knives, fishing knives, whatever strikes the mood knives and bowl of fresh fruit. Don’t ask. He also has a sub-table on the side which was once a nightstand. That includes: papers from business deals from years ago, a few hats, part of a generator, tools for his machines outside and tons of pens as well as lighters. I’m about to hold an intervention with “Hoarders”, but unfortunately, he’s too “clean” to qualify.

For a while, I had two cleaners that came in every Thursday afternoon and totally shined up the place. When dad stopped working, he didn’t like the fact he had to be shuffled into his bedroom while they cleaned. They usually took about 3-4 hours at a time, depending. So, needless to say, we had to stop using them to make dad more comfy in his house. I asked mom the other day if she wanted me to hire them back and just do a good starter clean, because she’s been complaining about the clutter. “No, yer fatha’ doesn’t want any of his stuff touched,” she’d say to me, but I know she desperately wants them back. I then reassured her that they wouldn’t touch his area, at least they could get the nicotine stained walls looking a bit like real wood and have her house sparkling in no time. Anytime she has company over she says, “I’m ashamed of the house.” She’s too scared to tinker with dad’s clutter. So lately, I’ve been thinking, maybe it is an emotional attachment to these ‘things’ he has all over. Maybe the fact that he’s not working as much, leaves him holding onto to these old ‘work papers’ to make him feel like he still has something of sorts. By throwing them away, does it mean that he has simply given up? Probably so, but in reality, he’d be making a new start.

I know for a fact that if I was not with Madelene, she would be a complete pack rat. Although she is super clean as far disinfecting everything, she has a huge problem letting go of ‘items’ that she has an emotional attachment to. After a year, if you don’t use something: throw. it. out. We have a room that’s an office/workout room with a bit of clutter. Some are hers and some are mine. Anything from framed artwork, clothes to be dry cleaned, a few boxes from our appliances in case something goes wrong we can send it back in it, clothes that we ordered that didn’t fit well that needs to be sent back and a bag of old photos. We just don’t have a whole lot of storage in our place. Other than that, our place can appear a little too “stiff” at times because my OCD has everything alined up ‘just so’ and glistening in case an uninvited guest arrives. Maybe my extreme cleanliness is an emotional issue, just as hoarding is seen as one too. And yes, rest assured all door knobs are wiped down vigorously. I’ve even contemplated bringing in the big guns and hiring my cleaners to do a THOROUGH cleaning on top of my own. In fact, when I used them in the past, I’d clean up first, and let them focus on the deep down heavy duty whatever needs to be cleaned. It’s like mowing your lawn before the landscapers arrive. I know. I need help. Maybe I’m the one that needs the intervention?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Learning Experience

Sometimes things in life throw me for a loop. I’m learning a lot as I’m now experiencing the world of filmmaking. There is so much involved aside from filming and editing. For my documentary, I’m seeking gays and lesbians of whatever faith, to come and talk about their experiences with adversity and talk about their childhood growing up, which includes stories about ‘coming out’ to the family. In fact, stories about their families are very important in this film. With participants that I am familiar with or who are in my network, I’m not strict with them about signing release forms and contracts. It’s a nonprofit film with contributions from those who want their voices heard, to which I’m grateful for. I never ran into a problem until recently. I totally understand that everyone wants to look their absolute best on film, but sometimes you just have throw your arms up and chuck it up to either bad lighting, bad location or just simply, bad outfit. I don’t know. But to my surprise, to which I thought was a very good segment, and this “person” looked better than any other film she has out there --she was displeased unfortunately. I tried reassuring her that she looked great in it, but as a woman myself, I know that sometimes I’ll bicker about a photo tagged to me or if I think I look too fat in a video. I was promised a decent location where I could at least be more than five inches away from her, however we got stuck in a studio apartment that barely fit my tripod inside, leaving us with close up that was too close for comfort.

Here’s my beef: this documentary is about gays and lesbians who love God and who know that God loves them ---whatever “GOD” they pray to. I want to show the world that just because we are gays and lesbians does not mean that we have no faith in God. We’re all not pagans and satanists. I do agree, that the church has left a sour taste in our mouths and most of us do not attend Sunday service, however we have God ‘right here’, whenever we want to call on Him ---but it’s great when we do break through the barriers of fear to walk into that church full of people who are sinners just like ourselves. What gets me is, if you are talking about faith and religion, while justifying your lifestyle as a homosexual ---every word out of your mouth should not be “fecking this” and “fecking that”. It was tricky to edit, but I did it to the best of my ability. I understand that all of us curse: I do, she does, he does and we all sometimes say something to make it a bit more ‘colorful’ ---but this was downright awkward.

