Thursday, October 31, 2013

Be Who You Are

It makes me very sad to think that there are people out there still in the closet, afraid to come out and tell their family and loved ones that they're gay or lesbian. There can be many factors why someone would stay quiet about their sexuality. For me, the people I surrounded myself in the past would make derogatory remarks, like, "Eww, gross! That girl's a lesbian," or "She's a lesbo," --those types of things. I even heard someone mutter out, "But she's so pretty, why would she resort to dating women when she can get any man she wants?" So being a "lesbian" meant that the person wasn't "pretty enough" to have a boyfriend. And in this case, if she was pretty, then it just didn't make sense. "She mustuv' got hurt by some guy." Here's the thing --- what a dreadful life to live if your life cannot be lived to its fullest. What a dreadful life it would be if you couldn't be...you. How awful it would be if you had to hide all of your relationships, in fear of your family and friends' judgments. If the people you surround yourself with truly love you, they will never leave you. What makes it so hard sometimes is when the people in your life say such horrible things about the gay and lesbian lifestyle. So why come out and have them mock you, right? It feels very intimidating and scary. You hear a lot more slang words and insults regarding the homosexual lifestyle when you only reveal yourself as a heterosexual. They think it's "okay" to bash gays and lesbians, because hey --- you're straight too, right? (That makes it okay.) I remember for me it got to the point where I heard so much crap about 'that lesbo' or 'that fag' that I said, "What if one of your friends were gay?" They just shut up and stared at me. After I came out, all of those hurtful words described for gay people disappeared. The fake acceptance was definitely an effort to salvage the friendship, but sometimes, it's not enough once those same people start disappearing from your life altogether.

The unknown.

It's scary for many people. I refused to live a life hidden from the world, "pretending" I liked boys. While everyone spoke about their relationships and marriages, here I was keeping my lips zipped so that I wouldn't make anyone uncomfortable with my relationship problems, or if I happened to have met a nice girl. It would have been a conversation downer for sure. I remember once while everyone was rattling off about their relationships, I said something to relate about my own situation, and I heard, "Well, that's different, you're gay." I'll never forget those words. She disregarded my heartfelt input and deemed it invalid just because my relationship was with another woman. I remember how hurtful it was to be dismissed like that. Worst of all, nobody said anything to the girl, or said, "Hey, Deb ---go 'head and tell us what happened." Once again, I shut up and let them go on talking about their lives. After all, my life was invalid. After time, it was ingrained in my little noggin that I shouldn't talk about my relationship to other straight people. They would feel awkward about it --- even if they knew I was gay. It wasn't like I was talking about intimate and sexual things --- just basic everyday relationship kind of stuff. But still --- too much for the fearful hetero to take in.

Pointing out the obvious.

It's a fact that most heterosexuals do not understand the dynamics of gays and lesbians. They understand it in derogatory terms. For instance, if someone is brave enough to come out to their straight friends who they have heard bashed gays at one time ---- they will feel hesitant to tell them anything more than just, "Hey, I'm gay." *Blink*  God forbid the female lesbian friend dresses more like a boy or the male gay friend dresses too feminine, a whole lotta' wardrobe suggestions are tossed out. I don't know which is worse: to be a gay man with the pressure of having a washboard stomach or a lesbian who is being pressure to wear girly type of clothing and a little makeup. Some people think that they're only trying to help when they make suggestions such as, "Lose a little weight," or "You should wear some makeup," when they're actually doing more damage. What they're really doing is making them more insecure --- they're already scared of the judgments of society. Let them be who they are. Each person in this world comes with a ton of beautiful imperfections, so why point out someone's 'thought-to-be' flaw, when that can actually be the one thing that attracts their future mate? There is someone for everyone and there are also people who don't wish to date at all. The stigma that you should be "married and settled down at so and so age" is complete and utter bullshit. That limited type of thinking is what makes me judge that person as an uneducated dimwit who doesn't get out often. And if you look at the people who do this type of crap --- they don't get out much. Think about the people in your life who do this. Now look at their lives.  Someone who is worldly, or at least has a social life beyond their home base and "comfort zone" would never pigeonhole a person into a web of insecurity issues.

The damage.

The damage is sometimes unseen, and at times, very much revealed. Someone who remains in the closet as a gay male or a lesbian female may have some consequences. First of all, a life lived in the closet is bound to approach a life lived in depression. It can trickle down to not caring about themselves, weight gain, social anxiety, panic attacks and even extreme behaviors to vent out their frustrations. They may even seek "religion" to cure them of their "disease" - pray your gay away type of crap. They'll always be seeking acceptance from others to validate that they're "okay". But they're not okay. I feel bad for those living under religious blankets in order to hide their true selves. Not only do they feel bad about who they are because of society and their loved ones, but they feel that God is angry at them too, so they seek refuge in a place they are terrified in --- like in a church or some sort of religious group.  Most run away from God altogether because of how other "Christians" interpret the bible, when in fact, being gay is not a sin. They are so misguided by the most shallowest of people that their lives become one big scary place. What's even worse is, some even resort to suicide since they feel they aren't worthy enough. This is what kind of damage a person can do if they aren't careful with a friend who is "believed" to be gay.

Liberate yourself.

I can't tell you how liberating it was to come out as "me" and see some of my loved ones and friends stay, and also, see some of them walk out of my life. Sometimes you think, "Oh, I can't handle my friends walking out of my life," when actually, that was the one thing you needed all along. You can be YOU without the belittling, without the gay bashing and without the suggestions about your appearance. Why would you want people in your life like that? God loves each of us the way we are. We are not a mistake. And whether our lifestyle is due to genetics or due to choice, we are who we are and we love who we love. It does not matter. Nowhere in the bible does Jesus say that being gay is a sin....nowhere. The Old Testament speaks volumes about how it's an abomination, but it also speaks volumes about how eating shrimp and lobster is an abomination as well. Those are the old laws, that some still go by. If you're reading this today and you happen to be gay and/or in the closet, just remember this: God loves you. If the people you surround yourself with truly love you, they'll still be there. Let the limited minded minions go and be. who. you. are!

“Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you are doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be!’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, ‘Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?’” ---Isaiah 45:9-10

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Forty

Too much for the mind...
Some say that when you reach your 40's, you're wiser and more spiritually in tune. Some believe you need to reach the age of 40 in order to read the Torah, otherwise the words will never be fully understood. They say it would be too much for the mind to handle. For me, I believe it's more of a spiritual sense whether you've developed it like a muscle or if you were truly blessed to reach that level of understanding. I guess for years I was more of a closet spiritual person, more of a closet Christian. Not to say that I was ashamed of my religion, but I didn't want to bump heads with anyone who believed differently than I did until I was well into my adulthood. At that point, I didn't care. I didn't care if people thought I was a "crazy Christian" or some kook who just had hallucinations of God Himself. It's funny, because I have friends that ask me a million questions about my beliefs and how to read the bible to where they're not so confused about it. They also ask me not to tell anyone that they've asked me these 'spiritual inquiries'. I'm more than happy to talk about it, or even help them understand how I interpret the book, because let's face it, that book is translated a billion times with different interpretations from each person. You have to develop your own relationship with God in order to truly read what's in the bible. Otherwise, you're going to read some scary stuff about God and how he's some massive force in the sky killing off the world. It's so much more than the natural and healthy fear of God. I get a lot of, "But I curse a lot, I drink a lot because I'm stressed and I'm so far away from being a perfect Christian -- I'm a mess!" We're all messy in some way. God loves us as is. If we weren't a big mess, we wouldn't need God to begin with. When you live a close to perfect life, somehow, or perhaps subliminally, you feel that you don't need God's help any longer. I welcome the messy situations in my life, the chronic pain that comes and goes, because if I didn't have all that, I wouldn't see the true blessings that come out of it, like being able to actually make my bed every morning and do housework. I grumbled about it in the past, but after having debilitating pain, I am more than thrilled to clean, do laundry and cook to my heart's content for my family. My pain makes me want to live. Same with money. If I had all the money I needed (or more so, wanted), I probably would take a whole lotta' other things for granted and not appreciate what I have right now.

It's all about perspective.

You've heard the ol' saying, "God works in mysterious ways" --- and it's for good reason. I've come to an understanding that I was destroying my body with certain foods and over-the-counter medications, to where I had to be hospitalized. Today, it's instilled in me to eat differently. If I hadn't gone through that awful and painful period in my life, I wouldn't be here today feeling better stomach-wise. I also have no need to remove my gallbladder as once suggested by a surgeon. So through God's path (and it can be confusing that He may have led you through a painful route), I am here today feeling grateful. The more of a relationship you have with God, the more you will "obey" His commandments --- not saying to live the perfect wholesome Christian life, but living a life doing less for yourself and more for others. Let me explain... They say (whoever "they" are), that in order to be happy, you have to be happy first. But what if that doesn't happen? The thing is, to get our own self-absorbed minds away from ourselves and reach out to someone who needs us. For instance, when a mother has her first child, she solely focuses on her child, ignoring her own problems or issues, which may have solved themselves on their own without her effort. What about, "Love yourself first in order to love anyone else"?  Love is not only an emotion, but it's actions taken to show your love. Without the action, what is there? Words? ...Meaningless really. I make breakfast for Mad to show her I care. I clean up the house so that when Madelene comes home, she doesn't come home to a mess. I make an effort (or try my best) to make it at family functions because I love my family and extended family. These are all done out of love. Someone can say they love you, but where were they when you were sick or needed help in some way, or even just needed an ear so you could vent a bit. I'm not saying turn your friends into psychotherapists, but any relationship, whether friendship, marriage or family related ---- make the effort and go out of your way. That's love.

Insecurity pushes away true love.

The other day I was asked why I drifted away from a friendship. I looked her straight in the eyes and told her the absolute truth. "I was insecure about who I was and feared judgments of my friends and peers, so I went my own way and I'm so sorry." It wasn't easy coming out of the closet at the age of nineteen. But my mind said, "They'll never accept you," when in fact, they were willing time and time again to bring me back in. I'm pretty much your average Aquarian: the overanalyzing, over-thinking neurotic free-spirited person. That can be good or bad. I thought for the longest time, that my wife's mom was always angry at me just because I came into Mad's life. In my head, I thought, "Well maybe she blames me for her daughter being a lesbian." Wasn't so. I kept this in my heart and put up a lot of walls in the beginning. I never went to family functions because I was so fearful of judgments. And now, that I have finally reached out (even in fear), there are no judgments. It's all love, friendship and family now. I kick myself every single day for waiting this long to really connect as "family" -- and although I know it's my fault, I also know it was that scared insecure little girl trying to hide from anyone who "may" have judged me harshly. So, at my ripe age of being four months short of being the big 4*0 --- I'm realizing the important things in life, and I'm also realizing what's not so important. Family, friends, togetherness, love, laughter, and for me and most of all, a higher and richer relationship with God --- this messy ol' bat still has her faith more than ever. Throw away all the insecurities and in comes a whole new life full of everything you've ever wanted. Insecurity destroyed me.

There's a bigger picture.

It doesn't matter if you're white, black, gay, straight, skinny, fat, rich or poor. God loves us the way we are --- so who's to judge us with such righteousness? And why do we program our brains to think that we're being judged? Maybe because that's just human nature? But in the bigger picture, in heaven, in the afterlife ---- it's a whole different ballgame. There are no short, tall, big, thin, race or other --- it's just spirits connecting. Why can't it be like that here on earth? So from here on out, I refuse to tuck my life away in fear of judgments. I refuse to listen to people bashing one another, judging one another so harshly, when they have a lot of flaws themselves. And flaws are a beautiful thing! God loves us "as is" -- He loves that we have messy lives, which is why He sent His son down to save us. He knew we'd have trouble with sin or any other issue we may be facing. We can only do the best that we can and God acknowledges every single little effort we put into this life, into our family, into our friendships and into ourselves. Enjoy life while we have it and look forward to all that you have on the other side. Until then, I'm going to grab every opportunity to take action to let my family and friends know how much they mean to me. It's the only way. And it took me turning 40 to do this.


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

#Spoonies

Ever see one of those posts people plop onto Facebook where it says someone you may know may have an invisible disability of some sort? Most of it is like, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia or other chronic and sometimes debilitating ailments. As I've written many times before about my dysmenorrhea, I've gotten to the point where I can no longer live with it any longer. These days, it's not only the pain from dysmenorrhea, it triggers my sciatica pain as well. Double whammy. I am not willing to give up 2-3 days of my life per month (which is when the pain is excruciating) in order to nurse this condition or end up in the hospital with Dilaudid -- a medicine ten times stronger than morphine. The main side effect: death from respiratory depression. At that point of pain, you're begging for death. The other night, I watched the clock slip hour by hour as I screamed in pain. 10 o'clock...11 o'clock...1 o'clock...4 o'clock. Madelene finally said, "Let's go." The problem with carting me up to the ER was, how will I make it up there if my condition makes me use the restroom every FIVE minutes? That's not even an exaggeration. When I got up to the ER, the doctors and nurses could not even believe the pain I was in. Sadly, not even the strongest medication could relieve me. I was on my 12th hour of excruciating pain. They wanted to double my dosage of Dilaudid, knowing I already had oxycodone in my system. Side note: I never understand why people want these types of prescription drugs to "get high" with --- because for me, it NEVER gets me high. It usually levels me out to normalcy - a life without pain where I'm a functioning human being. No highs ever. Nothing works anymore. You could pump heroin into my bloodstream and that wouldn't even phase me.

A living hell nobody knows about.

What are "spoonies"?

