Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Okay, I've been way lax in many things, but wanted to say, Happy New Year! Oh My, 2008 already? I'm getting old!

A lot has been going on, but I'm processing.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just a quick note

First, to thank all of you who have come by in my lax time, which will probably stay lax for a while still. It's really appreciated, and the support helps so much. Big Hugs!

Second, to let you know I'm back at work and it's tiring. I forgot our building takes up the entire block, so to get water is to walk a block and back. And now, even worse because if you remember a couple weeks ago I tripped and hurt my toe on my good foot? Now that the swelling is down the x-ray showed that it is indeed broken, so I get a surgical shoe for BOTH feet, and they are like cheep MBTs, those curved shoes that simulate walking on the beach? So it takes a lot of glutes.

I hope all the rest of you in blogland are doing well and have a great/had a great holiday!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

*Sniff* Time To Go Back To Work

Pending a snowstorm, I'm at work on Monday. So sorry for not keeping this up while at home. It's amazing how fast the time flew, I honestly think each week was a day. Wasn't it just yesterday I had the surgery? No? Okay.

Each week I still met with my therapist. My greatest fear was being trapped, and here I was for four weeks unable to walk. She thinks a lot of stuff came to head. Yeah, I was crying a lot and dealing with things. There were nights when every noise woke me, and I didn't want to take the Ambien because what if I forgot and stepped on my foot waking up all hung-over? Now, I can't find what I did with them. One conversation was particularly funny. My shower leaks, so I close the door as to not hear it. It's also always a good twenty degrees hotter than the rest of the house.

"Everytime I wake up to go to the bathroom at night, I keep thinking there's someone behind the door," I told her.

"Now why would they do that?"

"I don't know, because it's cold outside and my bathroom is really warm."

"So you think someone would climb up the fire escape, break into your bathroom, for a warm place to sleep?"

"Uhm, yeah. I know, if someone broke in, they'd open the door and come into the rest of the house."

Ah, the things we thing of :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Can Walk!

Well, it's a sort of stumbling hoppy thing, but I still made it to the post office today on my own. Took me two hours to go there, stop at the pharmacy, the grocery store, and return. Keep in mind - the post office is only about 14-16 blocks away.

Still, I have to go to the doctor tomorrow because while the stitches were removed yesterday, by night time the top was cracking and there was a little blood. It hurts and really looks like it's breaking at the seam. I was told the day is packed and I'll probably end up waiting for a while. For the first time in a month I have to set my alarm clock. That totally sucks.

I really can't beleive how tiring this whole thing has been. Everything is so much harder, especially the whole showering thing. I haven't been on the computer nearly as much as while I'm at work, lol. However, nor have I been awake as much as usual as I tend to still sleep about 15 hours a day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I went to the doctor today, and he said one more week for the crutches and stitches. I was hoping to get to the grocery store this weekend. I'm dying for an avocado and some farmer's market bread. My neighbor is great, when she goes every weekend she asks if I want anything, but then she gets the wrong item. I'm very specific about my farmer's market vendors, and she prefers different ones than I do.

So, on the way home - I hate the steps outside my house. They were redone so they are nice and horrible uneven and the colors don't even match the place. So, they are tough to ascend in crutches (no railings either). The inevitable happened - I tripped. Now, my one good foot is a giant bruise. It hurts soooo much. And the other foot I still can't put wait down on. It looks like an origami balloon, the skin so dry I can see the seams. I had the doc put lotion on it today :)

oh yeah, ARGH!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Day, Another Doctor's Appointment

I went for another follow-up today. The doctor said the swelling is about 99% better than any other patient he'd seen with the surgery. (Swelling is a major problem with foot surgery, as the blood can just flow and pool down there). I told him I was elevating it as told, and using a foam wedge.

"What do you mean?"

"Those things you get for GERD, a wedge. I figured it would elevate my feet without putting strain on my knees like if I just used pillows."

So he called in another doctor to look at my foot. They both agreed it looked great. So he asked about the wedge more.

"It goes from about here," I said, pointing to my hip, "to my foot, a gradual incline so I don't put stress on my joints."

"That's the problem with pillows," the other doctor said, "It puts stress on the joints."

"And people kick them off," my doctor said. "Most patients don't elevate their feet at night because of this. Dr. - go look up these foam wedges, we have to start selling them as foot wedges."

"And you're going to reccommend them to other patients?" I asked.

"No, I'm going to make them mandatory from now on. Every patient should have them after surgery."

I feel like a dork. I assumed he knew about the foam wedges for the bed. He asked more questions about it, and thought it was wonderful. Now he's going to buy them and resell them to his patients (probably having the insurance pay for it) and make even more money and from my idea which I assumed was common sense - if you have to put your foot up, use a gradual incline. He'd been having his patients use pillows. That's it, I'm asking for a cut of the profits.

On the plus side, my idea is going to help others heal better and in a more comfortable manner. In the end, I don't think this surgery was nearly as bad as it could be. Granted, it's not over yet and still hurts, but more from the crutches than anything else. Though the physical therapy will be a bitch I'm sure.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Family Reunion? No Time Soon

I'm back to no photos. I know. I'm tired, weak, and damn if my hands don't hurt more each day.

I've been thinking about my brother a lot, since even before seeing Stop-Loss. I don't know what I want from him, honestly. Somedays I think it would be great to reunite - but he was so far gone last time we talked, I think it's dangerous.

"So what do you think will happen?" my therapist asks.

"I think he might talk to my mom about me."

"And what does that matter? It's not like she has control over you."

"Yeah, but I don't even want her to know how I'm doing, to try and take pride in what I've done."

"But you won't even know."

"But I'll consider it a betrayal, another act of him running and telling mommy on me."

Basically, I want nothing to do with her, and my brother is an extension of her. Just like I'm the reflection of our history, the reason he doesn't want to see me. I'm the keeper of the memory, of the pain of our childhood.

I called my aunt and grandma today. The whole act of reconnecting. Not easy. My aunt said she wanted to come to NYC and see me. I told her I'm not ready. I haven't seen her in over 12 years and I haven't had a family since maybe age 7, maybe age 9, I can't put an exact date on when I realized how emotionally alone I was. Family is foreign to me.

"You know what?" she told me. "After every card you send, every time you call, I immediately call your dad and tell him how you are doing."

It was like the breath was sucked out of me. Betrayal. I don't want him taking any pride in what I've done. The last time I saw him, when I was nine, I climbed up the stairs to a slide, looked down on his head, just starting to bald, and realized I hated him. I spat on him. I can't help but run my finger over the scar from when he punched me and my tooth went through my lip even as I type this.

"He's very proud of you sweetie. He knew you'd be the one to make it. He doesn't care about your brother, but he loves you."

My brother, despite all that my father did, despite the 'alleged' molestation, the pornography, the violence, the horrendous gas that had my brother and I run to our rooms and put towels at the bottom of the doors, always wanted to love my dad. Just like I wanted to be loved by my mother.

"He's been married for 25 years now you know."

He told my brother, in a letter, that he had a new family, a new son, and didn't want him to contact him anymore. That he wasn't his father anymore. Yet my brother didn't learn. He cried and he cried and I could hear his heart crackle like ice on a warm summers day. But goddammit, he still tried.

"I gotta go, my foot's acting up." I said.

"We love you, you know that."

"Yeah, thanks, I think I have to ice it."

"We do, we've always loved you. It's terrible what your mom did. But she kept you from us."

"She kept me from everbody," I replied, "Not just you. Even from herself. I really have to ice it."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here are some things I've learned in this past week:

  1. Limited Mobility Sucks

  2. The smell of Icy/Hot makes me really sick. Seriously, the headaches and nausea are not worth the limited muscle releif

  3. We put a hell of a lot of pressure on our feet. The way my palms hurt after a week on crutches, I'm pampering my feet way more in the future. They're literate, they read that and are happy.

  4. The following are dangerous to have at the same time: Free time, the internet, good credit, the Victoria Secret Clearance Catalogue with codes for the free Very Sexy Lip kit with any sweater purchase.