Second beef: if you are going to be a participant for my film, I am now going to have a release form stating that whatever you say while the camera is rolling is owned by me. See, my one participant had much to say on film, in fact, I was delighted she shared so much about her life, but she was horrified to learn the things she had said while reviewing it all. I spent over twelve hours editing this one segment, plus putting a preview onto Youtube, so that people can be updated on new segments, to only pull it down due to conflict of interests. All that work for nothing. Well, I can at least call it a learning experience and never film anyone without a release form. I wanted to trust those who I knew and those who seemingly were already out there in the public eye. I didn’t expect this at all. But, I do understand it - however, the participant wanted me to edit out all of the material that was so needed to make her segment qualifiable. To add onto this, I sent her the questions for the interview almost a week prior to filming. She had time to say: “Hrmm, do you think you can change this up a bit?” I send out questions beforehand so that interviewees have a chance to tweak it or tell me that they don’t wish to answer a particular question. I think that’s pretty fair. 


I’m hoping that the next participants who are willing to contribute to my film will be okay with this new release and contract, especially those who are my personal friends that’ll take part in this. If it was only going to be on Youtube, it wouldn’t be a problem because whatever you film on your camera is “yours”, however for a documentary for whatever reason, it is a bit more tricky.

I wouldn't call my previous experience a total waste of time, but more of a learning experience.

I am still looking for more participants, so if you are interested, please email me at deb@debrapasquella.com ... Currently, I’m seeking more gay males of faith at this time. I will be in NYC in April and also filming in upstate NY as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pain In the "Butt" . . .

Years ago, smoking wasn’t a big deal as it is today. People smoked in their offices, classrooms, malls and dare I say it --restaurant and bars. It’s not like they didn’t know the risks of smoking, it was probably more due to the fact that more reformed smokers were emerging from every corner. I remember walking into a bar with my little pack of Marlboro Lights and smoking at least a half of pack while being there. Anytime I drank I ended up smoking more. I started smoking at the age of twelve. My friend and I had joined a few other people and we walked up into the Appalachian trails, sat on top of a mountain, made a campfire and lit up a few unfiltered Paul Malls. Our friend’s father was with us, and as odd as that sounds, he wasn’t exactly a role model. We were actually grateful for that. My mom came to pick me up at my friend’s house which was probably no more than a mile away and immediately, she smelled the smoke on me. I insisted it was because of the campfire, but she knew...she was a smoker herself. I must have reeked badly in order for my mom to notice, being that she's a smoker too.

Growing up, my dad was a chain smoker. He still is. He used to smoke four packs of non-filtered Camels a day. He was a tough guy, but a ‘good fella’. “Smoke is like oil to an engine- it keeps me runnin’ kid!” he would say to me in between wheezy belly laughs. My father’s second hand smoke was like smog on a hot and humid day while he sat in the living room watching his programs. You could literally duck under it. I remember my sister Cathy and I would hunch over and scoot over to the couch next to the TV. Having dinner with the family meant dad will light up after his meal at the table, regardless if anyone was still eating. We didn’t take offense to it - it was what we’ve always known. I used to watch my mom smoke her Larks, the end lighting up as it fizzled down and then she would breathe the smoke out from her nose so gracefully. She never blew the smoke out of her mouth --ever. I loved watching her smoke. She made it look enticing. Her smoke wasn’t awful smelling like my dad’s. It was actually a pleasant scent. Both my dad and mom would have company over at night, eating drinking and having demitasse coffee while smoking cigarette after cigarette. The entire house smelled of smoke, coffee, strong colognes and perfumes. I never minded it. It somehow comforted me, because I saw how much it comforted them.

