Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Blessings

Reconnecting with my first best gay friend ever, after a long absence. He still has perfect hair. He has no idea how propitious his reappearance in my life is right now, but I'm making damn sure he knows how glad I am of it.

My New Year's Eve dress, the first dress I've bought in two years, because I actually have someplace to wear it, and G deserves to squire me around in something he hasn't seen fifty times.

My Mom. We spent over an hour on the phone planning our Christmas menus, including extra desserts for later in the week that we'll make together.

Dr. Zoom, whose friendship warms my cold cold heart. See you and the missus in a few days!

Kathy, the sweet hometown girl who does my New Year's Eve mani/pedi every year when I'm in Springfield. She's the best ever. My nails don't chip for two weeks. She blocks out two whole hours for me, and we catch up on each other's lives. Then I read her palm. (There is SUCH an essay in this.)

My Temp Agent and her boss, who not only get me the best jobs ever, but call me on their personal time to make sure I'm happy with my last assignment.

My blogger friends, who pull me out of myself more often than they realize. Check the list to the right - they're all there. You people are incredible writers, incredible friends, and incredible people, capable of inspirational love. I'm a better writer because of all of you, and a more honest person. And probably have developed a higher alcohol tolerance.

Penny, Vic, Ally, and Grace, my classmates from Massage School, with whom I'm planning a study group in January for the Licensing Exam. along the same Vein, my shiatsu teachers were a blessing as well. One called me just the other day to say happy holidays, and that we all need to have a reunion drink-up. He's right. We damn well do need that.

Last but not least, G. My knight in button-down armor. I could fill volumes with all he's done for me, but this last thing he did for me today tops everything. I'll write about that seperately. He is the man my parents always hoped I'd meet. He's the man my Grandmothers prayed would come into my life. He's the man I never believed existed, until that day almost three years ago when I looked over at him, driving the car, and realized this was where I belonged - traveling side-by-side with this person, wherever life takes us. This is so much more than love. This is life.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Blues

I had a temp job last week (and today) at a nice little wine company in White Plains. The pay was crap but the people were nice, and at least I have a little something in my checking account.

I suffered through the flu last Thursday. It's lingering still. I was hardly able to keep food down on Sunday. This was especially awful since Sunday was Galpal's annual Christmas party, which I've been invited to every year for the last five or six years, but virtually never get to go because I'm out of town. This year I was planning to go - not only am I in town, but I have a date, and a car - but I got sick.

This upset me even more because I haven't seen Galpal in a year. An entire goddamn year. We hardly even talk anymore. I leave her voicemails, sometimes she leaves me one in return after I've left 2 or 3. I call her up sometimes and sing to her answering machine, just hoping it will make her smile. I know she's busy and gets stressed. She's in a Broadway show right now, understudying two leads. It's rough.

The truth is though, which I've been unwilling to acknowledge for a long time, is that galpal has been pretty much blowing me off for months, pleading her schedule.

I know her schedule. She knows mine. We could find the time for each other if we made it a priority, but I'm always afraid that if I push her to spend time with me, I'll just annoy her. I try to give her space.

Oh shit. Where have I heard this before?

I wish she'd make the time to just talk on the phone with me for a while. I think the reason I was so nauseous on Sunday was because I'd been trying to connect with her for days, regarding driving directions to her place (I've never been there by car) and parking suggestions, and she took so long getting back to me that I assumed she wasn't going to call at all. I was uber-stressed because I knew that G wasn't really up for going to a party, he was driving me to this one because he knew I wanted to see my friend. So, I wanted to at least get him decent directions and parking info, to make this less painful for him. God, the pressure, just trying to go to a stupid fucking party! No wonder I was nauseous all day.

At about 4, I bit the bullet, and called Galpal. I knew she was in the middle of a matinee, so I had to leave her another voicemail. I humbly apologized for canceling out of the party, and explained that I'd had the flu, and I was still sick and just couldn't go anywhere.

She called me back about 40 minutes later. She could tell from my voice when I answered the phone that I was sick. "Oh, Ouiser, you don't sound very good!" Apparently she hadn't listened to her voicemail. She was putting on makeup while she was talking to me. She was still at the show. I expressed my disgust at my ill health, and said it was good to just hear her voice.