I went to the doctor today. They said it looks good. It reminded me of one of Chewy's paintings. There were the white cross-hatches of the cotton, then a big yellow splotch of abstract colour. Then, as the layers were peeled away a ruddy/rust brown splotch dominated, with the yellow fading away in the background (but still with the white lines throughout). Of course, that was drying blood, iodine, and the gauze. But it was vivid and had form. Once all peeled away, my poor frankenfoot was iodined yellow with purple lines (the stitches) on the side of the foot where they went in to screw the bone together. Two more weeks of crutches.

I think I aggravated the doctor. He said it looks fine and without any signs of infection. "You mean, like MRSA?" I said. He told me not to even say that word. "Oh, well, I was also thinking gangrene, or should I not say that too?" and he shot me an evil look.

"No, don't say that either."

My shoulders kill from the crutches, which keeps me from writing more than I would like.

Thanks so much for all the well wishes!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Johnny Appleseed

While I'm arghing over foot issues and how I'm going to shower, I remembered this:

American folktales were big in my childhood. It was one of the items in our curriculum that my mother was good at and reinforced at home. Fables. We learned about Babe the Big Blue Ox and John Henry and, was it Coyote Bill? Yeah, Wild Bill Hicock, raised by the coyotes the same way I was raised by cats.

But my favorite was Johnny Appleseed. He walked barefoot across the United States planting apple trees. He had callouses on his feet so thick that he couldn't feel the cold or heat and walked across snow and the desert.

Of course, thinking back with my history, it's no wonder he was my hero - a person so calloused nothing could hurt him as he accomplished his life's mission.

The danger of such stories is this - from that moment forward I was determined to get big and calloused. I walked barefoot as much as possible. It'd built up my immunity to the snow walking barefoot through it, minutes turning to hours. This went on for a long time. By highschool I walked home barefoot. R. thought I was nuts. There was snow/slush on the ground and I was in my big winter boots. But, as hand me downs, they were too big. So I just took them off and walked those 5-10 blocks home through the snow in just my socks.

Of course, I have frostbite on my ankle. It never goes away. Now, whenever it gets cold that spot pops up again and burns. The area permanently damaged. But, I still have some good callouses on the bottom of my feet and the heels.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Day After

Surgery went well, so said the surgeon. My foot is warm and tingly, maybe a little sore. Other than that - even just these few hours with mobility issues has me feeling blessed - although I might be cursing at the end of the week as i realize how inaccessible my apt. is. I can't get the mail, and am no good with crutches going down my hill covered in wet leaves - almost fell last night so was driven to the door. Also, the landlord redid our front steps in the same craptacular way he 'fixed' my window - so they are uneven with ledges that even w/out crutches I trip over.

But, seriously. I have good friends, sore shoulders (from the crutches) but otherwise good health, and good health insurance.

Off to ice my foot again.

Oh yeah - my best friend and I are such a comic team together, all the nurses were laughing. That always means good service, and the good anesthesia (full, I was so knocked out! omg). I did notice more than one HIPAA violation (hospital information privacy act) which I hate, I used to do quality assurance for hospitals, so I'm sensitive too it. I was able to pick up a chart and start reading it. Don't worry, of the ones open for everyone to grab I just grabbed my own. I was showing my friend how to read it and what my surgery was going to be. But it was never questioned by all the nurses who came by.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tomorrow. . .

Is the day. If all goes well that is. I hate not having it set in stone. My doc still has to fax over the clearance forms, and the surgeons put down too different dates for my return to work (obviously, I want the later one!)

Interesting note - clearance forms require a pregnancy test. I told my doctor, "Knowing me and my beleifs, if that came back as positive, what would you do?"

"I'd start going to church a helluva lot more often."

So in the end, she said it's part of the patriarchal aspects of medicine that she hates, that they never take a women's word about her sexual encounters, or lack there of, and thus I wasn't tested. Yeah! I like a doctor that realizes I tell the truth about my body. For some reason, that whole pregnancy test thing ALWAYS offends me.

I can't eat after midnight tonight, but surgery doesn't begin until around 2 pm and I'm not expected to be able to go home until around 6! I'm hungry just thinking about it.

So, if I'm not on for a few days, it's because of the drug cocktail. (I've got sooooo many now, 3 for my stomach (but only take one of them, the others if it gets extreme), 1 for swelling and that will irritate my stomach, an antibiotic, and some codeine derivitive, plus other random stuff should these not work).

Monday, November 12, 2007

What Would Jesus Buy

Image from

Not to turn this into a film blog, but I got the chance to see an early screening of this film on Sunday. This the latest film produced by Morgan Spurlock (the guy who ate a lot of McDonald’s). In it, this performance artist Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir go around the nation in a bus to preach out against consumerism. As he says, it isn't about stopping shopping completely, that is just to get people's attention. It's about shopping responsibly, realizing what you need and don't need to buy, and realizing where your goods are coming from. In light of all the recalls from China, the increasing coverage of the dehumanizing conditions of the sweatshops, among other things, it's a timely message. The rev. takes his choir to places such as Disneyland and the Mall of America to sing out their message.

To be honest I will say that the first half was funny, and then I fell asleep toward the end. It's kind of a one note movie with a message. It's not like the tension escalates, or there are escalating beats. It kind of just is what it is.

But, it's just good that it got made I suppose. I'm so sick of the commercialization of holidays, especially Christmas. I'm tired of love being tied with money and presents of increasing 'value' when really, everything depreciates in value the minute it leaves the store. I know the wise men brought Jesus gifts, but one each. I have nothing against giving gifts at Christmas, just about Christmas being only about giving ginourmous gifts and the stress and anxiety that creates.

To quote a song we had to sing in the good ol' Salvation Army:

Christmas is all about love
Love from the Father from above
Christmas is all about peace and joy-

Friday, November 9, 2007


Picture lovingly borrowed from

Not much today. I saw the film Stop-Loss last night. It will be on everyone's lips when it comes out in March/April, or should. Stop-loss is when the government sends back shoulders who finished their committment with them and should be, in essence, free to go back to civilian lives. I guess it's also called the 'back-door draft.' People who serve their country can be forced to go back, and then jailed if they refuse. It also dealt with soldiers trying to reintegrate after the trauma they've suffered through.

I could go on, but I'm still processing it.

The Director/Writer, Kimberly Peirce was there. She also wrote Boys Don't Cry. I liked her a lot, she was very gracious (gave me her seat in the theater, I was initially up front and being that close in a war movie, my stomach was churning) and stayed to talk to the audience afterward. She is also just gorgeous, and so smart and articulate. My friend and I hung on every word, especially as she talked a lot about the act of writing and making the choice between writing something as nonfiction (she comes from a military family) or fiction.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who seems to act in a film about every family tragedy I've lived through (Mysterious Skin was so incredibly hard, so moving, and he did such an amazing job) was stunning in the film as a soldier who just can't live outside of war but is dishonorably discharged. Reminded me way too much of my brother. He was also on hand to answer questions from the audience.

It tired me out so much, I'm still pretty dazed. A lot is going through my mind right now. I figured, with a film on such subject matter I'd be jarred, and I'm already on edge. But, sometimes it's worth it. Sometimes, when I jar myself so much, a little bit of truth, a little memory, a little understanding ekes out.

I'm so not spell-checking this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Something Different - Writing Stuff

For some reason I feel like this post should be in the form of a letter:

From the Desk of Victorya Chase

To Whom it May Concern:

Attached please find excerpts from stories I will probably never finish writing. In fact, both of these are the same story. I just can't figure out how to tell it. I tend to lose steam by page five or six, but how much does that matter?

You see, one of the defining moments, if I was to beleive that one moment can define a person, which I don't, but society (or at least television) seems to think it's all one moment that changes a person, not a thousand little ones that get lumped together by a mind that would rather remember one thing than a thousand, was when a friend and I ran off with the circus. I've always wanted to mine it, to see what happened, to go back and answer those literary questions - what was my motivation? How did the protagonist (that's me) grow? If the world doesn't revolve around the protagonist (me) then how come in memory prophetic fallacy (or is it pathetic fallacy?) seems to be so evident. It's sunny when she's happy, when I remember riding in the car. Then there are periods of rain.

At the risk of making this a long letter, one that probably has already been tossed by your interns anyway, please read the attached.


Victorya Chase

enc. 2

(sorry, this will be a long post. I saved up all the words from my photo posts apparently. Actually, no, I'll post the second version another time.)

