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.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

How Much Do You Make? A Beggar's Salary

Jacques Callot: Beggar, 1622

Dpasquella mentioned on her blog recently that she overheard this woman talking (unprovoked) about her salary. At first, it hit me how in America people shun talking about salary. It's great for bosses, who can hire cheap. In fact, it's rather well known that the only way to make money here is to switch jobs. Your current one will never give you the promotions you deserve, yet all new hires get the new pay scale, which can rival your accumulated one over many years.

But then, people who on the street openly 'brag' about how much they make get annoying. I hear a lot of money talk in New York. From people who talk about paying 'only $400 for a pair of pants' to the 500+ spent on one pair of shoes and beyond.

Her story reminded me of a similiar one that happened while I was a temp, just out of college.

I was tired and it was late. Instead of cooking, I took a quick stop at Taco Bell to buy myself some cheap and (to me at least) edible grub for dinner. In line was this gentleman with a huge wad of cash, it was just bills upon bills. He was talking to a younger man about it.

"Yeah man, I cleared, like 250-300 dollars today man!" he said. The other kid oohed and aahed appropriately, and asked how.

"Begging man, everyone can spare a dollah! Everyone!"

So I turned around at that point, and asked if it's true.

"Yeah man, it's the holidays, you know? Christmas Spirit. I clear like 250 in 5 hours."

So he was working less hours than me, and bringing in way more (tax free) dollars.

"So, can you buy me a burrito?" I asked, since he had way more than me and 'everyone can spare a dollar.'

He laughed at first, then replied, "no man, gotta buy my woman some stones, you know? She wants diamonds and some shit."

I also found out he lived in a rather nice place, with his 'woman,' on Riverside Drive. He funded this fully through his job, begging.

Beggars and Prostitutes, I think they are the oldest of professions. And there will always be a place in society for both. Beggars do serve a purpose. I've had this discussion with some nurses at my old job. They provide us the chance for charity, to show we care. To some extent they lift us up because 'hey, at least we don't have to beg on the streets for money!' They also serve as warnings for parents to use on their children, "Do you want to end up like him honey?"

But I can't help to think it's a bit perverse that this beggar earned more than I earn, even now. That his was a life of 'stones for his girl' and an apartment overlooking the river. And all this by asking others if they can spare a dime while wearing the ultimate in casual work clothes.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Special: Ugly Overload

Everyone loves cute. There is even now 'the culture of cute' with Hello Kitty as the leader. Kittens, puppies, baby ducks. All are so wonderful! It's a survival technique in the time of man. We want to save the whales, save the baby seals, but what of the less than fuzzy animals? What happens to the blobfish and star-nosed mole? Where are they in our charity fund-raisers?

Nowhere, because they just aren't cute.

But they are incredibly interesting! Thus, we have Ugly Overload. A site devoted to these creatures that we may not want to snuggle up to at night, but we should respect none-the-less. While some may be conventionally ugly, slimy, and downright frightening they are always intriguing.

The short posts on this blog contain a picture, usually a little background information on the animal of the day, and a link or two to other sites for further exploration. It is the site's motto not to show diseased animals, but those that are just the way nature made them (though they have posted a couple unique diseases on there as well).

So if you like nature and the way that different creatures have evolved to fit into their surroundings, this is the site for you. If you want to broaden your horizons, realize that just because something isn't cute doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile, then head on over to Ugly Overload 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!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tales of a Possessed Marshmallow Man

David McMahon asked us this week to tell a Toy Story, well David, here ya go!

The year was 1985 (I think) and there was only one toy I wanted that year – the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My family was a huge fan of The Ghostbusters and I even had the movie picture book. I read through that book so many times, looking at all the pictures. I think the bitterness was setting in on the family. My parents had already divorced, but we hadn’t yet moved to New York. I remember one picture, of Gozer covered in bubbles with the two demon dogs at her side. My mother said my father bought be the book because of that picture, that he probably stared at it all the time or some other such nonsense. I didn’t care. I always pictured Dan Ackroyd as the perfect dad and wanted that stuffed Stay Puft to snuggle with at night like the kid on the commercial.

And I got it! The real one too, not a knock-off. When I had wanted a Strawberry Shortcake doll my mom’s friend made me one, not the same to a kid looking for the tags. Cabbage Patch Kid? Also made from a kit with a printed out adoption certificate, doesn’t cut it. But this one was the Kenner original.