(The photo on the left is the ash tray in my dad's bedroom.) During my teen years, I started lighting up in my bedroom, while playing my guitar for hours at a time. Nothing soothed me more. I’d be lying on my waterbed, floating away with an ashtray on my chest, smoking my cigarettes, listening to music and overanalyzing everything. Smoking calmed me down, even though it’s a stimulant. I never understood that. My mom would come in and yell at me, “I don’t want you burning the house down!” I’d just look at her and ask, “How many burn holes are in your blanket? Now look at mine?” She’d storm out and say, “I’m gonna tell ya fatha’ and that’ll be it.” The pot calling the kettle black. Meh. I kept smoking until she really stormed in screaming at me. Soon enough, her “storm ins” weren’t effective enough so she made a deal with me: to not tell my father that I smoked. It was weird how much she threatened me with “telling my fatha” but she knew how hypocritical it was for her to forbid me to stop.

It was mid-February 1988, and we were all sitting around this enormous table at a restaurant in Brooklyn, NY for my cousin Elise’s bridal shower. Everyone seemed to be smoking and drinking and I sat there pretending to be this “innocent” little 14 year old girl. Then I heard, “Oh come on Deb, just light up. We all know.” My aunt was always a firecracker and then she let out this laughter that sounded borderline demonic. She then turned to my mother and said, “Oh come on Ro, you mean to tell me you already know but won’t let her smoke with us?” Mom just stared at me and said, “Go ‘head if you want”, hoping I wouldn’t dare light up. I reached inside my purse because I was totally jonesing. I looked back up and noticed my grandmother was staring at me giving me the ol’ “Italian eye”. Talk about making me feel uncomfortable, yet I had to go through with it. I smoked one and never took another cigarette out after that stare. She didn’t even have to say one word. I couldn’t even inhale without her sucking the life force out of me with this black magick voo-doo crap she was pulling.

Years later, when Madelene and I were settled into our first apartment, I noticed her coughing anytime I smoked. I hated to see that. She then made me smoke outside anytime I wanted a cigarette - and I did. I then cut down to only smoking on weekends while I had a drink at the bar. Finally, I stopped altogether and it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. The sad thing is: I now walk into my parents’ house and can barely stay for more than thirty minutes or so because the entire house reeks of smoke - even if they haven’t been in there for hours. I start getting a wheeze, and if I’m in there long enough, I usually get a smoke-induced asthma attack. When I lived with them before moving out with Madelene, I had to use inhalers and nebulizers, thinking that I had just developed asthma on my own, but when I moved out, I never needed the inhaler again. I’m literally allergic to smoke now. My mother denies it and says to me, “You grew up with this all your life and you used to smoke, how can you now be allergic?” She doesn’t understand that the reason why I don’t visit often, or if I do, for very short periods of time is because of the mass amount of smoke in that house. I’m there all the time in the summer because we can at least sit outside.

I wish my parents would stop smoking, but I can see how it comforts them. They drink coffee together, light up their cigarettes and enjoy their time together. How can you take something away from them that has comforted them for all these years, especially at their age? My dad has developed emphysema and my mom has the most productive cough in the world - enough that it sounds like pneumonia at times. I worry about them, but they seemed to be set in their ways. I'm certain that they'll see their 100th birthdays because they never seem to worry about health problems and thankfully, don't have major issues. I hate badgering them to stop, but for me, it's now more about spending time with them without hacking up a lung or two. I just can't sit in there for long. I also don't want them thinking that I don't enjoy their company, so it really makes me sad.  I didn’t quit when they told me to, so I don’t expect the same. I still love them anyway, even though they’re a pain in my “butt”.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Is It Enough?

This morning while Madelene and I were having breakfast, we were watching a small interview with the cast of “TRANSform Me”, seen on VH1. Three transgender women travel around the world to give extreme makeovers for other women who are in need of a transformation---on the inside and out. Some of the video clips I have seen were really amazing, but that’s not why I’m writing about it. The three women who host the show are all beautiful women, who were once men. Each of them transitioned beautifully, fortunately.... My question is: what about those people who transform to another gender who don’t exactly ‘fit the bill’, or transform smoothly? I too, agree that it’s all about how a person feels on the inside that reflects how they appear on the outside, but what if the outside isn’t quite meshing up to what’s on the inside?