During the rest of the month when I am "fine" -- I live a very fulfilling life full of family, friends and outings. I enjoy myself most of the time and enjoy life as much as I can. I know that it's all going to come to a halt once my pain knocks on the door, so I try to enjoy every single minute of those beautiful breaks. I went Twitter to search for #chronicpain. I saw people with chronic pain also hashtagged #spoonies. When I looked it up on Google, it described someone who is enamored in a silly or sentimental way. But when I dug deeper, it described people who live with chronic illnesses, such as myself. We don't look sick. We don't look like we live a life full of misery. We usually look happy and healthy on the outside -- even when we're in pain. That's why many of the medical staffers in hospitals don't take "us" seriously, because they strictly go by the good ol' pain scale face chart as seen above. For me, personally speaking, I try not to bog down my friends with my ailments and illnesses, and if I do, I try to make light of it, telling them that I have an assigned room at the hospital where they know me by first name. "Hey Deb, welcome back," the nurses say as I'm wheeled to my room. It's actually quite true and I always make light of it, I never get offended. I do know some of the staff there already. They even know that I hate being on any type of narcotics and always beg for Toradol (an anti-inflammatory). I wish I could just pop two Advils. That would help, if it weren't for my constant stomach bleeding. So now, I'm pumped up with the highest levels of narcs...and I hate it.

After the storm usually comes another cloud: depression. This is when I reflect of what I just went through and all the events I may have missed. This is when I sometimes wish my life would end. I start anticipating next year's vacation plan: "Will it be during that painful time?" Oddly enough and by God's grace, usually my vacation plans are never during that time. I lucked out, but I'm worried about this June's getaway. It's more than a six hour drive and with the excruciating pain and a five minute increment of peeing, I'm not sure that's feasible. So I kind of drift off into a depressive phase which I usually snap out of -- because there's not much time left until the next round. So I make the best of those pain-free days and try to cram everything in at once. Who knows - I may not get a break one day. I did come to a huge decision that was not easy to make. I'm removing my uterus which is the culprit for all my triggered pain. I don't have any fibroids or enlargements -- it's an overactive uterus that wreaks havoc on my entire system, making my sciatica go wild and leaving me literally paralyzed. No more. I'm done. Hopefully this surgery will be my last visit to the hospital in a very long time, until I need knew 'gels' for my degenerative disc disease. A whole other can-o-beans to deal with.

I'm writing about this today because there are so many other people like me living with some type of invisible disability. They're are a lot of people who never talk about it at all. They don't want to be associated with something like, a "mental disorder" or "chronic illness" -- they want to live a normal life. Who doesn't? Perhaps living the way I do makes me appreciate every second and every hour of those good days. In fact, I know it does. At times, I can even be thankful for these hard times because without them, maybe I would take my "good days" for granted. I don't know. When it's a pain free day, I am on a euphoric high. Just sitting outside with a cup of coffee feeling nothing but the sun on my face is usually one of the best days of my life. You know how they say you have to have lived in poverty in order to appreciate wealth? Same concept with pain. So today, I am going to enjoy every. single. second. of being pain free. If you're a "spoonie" like me, Google it or look up the hashtag, #spoonie on Twitter. You'll be surprised that you're not alone. It doesn't have to be all about physical chronic pain, it can mean depression and anxiety disorders as well. And now, for my cup of coffee with my best friend. Hope everyone feels great today.


For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Exit

Sometimes it's strange when you look back at your life from just a few years ago to a decade or even twenty plus years ago. It rolls out like a movie. You see all the characters who came in and out of your life, and you also see the characters who still remain in your life. From friends, lovers, and even family members who drift in and out of your 'movie'. It plays out with no explanation. Sometimes, when it has a good enough explanation, I always question every single action that led to the break in the relationship. Whether it be the lack of communication, or perhaps too much 'negative' communication, the fact is, it severed the ties. "A reason, a season, a lifetime," comes to mind and I have to wonder which one fits with each person. Do you ever think back to a time when you were sitting with someone you love(d) and thought the relationship would never end? I think many people take their relationships for granted, thinking that same concept, until out of the blue...it ends. At one time, you were so secure in knowing you would grow old with that person. At one time, you never would have thought that the person standing across from you would ever even think about leaving your life. Why---because they promised you they'd stay? Because they 'said' they were going to be there forever? That's why words are meaningless sometimes. 'Mean what you say and say what you mean' really doesn't apply anymore. It's all about actions and that's about all you can truly count on. Life is like a highway --  each route can either pick new people up or sadly, drop some people off. You just gotta know your exit.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Unexplainable

One day you're here and the next day, you're not. You wouldn't know it because you've never experienced it, only people you once knew or loved have. Do you think life plays out like a movie and we're all the actors trying to fulfill our part? What makes a 15 year old kid decide to commit suicide by running into the wrong lane, ending up killing two healthy men who each had their own family at home? What explains a kid getting killed playing baseball in the park all because the pitcher threw the ball right into the middle of his chest giving him cardiac arrest? What explains a mother's loss of her child for no apparent reason whatsoever while taking a nap in his crib? What explains woman losing her husband to a heart attack at the age of 35? Is life one big test? What explains cancer? What explains suffering? What can explain the horrible things that go on in this world? Perhaps scientifically and medically we can explain it all, but our spirits are still agonizing over the fact that our loved one was JUST here, and now, they're gone. Put aside the 'facts' and you have an unexplainable situation. All the "prayers and thoughts" from others can only do so much. Although done in good faith, it becomes redundant and almost cliché. Nobody can really say anything to comfort someone who is in mourning. You can't give advice because it isn't the same situation. Nothing is the same. Feelings are different, the love is varied and the heart is so complicated.

I look up into the sky sometimes, wondering where my dad is, hoping I'll get a sign. He once said to me, "When I'm gone," (he's been saying that since I'm 1 yr old), I'm coming back as a hawk!" I know that sounds so general, but hey, that's what he wanted for his sign. So every single morning, I see a hawk fly by, (hoping it doesn't grab my chihuahua), and I think, "Dad?" Silly, right? But it's like, where is he? It's so silent. It's so still. He's gone. At times, I seem to lose my faith somewhere in the pile of questions I have for God. Is dying somewhat like a dead battery? Once the life wears out, it's done? Is it "lights out" --- a bunch of nothingness just sinking into the earth once again? Our "intelligent" minds say it can't be so. There has to be something. What explains all the near death experiences where everyone is giving similar stories? What explains near death patients doing the same exact things: pulling at their bed sheets, talking to deceased loved ones and giving account of who's on the other side? My dad knew one of his friends passed away before even finding out. He said, "Lookit' Frankie! He's with the angels now." And oddly enough, Frankie passed away a week prior. Coincidence? I'm really not sure. As we sit here in our third dimensional bodies wondering endlessly about eternity, are we wasting life on what's no longer here, while our living loved ones are waiting for us to return to reality? The meaning of life is always going to be floating over our heads, but the quality of life may suffer if we dwell on it too long.

Trust in God.

Emotionally & physically ~
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 We know that when this earthly tent we live in his taken down--when we die and leave these bodies--we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So our aim is to please him always, whether we are here in this body or away from this body. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Witches, Warlocks & Pagans, Oh My!