He was bigger than I expected, and had that sailors cap with a real blue ribbon. He was very soft and cuddly. And he had a huge smile one. There was one thing I didn’t know about the doll – its face glowed in the dark. That, I didn’t learn until that night.

My parents were happy that they had been able to please me, to give me a gift I really wanted. So my mother was none to happy to hear I had thrown the doll across the room screaming during the night. I woke up – and that grin was just there floating in the darkness of my room.

I had a friend that had wanted a giggling cookie monster of some sort. She broke it the first night because she rolled on it, it screeched into the silence, “ME WANT COOKIE!” and she thought for sure it was trying to eat her. Survival of the fittest, her or the doll, and she won while I laughed at the story. I thought for sure I’d never be such a wimp!

Now, here I was with a doll that wouldn’t die but just grin evilly all through the night.

I think I tried, my mother was upset. I had wanted that doll so badly and now it was scaring me. In the end, my brother got it. He had wanted it too, secretly envying my doll while outwardly making fun of the stuffed toy. We all loved Ghostbusters.

Image from

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Show Me Your Security Blanket

I always loved Linus from Peanuts. Next to Snoopy and Woodstock, he was among my favorite of the characters. He was the most passionate, even-keeled, theologically versed and - he was never afraid to show his need for his security blanket. It went with him everywhere (except for when his sister took it away or it was washday). There is nothing afraid with realizing you need something to lean on, even if it's a peice of cloth.

Yesterday the comments turned to security blankets, and how it seems most people have them. Of course, it need not always be a physical blanket. When I was little, I did hide under my ratty old yellow blanket. I'd pull it up at night and grip the smooth trim until my knuckles turned white. But, I couldn't bring it to school so had a mini-Bible I always kept in my pocket, thinking it would protect me from all the perils of an urban public school.

Now, I have an awesome blanket that I've had since highschool. Lovingly 'borrowed' from my brother and never given back. My brother came back from his first stint in the military with quite a few blankets, many harsh wool. But then he had these really smooth ones, I don't know the material, but it was the same stuff that trimmed my yellow blanket. Two of them went to college with me. One was tan and super long, like it was a 'remainder.' It was the length of about two people (but the width of only one). When we watched movies in the dorm, one person could be laying on the bed completely covered and the other sitting on the floor with the rest of the blanket wrapped around them.

The other is my green one. This is the one that remains long after the other disappeared, or was reclaimed. At one point it had stuffing, or, 'batting' inside. However, multiple washings left it lumpy. In an effort to save the blanket I performed a makeshift 'battingectomy' and, cutting a small hole at the seam, turned it inside out, removed all the stuffing, and then righted it again. Now, it may be thinner than my sheets, but it's still my blankie.

This is the blanket that is on my bed 24/7. It may look ratty, but it's clean! And it's still smooth and soft, and still strong enough to keep the monsters at bay. Whenever Penny would curl up next to me, I tucked her in under this blanket. In Winter of Summer this is the blanket that, even if I'm not wrapped up in it, is at my side.

So now, tell me about your security blanket (even if not blanket related). You can link here, or just drop me a line and I'll check it out.

Viva La Blankie!

(Yes, I threw it in the air and snapped a shot as it fell on my head, covering me with blanket love)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9-11 Remembered

I figured, why be cliché and do my 9/11 memories the day of? Why not do it, the day after! Because not every NYC blog has to do a retrospective on the same day, does it?

Yes, I was working that day. It was while I was temping, trying to ‘find myself,’ so for that week was a receptionist for some firm around Grand Central. They had just installed a big screen television in the conference room, so we got to see the crash in ginormous detail. And CNN, being what it is, kept replaying pictures of the people jumping from the towers over, and over, and over again.

As luck would have it, my mother had a work related conference around the World Trade Center, so she was in town. We were going to have dinner that night. My best friend had also recently taken a job around there as well.

When I heard of the crash, I called my friend first. I was still talking to my mother, questioning why, but still wanted her to BE a mother. But I called my friend first and don’t regret it. The smoke was so thick she couldn’t see out the window. Alarms were blaring. Neither of us believed that the planes held passengers. We didn’t know what was going on.