"So, are you coming?" she asked.

I explained that I had left her a voicemail bowing out. I explained that I'd been feverish and fighting off the flu for several days. I mentioned that her parties are always great, and I was sure this one would be too, and I was sure she'd have a great time that night.

I was hoping to secure a phone date. "Isn't Monday your dark night?" I asked.

"yeah..." She said.

"Well, maybe I'll call you then. We need to have a good long talk and catch up!"

"Well, Monday night is the only night my husband and I have to do things, and we have A LOT of stuff to do, Christmas is coming."

I didn't know what to make of that response. "Well, are you going to be in Massachusetts with your parents, or in New Jersey with your in-laws on Christmas? Or will you be home?"

"I have ONE DAY to spend in Massachusetts with my family," she grumped.

"That's great! Maybe I could call you then? Just for a few minutes?"

"Ouise, it's gonna be really busy."

She's BLOCKING ME, I realized, my stomach churning. I didn't know what to say. Something froze inside me.

"Well," I finally said, "I'll keep trying."

She laughed. "Good, Weez. Thanks hon."

We hung up. I suddenly had a craving for ice cream. I satisfied it with yogurt.

I couldn't fall asleep that night. I cried into my pillow. Finally I went back to the living room, and called Lisa.

"Ouiser, sometimes people just grow apart," Lisa says, ever the sage.

"Well, this wasn't supposed to happen!" I sobbed. "Galpal and I have been through HELL together! When her old boyfriend left for LA! When she was dating that asshole from that other show! When she was miserable during her first year of marriage, because she and her hubby were a country apart! God, Galpal was there for me throughout the entirety of my marriage AND my divorce! I thought..." I blew my nose. "I thought this was special. Not just a friendship of convenience, like my other New York friendships were. I thought Galpal and I were really real friends."

Lisa just listened, and I raged on as quietly as I could, sobbing into my kleenex, while G snored behind the bedroom door. Together Lisa and I reviewed the demise of my friendships with Glamgirl and Wildgirl, my alienation from my church crowd, and Eric's sudden and abrupt departure from my life. All those cases were understandable. There were solid reasons why all those friendships had ended, and as much as it hurt, I've accepted them, and for the most part, let them go. But not Galpal. I couldn't let this one go so easily.

"Ten years of my life, Lisa, completely gone. I have no real friends left in my life who lived through my twenties with me. All those people I spent all that time with in the city - gone! Nobody remembers who I used to be. Who I was, when I was an opera singer, when I was a clubgirl. When I was..." When I was somebody, I thought. When I was exciting. Popular. Young. When I had the world by the balls. When it wasn't too late. When I still had dreams.

"Send Galpal a note," Lisa suggested. "Apologize again for missing the party, and stress how badly you really want to spend some time with her."

Subtext: Take the moral high ground. Lisa is great at that. I'm usually great at it too, but when I'm angry, like I was last night, I suck at it. I wasn't ready to hear that. I gritted my teeth, said nothing, and cried some more.

"I'm lonely, Lisa."

"Well," she said, "I know how that feels."

And she does. We have that in common. We both get very lonely, and ground down by depression. Lisa, however, unlike me, clams up and won't talk about it. Last night though, for the first time I can recall, she did talk about it with me, about being depressed. How immobilizing it can be. "Thank God for my husband," she said. "I don't know what I'd do without him."

We were on the phone until 2:30. Lisa took my mind off things by telling me about her pregnancy. She's seven months along, and things are going really well. She's a year older than me, and this is her first kid, so I was very encouraged to hear her stories. I needed that. Before we got off the phone, I thanked her for being there for me, again. She's my 2AM friend. At least, until she has the baby.

I crawled back into bed next to G. He rolled over and dropped an arm over me, this robotic appendage holding me a little too tightly. He made worried groaning sounds, and gently shook me, like a kid shaking a jar with a bug in it, worried that it might be dead. "It's ok, baby," I whispered.

he groaned again. Another shake.

"I'm ok, baby." I kissed him on the forehead. I could feel the worry wrinkles relaxing under my lips as I whispered comforting things. G eventually rolled back over and resumed his deep sleep. I followed soon after.