When I was young, before the age of thirteen, I remember people would mistake me for a boy. It first dawned on me when I was visiting my mom in the hospital that I really did look like a boy. My dad was holding my hand walking me inside, when a nurse yelled out, “Sir, sir! You can’t bring your son into that area!” They were afraid that my mom would get sicker if they let kids in. But in my mind, I thought, “Wow, I really succeeded in looking like a boy!” As time went on, I had plenty of male friends. We rode motorcycles, we traded baseball cards - we did “boy” stuff. It was then I had taken a liking to one of my female friends. She always tried to change the way I dressed, fixed my hair and tried even putting makeup on me. I cringed while she did it, but I let her because it made her happy. She made fun of me for wearing boys’ clothes, but in my mind, I figured, if she liked boys then she’ll like me looking like one...right?

At the age of thirteen, to my surprise, I learned that it was a different story. On the first day of school, I put on a dress with some dress pumps, feathered back my hair (yes this was the 80’s) and even put on makeup. I’ll never forget her words: “Wow, you look beautiful! I never thought I’d see the day.” I lit up like a Christmas tree. I was so happy that she saw me as “beautiful”. I had quite a time adjusting to my new look, but gradually, I began to accept “me” and accept that if I ever wanted to find that special someone in the future, that maybe I should take my friend’s advice and dress this way. I understand the concept of “be yourself”, but I was “me” -- but I also wanted to spread my peacock feathers a bit so I could attract the right type of person. Of course, this led to kissing many toads before I got to Miss Right.

I have many questions for the transgender community. I have friends who are transgender. I know, if it weren’t for my friend back in school, maybe I would have transitioned myself at a later age, but then, would I have ever met the love of my life in doing so? She would have never been attracted to me, seeing that I looked like a guy. Of course fate plays a huge role in this and yes, there are people who are more accepting, but my question is: why make it even that much harder for yourself if it’s hard enough already? To go above and beyond that, I do understand that sexual orientation has nothing to do with gender identity. With that being said and with the risk of sounding judgmental: why would a man transition into a woman in order to meet another woman, preferably a lesbian of course? I “understand” it - I just don’t understand it. I tried to be open about it and tried seeing it from a different point of view, but I can’t help thinking, with all their attempts to find true love out there, did they lower their chances in finding “Miss Right”?

No doubt - there are transgender women who have transitioned from male to female and look better than most women, however, what about the transgender women who have not quite transitioned so well? For instance: the beautiful Asian transgender from “TRANSform Me” looks genuine. Most Asian men are short, have beautiful feminine features, being that their cheekbones are so high as well as their facial features usually being small and delicate. Ru Paul aside, because he’s just a gorgeous freak of nature drag queen and looks absolutely stunning - the transgender women who are over 6 ft tall and still have masculine features are still going to be viewed as a man in some way. Reconstruction surgery is great, but is it enough? 

What’s more important to transgender women who haven’t quite made the ‘cut’, even if they have surgically: finding Miss Right or feeling like a woman? Of course I’ll get the comment that they were already women before the transition, but what I’m talking about is the realistic side of it; the superficial side if you will - the side that may affect the outcome of them being with a life partner. I’m also speaking about those transgender “women” who want to be with another women. Madelene explained to me this morning that if I were butch, she would have never taken an interest in me. She definitely looks for depth in a person, however she stated that it would be quite difficult to get past the outside shell of “appearing” as a man, or a butch woman in my case. Please understand that I am coming from a place where I questioned my own sex. I used to pray to God when I was younger to make me a boy when I woke up. Of course, I woke up disappointed. The reason why I wanted to be a boy was because I liked girls.  The only way girls would like me (in my mind) is if I became a boy.  But now, it seems as though that's not the case, which is why I have so many questions for transgender lesbians.

Yes, you have to love yourself before you can love anybody else, but what if that’s not enough?
What then? 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Love Them Dearly...

All I hear lately is gloom & doom from my parents. They go on and on about, “When we die”, along with, “We’re not gonna be around forever you know.” I totally get the ‘inevitable’, but what gets me is, they used it to their sick little warped advantage. So I twist it around and say, “You know, if I get hit by a truck tomorrow or stabbed by some burglar”----and automatically they gasp with horror and scream, “STOP THAT NOW!!!” I mean, if I’m traumatizing them, wouldn’t they stop to think for a minute that they’re doing the same thing to me? My dad insists that when he dies,  that I keep him in the huge freezer so we can still collect his social security checks. Beautiful concept. “Hey ma, can you grab me the frozen chicken next to dad’s left arm?” I mean....really? What if the power goes out? With all this “death talk”, oddly enough nobody in our family talks about the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what to do’ plans when our parents decide to jump out of the first floor window. I love them dearly.