After my friend said they were evacuating them to the roof (and she promised to call once safe) I could turn my attention to my mother. Her work didn’t know what happened, and now we were being evacuated. Some people asked if my mother was okay, I told them I wasn’t sure.

(If I’m going to be honest, part of me wanted her to be there and die. Not only would I not have the problem of what to do with my mother and struggle to completely cut her off, as I later did, but in completely mean retrospect, she could have done so much more for me had she died then in terms of monetary value, then the agony of her living. As my best friend said though, evil never dies.)

We all went to the home of one of the Senior Partners. It was somewhere in the 60s/70s on the East Side. Once there, I found out my mother was fine and in her hotel. I called her there, and she was freaking out. She didn’t feel safe (the hotel was around Penn Station) and thought for sure she’d die. She wanted to stay with me as I live uptown. Being the dutiful daughter, I walked to her hotel and got her. Then we made our way to my house (the trains were working, she was acting like a scared 5 year old and I had to bribe her with ice cream and Diet Coke). Once off the train we stopped to get her Ben & Jerry’s and soda.

All she wanted to do at my house was call all her friends (long-distance) and keep watching the footage from the attack. She told me it was her way of coping. I told her it was running up a bill I couldn’t afford to pay and that I didn’t like the constant blaring of the TV.

Should I mention now that I live in a studio? A Manhattan studio? So imagine her and I and Penny in this small an apartment when she tells me – “oh yeah honey, I didn’t bring my medication.”

There was a lot of stuff that happened but I’ll cut to the chase – after getting sick of her and going for a walk I came back to see she had put all these hair clips over (and in) Penny who was cowering in the corner. Penny was in pain. I had left her alone with my mother, and felt bad for it. I turned to my mother and asked her if it felt good hurting others, knowing that she has caused everyone around her so much pain. Her reply:

“Yes, it makes me feel powerful.”

She admitted it, she finally admitted it.

I kicked her out, got her a train ticket, and sent her home. She never paid for the long distance calls, saying I should understand, that she doesn’t have the money, excuse after excuse flowing from her mouth. I cut my long distance after that and slowly began the process of cutting her off completely.

(I'm re-reading this now, and when I rewrite this more non-blog formal, I think the title will be "How 9-11 Helped Me See The Terrorist In My Own Home")

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Anxiety Inventory

Every couple of months, I have to fill out these 'behavioural surveys' that keep track of my symptoms. The above is for anxiety, as it's a huge componenet of PTSD. It was interesting the first time I saw this, as I never knew 'fear of choking' was an anxiety symptom. My entire childhood I could never wear a necklace, turtleneck, anything that would touch my neck because it felt like i was choking. First peice of jewelry I bought in college was a cheap necklace, I remember my mother being amazed as I could never wear one before. The dizziness/lightheadness was also a new one to me, as I felt it all the time but always attributed it to poor diet. Granted, it can be that as well, but when since the dizziness comes on during periods of stress, it can easily be attributed to anxiety as well.

The rest are just as interesting. #18 - indigestion, #20 - face flushed. I sent this to my friend Xiomara that I've talked about, and she says she has every single one. I don't get them all that often, the main ones being dizziness and flushed face. Shaky was another childhood one. With every step I twisted my ankle and fell.

It's amazing what anxiety does to a person.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Cats of My Life: Einstein

One year when I was in college my brother tried to get a job, and worked at a veterinarian’s office. I think he was just one of the animal caretakers there; we weren’t really talking that much then. I heard the stories though – that he was attacked by a pitbull and needed stitches in his neck, then a couple weeks later was bit by a cat that had one of those institutionalized bacteria’s and a black streak went up his arm and to his heart.

Out of this came a cat – Einstein. He was one of the donor cats and, as my brother’s story goes, “he was in a cage so small he couldn’t stand up straight and they were going to kill him because they couldn’t find any good veins anymore.”

Indeed, he walked with a stoop, a bit of the hunchback action going on, and kept his claws out at all times, like he thought he needed them for traction. When you pet him, you could feel the scabs across his wiry frame.

But he was so happy, always happy. That sweet thing loved human company and was in whatever lap could be found. He purred whenever anyone entered the room and was just so content with his life. I think he drooled too, I don’t remember. Somewhere in my life was a cat that drooled when he was happy. Wait, it was Einstein as he had few teeth left.