Version 1 excerpt:

(Note, this is about the third or fourth paragraph in)

We lived on a small side street across from the college – Mother, Johnny, and I plus two stray cats. Johnny and I were scared of Mother – secretly calling her “Marine Mama.” She was a living Golem – hard as clay despite her girth and always speaking the words of others. She took the Bible literally when it came to discipline – we had welts sprouting like weeds from our legs and arms. There is no arguing with stone, nor any chance for understanding. Her cold poured forth like the vapors from an open fridge and there wasn’t a place Johnny and I knew where we could hide from her. There also wasn’t any reason for us to think this wasn’t how a parent was supposed to behave. This was the way life had always been.

Our father was left behind in Arizona when I was seven. I never knew him to begin with, though the scar on my lip reminded me there were some people in life we don’t need to know. Johnny was still pining for his father, but family secrets spiraled around their history. He dreamt of a father that loved him and could save him, but Mother would always come around with the court papers at such moments to show him why this dream was a fantasy, and fantasies were against the Bible. Still, Johnny cried when he received word that our father wanted nothing to do with us, the words slipping from Mother’s tongue.

* * *

(This is the last of it so far, I'm skipping to the sixth page, when I'm sent to go work outside the circus tents)

The heat was so strong you could smell it, though I’m sure I was really just smelling the animals that paced on the pavement and the sweat glistening on every worker in the circus that dutifully put up tent after tent and pole after pole. Each of them worked, eyes cast down to the pavement to avoid the sunlight. None of them had hats on, and their skin was baked a golden brown. Every once in a while I caught a glance in my direction. My shirt was reflecting the light as quickly as the asphalt was absorbing it. It shone with each movement, I had to be careful – light had already bounced into my eyes and green circles now dotted my line of vision. A couple of people had filled out applications while asking me questions about the circus. They were regulars – someone could fill out an application every thirty days. Sometimes I let them do it earlier, if I had a good premium, and would just hold the application until the system would accept it again. In this heat, the soda was the best premium we’d had – a whole six-pack too.

I had to use the walkie-talkies twice before lunch-time, the heat was unforgiving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No One Anticipates - the Spanish Inquisition!

Yesterday I had to sign all the consent forms for my surgery. Friday are the blood tests. Next week are more tests, and then at the end of the week, surgery! Unfortunately, one of the people who was going to help me out has family sick duty, as her father fell and broke his hip. I think my anxiety is rising, as I don't want to do anything I should (like totally clean and disinfect my apartment, any NYers want to have a cleaning party this weekend?) or even do upkeep on this blog.

So I will sit here, at work, drink my 'Perfectly Protein' Vanilla Chai which for some reason reminds me of egg nog, and see what else I can put off doing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Write Stuff

I’ve been trying to write my memoir for a long time. I think the first version, which was absolutely horrid and about 100 pages, was written in college. I called it, “Why I Hate My Mother,” and thought it was brilliant, a nod to David Peltzer whom I never read because I was still too close to my past to see it in other’s writing. I really wish I had a copy now. It was on a disk, somewhere, and none of disks from those days work anymore. Corruption.

Over the years I’ve written fiction that were thinly veiled stories of my past. A mother and two children, a girl who tries to make it on her own, is forced to become an adult by the time she can walk. Thankfully, in terms of real fiction, I’ve worked past that although similar themes show up throughout.

I started this blog as a way to get back to writing my memoirs, to figure a lot of stuff out as I go through therapy, to search for evolution of myself and my writing. But it’s the cohesion that’s eluding me.

Recently, knowing that in a couple weeks I’ll be homebound a bit, I enrolled in an online writing class. I’ve taken classes in this particular school offline in NYC, so felt confident in it. The previous instructor really helped me realize the rut I was in – that of creating a passive observer as a central character. That is – me- the child who lives internally which, while good for a bit, can’t sustain the action needed in a story.

That’s the part that gets me, thinking of my life as a story. Granted, I always have. A fairy tale, a fable whose moral I’m trying to still figure out. Something written by someone else, like the Book of Life. I dream somewhere is a giant library with a book for each and every person and I so want to break in and read the author’s notes to my book. I want to read the interviews, see what, or if, that person was even thinking of. (Yes, I saw Stranger Than Fiction and really liked it.) But where does the protagonist act? Where do I act in life? What did I do besides watch and retreat? Is that in any way interesting? Where is the narrator now, as she reflects on the story?

Maybe I’m not ready yet. I keep stalling. When I really sit down, when I really concentrate and think of all the literary devices to use, when I think of form and structure I lose it. Not mentally, I just stop a few pages in. When I stop thinking I realize I don’t want to think about such things. I’ve got bits and pieces all over. I’ve had opportunities to write, recently turning down a fellowship to go to the backwoods of the Deep South to write for four years because I felt all my writing was a lie. But I push it off. I'm afraid. It's a tough business.

This was all supposed to be a preamble to something else, but it looks like this took over.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Has Come and Gone~

Photo copyright:

The test is over. It didn't go all too well, didn't even finish it. Honestly, I don't think anyone did. One person walked out w/out even answering one question. Just looked at it, then handed it back to him.

For the first time, I'm not going for the A, but just for the C so I can get my 750 refunded.

The above was taken at the farm, one of the more elaborate costumes made for the parade - Icarus. There are controls for the wings. I wish I could have seen it in action, rather than be taking a test.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Final Is Today

Gross Profit Margin
Return on Investments, Ugh
I want it over

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Photo copyright:

My camera, my beautifully red and slim camera, apparently has a reformat button which apparently deletes everything on the memory card and apparently is quite easy to accidently hit.

This is a slightly older pic, a couple months, from a walk in the park near my house. Now, that's a boa, and no it's not loose in the park. The person I was walking with is the owner of the snake and we were taking it for a walk.

You get a lot of double-takes when you are taking a snake out for a walk. Puppies have children running up to you, snakes have macho men trying to touch it (without asking first) and saying, "Oh, DAMN!" a lot.

She's actually a sweetie, very patient, and on the few walks we've been on together, some longer than others, has yet to go to the bathroom on her owner. She's also curious and I think I've noticed a sense of humour in her eyes on more than one occassion. Who knew?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Day of the Dead

Photo Copyright:

Saturday I went to the Day of the Dead celebration at the National Museum of the American Indian. I go for the opening ceremonies, and had I not had to go somewhere else during the day, would have loved to stay for the closing.

What I love about the opening is the conch shells moaning into the mist (it's always rained when I've gone) and the drums beating a rhythm straight into my heart. It just feels so right.

The first time I went, a few years ago, it was pretty mystical. I had worked a couple hours first (yes, on a Saturday) and just as I crossed the street a car lost control ramming into a parked car that went up on the sidewalk where a street vendor jumped over his table just as the parked car was pushed into his wares. All of this happened just inches from me. Then the fog set in, so by the time I got down to the museum, you could barely see in front of you. The sound of those conches coming through the mist was amazing.

They have activities too, so I was able to paint a couple of simple skulls for my desk at work :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Glow of a Controlled Fire

Photo Copyright:

I'd never taken a picture of fire before. Fortunately, this was a contained one, the fire we all ate around at the farm. My prayers go to those in other places where the fire isn't so well trained.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some Day My Prints Will Come

Photo Copyright:

Because we worked so hard making the puppets this weekend, I don't feel comfortable posting the pics until after their debut at the Greenwich parade next Wednesday. The above was a photo from the farm. I loved the composition. A little bit creepy/dark, and a lot bit interesting (to me).

The day really was grand. I spent four hours making one wing, then went on to touch-ups of other things. There were a good dozen of us, not including the people who spent all day cooking. We ate fresh soup with vegetables grown by one of the workers, as well as some grilled cheese sandwiches - something I haven't had in a while. As the sun set, we walked down to the river and there were these two cute cats that followed us, meowing that we pet them and pick them up. I definately fell in love with one of those kitties, and needed some fuzz therapy.

We also saw deer (I only got a photo of their eyes in the darkness, they were too far away) which was amazing, even if it had me then put my pants inside my socks and hood up over my head as deers mean ticks.

After the river we went back and had dinner around a fire.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can a Manic Monday Happen On a Wednesday?