Today was an interesting visit. My mother keeps insisting that she wants to go on the same phone plan that my sister just recently got. It’s a plan where you can call anywhere in the U.S. for free, as long as you stay with them for a yearly contract. I set her up, but to my surprise, the customer service rep threw in voice mail. My mother could barely even figure out the answering machine that I got for her 15 years ago. I get a phone call from her this morning asking, “Deb, why is it when I pick up the phone, there’s a busy signal and then a dial tone.” I wanted to shoot myself in the foot. I knew it was a message waiting that will never be retrieved. I had to call the phone company up to ask them to remove it. She still has a hard time with her caller i.d. and call waiting. When I’m on the phone, and someone else is beeping in, you’ll hear silence (her checking the caller i.d. without telling you), and then she’ll say, “Oh it’s your sister!” This means: “I am hanging up with you because I don’t know how to click over.” I love her dearly.

My father yells from the other room, “Uhh Deb, can ya’ help me widdis’ voice mail on my cell phone? I have a message waiting!” For the two years he has had this cell phone, he has not checked or received any voice mails? So I call his number on his phone and it asks me for a security code. “Dad, what’s your code?” He looks at me puzzled. “My code? Whaddya’ tawkin’ abow’???” Another technical call to the phone company which was the highlight of my day. These people seriously need a can and a string and be done with it. I love them dearly.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I'll Be Back...

Have you ever come home from being in the city all day and it’s either, “Oh wow I love city”, or “Oh...muy...GAWD - I will never go back there again?” I’m having one of those moments this morning. Sunday must be some sort of half off sale at every goddam store on the corner because traffic was just a bitch. Instead of using all the good ol' subways, I thought I’d be smart and take my own car in. “Smart” involved hitting every fricken pothole the size of moon craters because of the previous storm, making my little caboose fly onto the other side of the road and Madelene screaming, “That’s gonna fug up your rims!” ...Really? As if I planned to target every single one of them. We got to our destination, met up with the great Chantal Carrere for the interview of the documentary and finally started having a much more pleasant time. After the interview, we had to head to the show to meet up with our friend Amy Beckerman. 


Mad and I hadn’t eaten all day long. We totally forgot, and for me not to miss a meal was like seeing the Virgin Mary herself. The words, “I forgot to eat” have never, ever slipped out of these lips of mine. I suggested to Chantal that I would meet them back into the club after we got something quick to eat, and of course a stiff drink. Mad and I ended up at some weird, funky Mexican/Spanish restaurant with really bad merengue blasting in a speaker next to the table we were sitting at. They only had beer or wine so I got a Corona. The menu was four pages long of every kind of Cuban/Dominican and Mexican dish you can ever hope for. On the back, they had Cubana sanwiches & good ol’ American hamburgers. Since I’m such a badass gringa, I ordered a cheeseburger & fries. Mad orders the Cubana sandwich. The waitress comes over and informs me that they don’t have ‘that’ left. We start ordering other things, “No, sorry” was the answer to every order. “OK...what DO you have?” She looks at me, “You like rice & beans?” I really should have taken a photo of this menu because it was bigger than the bible.

The show gets canceled, I get about 1,872.873.598 texts from the girls saying there weren’t enough people to make this gig happen. They all pile into our small corner of Cuba with us to have a bite to eat and just chill out before we all head back home. Chantal starts feeling MSG pangs coming on, as Amy sits there not touching her food because she’s having an anxiety attack about going on The Howard Stern show topless the next morning to promote a breast cancer benefit that’s taking place this March 14th at Comix Comedy Club in NYC. We had Dana LoVecchio with us, who was the only straight comic surrounded by hungry lesbians. She must have been frightened. She looked much like timid mouse cornered in by ten hungry alley cats. Poor thing. The wait staff had much to be desired, and Chantal was waiving her down as if she was hailing for a cab. It was ridiculous.