When my brother moved out he took Einstein with him, as it was his rescue. I remember asking about him later. My brother told me that he had a horrible death- that he just yowled and yowled as another cat attacked him and punctured his lung. I really don’t believe that story, by that time my brother was saying what he could to hurt me, and he knew I cared for our little rescue cat. I also don’t like to think of the smile he had when he told me this story, or that he would enjoy the poor cat’s pain as much as he enjoyed telling me about it.

Instead, I like to think that Einstein passed away quietly, after a couple years of peace and love outside his cage.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sunday Special: Bob T. Bear (esq)

What could make a Sunday more Special than by spending it with a pants obsessed chocolate peanut loving Bear currently stationed in the United Kingdom? Not much, that's for sure. Hence today's Sunday Special Bob's Diary. (Bob, I took that picture above special for you.)

I'll be honest. It took me a bit to get into the writings of this bear, as they write phonetically. But, once past the small language bearier I was able to fully enjoy all this bear has to offer. And if you think those bears you have lying around your house are idle all day, let this one set you straight.

It was through Bob that I learned the UK Charmin puts pictures of bears on their toilet paper. Excuse me? No God-fearing American would ever whipe themselves with any printed TP (in fact, I've never seen anything but plain white TP sold, except through the internet). But imagine to wake up one day and see pictures of your genus on something that gets flushed away? Well, Bob wouldn't let that go buy without speaking up. He's a leader, that one.

Bob also has a slight obses- er- interest in pants. Apparently, in non-America land, pants are what we call underpants, so to speak so openly about shopping for pants is curiously tittilating as one imagines satin and lace rather than twill and cotton.

There is so many more facets to Bob than what I have typed in here. So go check it out, 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!!

Friday, September 7, 2007


“It is better to give than to receive” I so hate that saying. It’s such a lie. It’s easy to give something, but really hard to be accepting of others gifts. That’s how I see it. “Charity begins at home” is another one of those platitudes, yet more often I hear people saying that they don’t want to be a charity case. My mother never wanted to be a charity case, that’s why we ate out of the garbage. She refused welfare, or so she said. We’d be dragged to nursing homes to speak with the elderly at Christmas time and shyly hand them gifts the church was donating, but we weren’t allowed the candy they offered. We were there to give to them.

I remember, when I was younger the “Speak and. . .” series were huge. They were by Tiger Electronics I think, some Eighties giant computerized portable games. My brother had Speak and Math and I loved it (luckily, he hated it. But it was bought to improve his math skills). I really wanted the Speak and Spell. Just before our trip to New York, my mother got it for me for Christmas. She said she had to sell off a couple things and then go down to the clinic and sell plasma. Now, off and on she had sold blood to help us, well, live basically. I don’t know if they do that anymore, but they did then according to her. Plasma, she said, was harder to do because they have two tubes going in and out of you.

“Merry Christmas, here’s the gift you wanted; I was in pain to earn the money to buy what you wanted.”

Admirable what she did, sticks with me what she said about it. (Yes, I felt guilty for wanting it so bad she had to suffer for it to be the good mom she told everyone she was.)

My brother didn’t do well with the holidays. He always got so worked up that he wouldn’t get what he wanted that he’d throw temper tantrums leading up to the day. One year he took these blue plastic horses my mother got as her gift (I actually think he got them for her) and, in front of her, snapped all the legs of one by one. Another year, when he was much older, he tossed the coffee grinder (this time I think I bought for my mother) down on the ground and cracked it. One Christmas my parents got so mad I got all his presents. I loved it because he always got ‘action toys’ and I got boring dolls. But, eventually, I had to give them back.

‘Giving things’ was huge in the house. And it was always a show, with the story of suffering behind it to give something so grand. Accepting, not so much. It got to such a fever pitch that at one birthday party I refused to allow anyone to give me a gift. I couldn’t handle it. We had a piñata, a Carvel Ice Cream Cake, and a lot of fun (oh yeah, and no mother or brother at that party). But no presents for me.

So here I am, writing about this, and reflecting back, and realize it’s all another great game of control and power. You are the one providing when you give a gift, and everyone in the family didn’t want to accept anything because it was some weird power over the other person. No accepting of charity, no accepting of food, of little gifts knitted by people in nursing homes. That was wrong. Always the giver, never the receptor.