This morning, I couldn't concentrate on my work. I am devastated at the prospect of losing this close friendship with Galpal. I love her. I wanted her to be my maid of honor, but I am sure now that she will never be able to do such a job for me. She's busy.

Just like with Glamgirl, I've been making excuses for her for so long, defending her to people who ask me "what the hell kind of friend never calls you unless she just happens to be driving through your neighborhood? Or wants you to see her show?" I say, without a trace of bitterness, just honest, simple awareness, that's how it is, being friends with an actor. They don't see their own spouses very often, never mind friends. I can't expect her to make me a priority.

I can't expect to mean anything to her. Certainly nothing close to what she means to me.

G arrived home from work tonight to find me at the computer, trying to write this blog entry. He took me for a veggie burger at a local place where I know the waitress by first name, and she knows exactly what I'm going to order and how I like it. It made me feel at home. It made me feel like part of a community. Part of... something. Something friendly.

When we arrived home, we opened the mail. There was Galpal's annual homemade Christmas card, with pictures of her and her husband in scuba gear, their cats and dog. Inside is a pre-printed generic holiday letter detailing their various trips during the past year. The only thing handwritten is "Dear Ouiser and G" and "Happy Chrismakuh" or some such cutesy multi-holiday greeting.

I mailed my Holiday card to Mr. and Mrs. Galpal a few days ago. I handwrote how much I'd missed visiting them and that we needed to get together soon.

I wonder if I'll ever really talk to her again.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Meme

From Dalila's Blog:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Egg Nog at Christmastime. Hot Chocolate anytime.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Both, usually between 10:30pm and 2am.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White. And no goddamn blinking.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
At Home in Illinois, we have a plastic bunch from the 1970’s, that’s good enough. In my New York apartment, I don't need gimmicks to lock lips, especially when there's cocktails in the house.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
It’s a good year if they’re up before Christmas Eve. I leave them up for awhile though.

6. What is your favorite Christmas dish (excluding dessert)?
Mom’s yam bake, with pineapples and Marshmallows roasted on top.

7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child?
My cousins in Connecticut had a two-story tall tree. When I was four, I could walk underneath the lower branches without stooping over. I’d look up between the branches and see the star on top, and wonder how they got it all the way up there. Later, Grandma and Grandpa would secretly show me which presents under the tree were mine, and sneak me a piece of chocolate from my stocking.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I figured it out myself. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I genuinely believed in him, but I do remember noticing at a very young age, maybe five or six, that Santa’s handwriting was exactly the same as my Mom’s. I do remember wanting to believe. And I remember when my parents thought they were breaking it to me gently that he didn't exist. Idiots.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Christ no, is nothing sacred!?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
At home, we get real trees, usually about seven footers, and trim them with with homemade ornaments going back three generations, plus a few fancy ones that were gifts from loved ones. In my little New York Apartments, I have a small fake tree, and a much smaller selection of ornaments.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
I like it if I don’t have to be out in it.

12. Can you ice skate?
Quite well, actually. I wish I went more often.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
White roller skates with red laces and red wheels! I was about 10 or 11, and I wore them until rollerblades were invented.

14. What is your favorite Christmas Dessert?
Tough call. Mom’s pumpkin pie is awesome, but give me a plate of my special homemade Christmas cookies and I’m in heaven. I make several kinds every year.

15. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

16. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
They’re good if you stir your hot cocoa with them.

17. What tops your tree?
At home, we have an angel from the 1970’s with a plastic head, and an olive green felt-and-cardboard skirt. She sits sideways on top of the tree, and always looks drunk. At my apartment, I use a six-pointed silvery plastic snowflake, which is my attempt at multicultural kitsch.

18. Which do you prefer -- Giving or Receiving?
I just wish I had more money to send people things. I feel guilty as hell sometimes. Not to mention that so many gifts seem compulsory. Someone gave me something, so if I don't give them something I'll look, well, gauche, I suppose. But really, who doesn't love getting stuff? And "stuff" doesn't have to be wrappable - a surprise visit or a long phone call is often the best present ever. So I like both, but have problems with the whole fucking concept, really. GOD, THE PRESSURE.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
No way could I pick just one. I listed a bunch of them here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Song List 2006

I confess, I'm a sucker for Christmas Music. Next to my Mom's cooking, it's the best thing about this time of year.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm obsessing over "Merry Christmas Baby" from the Very Special Christmas Live in DC album, sung by Sheryl Crow with Eric Clapton's kickin' pickin'. Thank the goddess for the soundproofing in this apartment building, or my neighbors would surely be calling for my eviction by now.