Photo Copyright:

I think yesterday was the first weekday I missed posting. We have Board Members in all week, so have to 'suit up.' Like the Fantastic Four only with calculators and spreadsheets.

The above was taken from the farm. The sun had almost set at that point. I finally uploaded a few pics. I loved the colors on the horizon. Notice the 'purple mountains majesty.'

Monday, October 22, 2007


Saturday was an awesome weekend, and I hope to get the pictures cropped and resized soon. I went to a farm upstate. Sunday was a 'booo, hisss' day as it was gorgeous and I had to stay inside to do homework for that class I don't like.

So, thought I'd put up a haiku I wrote a while ago while dealing with the bi-polar nature of my mother.

I reach for your hand
Between anger and remorse
And try to find love

Friday, October 19, 2007

Christmas Card

Photo Copyright:

I thought this one looked like a nice Christmas Card. I don't know if the red berries on the tree are visible at all.

Last night we had to work late, got home just in time to fall asleep and then had to be to work early today. I was able to get out to see my therapist earlier in the week though, despite the hectic schedule and school.

"So, what about that letter from your Uncle struck you the most?" She asked.

"That he said he was my uncle, and that he called me his neice," I replied.

I can't beleive how long it's been since there's been any familial connection. I can't beleive I cried when I read it. Being a friend is great, but being called a neice? It was surreal in a good way.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Cherished recently posted about ignorance in the media on her talk about Judge Judy. It’s all too easy to commiserate, as there is a lot of that out there.

I had my finance class last night, as I do twice a week. We were learning about liquidity ratios. Then the instructor decided to go on a diatribe about the poor in America.

“If we are going to talk about poverty though, it’s really more poverty in values than material objects,” he said. He then continued to talk about how thanks to Welfare the poor in this country “all have VCRs and DVD players and the biggest radios. In fact, the reason why immigrants come to this country is to be the fat poor.”

Wow, double whammy, slamming immigrants AND the poor in the U.S.

After class I decided to tell him that yes, that was offensive, and perpetrating a myth that keeps others from helping those who need it most. He apologized, said he’d keep it out of the classroom, and I was fine, till I turned to leave and he said:

“I really am sorry that the truth offends you, but it’s the truth, it’s the way these people live, and I’m sorry you don’t want to see that.”

There was one student left in the class when I went up to him, and she was waiting for me outside the door. We had a nice talk about ignorance and how we do have to face a lot of it especially in the finance field which is dominated (at least in NYC) with a special breed of people. I’ve faced it at work before when ‘the girls,’ these two women in the office my age, were laughing over a photo of what they called a white trash wedding. They thought it was pathetic that people would wear ‘such cheap clothing’ on their wedding day. It was an e-mail forward they had gotten. I was livid that day too, telling them if people are happy, they’re in love, what does it matter what they are wearing?

“But it looks like it came from Wal-Mart!” one said.

Ugh. My final in this class is on Halloween. I can’t wait. I’m still debating sending off a note to the dean.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Truth is Out There

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My favorite of the night-time shots I took. Sums up how I feel sometimes. That the truth, civilization, life, is just across this vast expanse of water and I'm figuring out a way to get there. But again, sometimes, more often than before I feel like I am with 'the lights' and friends. Heck, I've even gotten a second letter from a person who says he's an uncle (and he's not asking for money! Every other relative that's come out of the woodwork has then asked for money).

Thanks to all my blogging friends :) I feel evolution.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Day, Another Dollar Before Taxes

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Ugh. Times are so stressful right now that I'm avoiding talking about them and thinking of ways to avoid talking to my therapist about them - a wonderful sign. Avoidance, it's what I do best. It's one of the symptoms - the dream to run away, to just get out, to be safe with yourself alone.

Of course, the main thing I want to run away from is my impending surgery. I don't like being trapped or feeling broken. I feel broken enough as it is at times. I think 'differently,' 'act differently,' if people become inconsistent in their behaviours I think they are up to something rather than things may be happening in their lives that they are having trouble with. Now, for a while, I'll be holed up in my apartment with naught but ze internet to keep me company.

I'm also having a hard time switching 'brains' lately. I decided, since I'd be stuck all Rear Window in my house, to take an online writing course which I'm enjoying. However, I'm taking a real life finance course. This weekend, when I had homework due for both, it took a lot for me to switch from story mode to Financial Statement Analysis Mode. If nothing else, it proves the mode I should be in, that my brain wants to be in. Why must I suffer the slings and arrows of ballance sheets and vertical analysis?

Because I want to pay the rent.

Anyone out there want to be a generous sponsor like in the good ol' days? Heck, I'll dedicate my first published item to you. Artists should be free of the confines and shackles of finance so they may spend their time creating art. Art is the proof of existence of life.


Well, since I don't have the time to write as much as I'd like, I'm trying to 'write with my photos' as it were. I used to do this when I painted more often, take pictures and then use them to influence current work, much as Chewy has described her process (only she's a way better painter than I ever was). Now I'm doing that to try and keep ideas for future writing assignments.

So, what kind of story does the above look like to you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Night Time, Autumn in the City

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I decided to try some night time shots. I know that the building on the right is a boathouse, the one across the water is a highrise - I think the other lights are the train station, but don't remember exactly.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Running Away

Franz Jüttner (1865–1925): Illustration fom Schneewittchen, Scholz' Künstler-Bilderbücher, Mainz 1905

This week David of Authorblog asks his readers if they have ever run away from home. I think I’ve mentioned before that I ran away a few times. I used to hide under my bed a lot. I liked the frame underneath, it was a spring mattress I think. I remember steal grey rods that I would stare up at, a maze of metal grating, like chicken wire, to support the mattress. I would hide under there and listen for my parents looking for me and smile because I was safe. For the most part, the bed was safe. At least, under the bed.

I once had a child eating bed. It was a hand me down from somewhere. But every time I climbed out of bed it bit my toe. My mother wouldn’t believe me, but then there was the blood evidence. Forensics would have found that the bed indeed was biting me, my mother said I got out of it wrong. She checked all corners for sharp edges, everything in the room. It was months of my toe getting bitten before we finally took that villain out of the house.

There was another time I ran away to Trin’s house and I sat on the floor eating out of the communal bowl with her family. When I was older, a teenager, a friend and I ran off with the circus. That adventure lasted a few days. We had both gone to dinner with a couple of the men that worked there, in ‘the oldest traveling circus in the United States’ before we left to follow them. It wasn’t even like we ran away for the thrill of saying – for three days we were part of the circus. We did it to get away from our families, to try and discover who we were outside the life regimented to us.

However, the number one way that I ran away is now called dissociation. That was how the name Victorya developed. Granted, now it’s just the name to remind me, but on a daily basis I went to this land where I was the sad beautiful little girl with no parents. I lived alone and peacefully in a little cottage and the nice ladies brought me food and there was music, always music. I talked to all the animals and my real mother was Nature, I was her only child. That was the main place I ran to in my life. I slipped out of the burden of being ‘the bratty little ragamuffin’ or ‘bitch’ (the first was my ‘nickname’ in my earlier years, the latter my mother’s ‘pet name’ for me as I hit puberty) and became Sister to Diana, protector of the wildlife, Victorya, The Last. A lot of times I was just ‘the Last’ in those fantasies. A child of enigma.

So yes, I ran away as a child. When I couldn’t do so physically, or realized I would always be caught and dragged back home, I did so mentally. I ran away to a world in which I was always safe, always valued, and always loved.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This One's For You, Fish

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There is vandalous grafitti, and cool grafitti. All over the sidewalks the past weekend were chalk drawings, I took a couple photos of them. One was labelled 'birfday boy and bruthah' and then there was this fish. I love the lips and the expression on the fishy face. I don't mind the chalk drawings at all, some I just feel bad that they wash away so quickly!

And yeah, dedicated to my favorite fish on the web, fishwithoutbicycle.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Other Side Of NYC

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I kept getting an error on blogger, or else this would have been put up sooner. This picture was taken the same day as the bee photo. Unfortunately, this type of useless vandalous graffiti is a problem around the city. This is also how I first thought of the city.