I finally had to make my way to the dreaded NYC bathroom. I call it the “NYC bathroom” because every single loo is the same: dirty, smells like men’s urine, a sink the size of a soup bowl and a huge puddle to place your feet in while you sit on the porcelain goddess. Luckily, I keep hand sanitizer with me at all times because you don’t even wanna touch the sinks --they’re slimy with unidentified discolored crap all over it. Even the soap dispensers are all grimy and looked like they’ve been sitting there for 100 years. I do the good ol’ kick the flusher routine and pray to God that the bottom of my pants never meet my hands---ever. As soon as I get home, those pants are literally taken off, and thrown strategically into the washing machine.

The ride home was a “trip”. I mean that by every way too. Since Madelene and I are a couple of barbaric tosspots, we had to grab directions off of other people’s phones because we don’t have a goddam GPS. What BMW driver doesn’t have a GPS? Better yet - what person in their right mind that lives in the 21rst century doesn’t have one? So we get our directions from each of the girl’s off each source of website they had listed and headed homebound. As soon as we get out of the Lincoln tunnel, we basically found ourselves in the middle of the Bronx. Our next stop: Connecticut. Now I was panicking and Madelene was getting nervous, because a panicky Deb means an unsettled evening. We push our “SOS” button in the car which brings us to BMW assist. Some guy gets on and we asked him if he could guide us out of Crack Alley. Mad said I was having a “medical condition”, while I drove and she navigated. After over two hours, we’re driving into our town, thinking we’re free and clear of any ‘bad luck’ to strike again, and a deer comes shooting out of the side of the road, aiming at my car. I swerved so strategically like a professional stuntman, Madelene had a mini heart attack and when I pulled into my parking lot, I screamed out, “I will never go back there again!”

But... I'll be back.

This March 14th, meet me at Genersoi-Titties - a topless comedy event to benefit The Young Survival Coalition. It starts at 7pm, tickets are $20 if bought in advanced and $25 at the door.

What is GENEROSI-TITTIES? 

It’s full-frontal philanthropy: A topless comedy show to benefit the Young Survival Coalition. 

Presented by Comix, produced by Leah Dubie (Tru TV, LOGO) and Amy Beckerman (HBO, MTV) and headlined by internationally renowned comedian Elvira Kurt (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival), GENEROSI-TITTIES will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to The Young Survival Coalition (YSC). YSC is an international organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women with breast cancer. 



In addition to a performance by acclaimed headliner, Elvira Kurt, the event will be hosted by Dubie and Beckerman and boasts some of the best local talent that NYC has to offer including Scout Durwood (Shot at Love with Tila Tequila), Jenny Rubin (WE), Amy Albert (Now That You’ve Seen Me Naked) and Selena Coppock (FOX). 

GENEROSI-TITTIES: an evening of topless goodness with comedians who are partially clothed but completely giving. 

For more information please visit www.generosititties.org ...

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Imperfections

Have you ever gotten so caught up with bitching and moaning about how people act or why they do the things they do? Have you ever found yourself wondering why someone lives a certain way or lifestyle that is “seemingly” destructive or, something you’d never dream of doing? There are so many ingredients to a person’s makeup - so many different details that were added into their lives that make them who they are today. Ingredients may include: traumatic childhood past, alcoholism, abuse, religion, persuaded political views, home environment, education or a lack thereof, financial statuses, various people in and out of their lives, unfortunate gene pool/mental illness, self-esteem whether high or low and a bundle of other factors that may affect the way a person “chooses” to live, or for some people, how the cards were dealt. Their character make up is a product of what they were taught when they were young. Everyone is so different from another. Has anyone ever judged you for the way you live? People judge all the time, whether they do it openly or silently. It’s one of our greatest human flaws.