However, on a more civilized note, I've also got "The Blizzard" by Judy Collins in regular rotation. If you've never heard this song, I order you to get it right now, on iTunes or MusicMatch or at your local record store, off an album called "All on a Wintry Night." It's incredible. I cried the first time I heard it, and I soar everytime I sing it... although I'll never sing it like Judy. No one will.

The rest of my list:
Jingle Bell Rock - Gene Autry
Christmas Time is Here - Dianne Reeves
Sweet Little Jesus Boy - John Gary
Home for the Holidays - Perry Como
Santa Claus is Back in Town - Elvis Presley
O Holy Night - Mario Lanza
Please Come Home for Christmas - Jon Bon Jovi
Still, Still, Still - Mannheim Steamroller
Sleigh Ride - the Boston Pops (Arthur Fielder conducting)
Christmas in Killarney - Bing Crosby
I'll Be Home For Christmas - Bing Crosby
Silver Bells - Bing Crosby & Carole Richards (My parents have this LP)
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

And - as Dr. Zoom so wisely reminded me!
Merry Christmas Darling - the Carpenters
- (I once wrote a birthday song to this tune for an uber-cool Pisces friend of mine)

Monday, December 04, 2006

So much I need to do, so much I could say...

But all I want to do today is listen to "Merry Christmas Baby" (the Eric Clapton/Sheryl Crow version) over and over and over and over. And again.

Merry Christmas Baby,
You sure been good to me
I haven't had a drink this mornin'
But I'm lit up like a Christmas Tree

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Massage Job Interview

Not sure if I mentioned, but I had my first massage job interview - called an "audition - a week ago Monday. I did well, but I'm still at student level, and the place I auditioned for wants seasoned professionals. It was good to see exactly where I fall short on that scale though. Now I know the specific things I need to perfect to make people think I've been doing this for years.

Seriously though, the best part of it was that the owner of the place (who I massaged) told me that I have great hands, I'm very strong, I make a great connection, and I have great intuition, that I can find all the problems (like knots and such) and work them out. All I really need is some finessing - apparently my initial approach and end of session retreat were jarringly abrupt. That I can work on.

I may have an opportunity for some private mentoring before I get licensed. I hope so - I think it would make all the difference.

So: the studying begins. Licensing exam on January 25th.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDs Day

World AIDs Day
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
No links, just a quiet prayer for those living with HIV and AIDs, and hope that the seach for the cure will continue to be funded, valued, and successful.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Another Quiz

WAY better picture of her here.

What Classic Pin-Up Are You?

You're Lili St. Cyr!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Monday, November 27, 2006


Yesterday in the car, I found myself telling G a story about my Mom taking me to a gymnastics class, to see if I'd like it. To make a long story short, it didn't work out, and when we got home, my Mom and Dad started screaming at each other, not really about me, but kind of about me. I don't remember what they were saying, but I trudged upstairs to the playroom and tuned them out while I played with my toys. Like I always did. I did that so fucking often.

When neighborhood girls would come over to play, they would make their stuffed animals and dolls talk, and they'd have conversations with them, right there in front of everyone. I never did. One even asked me "Aren't you gonna make them talk?" I was silent. Part of me was afriad that if I exhibited that kind of creativity, I'd get made fun of like I did at school, and I was damned if I was going to be made fun of in my own fucking playroom. But I played silently when I was alone too. I'd put music on, a record or a tape, and play quietly. The only noise I made was if I decided to sing along, and I did that a lot. No wonder adults loved me. What a well-behaved child I must have seemed to be.

There was something deeper going on - a need for quiet. I didn't want my parents to remember that I was up there, so I stayed quiet. I didn't want to be pulled back into the yelling, or worse, become a target of the yelling. I cocooned myself in my playroom with my stuffed animals and dolls. I was still doing this into my teens - it didn't stop until I was in high school - about age 15. At that point, Kristin and Lisa pulled me out of my room and into life. It took two people - one alone never managed to do it.