Last night I got to finally watch American Horror Story. I have to say it was really interesting with a bit of seediness to it, but they gathered a bunch of great actors in this show. Anything with Kathy Bates in it is worth watching. The bulk of it was about witches -- mainly, witches who didn't appear to be witches. They weren't your average frizzy gray-haired zaftig broads, well except for Kathy Bates, but they were your everyday average women, from young to middle-aged. But isn't that how it is in real life? Do you believe in "witches"? I always came across "good witches" ---so they said. They were only to cast "good spells" and "good karma energy" as well as prayed to goddesses or 'the universe' for good fortune and health for all. Even though my faith is in Christianity, I never excluded people of different faiths, even faiths I was warned about. I remember a friend of mine who was Wiccan. She was also one of the local psychics in our town. We would hang out occasionally and she would ramble off something about my personal life out of the blue, thinking she had this 'intuitive' feel that something in my life was about to 'shift'. She was always wrong. I just chucked it up to a "wannabe witch". She'd dress up is these long flowing oversized shirts with half crescent moon and star designs while wearing a slew of crystals for protection. She smelled like a small candle shop that had way too much inventory. Despite her beliefs and whatnot, I always found her to be funny and exciting to be around. One day while having lunch, she said to me, "I'm casting a spell tonight that 'so & so' will pass away. He's sick anyway." I was confused, because I thought spells and casts were only meant for 'good" --- this wasn't "good' in my eyes. She explained to me that it was of good, and if he passes away, he will no longer be in pain, and then she can roommate with his wife because she needed an affordable place to live. I didn't question the obvious. I remained silent and slowly drifted away from that friendship, hoping she wouldn't cast a spell of "goodness" on me.

Years ago, I remember coming across a teacher who was very open about his "religion". He was a satanist and explained to his students how it was just another religion like everyone else's. He explained how most Christians are against it because it was just "different" and explained the history of it, making it seem 'not so bad'. Nobody really cared, they were just fascinated that this man with the jet black hair and the thinly shaven beard that curled up like Satan's at the tip of his chin, was just too interesting to complain about. He was also an incredible artist and sculptor. (If any of my old friends are reading this post today, you'll definitely know who I'm talking about.) He taught social studies. For some reason, I could never pay attention to him because he had this nasally monotone voice that just drove me insane. So one day, I decided to head over to the cafeteria and have coffee and a cigarette outside, instead of sitting in his classroom bored to death. As I was walking down the hallway, I noticed it was only me. It was so silent and empty. When I turned around to see if there was any ounce of life leftover after the bell rang five minutes prior, there he was -- my teacher -- walking behind me. I faced forward and then thought, "Oh just fess up and turn around." When I turned around----poof-----he was gone. Just. like. that. The hallway was once again, empty. After that period, I went up to my friend who was in that class. I asked her, "Did he leave the room while he was teaching?"  She said, "No, he was there the entire time."

Fast forward seven years, I was working for the Sorrento Cheese Company in their accounting department. The controller (my boss) was named Steve. During the interview, I knew something was up, but wasn't quite sure. His office was very bland, dark and had gargoyles on each corner of his desk and entrance of his office. Gargoyles aren't seen as "evil", but they are creepy little critters if you ask me. Steve was very pale, tall, skinny with jet black hair and jet black beady eyes. He hired me on the spot and I began working there for quite some time. During those times, I noticed some strange things. He never liked me giving any of my coworkers attention. He'd ask me to come to his office and figure out what was wrong with the ledger reports. I'd always come to save him, especially when he made a $17,000.00 error in the budget. I always saved his ass. This time, he sat me down and stared at me. I was trying to explain what was wrong with the calculations and when I looked back up, a dead, blank stare --- almost draining the life out of me. The one thing I noticed was, his eyes went ALL BLACK. No whites whatsoever. I felt dizzy and had to sit down. I told him that I thought I was coming down with something and apologized. Not even a week later, I got a call from Madelene and hour before I had to leave from work. I never used the phone for personal use so it wasn't an "issue". All of the sudden, I turned around because I felt heat on me --- it was Steve staring me down with those strange black eyes you'd only see in horror movies.  I dropped the phone in the middle of my conversation and passed out. I woke up in a locker room with the secretary putting water on my face while lying down on a bench. She said, "You're alright. I saw everything. You're not going crazy. Stay away from him." How can I stay away from my boss? I stayed a couple of more months, until he said very inappropriate, sexually harassing statements to me. That day, I left. No sexual harassment reports. No having to deal with anything, other than finding a new job.

In my own faith, we're taught that the five pointed star is a symbol of the devil. We're also told by people who practice Wicca that it's not a sign of the devil, but a symbol of the five elements: earth, fire, water, air and metal. Years later, due to the people of this religion wanting to make this more "accepting", the metal was replaced by "spirit". The thing is, the five elements of earth is just that. There is no spirit. In Christianity, we are taught that Jesus' followers are not of this earth - we are of the Spirit. We are not supposed to worship the earth, we are supposed to appreciate it only. This is why the pentagram or the five pointed star goes against our grain. It's opposing. It still symbolizes satanism, even if people of Wicca want to deny this fact. It's in our history which cannot be changed. They used the same symbol. I once walked into a small shop that sold incense oils, candles and crystals and they had a huge sign on the door that explained the pentagram. They said that it was not to be feared or deemed as "evil", but only of the nature that surrounds us. They said it was "good" and not evil. It was almost like methinks thou dost protest too much, but I went in knowing my faith, secure with my own level of understanding and acceptance. Please don't get me wrong,  I don't 'down' any religion that's against my own, but it is only out of my belief and understanding to which I grasp onto. To each their own...?

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Part of the Pack

Even to till day, I'm still not used to it. I have no "alone" time when I'm home, if you're not counting humans that is. I'm stared at, jumped on and when I lay down to watch TV, I have a chihuahua sitting on top of me trying to snuggle. She's almost become more of an appendage. At night before I sleep, there's no such thing as settling in without my dog curling up either between my legs or on my chest and even under my arm. I'm a bit flip-floppy in bed cause I have insomnia issues, so Madelene usually slides her over to her side. Lola and I have a routine together. After breakfast, I have to sit outside on the deck with her to finish my coffee as she plays with her toys happily. If I go inside, she comes back in to get me. We are hardly ever without each other, unless I have to leave the house. She knows what I'm saying too. I never thought dogs were "intelligent" or even had an ounce of understanding other than "commands" that are redundantly ingrained in their little noggins. If she's playing with her huge bone on the deck making a ton of noise, I say, "Lola, please go take that to your bed and play with it." Off she goes and does exactly what I say. When we're outside playing and I see her panting, I say, "Drink some water, Lola." Off she goes to her water bowl. When I'm making dinner and my mother's coming up to join us, I say, "Lola, go get Nanna." She runs off to the front entrance and literally grabs Nanna to bring her upstairs. If I want to entertain her, I put on Youtube videos of dogs. She's entertained until the video has ended. Animal Planet is her favorite channel, especially if I'm going to be out for an extended period of time.