That is doing such an injustice to other people. Everyone feels good when they give something of themselves, and if it’s left hanging in the air it’s a rejection of that person and their thoughtfulness. I’ve come to realize that gracious acceptors are few and far between. Hell, I have trouble even taking a compliment! “Oh, no, you look better today! The blue in your shirt really brings out your eyes! Ah, no, I just got it in the sale bin, it’s nothing special. You’re too kind, really, no, it’s all about you!”

But I see it’s not just me. Compliment someone on their clothes they’ll tell you the cost. Compliment a woman on her hair she’ll say something self-deprecating. At least, that’s been my experience.

What the world needs is more gracious acceptors. That’s what I’m working on (oh my, I have a long list of things to work on!)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pennsylvania (The Trip - Part Three)

In Pennsylvania we met who were, for a short time, to be our family. My mother introduced them as our aunt, uncle, and cousin. The cousin was a girl around my age (I forget who was older). They were staying in a huge camper, such luxury when we had been in a three man tent for so long. They had a barbecue, television, stove, canopy, all the trappings, or, uhm, trimmings.

My Little Ponies were big then, and the cousin (J) and I played with them. My brother had another ‘man’ to talk too, and my mother got to sit back in a chair, beer in hand, and smile that her dream was coming to fruition. We were away from her demons in Arizona and on to a new life.

All of which, as I mentioned earlier, was highly illegal. She was not to cross state lines because custody was joint. But, as my mother told us kids, “your father doesn’t give a damn about you anyway. He doesn’t care.”

J. and I got along, which was good. Because it wasn’t to long before we had to pack up and move to our next stop – the garage of our Aunt and Uncle. I have no idea why we weren’t allowed in the house, but we weren’t. In reflection, it makes sense. I’ve asked a couple people what they would do if they had a relative like my mother, and they said if it wasn’t for the kids they would have just sent money to shoo her away. But there is a fear of being completely vulnerable around her, or someone so unstable.

The good thing was, I got along with J and thus could sleep inside the house some nights, albeit on her floor. She had everything – braces, a computer, two bikes (so we could go riding), a whole bunch of My Little Ponies – you name it, it was in her possession. In fact, the only times I got in trouble were when I repeated things my mother had said and J. would start to cry. For instance, my mother said that our ‘uncle’ was born in the toilet, and laughed about that. J. didn’t like the thought of her father being born in such an unsightly place.

There was guilt over J. too, that’s what my mother said. Because she was born with a cleft palate, they didn’t want another child and spoiled her rotten. Indeed they did, from picking out raisins in her raisin brain (“why not just get normal bran?” I asked, “She likes Raisin Bran,” I was told.), to letting her wear whatever she wanted, to the whole play den downstairs. I got some peripheral spoiling – like the trip to the salon, some new clothes, and Honey Nut Cheerios which J. thought she would like, but didn’t. I love those.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dealing With the Holes

One of the first things I had to deal with in my current therapy is dealing with the holes in my memory. Or, really, just accepting that I’m not going to remember everything and that it’s probably for the best. I don’t want to drown in my own past as I’m moving toward a positive future now, do I?

For the most part that’s fine. I don’t remember everything. I want to write things down just to gain ownership over them, to accept that they are part of me, my past, and to realize that damn it, I was a kid and shouldn’t feel guilt over things from childhood.

Then something happens, like yesterday, and the holes come back and I’m staring in the shadows and wondering just what the hell happened.

My foot has been hurting me for sometime and I have had x-rays and such and going to physical therapy for it. Then the other foot started to hurt so I went to my doctor. Well, he was running late so the head of the practice was there and figured, why make her wait for my partner? And took me in. He wasn’t happy.

See, after two x-rays, it turns out I have a fracture in one foot and a break in the other. These have apparently been there since childhood. He asked if I had some accident when I was younger.

These are the questions that spiral me, so I had a hard time asking or answering other questions after that. With people without my past, I wonder if they’d shrug and think something happened in their rambunctious years. But with me, I wonder if my parents did something and then never took me to the doctors. That was the first thought, “What the F*ck happened?” Because I didn’t go to the doctor’s much when younger, not that I remember. There were a few ER visits, but those are a long story and I was away at camp when that adventure started.