New York City is the ultimate manifestation of my childhood images of home, with all the noise outside, all the yelling and danger and uncertainty. My apartments became my new playroom, where it was quiet and safe and I could sing along with my records. Except that in New York, when I went outside, I never saw the same people twice unless I chose to, so I didn't have to fear being made fun of every day by the same kids on the same playgrounds anymore. New York was the macro-sized Home, but with escape routes and better hiding places. No wonder I never minded hearing noise from neighboring apartments! In New York, the screamers never said my name. The fighting wasn't about me, wasn't even remotely, in any possible way, my fault.

Balance all that with loneliness, with being overly sensitive, wanting people around, but being afraid of them and hurt by them. I didn't want to be alone, and I didn't want to be around people either. It's much the same today. New York is the perfect balance of these fears, and these needs. Millions of people everywhere I turn, but they mostly leave me alone, and I still have a quiet playroom to disappear in when I need to.

In some ways - and he'd kill me for saying this, but I think it's true - G had a self-centered mom and a semi-absent dad too. I think that's why he, more than any guy I've ever been with, really understands me. Sometimes I wonder if he doesn't love me, in part, because of my baggage. Maybe he recognizes something in me that mirrors something in him.

I think that's fine.

The hardest part of therapy - for me, anyway - is making these connections. It is a continuous process of self-discovery. I could have related these memories at any time, but the connection between the playroom and my apartments is a huge "a-HA" moment for me. I never wanted to leave my playroom, and in my adolescence, it became my bedroom. I made it my own in every way, until Earl ruined it for me. Another story for another time. But I have such wonderful memories of feeling safe in that room. And I felt safe in my apartments. Which explains on another level why leaving my last apartment ripped me up the way it did, and why I am so addicted to New York City. These kinds of realizations give me great perspective. They help me to forgive myself.

No, actually, making the connections is the second hardest part of the therapeutic process. The hardest part is forgiving myself - or realizing that there is nothing to forgive. I shouldn't have to be forgiven for feeling guilty, for feeling afraid, for being weak. I'm human, and it's human to be afraid sometimes. The guilt I feel is really empathy, a wish to be able to help someone, make my parents happier. I take the responsibility on myself to make the fighting stop, somehow thinking I might have that power. I wouldn't have done that if I didn't love them, and it's good to love people. Maybe if I didn't love my parents so much, I wouldn't have felt so worthless, so powerless, so insignificant. Like such a disappointment and failure. If I didn't love them so much, maybe I would have loved myself more.

I'm getting better at that last part.

All I Have

Maybe, just maybe, the most precious gift you can give someone, is to always be with them.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Baby Got Book

Christian Humour. Freakin' Hilarious.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

See. This. Film.

When G got home last night, I was all set to see Casino Royale. (I am a closet Bond lover.) At the last minute, we decided to see something else, as we realized that G's parents would probably want to see Casino Royale the day after Thanksgiving, and it would be a nice family thing for the four of us to do. Almost at random, I chose to see Stranger Than Fiction instead - and only by process of elimination. I didn't want to sit in a theatre full of kids, so Happy Feet was out. I wasn't up for gore and grisly, so the Prestige was out. G's not interested in Babel, neither of us are the least bit interested in Borat, and Candy's not playing near us. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson were in Stranger than Fiction, so I picked that one.

I had just finished writing this. I was so. Freaked. Out.

Stranger Than Fiction is beautifully acted - Hoffman is delightfully irritating, Thompson is deliciously crazed, Queen Latifah is impressively reserved, and Will Ferret (sorry, Ferrell) can actually act. I never thought I'd be able to stomach that man onscreen, but Ferrell's Forrest-Gump-like portrayal of an IRS agent who realizes the inevitability of his imminent death was sympathetic and honest. I still can't believe it was him. It was like... seeing Jim Carrey in the Truman Show, or Robin Williams in Awakenings. He won me over.

