Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Not the Worst Thing in the World

It was much different thirty years ago than it is today when things were more on the ‘hush hush’ if anyone happened to be gay or lesbian. Some called it “a phase” or if it was a female, some would mutter, “Well, she surely can’t get a man, so she decided to be a lesbian.” And that was that. No other explanation was given. It was a “mess up” - a glitch in their life. Of course, you had and still have those who insist that being gay or lesbian has everything to do with being sexually abused as a child. Pure bullshit for a true analysis. As a child, I remember my mom telling her friends the story of her married female friend who lived in the same building she did back in Brooklyn years ago. She left her husband for “the dyke” downstairs who used to come and do her plumbing. (Pun very much intended.) The real kicker is the last words of her story: “She kept going upstairs to fix things, and then befriended her. She must have influenced her somehow.” As though the thought of being a lesbian or having an interest in women never occurred to the wife. I asked, “Well, maybe the wife was gay all along and just kept it a secret for a number of years?” And she’d look at me, shaking her head, “No, no - this woman was pretty. She was feminine and did her hair and nails.” I sat there looking at my manicure, playing with my hair while thinking, “Wow, she must think I’m hideous.” It’s the same old fashioned mindset like, ‘stand behind your man even if and when he cheats’. Eh.

At the age of eight, I remember my mother kind of figuring me out. She would whisper to my grandmother about the possibility of me being a lesbian or “liking girls”. My grandmother said, “Well, it’s not the worst thing in the world.” And even though it had a tinge of acceptance within that sentence, it also had a tinge of slight disgust, or perhaps disappointment to it. I’m not quite sure. But in any event, my mother did accept me after a long battle with trying to get me to see a psychiatrist for my “lesbian condition”, which made me feel less than adequate as a human being - as though I wasn’t equal to anyone else who was heterosexual. That took a slight toll on my psyche and I began to revaluate my self-worth, through the approval of my own mother. It would then trickle into the approval of my own circle of friends. The good thing about that was, I truly realized who my true friends were when I did finally come out. Some never spoke to me again, and one actually said, “Well as long as you don’t hit on me, we’re okay.” I’d give her a look and ask, “What makes you think you’re my type?”

But, in the words of grandma, it’s not the worst thing in the world. I mean, if parents who are so outraged by their kids coming out as gay or lesbian, thank the heavens they aren’t out on the streets doing drugs, killing people or living in some cell in an upstate prison. So yes, I agree, it definitely isn’t the worst thing in the world to all of those old fashioned thinkers.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Controlling Our Emotions: Is It Possible?

For a very long time, I played “the little victim cry baby” and complained about who did what and he said she said bullshit. And because I chose to “let” it affect me, it also affected a great deal on my overall health and well-being. It’s hard to turn your back on someone who is literally insulting you, bashing you or betraying you in some shape or form. The crazy thing about it is, the more you respond to it, the more it will increase. And I know most will say, “Well I had to defend myself” - and we all want to defend ourselves for reasons of “self-respect” - but in the process, are we actually hurting ourselves in the long run? Is it better to walk away from an abusive person (verbally speaking) or to stay and defend yourself - fight it out till someone wins? There are so many different opinions on this. I speak mostly about trivial gossip, rumors, people who just want to annoy you for a living. I literally had someone verbally bashing me day in and day out, and I felt this constant need to defend myself, because in my mind: everybody will believe her. She slandered me, created rumors that were ridiculous, and I sat there like a victim, crying and defending myself like a cornered bobcat. And remember, there are three sides to any story: the first party's, the second party's, and of course the truth.
I must be getting old because I’m learning a lot. I learned that if you don’t respond to the crap that’s being said about you ---it. goes. away. It may take a while, but if you don’t add fuel to the fire, what happens to the flame? It usually fizzles out. These people look for a response and when they don’t get it ---they simply move on. But we, being the emotional creatures we are, some of us tend to want to control it - to stop the madness from happening. You can’t control anything, however you can control how you respond to it. Once I made that decision, the craziness stopped. Sometimes it would drudge back up, but I “chose” to not respond to it. No longer am I a prisoner to somebody else’s words of deceit, slander and insults. Instead, I am in control of how I respond; in control of my own emotions to which I’m responsible for. I only wish some of these kids who went through the very same b.s. realized this before it was too late...before they decided to take their own lives because they let somebody torment them. Kids and adults experience this - it’s not just limited to a specific age group. I remember in high school it was much different. There was a greater urge to defend our reputations. And speaking for only myself, I find that it was more stressful back then, as it is now in my adult life dealing with these types of people. But, if I’m at a weak moment in my life, I can slip up and let that person affect me all over again. It's a conscious choice and I'm just learning this now. And please keep in mind, if someone is harassing you or threatening to harm you, that's an entirely different scenario. That type of issue should be outed and reported. No one should be harassed or threatened. I'm only speaking about trivial rumors and gossip that people tend to get so upset over. No response = a peaceful day.