Then I begin to think, “Well, maybe they did take me to a doctor but it was one of those free clinics,” because really, that’s what we could afford. I’ve been dealing with so many dental issues caused from these free clinics when I was younger. I have one more tooth left to fix, one that was given half a root canal then covered with a temporary and never finished. I don’t even remember the work every being done, but now I have to have it fixed.

It’s tough, and will be even tougher as I have to have surgery and be laid up for two weeks. It reminds me how physically alone I am here without a family to help out a bit. Who’ll catch me if I fall? I get tired of setting up nets myself to catch me, you know? A nice hand someday. Of course, that’s what I’m working toward, breaking down enough of the walls that I’ll be open to another’s hands one day. And, of course, accepting that I’ll never know how those bones broke.


Image taken from

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Prince of Egypt

After listening to the CD so many times (I still can’t believe it was remaindered to the dollar store) I finally splurged and got the DVD. Definitely amazing, the animation is absolutely stunning.

To those that are unfamiliar – this is a Dreamworks animated telling of the story of Moses – at least until after the sea parts and he brings his people out of the Pharaoh’s reach.

What I think they did really well was the personal dilemma. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live in a castle and then realize you were born a slave that, to the family you are raised in, is not even human. Can you also imagine waking up one day and finding out that your purpose is clearly delineated – but involves giving up everything you’ve known and worse, fighting against it to lead others to freedom? To one day realize that all you have is worthless when others have no hope of ever attaining it.

But then I realized, it’s not just Moses. Throughout history we have people who realized, despite the threat to safety, they had to lead others against the dominating classes and fight, not just for freedom, but the right to be seen as human beings. What is it that allows some eyes to be open and so many to remain closed, that allows some people to stand up while others avert their eyes?

I think the film was empathetic to the whole human experience inherent in the tale. There is so much pain in the Old Testament. The relationship between Moses and Ramses was also done well, on a human level. How could Ramses not be upset that his brother turned his back on everything he’d known?

The best part was the parting of the Red Sea. The animation was just astounding (especially with the whale swimming in the columns of water) and with the swell of perfectly placed music I couldn’t help but be choked up.

And of course, it is always great to listen to Brian Stokes Mitchell. He has such an amazing voice.

All-in-all a great thought-provoking film.

Monday, September 3, 2007

More Tags!

I missed Sunday!

Actually, I tried in the morning but my net wasn't too happy (dial-up) then I got caught up in things (cleaned my bedroom, yeah!)

So now to clean house on the blog :)

Amel from Amel's Realm gave me the Blogging Star Award, and on the day of one of my hardest to write posts!
I bestow it to:

Rachelle of Pasture Musings for many many reasons, but people really should check out her adventures in Alpaca land! It's a rollercoaster of a read, with a lot of sweet fuzzies in the mix.

Carol Cooper for just awesomeness, I love her blog and support

and Chewy, definately an inspiration as I continue my blogging.

Amel has also bestowed on my a wonderful award, the I <3>


And one more from Amel! She's is just such an amazingly nice and giving blogger, never gives me a chance to give her these awards :p
This award was created by Bella Enchanted who says,

"This award will be awarded to those that are just nice people , good blog friends and those that inspire good feelings and inspiration! Those that care about others that are there to lend support or those that are just a positive influence in our blogging world!"

and definately goes to everyone who reads my blog and keeps me going on a day to day basis!

And finally, one last Meme, this time from the Angel of Delusion. This is Seven Priceless Experiences and a chance to talk about where you live. Here are seven things I love about New York:

1. The People. There is a reason the newest slogan is something like 'Ask A Local.' New Yorkers, real New Yorkers, are great. Whenever lost I have been able to ask someone for help. They pick you up when you fall. In fact, if you are treated rudely in New York it's generally a tourist, or someone who only works in NYC and lives elsewhere. It seems like they come here expecting to be treated bad and thus do it first.

2. The Subways. Okay, sometimes I get a bit claustrophobic down there, like during rush hour when it stops and the light goes out, but for the most part it's fast and affordable. For only 76$ I have my transportation paid for the month and can go anywhere in the city or boroughs. Plus, you meet a lot of people down there. I've had so many interesting conversations with random people, it's great.

3. The Food. Except for Stroopwafels and Hopjes, which unfortunately I love but fortunately aren't the healthiest snack anyway, I have been able to find everything I wanted here. From Durian and Lychee to marzipan, blood orange gelato and beyond we've got it. There are so many cultures represented that there is bound to be a section somewhere focusing on their cuisine. Lately I've been on a Tandoori Kick and able to choose from a few different places around work alone. And right now I'm drinking blueberry juice as I type.