Mostly, the film is about, well, as Emma Thompson puts it, interconnectedness. It's about the amount of control we may or may not have over the events in our lives - much like what I was writing yesterday. It's a good script, with good acting, and a good message.

When we got home from the movie, I made G read yesterday's blog post.

Later, in bed, I told him, "I love how you don't think I'm crazy. How you've never thought I was crazy."

"No more than everybody else is," he laughed.

And we slept.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Growing Up

Many years ago, I asked a shy, geeky friend of mine if he ever felt that he was being watched as he moved through his life, the decisions he made, the places he went, things he said, etc. I asked if he ever felt that he wasn't really in control of the things that he did, as though he were a puppet, and someone else was pulling the strings. That the things that pop into our minds are placed there by some higher being, that the things we do and the choices we make are actually dictated to us.

He said he understood the feeling of being watched, but he never felt that he wasn't in control.

I said that I often felt myself doing and saying things that seemed to come from nowhere, things I couldn't remember saying or doing even a few minutes later. He looked at me very strangely. I said that sometimes weeks would go by when I felt that every move I made, from brushing my teeth to stubbornly refusing to do homework, was being dictated to me by some higher being. It was almost like hearing voices in my head, only it wasn't voices, it was just a feeling, a feeling that I needed to do this thing, that I should say this and not that. My friend stared at me long and hard. We changed the subject.

Not too long after that, I told my therapist about that conversation. I had been hoping that my friend, whose childhood had been as socially miserable as mine, might have felt the same way from time to time. I was disappointed that he didn't. I was hoping someone might understand.

My therapist told me that this was a type of dissociation. It might have begun when I was a child, hearing my parents screaming at each other in the living room, while I played upstairs in the toyroom. I was bullied a lot at school, and there was a lot of conflict at home. Teachers were indifferent, children were cruel and fickle, and my parents were unreliable - supportive one minute, screaming at me or just not there the the next. I didn't have a "safe place" or anyone I could trust. Both my grandmothers and most of my neighbors were very religious, so the concept of God was planted in my mind very early. I created a protector, what everyone said God was supposed to be. I was told that we were supposed to let God run our lives. At seven, which is as far back as most of my memories go, I took that literally. The habit stuck.

I worried for a long time that I was delusional, that I was really seriously crazy. Since I never committed any crimes or tied to hurt anybody, nobody worried. Outside of a few broken hearts, I didn't do much damage, although those broken hearts were pretty dramatic at the time. Everyone I talked to, every therapist, every friend, everyone, told me I was fine, I wasn't crazy, I'd just been through a lot, and I needed to just talk things out and move on.

All these years later, I know they were right, but I also now see that people treated me with kid gloves. Nobody had the courage to say "Your parents were difficult, you were abused at school, you were raped in high school, you felt abandoned when your grandpa died." Nobody would use those words - nobody had the guts to tell it like it was. Everybody was so precious with me. Did they think I would break? Snap? If they didn't believe I was crazy, they must have thought I was on the brink.

Nowadays, I do feel that I am in control of my life... sort of. I know certain this-world things are out of control. I can't affect the weather. I can't hire myself. I can't cast myself. I can't make people like me. I can't change the past. However, I can monitor my speech, and I am in control of the choices I make. To say "no" instead of "maybe later." To say "I'm sorry" instead of "let me explain." To wear the warmer jacket, to keep my wallet in my pocket, to walk past the shoe store without looking in the window. Little things, that can have a big impact. I have that power, and I use it every day.

I still, however, feel that God is watching me. Except now, I think she's not so much worried as she is amused. Maybe I'm God's favorite TV show? Maybe I'm just what I was meant to be - one of millions of beloved daughters.

That's ok.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Not bad for a 35-year-old

Another Quiz from Dalila. Although I hate that stupid cheesy-assed picture. As though weddings were the be-all, end-all of existence.

You've Experienced 80% of Life

You have all of the life experience that most adults will ever get.
And unless you're already in your 40s, you're probably wise beyond your years.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Other News...

I have a job interview Monday. Very hopeful.

Semper Fidelis

I made a list this morning of all the people I've slept with, and I only came up with 34 names, including "bouncer guy." I know there are around eight more significant encounters that I've forgotten. I first counted names in about '95 or '96, and got as far as 40. I was including people with whom I'd fooled around heavily but never crossed the finish line with, so to speak. I decided at that time that I should probably quit counting. Since then, there have been ten more, ending with G.