How do you respond to situations that cannot be controlled? Do you fight to defend yourself or do you simply not respond to it at all?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sushi Addiction

At the age of fourteen, my family had taken me to this Japanese steak house up in Hillburn, NY called, Mt. Fuji for my confirmation. The place is just amazing. It sits on top of this huge mountain. As you drive up, you spiral around the mountain to get to this magnificent place. The views are as beautiful as you can imagine. They have big hibachi tables where a chef cooks in the middle, private booth tables where you take off your shoes and scoot yourself in as well as regular tables. They also have this huge sushi bar that’s to die for. I remember my oldest sister Dawn was a huge fan of sushi. She kept begging me to try it because she knew I’d love it. I ordered it as an appetizer, a couple of pieces of tuna and salmon on top of rice wrapped with seaweed. At first, I hated the texture. I couldn’t get past the concept of it being raw. I took a few more bites, and that was it for me - I didn’t want to experience this stuff anymore. But, it was the same sister who made me experience it again in my twenties while we both worked for the same medical company. Their lunches were extravagant and well yes, expensive. She wanted me to come along and try it again. I did and what a surprise. I absolutely loved it. I want to even say, I started to begin my sushi addiction. The sushi spree occurred once a week.

When I first started dating Madelene, I knew she only liked foods that were cooked - and I mean totally overcooked. Most Puerto Ricans like their food well done to almost charred. While there’s nothing wrong with that because I like some of my food that way, I really wanted her to try and experience sushi. At first, she would order the same thing: hibachi steak or chicken or shrimp or whatever, along with rice. I would extend my chopsticks her way with a tiny piece of salmon on it. She chewed it while her eyebrows furrowed and her face told me this was not her cup of tea. The next time, I decided to give her a spicy tuna roll. I told her it was cooked. (Ok, I lied.) She loved it. Then I gave her a tiny piece of yellow tail, with some scallions dipped in a little soy sauce along with a small dab of wasabi. She wanted more. I never gave up on her. Now, she’s addicted to it - and most of all - addicted to sashimi. (Raw fish without the rice.) We usually go to this local place down the street from us. It’s small, it’s not fancy, but the food is so amazing. We’re such regulars that all of the sushi chefs know us by name.

After years of going there, we fell into a “bad moment”...

(Enlarge the photo above to get a closer view. The fish was literally soaking wet for some reason.)

You have to keep in mind that when you order sushi, it’s a definitely a delicacy for many people. There are warnings right on the menu that informs you that the food is not cooked and there may be bacteria present that can be harmful. The best days to go are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Those are the big 'out nights' for most people. Also, being that my dad worked in the fish business for many years at the South Street Seaport, the big shipment for most restaurants was on Thursday evening. Remember that. Friday’s best to get your raw fish. With that being said, I didn’t think that Sunday night would be a bad idea to grab some sushi. In fact, this place is so good, I even go on a Tuesday on rare occasions. I can tell the fish isn’t at its “prime”, but it’s still good and I have never gotten sick from this place. However, last night was a bit different. We ordered sushi takeout, (sashimi and a few rolls) brought it home and when I opened the containers, the fish looked extremely wet. It looked like someone stored it in water. It was literally dripping. I smelled it and it was fine. The avocado roll we ordered was brown - not lime green as it usually is. This stuff must have been sitting for quite a while. So I posted the photo above onto facebook as well as my Twitter account, and received interesting comment that told me something I never knew before.

“...I wonder if it was still a little frozen while they were cutting it and it thawed in transit? Most places use the flash-frozen fish. I would call to let them know. They might have a new sushi chef who doesn’t know what they’re doing.”


I had other interesting comments that advised me to discreetly tell the chefs since I knew them. I’ll do it next time I go, so that they know I’m giving them another chance. Hopefully they'll be careful the next time around. I only ate half of what I usually eat, because it was “okay”, but too slimy. I had a little bout of queasiness, but luckily I was fine. I was really disappointed, because this is the one place we love to go to that’s so close to home and super casual. It’s nice just to stop in, have a few drinks and enjoy some great food, even if the view is lacking. I’ve gone to places where I have gotten severely sick and never went back a second time. But I will say this... Most people who love sushi and have had the unpleasant experience of getting sick will always get right back in the saddle. If you’re new to the world of sushi: know the risks and always go to reputable places.

And my sushi addiction goes on and on...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Judgment Day: May 21rst

May 21rst seems to have everyone scurrying to the supermarkets to get those non-perishable items, tons of water and flashlights, etc., etc... Maybe not everyone. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Perhaps just those Christians who tend to misinterpret the bible at any chance they get. The CDC even gave the public notice on what to do on if and when zombies come to attack us, like Night of the Living Dead. First of all, the ‘thought to be’ end of the world - the apocalypse is not on May 21rst, however it is believed to be on October 21rst. May 21rst is the day where everyone on earth will be judged. Taken out of the CDC website, I was quite surprised of how serious they were taking this. Isn’t this a cause for panic? Or is it simply humoring those who actually believe doomsday is coming?

“So what do you need to do before zombies…or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen? First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house. This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored). Below are a few items you should include in your kit, for a full list visit the CDC Emergency page.

• Water (1 gallon per person per day)
• Food (stock up on non-perishable items that you eat regularly)
• Medications (this includes prescription and non-prescription meds)
• Tools and Supplies (utility knife, duct tape, battery powered radio, etc.)
• Sanitation and Hygiene (household bleach, soap, towels, etc.)
• Clothing and Bedding (a change of clothes for each family member and blankets)
• Important documents (copies of your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate to name a few)
• First Aid supplies (although you’re a goner if a zombie bites you, you can use these supplies to treat basic cuts and lacerations that you might get during a tornado or hurricane)
Once you’ve made your emergency kit, you should sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

1. Identify the types of emergencies that are possible in your area. Besides a zombie apocalypse, this may include floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes. If you are unsure contact your local Red Cross chapter for more information. Family members meeting by their mailbox. You should pick two meeting places, one close to your home and one farther away.