I mainly work from home, so she's a well adjusted little pup. But that doesn't come without some consequences. Lola has a huge case of separation anxiety. As soon as I put earrings on, she gives me a look like, "Not again..." When I'm working in my office, she peeks her head inside just to check if I'm still there. Then, when she realizes I'm at my desk, she continues to play outside. I'm not sure if that's healthy, but it's something I have to deal with. There are a few people I know who keep their dogs as "outside pets". Sure they have lavish dog houses and perhaps another companion to play with, but for me, my Lola is my family. Maybe I'm too attached? I think that if you bring a pet into your home, that home is to be shared just as you would with a child. Am I becoming Paris Hilton-ish? Maybe. We always set aside a "Lola outing" --- because she needs to socialize and have fun too. We bring her to the dog park or walk her around the ponds. We take her window shopping just to give her a different scenery or just take her out with us. She's part of the pack. She's part of our family. And that's how it is - that's how it should be.

Saturday morning while Madelene and I were having breakfast, Lola came rushing inside to 'tell us something'. I wasn't sure what was going on, but as she pulled me toward the door, she showed me her dilemma.

(Watch the video below.)


Before I got Lola, I remember telling everyone how I would never sleep with a pet if I had one. Pets should have their own sleeping area. I even saw a show once warning people to not sleep with their pets due to germs, parasites, bugs, bacteria and so on. I always make sure Lola is tidy, but I was totally freaked out by the thought of an animal even inside my bedroom. I wanted one room where I knew that without a doubt, there would be zero dog hair or 'other' stuff lurking about. On the first Christmas Eve without Dad, I was very sad. I let her lay down with us on the bed on her own blanket with our little Christmas tree illuminating the room. It was so cozy with the smell of the fireplace and some Christmas music playing low. We all fell asleep together. Ever since that night, I couldn't stand to sleep without her. When I'm sick or when my back was totally out, Lola stayed by my side and kept me warm. She gives me companionship and comfort. Another thing I want to mention is that my allergist told me before I got Lola that I was highly allergic to dogs. Ever since I got Lola and have exposed myself to the allergen --- my allergies are next to none. She actually boosted up my immunity. It was because of not having pets for so long that I was sensitive to any pet I came across. Don't get me wrong, my OCD makes sure she's clean and shiny, but I always let her 'be a dog' -- and as my mom always tells me, "You gotta love her smell." (Sometimes bad, sometimes good.) I now 'get it' when people say that their dogs are part of their family, because we become part of their pack. If you choose to rescue or adopt a dog, make sure that dog is part of your pack. Otherwise, let someone else adopt them.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Facebook Privacy is an Oxymoron

Back in 2008, I converted from Myspace to Facebook. I wasn't used to the blandness of Facebook, oppose to its counterpart, with all the music, glitter and tacky picture displays, (dare I say, bells and whistles), but I switched over because all my friends were on it. It was user-friendly for everyone. On Myspace, most profiles were of public display. It was even possible to track down people who visited your page by a simple stat counter or site meter. It told you the town they were from, a half ip address and the name of their internet provider. So basically, you can guess. If they were still logged into their Myspace account, you would get their picture and profile as well. You can't do that with Facebook due to the lack of html coding. Myspace was strictly based upon html codes, where if you wanted to add a feature to your page, you would have to add a code in the template itself. It was pretty technical for the average Joe. I think that's why many people just went with Facebook. Easy. Simple. Non-techie.  Most people think they're safe with Facebook guarding their privacy. The main thing is, you have to make sure your settings are done correctly and that your pictures and status updates are set to either "just friends" or you can always customize it to your liking so only a few friends can see it. But is that really true? Can other people see your private photos without your knowledge? My answer is yes and no. I say this because I have seen little hackers invade a private account, even tested it with mine.

First of all, let me backtrack: there is this huge "copied and pasted" rumor that's spreading around everyone's status messages. The message reads:

"Hello to all of you who are on my list of contacts of Facebook. I haven't wanted to do this, but after finding all of my photos located on another site, I would like to ask a favor of you…. You may not know that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. Thanks to the new “Graphic app”, any person on FB anywhere in the world can see our photos, our “likes” and our “comments”. During the next two weeks, I am going to keep this message posted and I ask you to do the following and comment “DONE”. Those of my friends who do not maintain my information in private will be eliminated from my list of friends, because I want ...the information I share with you, my friends, to remain among my friends and not be available to the whole world. I want to be able to publish photos of my friends and family without strangers being able to see them, which is what happens now when you choose “like” or “comment”. Unfortunately we cannot change this configuration because FB has made it like this.
1. So, please, place your cursor over my photo that appears in this box (without clicking) and a window will open.
2. Now move the cursor to the word “Friends”, again without clicking and then on “Settings”.
3. UN-check “Life Events” and “Comments and Like”. This way my activity with my family and friends will no longer be made public.
4. Now, copy and paste this text on your own wall (do not “share” it!). Once I see it published on your page, I will UN-check the same."

Many people fail to check up on these rumors and tend to believe it. So they all check, "DONE". If they would simply check resources like Snopes, they would have read this to make sure that their info was valid. Nobody cares though. Everyone wants to be private. With so many people demanding their privacy, I see an awful lot of crap being posted up on Facebook that should not be of public knowledge. I have seen PDA and nudity pics, slander, infidelity, trashing others online, even their own family members (which is very trashy in my personal opinion), as well as bad mouthing their bosses...until the boss sees the update. Buh-bye. My question is: why post up ANYTHING on the internet if you are so concerned with your goddamn privacy? For me, I couldn't give a rat's ass if the whole world saw my detailed Facebook account. Have a ball. I wouldn't post anything I would regret later on. But hey, I may delete a pic or two! I have a public Twitter account that I mostly post on. I don't care. I try not to post up the location of my pics just for safety reasons --- but is that even safe? Usually it's hours afterwards I post them up.

So back to privacy. There's no such thing. I wouldn't worry too much, because hackers usually try for big accounts, such as banks, schools, government, etc., but there are 'small time' hackers that have the capability to tinker through codes and underlining vulnerabilities of Facebook's structure. Once Facebook realizes what's happening through enough reports made to them, they update their 'structure' and code it differently, making the hackers go back on their cyber hunt once again. It's like an addiction -- it's the ultimate challenge of their intelligence, so it's never ending. The real problem here are your "friends" who can see your status updates and photos with a location on them. Your "friends" may have an agenda. How many times have you seen a status message like this? "I'm so excited! 4 more days till we go to Hawaii!!!" Well, it's only 4 days away from your house being robbed. Even just stating you're going to leave your home for a matter of hours is enough time. That's the scary part about Facebook. It happened to one lady who got in touch with her old friend from high school. He waited till he got one of those "going on vacation" status updates, but she was 'kinda' smart. She already had cameras installed in her home and had an alarm system set. Well, not even three minutes of the burglar finally breaking into her home, the cops were there and the cameras revealed who it was. Even if they got away, they would have been caught. So no matter how your settings are, "private", "just me", "custom friends", "friends", "friends of friends" or even "public" ---- someone can tap into another person's account and get all your updates, photos and so on. Your account is NOT private. If you're so concerned about your privacy, don't post it up, because "Facebook privacy" is an oxymoron.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Silence of Change

On many occasions, I've heard that adapting to change is a sign of maturity, or perhaps becoming "wiser" in some aspects. The types of changes, such as a new job or a new relationship can seem exciting and fun, and for the most part it is. Changes such as moving from one home to a lesser home, divorce or even a death in the family are seen as the most stressful events in our lives. Those are huge changes. We have to adapt, or at least try. We have to learn to ride the storm out grudgingly. I call those the "downgrade changes". I remember when Madelene and I had to rent an apartment downtown. We had no backyard, old twisted up plumbing and a furnace older than the hills that kept spilling out carbon monoxide to which the utility company had to fine my landlord. That wasn't fun because the landlord used to get pissed off at me for reporting it. Well, it was either report it or die in my bed. Although there were a lot of frustrations with that place, there were a lot of good memories in our home as well. We always had friends and family over or just enjoyed our little deck outside 'people watching' --making the best with what we had. We had the cutest little fireplace that did absolutely nothing but glow a couple of small flames from the two pieces of wood you could only fit inside of it. Totally pointless fireplace, but we loved it. It made the place cozy when we had guests over or if we were watching movies at home. My point is -- it was a huge change for us and we adapted.