In my beliefs, God puts all of us in this world for a reason. We can’t all be the same. There’s a bigger plan; a bigger scope to God’s masterpiece. We only see a tiny piece of the project day by day. I was watching the news the other day listening to someone complain about the looters in Chile after the earthquake. Is it that hard to even fathom how desperate these people are? I know for myself, I would totally loot if I had to for my family to survive. I mean, if you’re going to complain about people going into supermarkets and stealing food ---then donate it to them. They need clothes, sneakers, and things that’ll last through the crisis that’s going on. It makes me sad to think that people can even use the word “looting”, when there’s a tragedy that had just taken place and prolonging because of the extensive damage from a n 8.8 earthquake ---one of the largest recorded earthquakes in a very long time. I remember when Katrina hit and everyone was questioning why these “bad people” were looting Wal-Mart. Hello? Do you not see what’s happening? Put yourself into their shoes. Your family is on the side of the road either sick, injured, starving and close to death: what would you do? Let’s even bring it down to a less extreme type of situation. Our economy is still taking its toll but, it’s getting better, yes. The other day, we had guy try to rob a local jewelry store. Let’s face it, there are some people who rob for the thrill of it, and there are other people who are so desperate to survive these days that it’s no wonder more & more places are getting burglarized unfortunately. Is it wrong? Yes, of course. But if you can step back for a moment, and step into the mind of a desperate person trying to support his or her family, it’s a much different scenario. Poverty = desperate measures.

Many people try to drink their problems away, while someone else that judges their lifestyle is overusing Vicodin to ease their back pain. One person rents an apartment while another person is living for their house--living beyond their means and in debt, judging the renter for not owning their place who is free from debt. One person judges another’s career choice, while being stuck at a 9-5 redundant job being miserable and unhappy with their own lives. We judge so much. When does it end? It’s funny, some people assume I’m poor, since I live an apartment, while other people assume I’m rich, since I have a bit more financial freedom, not being tied down to any debt. I don’t know which assumption pisses me off more, but the people who assume that I’m rich either hint for money or try to take advantage of me in some indirect way and the people who assume that I’m poor and feel they know what’s best in terms of financial advice for me. Then I wonder: why can’t friends mind their own financial business? Why are they always tinkering or hinting or taunting or just being downright plain obvious about their hidden agendas? Of course, then I start judging them. I’m human. I start to wonder about their poor social skills or lack of common sense. I remember a sitcom where they focused in on the faux pas of asking the dreaded questions of: “Do you rent or own?” I can’t remember which show it was, either Seinfeld or Friends, but it dealt with all of their neighbors living in one building asking one another if they rented or owned their apartment. Back to ‘real life’----can friends be friends without the knowledge of their financial status? This is one of the major reasons I do not mix friends and money. I wrote about it on this post if you'd like to read it. But, whenever friends and money mix--the friendship is over. You may not realize it at first, but if you lend or give money to a friend, the friend will either feel “owned” or feel the need to take advantage of you again, leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth. Maybe it’s all because of my bad experiences in my own past, but it always happens the same. exact. way.

I couldn’t give a rat’s ass how much money my friends made - I am friends with them because I like them, not because I like the bottom line on their bank statements. Could it be just character flaws or difference in opinions? Maybe I’m a bit opinionated for my own good, but I guess I have had a past where friends crossed the line. Some friends have even judged my marriage with my wife, not knowing a single detail of our relationship. What I question is how these people were brought up. Why are people so hung up on other people’s business? Then I start thinking: am I being way too judgmental and hard on my friends with my way of thinking? Should I become more like them and ask for money, or judge their lives or even perhaps, tell them their marriage is loveless? I think all of these things people sometimes do, are all part of the cocktail of being brought up - the ingredients to a person’s make up. My mother always taught me, that when you go to someone else’s house for dinner, you either bring wine or dessert, or something thoughtful to contribute. She taught me to say “please” and “thank you” after each kind gesture or gift. She taught me to never butt into someone else’s financial business or “make suggestions” about their life. Maybe I should blame my mother for my strong opinions about those who don’t do what she has always taught me. Or, maybe my mother has all the ingredients of a person who knows when not to cross the line. I ought to give her a call and say thank you.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we’re all judges in our own little ways. By me stating other people’s “character flaws”, maybe I should work a bit harder on my own. Maybe all of my bitching and moaning about this, that and the other thing only says one thing: we’re all imperfect.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Make Believe

There’s no doubt that life gets boring. There are so many things people do to entertain themselves, whether in a constructive or a destructive way. It depends on the personality type. Your life could be filled with work-related stuff, kids, school, errands, etc., but when you come home to rest, sometimes it feels like, “Is this it?”  Perhaps you see your friends traveling to far off places, vacationing with their loved ones perhaps twice a year and think: when do I get my break? Maybe you have absolutely no time to do anything but cater to other people. Regardless: life can seem redundant. We all get into ruts and try to put on a “happy face” and say “yes I am very happy with my life”.  And that may be so - in the bigger scope of things, but truly: are you happy? There are adrenaline junkies who get high off of the mere thought of doing something a bit risque and end up being miserable once their fifteen minutes of their adventure has finally fizzled out. It’s lacking “constant joy”. Let’s face it, most of us are miserable fecks. We bitch, whine and moan about this, that and the other thing and yet, most of us never sit down and look at all the blessings around us. And especially after a breakup or a family feud of sorts ---we all have our ways of “coping”.