2. Pick a meeting place for your family to regroup in case zombies invade your home…or your town evacuates because of a hurricane. Pick one place right outside your home for sudden emergencies and one place outside of your neighborhood in case you are unable to return home right away.

3. Identify your emergency contacts. Make a list of local contacts like the police, fire department, and your local zombie response team. Also identify an out-of-state contact that you can call during an emergency to let the rest of your family know you are ok.

4. Plan your evacuation route. When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food (i.e., brains), which means you need to get out of town fast! Plan where you would go and multiple routes you would take ahead of time so that the flesh eaters don’t have a chance! This is also helpful when natural disasters strike and you have to take shelter fast.

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).”

If these so called Christians took the time to actually read the bible, Jesus states that no one knows the day or hour of which He will return. No one. What is so hard to interpret about that? Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” ----Only GOD knows. So what makes Harold Camping and his idiotic followers think they know what God knows?

My suggestion if you are a Christian? Since we will never be perfect Christians, have faith that Jesus died for YOU. He died to take away the sins of the earth. Temptation, sin, living in our carnal flesh and making mistakes along the way in life makes us all human, and we are bound to slip up from time to time. The best thing to do is give it up to God and let Him take control. Be ready today. Be ready right now because our time here is limited, as individuals. Life is short. Why waste time on Harold Camping’s predictions? Let the zombies remain in science fiction movies. Keep your plans for this Sunday. I can’t wait to see the faces on May 22nd of those who thought the world was going to end.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The "T" in the "LGBT"

The other day, I had an interesting conversation with my mom. We were talking about a friend’s son. He’s eight years old and wants to be a girl. Everything he does is maneuvered with a feminine touch. He plays with dolls, he prefers pastel colors for his shirts, but his mother tries to reinforce boys’ clothing so he won’t be such an outcast in school or get bullied. She worries about him, and rightfully so. Since my mother knows I have a few transgender friends, both male and female, she asked me, as a lesbian, if I thought our friend’s son was gay or if he was transgender. For me, I couldn’t possibly answer that. Only the son could...if willing...if with enough time. He seems to get along well with the girls in his school, yet he has a hard time socializing with the other boys. I said it could be either or, and just because he has more female friends doesn’t mean he’s gay. Perhaps the boys in his school fear the unknown - or what’s thought to be “different” than themselves. Kids can also be very cruel. She then asked me, “Did you want to be a boy too?” It was then I just looked at her, knowing fully well what the answer was. I wanted to be a straight boy...a straight man.

In the past, we didn’t have many available options to transition to whatever gender we’d like. We were either a boy or girl by birth and we were either gay or straight. Simple as that. What my mother is having a hard time with, is the concept of which gender identity has zero to do with sexual orientation. More questions popped up: “So, your friend Danielle, (who used to be Daniel) was a man who got his sex change to become a woman, right?” So to the best of my ability, I tried answering her.
“Yes.”
“So then, wouldn’t that mean he likes men now?”
“No, she’s a lesbian.”

~Mom’s eyebrows became extremely crooked~
“Why would he go through all of that if he didn’t want to be with men?”
“Because before the transition from male to female, ‘he’ preferred women. Now, she still prefers women.”
“Then why did Chaz Bono decide to go with a girl?”
“Because she was a lesbian before ‘her’ transition, and still prefers women afterwards. The transition is about changing the gender only, not changing who you like romantically.”
“Whaat?”


After a while, it became a pronoun nightmare and I gave up on trying to get her to understand the difference in sexual orientation vs. gender identity. Now with that being said, there is a large group of judgmental people - a group of people seeking acceptance themselves, yet refuse to embrace the transgender community: lesbians. I have seen the ugliest of “ugliest” people bash transgender lesbians until they could barely breathe. It angers me a lot because not only do they not see a transgender lesbian as a woman - but they see them as men invading the lesbian community. How ironic they use the initials, “LGBT”. What do they think the “T” stands for? Clearly, if they ever got to know a transgender lesbian, you’d know without a doubt, this is not a man in disguise; an “intruder”, as they would call them. This is a woman --a lesbian. But, the fact remains that most lesbians do not get close enough to know the person on the inside. They just judge them based on transition alone and nothing else. 