I remember sitting inside my living room when I got a phone call from my sister telling me that Dad's doctor's visit didn't go so well. They found the big "C". That's when another "change" started. This, being possibly the biggest of my life...of my family's lives. Everyone basically put their lives on hold to try and help Dad with all of his surgeries and treatments and late night hospital emergencies. We were all so exhausted and always half sleeping waiting for the phone to ring at midnight. I always had a pair of jeans and shoes to slip right into near my bed...just in case. I rarely slept that last year of Dad's life.

Another change. Another move. We had to be closer to my parents. All the renovations, new appliances and upgrades had us completely worn out and broke, until the next paycheck. We were trying to settle in as fast as we can so we could focus on the family and not be overwhelmed with innate details that were driving us batty and so were all the arguments a couple can have over these types of changes + with the painting and renovations. And although this was a 'better change', it still had us reeling in from the move itself. When I rescued my dog Lola, that was another huge change for me. She helped me through a lot of rough spots, licking my tears and being the wonderful pup she is. She even helped Dad smile, even if for a little while.

After all was said and done when we finally caught our breath, Dad passed away.

Another change.

This particular change was odd. It felt so unfamiliar. Nothing like this has ever happened to our immediate family before, and we were all so ....silent. It felt like all the noise had completely dissipated into some other realm - the noise of chaos - the noise of Dad's suffering - the noise of the fear of Dad leaving us. And then it happened.

Silence. 

And then change...

The change that occurred here was one of another adaptation - more of adjusting to a new way of living and one that would have us 'resting' while we were grieving. Holidays were different, yet our family became much closer. I finally started sleeping. Even though I was worried about Mom, she was sleeping too, not worried about having to wake up for another emergency. She may have been mourning, and through the exhaustion of mourning, she also slept. They say the deceased may "rest in peace", but I even think that applies to the living sometimes when it's a long run of someone you love suffering. The aftermath is 'resting in peace' --- because God will never give you anything you can't handle. I truly believe that. I also believe our state of mind can really mess with us when we're going through such a traumatic event. It can either break us or make us. I chose to stay close to my faith in God and that alone helped me not to self-sabotage myself or make my life into a living hell. Don't get me wrong, I had some challenging times where I just wanted to give up and say screw it and just do what I wanted, but I knew that what I wanted wouldn't have been the healthiest option for me. I even made the mistake of trying to turn to people who were extremely unhealthy in my life. I thought it would distract me from all I was going through. Almost like, maybe another bad distraction would make me forget 'this one'. 

With autumn arriving, my Dad's favorite season, I'm reminded of him a lot lately. Our lives are so different without that loud resonating voice of his and just his presence alone was "big". Mom's life has totally changed and I'm really not quite sure how she feels about it even though we're together a lot. Instead of catering to Dad and spending all of her time with him, she has now settled into a completely different life - not a bad one - not a "better" one - but just one that's entirely different than what she has always known. She's been with my dad since she was 14 years old for the love of God. Mom and I go out a lot, we go shopping here and there and go out to eat, and when we're home, we do big cooking projects together. My sisters are always there too, helping in any way they can, but most of all, spending time with one another. My mom is the most capable woman I know, so sometimes, I ask her for help! We're all in this together and it's just very comforting. Being together with family takes her mind off the inevitable thoughts that come flooding through - and for us as well. Our family has become much closer, much more unified in ways I've never seen before. Mom rarely went out. It's not that she didn't want to, it was just how it was. Now, she goes stir crazy if she's inside more than two hours at a time. And I think that's healthy while she goes through this enormous change in her life. I keep telling her that it's a new chapter in her life and it's up to her whether or not to make this chapter her best one yet, as difficult as that may be to do. Her faith hasn't dwindled one bit thankfully.

"When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." -- James 1:3-4

My mom loves Sheldon...
Life's curveballs give us a chance to prepare us for the next big "change" that comes our way. All my life, Mom has always said, "I hate change!" The other day she hated the fact that she needed new remote controls to her TVs. I got her a new coffee machine and whoa did I get a mouthful of questions and frustrated comments. Now she loves it. Whenever anything small changes, she always rattles off, "I hate change," but she sure is better at it than I am. But I disagree that she hates change. Sometimes, some of these changes are exciting to her -- like a different day has sprung up on her. It takes her out of the mundane and into something 'unknown' --- and to some, especially for me, that's pretty exciting. It makes you want to wake up in the morning and seize the day, while other days may not look so promising. I think it's safe to say that there are many people with the fear of change. I used to be one of them but now, not so much. The more faith, the less fear.

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. --Isaiah 41:10

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Is Obamacare Similar to the T-4 Program?

Between Facebook and Twitter (mostly Facebook), this government shutdown is really shutting down many friendships online. Here's my belief: nobody knows anything about what one party is doing and the other's not. They can go on and on about how Obamacare is affordable, while the other one can go on about how expensive the coinsurance and out of pocket deductibles are. On top of that, it's been said on the news that if we don't opt for the insurance, we'll then get fined for it. Everything is debatable. My question is: if the insurance is good enough for us, then why isn't Obama and his family going on it? But that could be a good explanation of some sort of private insurance the POTUS receives. I don't know enough about that. I'm not even sure if Obama handed in his birth certificate. Did he? Who cares, right? And if you've been reading me for some time, you know I have those "tin foil hat" conspiracy theories of mine and that I can be a bit extreme with my views. But remember, I chose to vote for Obama this last term because it was the lesser of two evils...and of course, all those promises made were just so appealing. But! ... But! I'm trying to learn and listen and also trying not to be so passionate about something that is so out of my control.

So I tried to gather more information from various sources.