I remember a bit over two years ago “coping” with my loss of a friendship that went downhill. I think I went into complete shock. I felt numb and the only thing that made me feel somewhat alive was drinking my way out of numbness into a complete coma. After realizing my patterns and most of all, what triggered my patterns, I took my ass straight into AA to clean up. I was sober for four months and let me tell ya, I think it was the best I thing I have ever done. I now stick to moderate drinking (a wine with dinner or social drinking) and my health has been on the upside thankfully. But, I remember back then I just couldn’t think of anything else to heal me other than making a martini when I got home. I’m ridden with obsessive thought patterns. I’m a “thinker” unfortunately which sometimes gets me into heaps of trouble. I have never socially worked on a “normal” mindset. (I know a few of my friends will chuckle at that...) My brain functions a different way and when I wanted to stay out of trouble, I would hide and drink my problems away...for the meantime. But what happens when we hide from our problems? We give our problems power. The fear alone gives whoever and whatever power over us. I’ve been working so hard on getting over all of my phobias and fears, which had so much power over me. I stomped most of it out, but some of it is still lurking. We all have our vices, whether we drink too much, overeat, smoke, do drugs or even obsessively work out. Everything in moderation, right? But we. just. can’t. stop.

Consequently, I found myself creating the same patterns as once before not too long ago. Luckily I caught it on time, but I was seriously thinking that I was sinking back into the same hole. And--- what’s doing something over and over again and expecting different results? It’s the definition of insanity, by Einstein. I’m still trying to cope in different ways but there is always that small inner voice that calls me back to the old routine of “healing myself”. There are so many ways people try to fix whatever is lacking in their lives, like having an affair, drinking too much, doing things that are very destructive to themselves, as well as destroying their home lives in the process. Sometimes, when I look back at my problems, I always had wished that there were people who had taken notice to my downward spiral and would have planned some sort of intervention for me. But let’s face it, people mind their own business and that’s fine. Some are scared that there will be some sort of backlash in the process of the intervention, which is understandable. People in complete denial will absolutely go insane if they find out there’s a surprise party full of people who are “judging” them, as they would see it. When does it become a problem? When is it finally time to say, “Geez, I need help...?” I had to make that choice for myself. I had to choose whether or not I wanted to live or die. But some people don’t get that chance. They keep destroying themselves, hoping that someone will eventually notice. Whether their loved ones either don’t seem to notice, or they’re too scared, eventually, they’re going to end up in a worse situation than what they’re seeing now.

Thing is: there are so many people trying to convince the world that they’re completely happy, when in fact, they’re sad and scared. We all have our highs and lows, but when do you know it’s time to ask for help? Or when does somebody realize that there is a bigger issue than what they’re presenting? You can fake it till you make it, but when you’re home facing your problems, what then? When I was in this predicament, and felt very depressed and turned to alcohol, I decided to write all the things I was grateful for. I jotted down all my blessings and things that truly made me smile. Surprisingly, there were many! I couldn’t believe it. How can I be this miserable with all of these things in my life? But, a person can’t control their level of happiness or sadness sometimes. I don’t believe it’s a choice either. Someone once said, “You choose to be happy”. No, in my opinion, once again, that’s the whole 'fake it till you make it' attitude. That’s the same type of personality that these happy-go-lucky life coaches have - much that you would see in someone in a cold call sales position. All smiles and motivational blabber being spewed out into thin air...until they have a nervous breakdown. I’ve seen that happen a few times.

We may not control how we feel, but maybe we can control the way we react to certain things. I’m working on that one myself. I’m a ‘work in progress’, but with more gratitude for the positive things I’m consciously noticing in my life, the less havoc my mind wreaks on trying to “cope” with things in destructive ways. Life’s too short to pretend to be happy. The "make believe" game gets so old.

Dream it.
See it.
Live it.