A while back, I had written a post posing a few questions regarding transexual lesbians. I wasn’t exposed to many transgender people, so one of my friends, (who will remain nameless) educated the best “she” could so I could be more aware and informed. While the bulk of our conversations (her choice) were entirely about her transitioning from a male to a female, she’d be quick to squark at me if I didn’t exactly understand certain things. She was impatient and had zero tolerance with people who didn’t “get it” right away. She was taking estrogen, and at times, I could surely tell just by the way she’d snap at me, and then moments later, apologize profusely. --A “man” taking estrogen has to be the most frightening thing, no less natural born women having their own amounts to deal with. So periodically, she’d go off on me, especially if I slipped on a pronoun and say “he” instead of “she”. Here’s where it gets tricky: I totally understand that proper usage of the right terminology regarding their gender is important, however in my own opinion, if the transition isn’t exactly 100%, and the transexual woman still has masculine features, it can be hard for those who are trying to understand. A slip or two should be pardoned, however I know how disheartening it may be to those who ‘feel it’ - the ones who are insulted by being called the wrong gender. After my questioning article regarding if it was difficult to find love due to the lack of completion or transition, I was called names like, “Hitler” and “intolerant bitch” from this same transgender woman. There was a time when I had told her that while I was young, I wanted to be a straight male - she said to me, “You wanting to be a straight male is like you wanting to be a black man.” So basically, she said “for me” --it was impossible. She was the same woman who stood and witnessed my wife and I marry on the beach of Provincetown, MA. I was deeply hurt by this because she took everything personal and lashed out like an angry bobcat. I found it so strange that she didn’t accept what I had shared with her. That angered me to where I said, “Well, you wanting to be a woman is like a man wanting to be a woman.” --(It was a dig.) Her statements of “feel free to ask me anything” went right down the drain, as my article posed a lot of valid questions. It wasn’t meant to hurt her - it was meant to inquire about my own personal friends within my own social life. I then told her she may want to hold off on the estrogen because it was making her into a royal bitch. Our friendship ended, but the memories of tip-toeing around her sensitive bottle of estrogen still rings in my ears.

After that entire fiasco, I did tend to withdraw from my transexual friends, male or female, but mostly the transexual lesbians. I was scared, hurt and terrified to be befriended by another. It wasn’t too long after, where I met a beautiful person through networking within similar lines of work. I remember her clearly asking, “You do know, don’t you?” She was also a transgender lesbian. At first, I wanted to retreat. That’s all I thought. But, wait...she was different. She was understanding. I told her absolutely everything I had gone through regarding my prior transexual lesbian friend. She basically took the words right out of my mouth - as if she was speaking for me - understood what I went through. “I know, I know...” she said, as she begun to understand my fear of any “slip ups” or perhaps some questioning on my part. She knew that there were transexual lesbians out there who were way too emotional for their own good, as well as all women can be from time to time. It was by her understanding, and patience that led me back into being open-minded. I almost became bitter and one of those lesbians who hated the “T” in the LGBT. I never want to become that person...and I never will. Each person has their own journey. I’m learning as I go.

So, whatever gender, or sexual orientation my friend’s son “is” or perhaps, “chooses” to be, there should be two sides of understanding: 1. The acceptance of who her son is regardless of gender or orientation. 2. The acceptance of her son on people who are simply not educated enough on this particular lifestyle, whichever he decides to go with. It’s human nature to look at someone who is obviously a male and say “he”, unless the transformation is one where automatically, you can say “she”. Vise/versa for FTMs. I’ve heard my friend state, “If a ‘man’ walks into a room with just lipstick on, he should be called a ‘she’.” My response to that, with all due respect is: you cannot expect that from every single person, especially those who haven’t been exposed to the LGBT community - the one that includes the “T” of course. I’m speaking from a person who is on the other side - a person who is still learning - a person who is willing to embrace the T in the LGBT.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rose-Colored Glasses

To all the ladies out there: Have you ever thought to yourself after being abrupt with someone or having an emotional moment or two, “Is this a premenopausal episode or am I just a royal bitch on wheels? Especially in times of stress or when you’re going through a very rough period in your life, do you find you’re a bit short-tempered with the people around you? I remember years ago, I put myself in check. I was consciously aware of when I was going to ‘lose it’ and made better choices. It was the time I was writing my first book. I was closer with God, my faith in Christianity, and everything seemed so different as it does today. I admit, sometimes I even have to read my own book in order to put myself in check again. Sounds hypocritical, but I’m learning a lot from my own book - from my own past - to make better choices whenever I’m upset. I've always told my friends when they were either upset or angry with someone to wait 24 hours before responding. Write down what you would have said or done now, and in the morning, write down what you are going to do today. It’s usually completely different scenarios. I should know better, but I backslid a bit into a raging ball of a hormonal mess. Or is it hormonal?

I’m in the process of moving from one home to another. If you have moved before, you know what I’m about to say or can feel the tension already. We’re very fortunate not to have so much to do before moving in, but we have to get contractors to do a couple of needed things before planting ourselves. It’s the little things that are agitating me, as if it were a huge catastrophe. I went through five days of insomnia, because my mind wouldn’t stop ‘detailing’ every single nitpicking thing. Can it be genetic? My mother is a worrywart. In fact, an old friend of mine used to call her “the walking nerve” when we were younger. She fears the small things in life, yet isn’t afraid of the big things in life - the things that “should” be feared. I never understood it...until after my thirties. My obsessive compulsive thoughts would worry about other things, like my health. God forbid my heart rate increased a few notches - off to the ER I went. I became a hypochondriac because of my fears, and with that, came tons of medical bills. I literally gave myself physical ailments just by my thought process alone. The mind is very powerful, so much so, that I even reversed some health issues by faith alone for the better. Sounds strange, but the mind - the capability of having faith to change it is what makes it work.