The internet can be a great source of information or a giant cesspool of crappy news from opinionated blogs that resemble "journalism". Many Christian news sites have very extreme views that kind of took me by surprise, but when I read up more about it, I started to get nervous. They were talking about Obamacare being very similar to the T-4 Program that Hitler implemented. In an article written in the Now the End Begins, a very extreme conspiracy theorist's blog, it reads, "Hitler was very smart, he knew that before he could get Germans to accept the concentration camps, he had to first get them to think of themselves as gods deciding who would live and who would die through the control of a national healthcare system. The creation of the T-4 Program, or the German Universal Healthcare System – did just that. Obamacare is the revived version of the T-4 Program. Hitler would be very proud. From EIR: In July of 1939, a conference of medical professionals was held in Berlin, Germany. Participating were the professors and chairmen of the departments of psychiatry of the leading universities and medical schools of Germany, many of them, the most respected professionals in their fields. The subject? What would be the criteria for determining what patients would be considered to have “lives unworthy to be lived,” and what was the most “practical and cheap” manner of removing them from being burdens on the health-care system—by death."

As I read on, it explained about the "lives unworthy to be lived".  Four categories were specified.

  • Patients suffering from specified diseases who are not employable, or are employable only in simple mechanical work. 
  • These included schizophrenia, epilepsy, senile diseases, therapy-resistant paralysis, feeble-mindedness, and the like. 
  • Patients who have been continually institutionalized for at least five years. 
  • Patients who are criminally insane. Non-German patients.
In other articles, I was reading that they would not fund elderly healthcare since they were going to die anyway and it would save them trillions of dollars. They even spoke about euthanasia as means to put them "to sleep" --- like fricken dogs! But, again, these over-the-top websites and conspiracy theories may be just too extreme. But when you compare Obamacare to the T-4 program, it kind of makes you realize how similar they actually are. That's up to you and how you interpret it, but in my opinion, it scares me a bit. Anything can be twisted...in any way, shape or form and anything can be misunderstood. Politics has become more like a religion. You have to "believe" in what's going on instead of concrete facts. There is no "right" and "wrong" --- it just IS. And we have no say in it other than venting it off on Facebook or Twitter. So while your religion says eating pork is a sin, my religion says something differently. Which one is right? Most of my opinions in politics stem from my beliefs as a Christian. I believe that there will be a new world order and this is the very start of it. They even want to implant chips in our hand now. Hmm, now where have I read that before? Things are headed in the direction of which Christians believe, and that's how you get religion intermingled with politics. A nice combination of absolute ridiculousness and "facts" based up pure "beliefs". It's up to us which one we want to believe. 

On a political Facebook thread talking about how wonderful Obamacare was, it seemed as though everyone was agreeing. One woman posted, "If you don't think Obamacare is good enough, then you're an asshole." So no other opinion other than her's were good enough, and well, we were just a buncha' assholes since we didn't think like her. I brought up my concern for Obamacare and I was torn down with name calling - it was almost like a kindergartner hissing at me out on the playground. I pointed out why I was concerned over the healthcare plan and even compared it to the T-4 Program and asked if they could read both and see for themselves, but atlas, I was called a "lowlife". I laughed it off and just said, "Heil Obama", but instead wrote Hitler. Oops. My bad. But my point is, all of these political fights on Facebook have become the devil of all friendships far and near. I'm guilty of it too because I am very extreme with my views and I like to dig into the facts (or so called beliefs) instead of just believing the president's word. How many times have we believed the president's word only to get let down? 

From here on out, my Facebook account will never mention a word of politics. I also want to extend my apologies to those "friends" I have offended with my extreme views, that's only for blogs. I admit, I am very extreme and Facebook is no place for that. Although I still stand strong on my beliefs, I should have never gotten involved in a thread full of non-believers and those who think differently, and of course, those who think anyone else's opposing opinions are assholes. That was my mistake and I'm owning up to it. As far as my blog, you can always "X" out of my political jabber and wait for the next 'fluff' post to come waltzing past your feed. For now, I'm going to enjoy a cup of coffee out on my deck and hope a drone isn't spying on me or the FBI isn't censoring my blog in the search engines based on keywords, or that my Shoprite card doesn't reveal what my grocery list is going to be and base it upon my healthcare plan. Be well, stay well, if not, don't expect Obamacare to care. There's always euthanasia. It's my blog and I can cry if I want to...

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes! 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Kiryas Joel: Corruption Hidden Under a Religious Blanket

Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice.
Up in Monroe, NY in a community called Kiryas Joel, citizens usually isolate themselves from the rest of the outside communities, yet own most of everything. I have done business with them when I used to work for a telephone and internet company nearby. There seems to be many health issues among them, many on Medicare or Medicaid. I never knew why and who was I to judge? While working for the telephone company, they would get a discount if they provided me with a copy of their Medicare or Medicaid cards. No exaggeration here, but 90% of the Hasidic community that I have dealt with were all on Medicare. Why? Some say they’re the richest people around. They buy land all over. They practically own all of Monroe, NY. Are they really disabled? Or is it about money? If they have so much money, then why do they need Medicare and welfare? I’ve seen so many Medicare cards fly by my desk for approval and wondered what was wrong with all of them. Why do they have so many health problems? Or am I wrong? Are they really in need of government assistance?

Is it health or money?

From observations alone and by working for the local telephone company, they would provide me with a social security number, in order to open up a new account. (I totally disagree with giving a phone company your social security number, however it was their policy.) Most of the social security numbers were from a deceased loved one or a very young child. They used a dead person’s identity or a child’s, in order to open up an account. I didn’t think much of it, because there are a lot of people who do that anyway. I wasn’t going to say, ‘all of them’ do this, because that would be wrong. Many of the residents of Kiryas Joel were found on fraudulent assistance from the government or using somebody else's identity from Medicare or Medicaid to get a discount. So the bulk weren't all "disabled" or "poor" --- they were using fake identification cards to get a lower cost.

In a New York Times article, it was reported that Kiryas Joel was the poorest place in the United States! That has to raise some eyebrows.

"About 70 percent of the village’s 21,000 residents live in households whose income falls below the federal poverty threshold, according to the Census Bureau. Median family income ($17,929) and per capita income ($4,494) rank lower than any other comparable place in the country. Nearly half of the village’s households reported less than $15,000 in annual income. About half of the residents receive food stamps, and one-third receive Medicaid benefits and rely on federal vouchers to help pay their housing costs."

In the headline news a few years back, there was a huge tax fraud problem in the Village of Kiryas Joel in upstate, NY.

Welfare burden, tax fraud "Kiryas Joel residents have been alleged to cheat on taxes by claiming that they have a temple, or a place of worship, in their homes.[citation needed] Obtaining tax relief as a house of worship means the property is excused from paying property taxes that support local services, such as public schools, roads, water and sewer, fire and police, and so on, including the funds which subsidize welfare payments.

It is the custom in Kiryas Joel for women who work outside the home to stop doing so at the birth of their second child.[4] Most families have only one income and many children. The resulting poverty rate makes a disproportionate number of families in Kiryas Joel eligible for welfare benefits when compared to the rest of the county; and cost of welfare benefits is subsidized by taxes paid county-wide.

Per the New York Times, because of the sheer size of the families (the average household here has six people, but it is not uncommon for couples to have 8 or 10 children), and because a vast majority of households subsist on only one salary, 62 percent of the local families live below poverty level and rely heavily on public assistance [government welfare], which is another sore point among those who live in neighboring communities."