4. The Parks. One day I have to post up some pictures, I even have one taken off the roof. We have so many parks, Central, Riverside, Washington Square, Fort Tryon, Inwood Hill - to name a few. And they are all gorgeous and a great place to walk through and unwind while seeing interesting outside performers and listening to live performances.

5. The Animals. I love animals, and it seems like every other person has a dog. One of my favorite memories in New York is watching this big bulky guy walking down the street in front of me. He has the swagger, the giant puffy coat that makes him look even big, and from the back just looks all Hip-Hop tough. When I pass him I see he is walking his dog - a maltese. You just can't really match the dog to the person here. While most are small dogs, due to the nature of city life, they are still omnipresent. Chi's are popular, and I've had more then one person tell me they trained their dog to use a litter box (works with female dogs only).

6. The Art. I love the Cloister's, the medevil arts museum. But the Met, the Moma, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the Chinese American Experience - all wonderful. Any museum you could want is somewhere either on the main island or a borough. I've even been to the Comic Arts Museum, the Bible Museum, Museum of the Moving Image - the list goes on. Wonderful way to spend your day.

7. The Plays. I remember thinking these were expensive once, all the big budget Broadway plays. And they are, the big budget ones. BUT if you are flexible you can see a lot of stuff for free. I'm an audience filler, so have seen a number of wonderful shows I wouldn't have even thought of seeing before, and for free! I loved the Great American Trailer Park Musical, and just saw Bi-Partisan Bashing which had my friend and I in stitches. Through the Fringe Festival I was able to see a brilliant show by an Austrailian Troupe, Stuck Pigs Squealing, that led to an interest in Ern Malley.

Anyone who wishes to share 7 things about there home is encouraged to do so! Thank so much to Amel and Angela for these tags.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Cats of My Life: Penny

After her death, I went to two different therapists. One, a grief counselor specializing in the human/animal bond and the other one of the leaders in interpersonal therapy who dealt mostly with dysthymia (constant low-grade depression). Both agreed: She was my real mother.

I started a charity drive to help save her life, as when her cancer returned I was told it would be $1,000 a session of radiation therapy. I had already spent all my savings to have the first tumours removed, and that was supposed to be all that was needed.

Many celebrities sent me items in support, I was able to raise about $500, but by then it was obvious God was calling his favorite angel home. I found this on the way to work a couple days before the end:

There are so many stories. Stories of how my mother did try to kill her too.
"Honey, your cat fell off the balcony!" she called one day.

"How?" I asked.

"I don't know, I think the wind knocked the door open, lifted her up and over the edge. I heard scratching, and there she was falling down."

But God wouldn't let her go until I was ready, even though I still sometimes feel like I never could be ready for her to leave.

Other stories involve her wanting to be near me so much that she'd crawl into the bathtub with me, purring as the water wicked up her fur.

When my mother or that 'bad friend' R. would yell at me, Penny would get inbetween us and start just screaming her head off at the other person.

In that end, that's the memory. The cancer is there, but she was love. She was understanding. She was constant devotion and protection. She stayed up all night to keep the demons at bay so I could sleep. When my alarm went off in the morning, after our joint constitutional (yes, she always went to the bathroom the same time as I) she'd curl up on my pillow. She stayed in the doorways and fought back the shadows that lurk there and try to escape. She made me stronger.

And she fought valiantly to stay with me as long as possible, even as her body failed her mind never did. She'd stare up at me with her emerald eyes and crawl into my lap. The vets had never seen anything like it, no matter how many tumors she had (and they spread incredibly fast, even a doctor in Italy was interested because it just wasn't seen before) she still purred, wanted to be held, to love. After all, it was only her flesh that was dying, not her soul. And while the vets said that cats get angry and hide when they are sick, Penny never did. Because she was my angel. When we went to the vet that last time, she just lay her head in my palm and didn't fight. She purred, comforted by my touch. This, even though the vet had trouble finding a vein because of the tumours. She was going home, and knew that I was safe and she had done her duty.

Warning: This video may be disturbing to some. It's of one of her last days.

(Note to David: This is one of the posts I have had a lot of trouble pulling together.)