I’m a very emotional person, as well as a very passionate person. Every detail in life, I obsess over, whether good or bad. I think too much. I overanalyze. Basically, I drive myself crazy - I can’t help it. I also cannot be around those alike. I can’t deal with anyone who deals with life in the same manner I do. How do people deal with me I wonder...? It’s a balance. I need a calm, stable person to be around. Thank God for my wife. She has the stability of a rock and keeps me grounded for the most part. She wears rose-colored glasses, and sometimes I see that as naive, or perhaps a flaw - but when I really think about it, I wish I had her outlook on life. She sees everything with a positive spin. I see everything as aggravating and when I hit a few speed bumps in the road, I go nuts. She remains calm. It’s the perfect balance...but is it for her? She has the patience of an angel, while I blow my cork over a slight change in the weather. She accepts things ‘as is’, while I try to manipulate and change it. How did I get this way? Again, I can blame it on my mother, my genetics, my circumstances or maybe, I should just blame it on poor decision making. If I have no patience, how can I possibly wait it out 24 hours before responding?

So, with all that being said, the other day I prayed and meditated. It was hard. I’m a little rusty these days, so getting back into meditating was quite difficult to say the least. I remember someone once telling me that whenever I’m stressed out and can’t sleep, to write all of the things that are on my mind that may be possible factors for my insomnia. So I grabbed my little notebook full of scribbles of biblical passages that have once helped me or something I have come across to remind me that there is a God. I opened it up and came across a passage: “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank God for His answers.” Philippians 4:6

My "I Need" List:
Sleep
Less worry
Less negative thinking
Patience
Less anxiety attacks
Less depression
Better health
Better attitude
More courage
Less fear
More love


That same night, I slept like a baby. I’m trying to deal with stress differently. There was another scribble in my notebook that was something my sister had said to me, possibly a quote: “If we change the way we look at things - the world changes around us.”

I guess my wife has the right idea. I’m heading out to pick up a few rose-colored glasses - “a few” -just in case I break one out of frustration. Wish me luck...

‎"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." ~Glenn Turner
(I just have to keep reminding myself of this.)

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Am I Right or Am I Right?

There is no right or wrong, good or bad, and even “the right path to take”. There’s only your life. Your choices. Your opinions. Your beliefs. Everything else is fodder for highly opinionated people with no room for anybody else’s views. Most of us are influenced by the people we care for the most. Some unfortunately, are influenced by anybody and perhaps, views and opinions change more than day and night. For instance, if someone tells me that my lifestyle is wrong, I automatically judge them myself as insecure people with very little knowledge or limited tolerance for anyone who may possibly be different than them. If someone tells me that my political views are wrong ---prove it. If someone tells me my religious views and beliefs are wrong --prove it. The point is: nothing in life is concrete, unless scientifically proven. This is why we have words like: “opinions”, “beliefs”, “values” - and what might not be yours, may be somebody else’s. You can’t take that away from anyone, and if you’re trying to, then you must be insecure about your own views.

Not too long ago, I was quite surprised to hear the views of another older lesbian in her sixties on her thoughts about gays and lesbians having children. She has two kids from a previous marriage years ago. She said, “I think conventional families can risk problems and issues having a single child more than singles, lesbians, or any other 'out of the norm' family or person, cause those issues are added to the child’s already complex growing up process.” Of course, I highly disagreed with this statement, but that’ s just because of what I’ve seen in my own experience, as an aunt and a friend to a well-grounded lesbian couple who has only one child who has grown up perfectly fine. Perhaps her age and old fashioned views may have gotten in the way of her rational thinking - or - do you think I’m being judgmental with that statement? Sometimes, older people seem to have a different definition of what a family “should” be like. For me, as long as a child is loved tremendously, cared for and taught the best they can on how to handle everyday life, then who’s to say a gay or lesbian couple can’t handle this? Only heterosexual couples are fit for parents? And surprisingly, a lesbian said this.

You may agree or disagree, but when does it come to the point where people are getting too judgmental? When is it time to keep your views to yourself? What about politics? What about those types of people who nudge and nudge just to get a rise out of you because they’re on the opposite side of the political double edged sword? They say the worst things to talk about with someone new are politics and religion. I say the worst thing to talk about with new and old friends are politics and religion. It never gets anywhere, and in fact, the other person becomes stronger in their views. So, all in all, no one is swaying anybody’s views. It’s just a big pissing contest. Nobody wins. Everbody’s frustrated. Game over.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.” ~Paulo Coelho

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Man Who Walks Alone Walks Faster: Mark C. Durfee

There are very few authors that can hold my interest for an extended length of time. There are some bloggers who tend to drift off the main pathway of what they initially blogged for --and that’s okay, because I’m one of them. I must say, I’m most impressed with those authors, poets and bloggers who seem to continuously have content for a main theme of it all - their muse for writing - their “reason” to write, and on top of that, to correlate it to everyday life, whether people can relate to it or not. For myself, I prefer the type writing that can place me into a different world and place less focus on my own. One author that comes to mind is, Mark C. Durfee. I’ve been following his poetry for years and I recently just purchased two of his chapbooks: Stink and The Line Between. He’s a great poet and storywriter, all taken from his brilliant mind and what he experiences on a daily basis. He makes no apologies for what he says. He makes no excuses. It's raw. It's brilliant. It's strong. Be prepared if you do read his work, it'll truly blow your mind.

After I was finished reading one book, I went to go visit my mother to relax and unwind, and continue reading his second book. Within seconds, my mother quickly snatched up one of the books and was unable to put it down. She kept interrupting me, telling me how much she could relate to a lot of his writings. She also loved many of the poems that were written. And get this ---my mother hates to read. Her attention span is no bigger than a fly’s when it comes to books, poetry or any sort of writing....that she has to read.