It's probably good that I can't remember all of them. I know they can't possibly all remember me. With my new conservative estimate, that's 44 total, a good number of whom were one-night stands. When I think back on some of them my stomach churns with shame. I can't believe how sad and defeated and worthless I felt back then, and what an ineffective drug sex was.

G and I have been engaged for nine months, and I have doubts about our relationship. I don’t know if I’ll be happy with him forever. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over New York, if I’ll resent G and blame him for my never being able to live there again. (G hates the city.) I’m not entirely convinced that the Jewish issue won’t be a problem in the future. There are other concerns that would affect any couple – like child-rearing, and money – but it’s the G-specific things that I’m angsting. I thought we had worked through all this. I have this awful feeling that G hasn’t been completely honest with me about something. I feel… distrustful.

That angst is bringing back an all-too-familiar feeling of panic. I’m a powder keg.

I was at my most depressed when I was in college - during the “slut years.” It's not an excuse - it was a factor. Sex became a powerful anaesthetic for me. For a few hours, the world went away. I liked it wild and rough, because it was more work that way, and required all my concentration, and my partner's. Sometimes a quickie was enough to help me sleep. Sometimes I'd thrash around with someone for six or seven hours, trying to get rid of the self-loathing voices in my head. It worked most of the time. The next day, I'd try and forget about what I’d just done. That was the hard part.

I never kept track of my lovers until many years had gone by, and I'd moved to New York. I counted them because a friend was curious. I was pretty shocked at the total. She was impressed more than shocked. So was the guy I was dating at the time, who at 21 had only been with four girls. The fact that they didn't judge me helped me to not rush to judge myself.

I like to let people think I was a happy slut, but I wasn't. These were my college years. I was plagued with horrific nightmares about falling through the floor of a church, about an old evil witch who used to make me kill people, as though I were a marionette with no power of my own. I remember waking up at 2 am, 4 am, 5 am, my heart pounding in my chest, terrified that there was - no kidding - a demon under my bed, wondering when it would drag me off to hell, kill me horribly, whatever demons do. Some manifestation of a nebulous terror whose origins I never could pinpoint.

During the days, when I didn't have to go to class, I would sit in my dorm room all day writing poetry and short stories, watching TV, and seeing how long I could go without eating. I was never able to go longer than two days without eating, and I felt frustrated by that. I was angry with myself for that.

I also remember forcing myself to walk out of my dorm room, scuttling as fast as I could to the Student Counseling Center with my head tucked into my chest, hoping nobody saw me, not wanting to see the rest of the world. I told the student counselor about never wanting to eat, knowing it was dangerous, and about being afraid to leave my dorm room. I told her how I felt that people were pointing and laughing at me everywhere I went, and that I knew this probably wasn't true, and that these were crazy thoughts. I told her about being in love with a guy who wasn't good for me, and how I wasn't able to disengage from him no matter how many times I slept around.

That counselor talked about STD's and AIDs. I pulled a package of condoms out of my purse. I proceeded to rattle off all kinds of AIDs statistics, highest-risk groups, means of transmission. I told her when I’d last been tested and when I was planning to test again. The counselor said "as long as you're protecting yourself, and not using IV drugs, then I think it's good to explore your sexuality." She completely missed the point.

She tried to talk to me about homesickness. I informed her that I was an hour-and-a-half drive from home, and that I saw my family several times a month, and went home often. Next?

She asked about the not eating thing. I told her about being in the ballet company, and how evil the girls were to me, and how for a couple of years in high school I would only eat when my parents were watching, and how I'd throw up my breakfast every morning. I told her I'd seen a lot of girls with anorexia and bulemia. The counselor asked if I was hiding food, making myself throw up, taking laxatives. I wasn't. She asked how I felt about my body, and I replied I was one sexy-ass mama. I don’t remember what she said about all that, but the subject was dismissed.

I talked about the demons and the bad dreams. She asked if I was homesick. No, I said. I'm scared of the demons under my bed, and I'm scared that I'm going crazy. The counselor suggested I come back some other time.