I remember (a looong time ago) going to NYC with the Salvation Army. It was a field trip to see the Yankees. I was happy because they were playing against the Tigers - and I was a cat fan. Now, this was before a lot of the clean-up in the city so it was a harrowing experience. The cars we saw were coated with graffiti, as was all the bridges/walls along the highway. People were loud and yelling and cursing and bumping into each other. We were each given a few dollars to by a souvenir and I purchased a Tiger's pendant. Others in my group told me we'd get beaten up because I was cheering for the wrong team, so I had to put it under my jacket.

Unfortunately, the graffiti is in every neighborhood. NYC is an entire globe forced into twelve miles of island. We have the beautiful relaxing parks right next to the projects and gangs. There is no escaping anything the world has to offer in this city - the beautiful and the ugly co-exist. And, for the most part, it's pretty darn peaceful.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Busy As A Bee

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This weekend I played around with the macro setting on my camera, this was the only one that wasn't terribly blurry. I think the bee was just sitting perfectly still by then, completely stunned by my flash.

This is dedicated to all the other busy bees out there, most notably the godfather of so many blogs - David McMahon. Best with getting the book finished! Hopefully it will hit our shelves soon. Just try and take some time out to smell the flowers, okay?

Monday, October 8, 2007

I Want To Fly Away

photo copyright:
camera used: Casio ex-s500 (red)

This was a tough weekend for me. The landlord was supposed to fix my window, which involved me taking a day off of work because the window repair shop is only open weekdays. Now, the day was to involve them removing my window, then bringing it to the shop to return around noon - which would leave me without a window in my apartment. So of course, the Super (think of him as the apartment manager, supposed to repair things in the building) says he doesn't want to stop by before work so he'll take the window out at night.

"No way" I tell him.

"You be safe," he says, thickening his accent (I swear it's to claim ignorance).

"No way," I tell him.

Meanwhile, when I call the landlord, he tells me that I should go to work, I shouldn't miss work because they have to fix my window.

"So you'll have someone posted then, to make sure no one climbs up the fire escape and into my apartment."

"No," he says, now his accent starts to thicken, "I don't guarantee safety."

Long story short, I go way longer than I'm supposed to without a window to my apartment. When the landlord drops it off, he doesn't put it in but runs out the door. I notice the frame isn't on correctly. The super hits it with something (coming up AFTER he ate dinner, despite me talking to his wife who covered for him) to make it fit, but it still worries me. I call the landlord again, but nothing.

Now, the number one trigger for me is safety. I spent over 12 hours without a window in my apartment - safety compromised. My cackles are up, or whatever the phrase is, and I hate the feeling of the racing heart, the inability to sleep (waking up every few hours), the jumping at every sound (the pigeons were landing on my AC all weekend, every scrape of their claws on the metal had me jumping), the lack of focus (meaning I got no homework done) and the desire to flee far away from here. It of course, also led to a couple dreams with both R. and Mother, but at least I told them both off. However, I wasn't able to get away from Bush when he decided to reinstate the draft for all genders, everyone under the age of 35. So last night, in my dream, there I was in the military.

At least I have the park, I took a nice walk to cool myself off. That's a seagull. I couldn't beleive how lucky I was to get this shot - there he is, wings fully spread, tips turned up, as he soars out over the water. That's a freedom I wish I had over the weekend.

Friday, October 5, 2007

NYC Trifecta

photo copyright:
camera used: Casio ex-s500 (red)

I took this photo about a year ago. The day was drizzly damp but cool. I always liked this photo because it is total new york. First, there is the Papaya King, a purely NYC entity where, if one was to eat hot dogs, one could get them for about 2 for a dollar.

Next, we have the ubiquitous yellow cab. They are everywhere, even in the news lately as they threaten to strike over GPS placement in their cabs. I rode in a cab that had GPS before - and they still went in the completely opposite direction. I think it just creates a false sense of security to have those types of systems around, as people become reliant on them and allow the erroneous information of the unit to overtake common sense.

Finally, we have the steam being released. Those orange and white cylinders are all over the city, releasing pent up steam lest it explode (as it did a while ago near work. The streets are finally closer to normal there). It makes me think of this island of Manhattan as a giant whale and these are all the blowholes. Sometimes you can feel the streets breathing as you walk down them.

Oh, and the sign on the cab advertises Avenue Q - a great play on Broadway I was lucky enough to see with the original cast. If you haven't heard of it - think South Park meets Sesame Street. A little bit raunchy, definately not for kids (one of the characters is Sally the Slut) but a lot of laughs to be had.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lining Up All My Ducks In A Row

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The sun had already begun to descend at this point and was well behind the trees so there was just the 'afterglow.' I love how, instead of congregating on dry land or waddling through the mud, the ducks settled into the only little stream of water they could find.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's All Happening At The Zoo

(image taken from, released into public domain)

Today, I was walking through the cubicles at work, as I do every morning on my way to the kitchen to get my horrible for me Diet Coke with the brain killing Aspartame and something hit me, and it wasn’t the filing cabinet drawer that people continually leave open. It was the name plate on the outside of the cubicles. They say:

Finance > Accounts Payable > John Smith


Finance > Accounting > Mary Smith

And go on and on like that, Finance > Sub group > Name

Then my brain flashed, as it sometimes does, to a point in my life when I’ve seen something similar.

The zoo.

Rodentia > Abrocomidae > Chinchilla

Primates > Lemuridae > Lemurs

Primates > Hominids > Human

I had to stop walking while this sunk in. It’s a zoo, a human zoo. Order: Finance, Family: Financial Planning, Class: Victorya.

We push levers for rewards, given toys to ‘stimulate us,’ and live in our little cages in specific areas of the zoo.

So, what’s your order and family?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


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This was the sunset from my walk in the park. I loved how despite the brightness of the sun, it just turned the trees on the hill so dark and almost silhouette as the rays radiated out from the golden orb.

I am definately a sunset person as I think it gives the world this ethereal quality. I can almost see the fairies dancing in the light as it descends beyond the horizon, and hear the elves sing with the dragonflies. . .

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Very Proper Gander

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I decided to take a page from David's blog, as it were. Since I won't have much time to write, I figured I'd post some pictures now and then.

This was taken in the park on Saturday. Usually, at the particulary pond that I visit, there is a swan among the regular ducks and Canadian Geese. As of late, I've noticed this wonderful gander - it's not often I see an 'American' goose nibbling up the tossed corn and seed.

I really liked the mud, the water was very low that day. Even the ducks were sinking up to their 'knees,' that is, if ducks have knees.

What I like about this photo is not only the texture of the mud, but that it almost looks like the goose is gazing at his own reflection. Meanwhile, you can see the sun is setting through the length of the shadow and the almost golden light on the left side of the goose. In fact, in just a few moments after this shot the sun had already descended beyond the horizon.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Oh Noes! It Was All Just a Dream (Well, Mostly)

Just a quick note before I start this post - things will be hectic for the next month, so postings may be sporadic. It's budget season at ye old job, which means the boss telling me to come in early and leave late yet still she wants me to go to school two nights a week to learn what I am doing. Oh, and total score, they are paying the $180 dollars that the textbook costs. I could do posts on how the US education system gouges the students with the price of these textbooks.

Anyway, let's see how short I can keep this today, as it's my lunchbreak. I just wanted to share an interesting dream.

See, after yesterday's post, I think stuff was more on my mind. Now, in the past, when stuff was dredged up I'd have these horrid nightmares. Last night, here was my dream:

I'm in my bed sleeping, in my current apartment when my mother comes and sits on the side of the bed and gently wakes me. I tell her I want to go to sleep, but she says this is important. So I groggily stare up at her.

"I'm sorry I put the pillow over your face," she tells me. "Really, it was wrong."

"Just let me go back to sleep," I say, rolling over and closing my eyes again.

"No, really, what I've done is wrong," she replies.

Now all I want to do in my dream is go back to sleep, so finally I say, "If you realize it's wrong, you should go get some help. You need help mom, more than I can give you."

I wake up (in my dream) to pounding on my door. It's my brother, and he wants to know where our mom is. Now, in real life my brother never lived on his own, he only left my mom's house to stay with his girlfriend then wife. When his girlfriend got pissed at him, he'd go back with my mom. He can't really do much on his own except kill people (hence his lifetime in the military) so needs someone to take advant- er- take care of him.

"What the f--- did you do with mom?" he asks me incredibly angry.