Have you ever noticed some of the best authors are not published with big time publishing houses? All the more reason to pick up Mark’s books and give it a go. In all honesty, Mark's books would definitely be best sellers, if publishing houses would just notice the radiating brilliance that continues to shine throughout the blogospheres.

Hats off to you, Mark! I’ve read your poetry online, your books page by page and had the luxury of hearing you verbally, telling stories that unfolded before my eyes. Thank you for sharing your world with us and thank you, for sharing yourself most of all.

Please visit Mark at www.themanwhowalksalonewalksfaster.blogspot.com

Click here to purchase the books that I'm so fortunate to have in my library. They're definitely keepers.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time to Leave Part II

It’s funny. Ever notice when you’re either about to leave a job, relationship, a home - whatever it is - it’ll start testing your patience on a larger scale? And what I mean by that is - you will go through the ringer for some reason. Everything seems to go wrong all at once. It’s at the very end, and you’re almost out of a bad situation or, a situation that’s ‘best’ to get out of - and all the shit you were so sick of increases for whatever reason. Granted we’re out of here by next month. We loved it here/we hated it here, as I’ve stated in my previous post about this condo, but the little things that irritate me are multiplied by a thousand now. So, if you don’t mind, I need to bitch and moan once again about this problematic complex. I’m even going to bullet this bitch. (You can tell I've lost sleep and I'm a bit crass, so pardon me...)

* Losing sleep. I have lost sleep for a number of reasons. The neighbors downstairs won’t stop galloping like a buncha’ wild horses. The dog starts barking nonstop from 5am till mid-morning. There’s an overgrown tree right next to my bedroom window and air conditioning unit. It hits the wall, the a/c unit about a million times per night, waking me out of a deep sleep. So needless to say, I anticipate this loud “bang” at any given time. I’ve been up for about four days now and finally got a little rest last night.

(Click here if you can't view the video. This is something I shot while my black water problem had reared its ugly head.)

* Black water. I don’t know what the hell is going on, but once in a while, we seem to get a rush of black water coming through our faucets, shower heads and toilet bowls. It’s so awful that I had to take a video of it. Each time I tell the home owner’s association, they tell me it must be due to the construction going on. --There’s no construction anywhere. So a month later, I asked again what was going on. They had repairmen fixing the problem in our building because our other neighbors were complaining as well. We have never once drank this water---ever. We use bottled water for drinking as well as for the coffee maker. That’s just insane. I actually pray while showering that it doesn't strike then. It’s unnerving.

* Bees. I’m fully aware that this time of the year we have to deal with bees finding their own homes, which means sniffing around every corner of our decks and property. Fine. But the problem with this building, among others alike is that there is no routine maintenance. Last year, I opened my walk-in closet door to find a slew of carpenter bees relaxing on my nice white towels. I. freaked. the. hell. out. I walked into my living room and there were yellow jackets flying everywhere. I called the HOA and pleaded with them to get the exterminators here asap. They did. I told them I was deathly allergic to bees and that they need to seal up the attic (which is their property) so I that can live in peace. Things were taken care of, until this year when they decided that they didn’t want to do anything about it. Again, bees all came flooding into my closet, which has a trap door to the attic. Unacceptable. They got the exterminator once again, and it seems like the deck is now unable to be enjoyed because there's this sappy tree that is overgrown attracting them like flies on shit. We’re screwed for the entire month if we wanna get some relaxation outside.

* Opened gas containers. The utility company had to come to our unit to check out a possible gas leak. As the utility rep walked outside on my deck, he asked, “Did you know that your neighbors below have opened gas containers that are very hazardous?” First of all, none of these units are allowed to have gas grills, so what the hell would make them think they’re allowed to keep opened gas containers out on their deck? I understand the guy below is a landscaper and needs storage, but put it behind your truck, not underneath my unit.

* Slamming doors. The angry lady below me has a fetish with slamming doors until something upstairs (in my unit) comes crashing down. Either she’s just a miserable bitch or she doesn’t understand her own strength, but usually, it’s right after she’s been quarreling with her husband. And if you’re reading this "Miss Angry Woman" - STOP the madness! The other day while we were sitting on the couch watching TV, she had slammed the door so hard that one of my huge paintings fell right onto the tiled floor in the foyer. It didn’t break, thank God, but it sure scared the crap out of me - both slams. This isn’t the first time this woman has shaken my unit. I had a smaller photo frame that came literally smashing down. I had to buy a new glass frame for it. I never said anything. I just bought a much more stable hook for it. Try listening to this woman slam doors like the Incredible Hulk at 5am. Not fun.

I’m really hoping the next people who get to live here are going to be more fierce, much louder and give the neighbors below a dose of their own medicine. In fact, a family with a few kids would be nice. God, grant my wish. Ah but atlas, revenge is only for God to take.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Time to Leave...

While going through a transitional time in my life, I found myself moving into a new condo in the next town over. The move was exciting: a new place, a different type of neighborhood and stores within reaching distance. Civilization. Although I had to get used to hearing other people around me, listening to cars pass on the street and the occasional love quarrel below, it wasn’t bad at all. Our neighbors were nice, mostly families, new couples starting out and the elderly. Sunday mornings, I used to love sitting outside on my deck watching this nice black family below all pile into their huge caravan to go to church. Each one was dressed up better than the other. Their children had beautiful dresses and suits on - something I’ve never seen in the churches I used to attend. Their laughter and overall joy they exuded was contagious. In my mind, I just kept thinking, wow, church was never that exciting. They must have been promised ice cream afterwards. Even as high up as I was up on my deck, they would look up and say good morning. I knew this would be a great place to live. I met a couple of nice friends around the way who I always invited to my little parties. It was fun.