I’ve always questioned their culture and how they lived. I’d never judge them, however they stand out alone when these issues come out into the open. With this community having and saved so much money, through tax exemptions, as well as buying property all over the state, how and why are they on Medicare and welfare? As many children as they bear, it’s no wonder that poverty sometimes comes into play. Or does it? I have mixed feelings about it.

In an article in The Jewish Week of New York, they listed the scandal that rocked the community of Kiryas Joel. I knew eventually, their phony identifications would be revealed.

"Federal agents converged on the upstate chasidic community of Kiryas Joel last Thursday, sealing off part of the community in an early morning raid to catch an alleged ring of swindlers.The agents arrested nine men, including Mordechai Samet, 40, the alleged ringleader, and later charged 14 people with a total of 68 counts of cheating individuals, banks, insurance companies and the government out of millions of dollars.

Prosecutors say the arrests stemmed from a two-year investigation and that the men, whom they referred to as the Samet Group, created “an elaborate web of false information to carry out” frauds. The men allegedly created phony identities, fraudulent social security numbers and tax identification numbers in order to obtain benefits for non-existent people. Members of the group were also charged with scheming to obtain over $1 million in fraudulent small business loans, defrauding banks by using counterfeit checks totaling $6 million, and various schemes to defraud life insurance companies, and with credit card fraud stemming from an alleged pyramid scheme.

Authorities charged that men had been carrying out their scheme since 1996, and had used a sophisticated system of telephone voice-mail accounts and post office boxes to avoid being connected to their schemes.The defendants entered no plea when charged in federal court in White Plains last week. A pre-trail hearing is set for April 10, the third day of Passover.“This case demonstrates how vulnerable private companies and public entities can be when racketeering enterprises which are versed in finance and business practices use that knowledge to carry out frauds,” said the United States attorney for the Southern District in New York, Mary Jo White, who is prosecuting the case in coordination with the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration and the district attorneys of Rockland and Orange counties.

Calls to Samet’s home on Tuesday were not answered. His attorney, Suzanne Brody of the federal defender’s office in White Plains, did not return a message left on Tuesday.The raid on Kiryas Joel, a Satmar enclave whose efforts to create a one-district school for disabled children have created a constitutional controversy, began at 6 a.m., when agents disguised as deliverymen entered the town, according to residents.Access to some streets was denied by agents toting shotguns, said Joseph Waldman, a community activist and clothing manufacturer. He said he and other residents were upset at the extent of the operation used to apprehend alleged white-collar criminals in a community where violence is rare.

A spokesman for the FBI in New York, Joseph Valiquette, said the operation was routine. “Whenever the FBI goes out on an arrest operation, we certainly go with enough agent power to ensure everyone’s safety,” he said. “In this case we were going to arrest eight or ten people from that community. We didn’t do anything in that community that we wouldn’t do on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.” Valiquette said he was aware of no complaints from the community regarding excessive force.Another member of the Satmar community, who lives in Brooklyn but is acquainted with some of the defendants, said he was undisturbed by the agents’ methods. “Certain people think it has to do with anti-Semitism,” said Isaac Weinberger, a city employee from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “But I think they were afraid [Samet] would flee. Nobody would blame the agents how they came in. Maybe they shouldn’t have come in at 6 a.m. to wake up children, but it’s understandable.”Waldman said the arrests had caused the village residents to feel “very sad and ashamed. This gives a very bad name to the community. I hope the accusations are untrue. It doesn’t help this particular community and the chasidic community as a whole.”In addition to Samet, the other defendants are Chaim Hollender and Moses Weiss, both 25; Kalmen Eisenberg, 24; Moses Perl, 34; Hershber Hirsch, 23; Yishrael Leibowitz, 39; Cheskel Samet, 23; Yuda Weiss, 33; David Hershkowitz, 22; Yehuda Steinberg, 30; Joseph Jacob, 32; Aaron Solinsky, 62 and Chaim Wiesel, 33.

The defendants face a range of charges, the most serious being racketeering, which carries a sentence of 20 years, faced by Samet and seven others. Other charges brought against members of the group include money laundering, wire fraud, false statements and bank fraud. The latter charge carries a 30-year sentence."

My question is, did they need to resort to this, due to healthcare and other provisions that are needed when possibly intermarrying? Or is it just purely out of money and wealth?

Just recently, it was reported that during the time of elections, there was even more fraudulent activity brewing in Kiryas Joel.  An article from the Hudson Valley News 12 reported this: "Nasty accusations are flying in Monroe amid an unresolved election for town supervisor. Democrat Harley Doles leads the race over Republican Sandy Leonard and United Monroe candidate Emily Convers. However, Convers claims the front-runner engaged in voter intimidation, electioneering and harassment near a local polling place. A video reportedly captures Doles handing out ballots near a polling place."

During the elections, they handed out ballots seen below that excluded row H --- the opposition candidates.

Want to see Maria Vazquez-Doles calling Harley a "fucking hump"? Click here to see the video. This is the candidate that Kiryas Joel wanted to elect? Hmm, doesn't seem "kosher" to me. I guess it is all about the money.

During election, this was distributed within Kiryas Joel. The translation of this flyer reads, "The KJ haters have ganged up with the village of Monroe under the name united. United to destroy us as they openly write, they will throw a rock to block every step of the way. They have come up with antics lately like we have never seen before if god forbid they win they will destroy us."

In another article found from The Hudson Valley News 12: "The Monroe Free Library is now excluding residents of the community of Kiryas Joel. Library officials say that anyone is welcome to the library, but they won't be able to take out books. The library says it's not a religious issue, but rather a financial one. According to the library, Kiryas Joel has not paid taxes toward the library since 2005 as part of an agreement that would let them build their own library. Under a state agreement, people with a Kiryas Joel address no longer have borrowing privileges, although they can still use the resources inside the library."

They never want to play fair.

Just the other day, two gentlemen from Kiryas Joel walked into the Orange County BMW with two checks for over $1,500 to put toward their purchase of a new car. It even said on top of the check, "this is not a valid check" --- but it was valid if they were to purchase a BMW. When have your ever seen a Hasidic Jew drive a German car? Needless to say, they gave the salesperson such a hard time about "false advertisement" and demanded their money right away. Managers had to fix the misunderstanding and have them put on their glasses to read the fine print. "This is not a valid check." Time wasted. They want something for nothing and they don't care about mistreating people if they don't get what they want. It is NOT anti-Semitism --- it's about playing fair with the rest of society. Now that their corruption has been found out, I highly doubt that they're going through with this annexation, however, what's to stop them from buying up property and creeping up on the poor village of Monroe? Orange County would literally go bankrupt if they decide to move their ant farm inward.

I mean, come on --- they're listed as the most poorest community in the United States. Whenever they pull their anti-semitism card out, I wish they'd also pull out their Medicaid card as well as their true bank statement under someone else's name which has more money than we can ever hope for. I just hope Monroe doesn't sell out and say, "Eh, screw it," and make this entire town one huge Monsey.

They are not holy people nor the chosen ones. They're just corrupt. Plain and simple.

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