"I don't know," I reply wiping sleep from my eyes.

He barges into the house and looks around.

"I know she was staying with you, what did you do?"

I notice the message on my answering machine is blinking, so I listen to it. It's "Downtown Psychiatry Hospital" to alert me that my mom has checked herself in and after evaluation, they want to keep her in longer. She went to get help.

Now, at the same time my brother starts to freak out as he tells me that his blood test came back positive, "I'm BP too" he fumes at me, "you gonna have me committed?" Then his girlfriend comes and tells me that her blood test is also positive. I tell them I'm negative, but wonder if I am because I didn't even know there was a blood test for Bi-Polar disorder (note, in real life there isn't).

I just thought it was interesting how it was a wish-fulfillment dream in terms of my mother admitting she was wrong. I think that's the dream of every child abused by their parent's - that the mother and father stop hiding behind the rationalization of parental responsibility and admit that what they did was horribly wrong. We want the abusive parties to feel guilt, remorse, and shame for their actions. And while 10:1 that won't happen in real life, in dream life it can.

I think it also shows a shift - she wasn't overpowering. She invaded my space by being in my house, yes, but she left and got help, and I was able to tell her to do so. I wasn't afraid. Granted, my anxiety over having BP was still there (I'm 30 now, I was told if I did have it it would have come out in childhood because of the stress I was under, but 30 is basically the cut-off date for diagnosis, as it shows in the late teens and twenties mostly), but I handled it well, got them out of the house, and got back to sleep. The other thing of note - I didn't try to help her. I didn't take responsibility for her actions, but tried to tend to my own needs - something I really need to do more in life. It's hard to care for yourself when you are so used to caring for someone, or something else. I was thinking of that the other day while day-dreaming about getting another cat.

"I don't have anything to love," I said aloud wistfully.

"You have yourself," that voice inside me said. "Learn to love yourself more completely."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blogging Against Abuse

Today is Blog Catalog's Blogger's Unite Against Abuse Day. The badge above was created by one of the talented administrators there.

Now, I figure my blog is basically a case against abuse, right? But just in case it isn't clear, here are some tips for the parents out there.

Parents - I know kids can be frustrating. They don't do what you want them to, they don't always behave in public, and sometimes they act out for attention. Your child may not be as good-looking as you, or as smart as you, that's because of one simple fact - they aren't you! Please recognize that each child out there is different from their parents and an individual in their own right. They are not 'mini-me's' cloned for your amusement. They have feelings and emotions separate from you. They like things that are different. And even if they don't yet, they have the ability in them to be a separate entity.

To that end - DO NOT:

  • Remind them that you were prettier as a child than they are.
  • Constantly tell them that a subject for which you didn't do well in school is 'hard and useless' - you're creating a stigma.
  • Tell them that the subject they love is useless and they'll never excel in it anyway
  • Call them names.
  • Call others names in front of your children.
  • Insult specific 'races' or 'peoples' in front of your child.
  • Trade affection for chores or other items, "You want dinner honey? You have to hug me."

Of course, there are other items that really shouldn't need to be said, but I will:

  • Drag them around the house by their hair then cut it off in chunks for 'being so vain.'
  • As 'punishment,' drag them out of bed at 3 am in the morning and throw them in the shower because they didn't remember to put their toys away earlier.
  • Force a child to eat something after they throw it up.
  • Hit your child. With anything. It's incredibly confusing to kids when that happens.
  • Kick your child.
  • Tell them, "it hurts me more than it hurts you" as you spank them. It's confusing.
  • When they cry, don't say, "I'll hit you until you stop crying," that is wrong on so many levels.
  • Threaten your child with bodily harm and especially with sexual acts.

Parents, Please do:

  • Love them and watch them grow with that mixture of joy and wistfullness.
  • Encourage the differences and get interested in their new lives.
  • Pay attention to their behaviours, be open about what abuse is and let them tell you if something is wrong.
  • Harbour genuine trust between you and your children.
  • Treat your children with respect.
  • Have patience.

Now, I know I've never had kids, I've just had cats. But the trust and respect issue goes a long long way. Do not abuse your child, mentally, phsyically, emotionally, sexually. Love them with all your heart and be the guardian's they need you to be.

This is in response to:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stories of Friendship - Trinh and Rachel

Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio, a/k/a Raffaello di Urbino): Self-Portrait with a Friend (1517-1519, Oil on canvas)

Tell me, is it easier to make friends while a child when just running down the street can make you ‘buddies’? When everyone is from the same neighborhood and as a child, you don’t really understand what the economic division means, and we don’t have all those pre-conceived notions (yet) of who we’re not supposed to like, does friendship just come natural?

Some days the friends I had as a child are so clear. The area we lived in was mostly Section 8 housing, which is subsidized by the government for the economically disadvantaged. My mother prided herself on never actually living in the projects, but across the street from us stood ‘The Projects.’ These were housed, when I was a young little thing in Arizona, mostly immigrants as at the time Tempe was a place that was more of a stopping point as people made their way in America.

One of my closest friends was Trinh Phon (excuse me if I mangled the name). There were a lot of Cambodians at the time coming through. I remember the first time I ate at her house, how they sat on the floor and there was a big bowl in the middle. Everyone drank out of the same cup and that was something I was taught was ‘icky’ by my family. Birds were cooked in metal tins on the rooftops.

My mother used to warn me about her, say she was a thief, I didn’t believe it. We were friends, and friends don’t steal from each other! At the time my father, for some reason, had become the care taker of two giant drums of wheat (non-milled). My brother and I were yelled at often for playing with the wheat that was stored in the backyard. My mother was convinced that Trinh was stealing the wheat.

Now, we shared everything. One time she came over with some gum she got from her grandma – which turned out to be ‘chew’. Not something we were allowed to have. I think she did try some first, and thought it was nasty. Another time, she was talking about her sister needing new clothes. Now, I got my clothes as hand-me-downs from my brother, but I knew my mother had some of my older dresses in the closet, which I gave to Trinh. Little did I realize I just gave away my christening gown! My mother didn’t let me live that down for a while.

Trinh also came to my birthday parties. I still have ‘Ozma Of Oz’ – a book she gave me for one birthday. Again, my mother told me it was probably stolen. Well, then arrest me, it’s on my bookcase now.

Now, while she was a close friend, my best friend was Rachel. She lived with her mother and brother in an apartment complex that, well, was in an even worse area than my house. A story my mother always told involved a stabbing happening in front of those apartments. Though, in hindsight, that might have been told to keep me from asking to go to Rachel’s house.

In school, the teacher would give us a penny for each bottle top (the metal kind) that we brought in. I always looked on the streets for them, as at home it was plastic bottles or my parent’s cans of beer. But Rachel, without fail, on Mondays would bring in enough for a whole dollar. How I envied her! She told me that her mom got money off the rent by cleaning the other apartments, and they were always filled with the beer bottle caps! I was so envious of her to get that dollar every week.

When my mother packed up my brother and me up in that car to leave AZ, I was devastated (as I mentioned). But the worst was leaving Rachel. We were going off into the unknown – I didn’t even have an address to give her! A post card was sent once, from one of the states. But there wasn’t a response as there was no place to send one too. Rachel and her family were planning on moving as well, so we were doomed to be separated.

This is in answer to David's question - Who was your childhood friend?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Flowers Arrived!

(picture from

My grandmother got her flowers.

When I went to choose it was interesting, as I realized I don’t know her at all. “What if she’s allergic?” I thought. “How old is she now, what would she like?”

So I went to the oldest person at work, and asked him his opinion. He went by what his wife would like receiving, and we chose Peruvian Lilies in a vase. I had looked at the baskets, thinking that they say ‘grandma,’ but he told me a vase might be appreciated more, and the flowers might last longer in a vase than a basket. So I went with a bouquet of these lilies.

At first I was worried, as when I received the e-mail confirmation it said the flowers were left at her front porch door. Now, granted she lives on the top of a hill but I wondered if she ever received them. When a day went by without a call, I finally caved and called her.

Now, last time I spoke to anyone in that household I was told my grandmother was deaf, yet, she answered the phone and spoke very clearly. Though, since she did most of the talking, who knows?