As time went on, I began to realize there were a lot of speed bumps in this neighborhood (besides the ones the HOA would place every two inches of the road). The nice church going family had moved out, different people starting moving in, as well as transients who were either waiting for their new house, or unfortunately just foreclosed on one. Upon my third year here, things got a little shaky in our own building. There are a few young couples who live here. On the bottom/basement level, a very young couple moved in. They were having a party one night while Mad and I (the old couple) were in bed by 11pm. It got louder, but that never bothered me much. I could sleep knowing other people are having a nice time. What I can’t sleep through is someone yelling, “Look out! He’s got a gun!” It wasn’t too long till the police arrived and broke up their little shindig. A few nights after that, a woman was tossing a dining room set out off from her deck and onto the street. There were pieces of wood everywhere. Her husband was pleading for her to stop, but she kept on...throwing out every piece of furniture she could find, screaming on top of her lungs like a banshee.

Understandably, every couple fights now and then. We definitely have our moments too. But there’s a thought that should be considered: your neighbors. The walls have ears. It’s not like you have your own house. Everyone is attached to you and if they’re not attached, they live right across from you. Our neighbors in the condo below us were always noisy - but that’s just life. You can’t stop someone from galloping like a horse if that’s the only way they know how to...walk. As we were getting an early start to go to bed, from 10pm - 1am, this couple was feuding like anything. By 11pm, things were being thrown, smashed and of course, the doors were slamming. I was wondering how their neighbors below them were sleeping. But soon enough, I saw the lights of the police drive in. It was silence, until 6am when they woke up to start in all over again. I guess noise ordinance is before 10pm and after 6am? Not sure. But what bothered me the most was the day they brought a dog home. I didn’t think much of it, until later on, as the dog grew older, I realized 99% of the time, this dog was inside the unit. The next time I saw the dog, he was full grown. If the constant barking wasn't enough to drive us insane, picture a full grown dog with a wee wee pad on the deck below us. ...Think... I kept saying, “It smells like a barnyard”, repeatedly to Mad. We couldn’t figure out what the deal was. Then we thought it was sulfur or worse yet--raw sewage, so we called the HOA to investigate and found the wee wee pads that hadn’t been changed in probably weeks. There were so many flies that you couldn't even sit out there. The poor dog was defecating onto the deck below us, leaving us shutting our windows on warm summer nights. That ended right away, and now...it’s back. It amazes me how people treat their animals. Dogs need to get exercise, especially a bigger sized dog. It also amazes me how unsanitary people can be. If you're going to live like a pig, get your own house far, far away.

So, with all that being said and written down, I’m happy to say that we will be moving out of here to a quieter place - a house - with zero neighbors next month. We actually loved our time here. They’re beautiful condos, but I’ve been noticing more and more, the neighborhood itself is getting a bit seedy. I never believed for once that would happen to this complex. Above all, we get to live in peace knowing that there isn’t a neglectful owner next door who had left for weeks on end while his boiler exploded, leaving six other families without a home. It was a very ‘eventful’ couple of years. But now it’s time to go.

(As I was writing that last paragraph, sirens came blaring into the complex surrounding one of the buildings & it's not even 10am yet.)

Yeah, it’s time.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Is Love a Temporary Madness?

Years ago when I was struggling over a breakup, a good friend of mine really came through for me. She gave me emotional support, friendship, and most of all, she made me laugh a lot. It was the best medicine ever. She also said some really profound things that made me look at my situation a bit differently. Today, as I was cleaning out my desk for our big move soon, I found an email I had printed out from years ago. I’m not a clutter bug, but for whatever reason, I kept this printed out email for years, folded up and tucked into an envelope that was in my filing cabinet in an unmarked folder. When I read it, I went straight into my email online and found the electronic version so I could share part of it with you all. During that time, I was in the midst of writing my book and sharing my raw and emotional thoughts with my friend. We tossed around quite a few long-winded emails. This one email, I was always save...

“I am looking forward to grandkids, and playing and retiring. I actually can't wait. Life is a beautiful journey, and I look forward to sagging boobs, and lines on my face and looking at my partner who is more wrinkled then I, and still finding her to be the most beautiful woman alive.

Very deep heavy passage. Here is what I read recently off of someone's profile. It is a line from a movie, which of course I just rented.

‘Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.’ - Captain Corelli's Mandolin

It went on in the movie to say, it doesn't sound so exciting, but it is. For me, I know that. Because when I was "in love" and then when the passion died, there was still so much love that I didn't know where to go with it all. It had nothing to do with sex, although I was still attracted to them. One made my knees weak always. Another made my soul weak. But ultimately, for both of them, we were not meant to be together as lovers, just friends. And I am ok with that, today.

Sex is nothing in the scheme of things, however it is an important expression of love. It is not something that should be freely shared, at least for me its not, yet it needs to be shared. However, love comes from your heart and your soul and it is meant for us to live that love. It is our greatest gift from God, and also his last commandment.”
~Author known only by me

I will always be grateful for this email. Thank you, my friend.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Is Osama bin Laden Dead?