She was ecstatic, absolutely overwhelmed with the flowers, telling me she hasn’t gotten any in years as at her age (86) all of her friends are now dead. I think I get my bluntness from her side of the family.

I was happy that she was so content, and it was nice to hear her say that I was always her favorite grandkid, I’ll admit it.

But then, then she went and said something that scared me. She told me that she’s happy that we got in touch so I can take care of her now.

Uhm, yeah. That really set my bells a ringing because I don’t even have a cat anymore due to feeling trapped. I understand that she’s old, but she’s not alone. She lives with my Aunt (her daughter) and my cousin (her grandson) who is probably about 36 or so now. My aunt has had that same job for over 20 years as the butcher in a chain grocery store.

Half of the reason it constricted my breathing was the thought of me having to take care of someone I don’t know, and giving up the life I’m working for now. But I was able to calm that down and realize she is just an old woman overwhelmed by emotion and her ‘ailments.’

The other half of why it bugged me was that it assumed her daughter would die before her. When I first moved to NYC, my mother told me that when I die she wanted all my artwork. “Don’t you mean if?” I asked.

“No, when. I know you’ll die before I do,” she replied quite coolly.

I hated that, her telling me that my decision to leave her was basically my death, and then the claim on my artwork that she had fought against for so long. I’m no fan of mother’s assuming or anticipating their children will die before them.

As an update, yesterday I got a card from my Aunt telling me that grandma loved the flowers and that they know I love them, and they love me as well.

Familial love, who knew it was possible for me?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Vague Recollections (II)

(Image created at

I had a vague memory the other day. Just sort of, there.

We used to walk to A.J. Bayless, a grocery store in Arizona. If you got separated from your parents, you could go up to the register and they would call for them. While waiting, they would give you M & Ms.

Once, my mother and brother were going somewhere and left me behind with my father. I forget where they were going, but I decided they were at A.J. Bayless, and I left to go there and find them.

If my parents were still together, then I was age seven or under. Very young. The trip to A.J. Bayless involved walking down this alley-way, we always came around behind the store and the big dumpsters that we’d pick through for food.

So that’s the way I went, little seven or under me.

The way there was fine. Then, when I got to the store, I went up to the register and told them I was lost. I sat there and they gave me a handful of M & Ms that I ate as they called for my mother over the store address system.

Next to the grocery store was an ice cream store we used to go to sometimes, they had square scoops – not round. I always thought that was funny, a square lump of ice cream. But I always got the rainbow sherbet. Milk and I have never been friends, and it wasn’t until much later that I heard the term “lactose intolerant” – my mother always tried to get me to drink my milk- even though she later confided that she had to give me grey-soy milk as a child because I couldn’t tolerate milk even as an infant.

Anyway, after eating some M & Ms I left the store and went back home. On the way through the alley there was a kid (probably a teen) bouncing a basketball. He asked if I’d like to learn how to dribble. I told him no. He asked again if I wanted to play with the ball. I was a little frightened at that point, but just said ‘no’ again and kept walking and went home.

When I got back, I don’t even remember what happened. I think my father might have asked where I was, with me answering ‘out playing’ as a response. The guise of the memory is that I went looking for my mother, but that was what I said I was doing, not what I was really doing. I think I just wanted some M & Ms and to get out of the house. My mother had taken my brother to the fish store, and I knew that. Not the grocery store.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Special: Fruit Species

One summer I decided I wanted to try new foods. I bugged all my friends to tell me about traditional fruits from their homes and find some to bring me. Thus, I was able to try Cebu dried mango straight from the Phillipines, Durians, Lychee, and mangosteen among other culinary adventures. It was a great summer.

In my quest to find out 'what I'm missing' and enlighten my mind and pallette I came across a wonderful site, Fruit Species.

Fruit Species is a wonderful blog that highlights those fruits that may not have the press they deserve. There, one can learn about the succulence of the Longan and the unique nature of the Soursop - a fruit I'd never heard of before.

For those who like new and intriguing fruits, head on over to Fruit Species and make your Sunday Special.

If you have a site you think would make Sunday Special, please leave me a link. This is something I'd like to continue each Sunday. Be it filled with cuteness, happiness, awesome artwork, or just plain positive energy feel free to let me know! Anything that would be of interest on a lazy hazy Sunday morning is up for review.

Happy Sunday!!

(image source: Tomomarusan)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Why Penny Was The Best Cat In The World (#1) – or – Stupid People I Pass On The Way To Work

(pastels on dollar store paper)

This post would be entirely different had I not just seen what I did while I walked to work. It also would have been posted earlier.

I saw a woman walking her cat on a leash.

Actually, I don’t mind that act at all. Penny had her pretty black harness with glitter and a lead. We walked in the country when I lived upstate or in the apartment building when I lived in the city. I still remember the first time I put the harness on. R. and I were roommates and she had a cat as well. Since we lived in more of a suburban land, we thought it would be good to harness train our pets to take them outside. When I went to put the harness on Penny for the first time, she just leaned against my leg and looked up at me lovingly as I fumbled with the straps and tried to figure it out. R’s cat hissed and sank to the floor. In the end, R. gave her cat a nice drag across the carpet while Penny and I went outside to sniff the flowers and sit down in the sun while she nibbled on grass.

Walking a cat is different than walking a dog. They are abiding your wishes by wearing the harness, but you go where they want to go. Also, not all cats take to the harness (plus, for some it just takes time and patience). Penny walked like a bulldog down my apartment hallways whenever we went walking in her harness. However, the minute she got spooked she zoomed into my arms or into the apartment, and she had the right to do so.

The first time I saw someone (non me or R) walking a cat on a harness was at a rabies clinic I was a volunteer for. The woman took her cat out of the box, it was on a leash, and the cat flipped out. The feline started spinning on its back and hissing. It was stressed, and should never have been taken out of the box while on that leash except by someone trained to handle it. The woman, worried that the cat in its spinning would strangle its poor furry self, reached in to soothe it and a stream of blood shot across the room. Her wrist had been slashed by a flurry of furry anxiety.

The second time was by a truly stupid person. I think Romero has it right and zombies are now, his movies are just a warning to us all. I was volunteering at a dogs walk against cancer, and a person had brought out a cat on a leash thinking it would be ‘funny’. The cat was cowering, whimpering, and frightened as it tried to escape but had nowhere to go. The owner was laughing as dogs surrounded the trapped feline, and I was livid. I do think he was kicked out of the event.

Now, I have seen responsible cat walkers, those who know their cats. There is one in my neighborhood who takes her feline out to the park to nibble grass. The cat’s temperament is one for the walk; it just ambles along looking at everything, gazing up at its human partner with affection, and is generally unafraid. Together they sit in the grass and watch the birds fly by. If that is the animal’s temperament, then go for it! I love it, it’s responsible stewardship.

But today, today as I was walking to work in Midtown Manhattan – a place populated by a lot of suits rushing to work, a lot of cars, a lot of emissions – I saw a woman walking her cat and the cat was terrified. It was as low to the ground as it could possibly get, its tail was twitching back and forth, ears back. Every time it passed one of the tiny ‘beautification’ trees the city has put up, the cat darted up as far as it could go then the body would snap as the end of the leash was reached. She was walking it with just a collar, not a full harness, so its neck was pulling against the collar which could cause so much damage to the poor fuzzy.

This was not a cat meant to be walked in such a high population area, at least, not yet. The woman was smiling and laughing each time the cat zoomed up a tree, and I was seething. The poor thing was traumatized.

I implore pet owners to take the time to learn their pet’s personalities, to not enforce your ideals on an animal that can’t comprehend things the way we do. Show the same devotion to them they show to you, and even more as we are the stewards of the planet and all living creatures on it. We need to protect, empathize, love, and listen to our surroundings and our companion animals. Don’t stress them out for some ideal that may either take time or never be reached.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What Are You A Slave Too? Another Beggar's Tale

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo: Brother Juniper and the Beggar (Oil on canvas)

The stories of the homeless are always interesting to me, having lived a life of austere poverty when young. I often read that a high portion of the homeless in NYC are mentally ill, that they really need more help than a hand-out. This I believe. We were without a home because of my mother’s bi-polar disorder, and I can only imagine the myriad of illnesses that keep people sleeping on grates and cardboard boxes rather than a home. Granted, some, like the beggar in my last tale, see it as a profession and aren’t really homeless. Then you run into the case that I’m about to tell you about.

It was a long night and I was coming home from a wrap party. I used to work in film a lot more than I do now, just simple things, but also volunteered at all the festivals held in NYC. So it was a nice party, open bar (I don’t really drink, but was talked into trying a Cosmo by some devotee of Sex In The City), and a lot of drugged-out wannabes. Not really my scene, but the gift bags were nice!

I left the party a little early and famished as the pot-smokers always bogard the hors d’oeuvres at these types of functions. As I’m walking I spy a Burger King – yeah! Affordable food. Now, as with many establishments, there is someone begging at the door. It’s funny, because they tend to not want food – just the money. Once, I asked the gentleman begging outside the door if he wanted to come in and I’d buy him a burger, he told me, “No way, that food’s too unhealthy for me!” Beggars can’t be – oh well, they can. Another time I actually bought bagels for this person who was lying on the ground and pitifully moaning about how hungry he was. He told me, in a non-moaning voice, that he was on Atkins, thanks. When I went to return the bagels there was a girl returning muffins – who had bought them for the same reason as I- and was pissed that he did take the water she bought for herself.

Anyway, while in line gazing at my limited choices (no beef for me, and at the time, no chicken either, so probably just some fries to tide me over) I overhear this woman on the phone – she works for MTV! I had been wondering about getting a job there. She’s very cordial, and we start to talk. Then matters turn to the gentleman outside the door, as I think he came in and asked her for money – by name – and she gave him a couple dollars.

“That is the greatest musician that will never be,” she sighs to me. “We found him one day, beating, just amazing sounds. This guy is wonderful. And here he is homeless! We get him in and record some stuff and then offer him this huge contract, millions of dollars.”

I’m hooked then – this homeless guy begging for money outside a BK is so profound?

“Oh yeah,” she tells me, “just amazing. So we get him out of here and put him up in a nice hotel. Only thing is, he’s a user. So we have to detox him. That’s the condition – he has to be clean. The contract is signed, there it is, millions of dollars, he just can’t use.”

Well, we already know the ending of the story. He walked away from a life of music, of living up to his potential as the best thing around, to hold the door open as people enter a fast food restaurant in hopes of getting enough spare change to get his next fix. She looks truly devastated as she tells me this, and I think my jaw went slack. To give up so much of your future, for some immediate fabricated ‘feeling’ that a drug will provide.

That scene has long stuck with me, perhaps as a guidepost, as a bench marker. To make sure that my future isn’t obscured my immediate fleeting desires, to see that I still have control of my dreams.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Depression Inventory

(Click on image for larger view)

The above is the depression inventory worksheet I must fill out every few months or so. It's interesting to note the overlap with anxiety (change in sleeping patterns, irritability, changes in concentration). I think a lot of these illnesses do have overlap, or one can be a symptom of another, so it's tough to pin down.

Depression is a big word in the states it seems. Every day I hear that damn commercial on television, "Depression hurts, Cymbalta can help." To some degree I think the popularity of depression has made it harder to deal with. Mainly because people have a right to get sad, yet when you are the word 'depression' immediately springs to mind whether warranted or not. Clinical depression and situational depression are different beasts with similar characteristics. The main thing that saddens me about this is the increase in the number of children taking medications for depression. While some may be warranted, the increasing numbers are frightening, especially when you look at the side effects (suicide being one of them).

It was hard for me to admit that I have periods of depression. But I do, I get irritable (around a 2), I feel guilty (2 at its highest, thankfully), my appetite can fluctuate from eating nothing to eating an entire pizza (plus dessert). However, happily, no matter how depressed I have gotten I haven't lost hope in the future, nor do I feel like a failure. I may have the fleeting thought of how easy it would be to step in front of a train, but I won't do it.

It is interesting to monitor my mood though. When I first started I had to keep an 'anxiety journal' and fill out the anxiety sheet once a week along with a daily monitoring (what was the highest point of anxiety today, what triggered it, etc.) In the end, it's about becoming aware of your feelings and recognizing that there is nothing wrong with them, really. Just figuring out what the triggers are to certain exaggerated responses (my tailspins). And just realizing that these little events affect me helps to put me back in control.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm A Winner

Yesterday I found out I won Go! Smell the Flowers monthly contest. Each month they ask a question and their favorite answer wins flowers sent to anywhere internationally. This week, the question was, “What does your dream day consist of?”

My dream day was, “One where I wouldn’t worry about anything, I could live the 24 hours without judgment from myself or others, or worry about what other people were thinking in regard to my actions.

I’d love a day where I could just walk, no stress (physical or emotional) and just take in the beauty around me - whether I walk in the city or country. A day where everyone was kind to each other, and showed the common courtesies that are rare these days.”

Now, this was, to me, completely self-serving. I’m on a worry high as of late, can’t even see a smile without wondering what the ulterior motive is behind it. I’m sick of the worry and doubt.

What’s funny is I’m not self-conscious when outside talking with friends. I was at the park the other day when I ran into a neighbor/friend of mine, and her gentleman friend. She and I always joke around about things, sometimes going into the absurd. While the three of us were chatting my bra decided to come undone. But, rather than be embarrassed, I just started singing, “Do your ears hang low, do they wobble two and fro. . .” as I reached behind me to snap it back together. She was laughing, I didn’t really care, and when her male friend realized what was going on, he blushed and turned around (no, I didn’t show anything).

Which is why I’m amazed that every other little thing has been bugging me lately, having me worry, wonder, doubt peoples actions, even doubt my own actions.

After I put in my entry for the contest, I realized I actually did want to win the flowers. I mentioned the letter that I received from my grandmother. Since then I have written her back, she sent me a card, and my aunt left a message on my answering machine. I thought it would be wonderful if I won those flowers to send to them.

See, I’ve been talking about this in my therapy sessions. I don’t know how to go forward with my grandmother and aunt. It sounds silly, but there is a lot of my mom’s voice that pops up. In fact, my therapist asked if I realized that after every story I told of my grandmother there was one about my mom’s views on them.

My mother told me my aunt hated me. That because her daughter died she couldn’t look at me without being jealous and never wanted to see me. I asked my aunt about that after I graduated from college. She said that yes, her daughter died at age 3 days, but she never hated me for living. “I’ve always loved you,” she told me.

My mother told me my grandmother and aunt were stupid, were uneducated, weren’t worth our time. She laughed at my aunt when she got promoted at work (my aunt is a butcher) and had us, as children, laugh with her. “I can’t believe your aunt actually said that happiness is a 10 feet meat counter!” she cackled, having us join in on what she deemed small dreams. But, my aunt had what my mother couldn’t, a stable job she took pride in. Who cares what you do if you enjoy doing it?

My mother mocked the fact that my aunt still lived with her parents. That even when married, her husband moved in with them. That her son lives there, and when he married, his wife moved in to the house. As I grew up I realized how that was the type of family I wanted, one that wanted to stay together, one you could lean upon. She had me believing it was unnatural or incestuous to stay at home (while she implored my brother to never leave, which he didn’t until he was married) when you have a job, a career, a person to love. But the natural order seems to support one another, to be able to hold each other up, especially when it is economically advantageous to live together. They own the house everyone lives in, and always have. We lived in cars and a garage and Section 8 housing.

Right now, I don’t feel comfortable returning the phone call to my aunt and grandma. I don’t know why, I just feel so sad about it. I do remember our last phone calls, a few years ago, where it was awkward pauses and apologizes. Part of me just keeps hearing my mom’s voice and worries that I’ll repeat it, that despite talking to them about what was said I’ll slip into her way of thinking, of thinking that they are beneath me even though they are the family that loves me, something I have been seeking for a long time.

Another part worries that she was right, that they will just betray me at some point, that they don’t really care. Intellectually, I don’t believe that to be true, but emotionally, I don’t know if I can handle any more ‘family secrets’ being put on my shoulders. I want a hug, not a burden of history.

So while I may not be able to call them right now, I’m working on it. And I’m grateful I can send them some flowers and let them know I’m trying. I may not be able to say it yet, but I can write it out and, as the ad says, ‘say it with flowers.’

(The picture above is one I took after sharpening a lip pencil. I thought it looked like a rosebud.)