As much as I hate to talk about politics, I have to say that I am so sick and tired of hearing people insisting that Barack Obama is lying about bin Laden’s death. “It’s all for his approval ratings” --and then the conspiracy theory thugs who say it was all about the election drawing nearer. And as you’ve probably read through my blog posts and tweets, I’m not a huge fan of Obama, but more and more republicans are making themselves look like complete assholes, ie: Donald Trump. I get it. We were leery and didn’t trust many things about Obama’s mission, promises, “changes” and yes, agenda. Now I’m questioning: have we taken it too far? How many more times do we have to make complete fools of ourselves in order to see that Obama may not be all that bad? And, that question also goes for my friends who hold similar views as I do. It didn’t occur to me how bad of a rap Obama got, until it went a little too far. Now that he has done the ultimate “impossible mission” of killing Osama bin Laden, when will we stop doubting him? It will never end.

“Osama bin Laden isn’t dead.” It’s all over facebook, it’s all over Twitter and blogs across the globe. There was even a deleted tweet by Chuck Todd. It said, “Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaida killed one of our troops...and put photos of the body on the internet.” Given the fact that bin Laden killed over 3,000 people in 9/11 attack, that statement doesn’t seem fair to compare it to one of our troops. But just think about the higher risk - the escalation of possible terrorism on our own soil, once again if Osama bin Laden’s graphic photos were to be released on mainstream media and on the internet? America has to stay classy - has to refrain from rejoicing over a death, although we are very pleased about the justice. Then I wonder about Saddam Hussein’s death. They have numerous photos of his hanging. Why him and not Osama? I then begin to rethink why Obama won’t release the photos, yet Saddam Hussein’s photos were “okay”. Maybe by showing photos that are too graphic, more bloody is a bit more disrespectful? Regardless, any death photo is disrespectful. Should we care? These men weren’t respectful themselves, but as Americans, shouldn’t we refrain from showing the public due to a rise in terrorism? Someone, no doubt, will want to pay us back.

Clear my confusion if you can. What do you truly think? In your honest opinion and thoughts, how do you feel about Obama not releasing the photos? Do you think Osama bin Laden is really dead?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com

Monday, May 02, 2011

Assumptions

While spending some quality time with my straight friends over the weekend, I was asked a very interesting question regarding a married couple who got divorced because the husband’s wife had fallen in love with another woman. “Deb, do they just realize they’re gay or did they know all their lives?” This is a tricky one because it crosses the borders of 'is it a choice or is it genetics'? While I do believe that there are some genetics in the works, I also believe that there are many instances where it definitely is a choice. Think about it this way: there are many gays and lesbians who choose to live a heterosexual life for whatever reason. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not happy, but it does raise some pretty interesting questions regarding their hidden desires. That question had to be answered very gingerly. I didn’t want to lump all ‘new’ gays and lesbians into one bulk. Is there even such a thing as "new" gays & lesbians? Everyone’s different. So I based it on what Madelene and myself had gone through in our past.

I explained to them how Madelene was married to a man - a man who was her best friend. Yes, she loved him, but she knew all her life she was more attracted to women. But for her, it was more about connecting with someone emotionally; someone who she could relate to and feel genuine attraction towards. As for me, I knew all my life, but I also knew that I was attracted to guys while in high school. It was half & half, I guess you can say I’m bisexual, without having my cake and eating it too. It’s all about the emotional connection I lacked with any of my previous boyfriends. And like my wife, I needed to be genuinely attracted to the person I’m with on every level. For some people, they do just find out that they’re bi, gay or whatever. And that’s okay. You just can't argue with that. If it’s a choice, then you have to go with your heart. But what about women who have been hurt by men, who choose to be a lesbian just because they’re too resentful? “I hate men!” They become manhaters and sometimes, they develop these unhealthy relationships with other women because they aren’t “genuinely” attracted to them. They’re dating other women because they’re angry at men. That's usually a short-lived homosexual life.

Each and every one of us are so different and unique in our own ways. Who’s to say what’s a choice and what may be genetic, unless they’ve known all their lives? How can you make assumptions about someone else’s heart, desires and “genuine attractions” unless it’s honestly told? There are so many situations, circumstances, changes of the heart and bitterness that leaves so many people making different choices each and every day. I always say, “My gaydar went off”, if I meet someone who appears to be a “sister”, (as we lesbians call them) - if she appears to be bi or gay. But really, is it fair? This morning I had a bee exterminator come in. She knocked on the door and to my surprise, it was a very cute girl with a huge tank of bee spray. As she sprayed my deck she then came inside. I asked if she would like a cup of coffee, as I do with any contracted workers. She said, “No thank you. Sorry my voice is raspy, but I went to see a really cool car show yesterday.” She fixed her baseball cap and pulled out a contract for me to sign out from her pocket from her rugged, ripped and loosely fitted jeans. She then began to tell me about how she got into the exterminator business and how she is deathly allergic to bees. I found that interesting since she’s dealing with them for a living. When she walked out, my 'gaydar' went off. But then again, I have met straight women who have been a little rough around the edges. I then began to realize how unfair it was for me to judge just upon first meeting, especially during a workday for her.

I guess it’s normal to assume anything with anyone because we’re all human. It makes life a little more interesting, even if it’s a bit unfair. People love to gossip - that’s a given - but when does it come to the point of taking it too far? Why can’t people just be people without the labels or assumptions? Maybe the interest lies of the person assuming?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com