I went a few times. We never talked about the dreams. We never talked about sex, just about how to keep from getting STD's. We never talked about the nature of infidelity. We never addressed the real reasons I was there.

In 2001, I dated an MSW. I talked to him frankly about sexual addiction. He seemed to feel that I wasn't truly a sex addict. He said if I was, I wouldn't be able to LIVE without getting it all the time, from all sorts of random people. That wasn't my behavior pattern. I was more apt to maintain several long-term relationships at once, with an occasional one-night stand if I was having a particularly bad day, and I was particularly drunk and/or stoned. A year or so later, after that relationship had ended, I considered seeking a group for sexual addiction, but I never followed through.

In 2003, after my marriage ended, I thought I had made a real breakthrough, when I dated someone without cheating, then broke up with him before starting to date someone else. That someone else was G.

A few nights ago, I dreamed some really awful dreams, about one of my ex's, about being paralyzed, about being used like a puppet to steal things from people.

I talked to G. I told him I still, at times, don't trust myself. We are engaged and planning a wedding. I told him that I was terrified that I might slip and screw this up.

"Is this why you've been wanting to spend more and more time with me lately?" he asked. I nodded, and cried.

We talked for some time. He did not get impatient or angry or suspicious. I was expecting a simple "If you love me and you're committed to our marriage, you won't screw this up." Nope. He didn't say that, and thank God, because that kind of guilt-trip usually pushes me over the edge. Instead, he just held my hand, and listened. I told him sex for me was like a bottle of bad whiskey – I think I’m going to find what I want, but it’s never there. I told him I’d had an opportunity recently, and was badly tempted, and that it scared the hell out of me. I told him I didn’t know what was missing from my life that would make me go to that dark place again, after all this time. He held me and kissed my forehead and let me cry until I fell asleep again.

The next morning, we talked about infidelity in general, and how I've always had a laissez-faire attitude towards it. I’ve always believed that a mindless transgression from time to time was not a statement on the primary relationship. I actually told G that if he had a fling on a business trip with someone faceless and nameless, that I'd chalk it up to being human, because I don't feel I have a right to judge anyone for that. I also said that it’s easy for me to say these things, but who knows how I'd really feel if it happened? He ruffled my hair and laughed. He has no interest whatsoever in cheating. He talked about condoms breaking and accidental pregnancies, and how it's just not worth taking those chances, never mind the whole concept of hurting me. I said that my attitude toward infidelity could easily be an effort to make myself feel better about my own sordid past, but I’m not sure that’s the case. What I do know is that this so-called need of mine, this compulsion, is not completely under control.

I have to grab hold of myself and remember that I’M in control here. That a wild, secret tumble in the dark doesn’t fix anything. Anesthesia wears off. I don’t want to lie or cheat or steal or hurt anyone – not even myself. I don’t have to punish myself for my past anymore. I’m better than my nightmares. The person holding my puppet strings is me.

I can trust G. I need to discuss my fears about our relationship directly with him. I need to face these things head on, rather than lashing out against my fears through a rebellious act. I’m worth it. I deserve it. I’m strong enough to do it. I’m not alone. I’m loved. I don’t need that drug anymore. I never did need it. I don’t even want it.

I can. I will. We will.

I do.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Hard-Won Diploma

Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.

It's official. I have graduated from Massage School. I am now eligible to sit for the New York State Licensing Exam on January 20th. Until then, I can still work legally if a Licensed Massage Therapist hires me on sponsorship. I have a couple of opportunities out there already, so I might be working sooner rather than later. We'll see.

I wish I felt like raising the roof, but frankly, after all the crap my class went through to get here, it seems anticlimactic. No matter. I didn't go into this for the sake of a graduation party. I went to the school so I could get the piece of paper I'm holding there, which will get me another piece of paper. So I can earn money doing something semi-meaningful.

I already miss some of my classmates. I had a group of women to hang with, and we all sort of bonded, especially in the last few months. We talked all the time. I didn't realize how much I had come to see them as a support system until I knew I wouldn't be seeing them anymore. Oh, we all have each other's numbers, but it's like work friends, or theatre friends. The job ends, the show closes, we don't see each other anymore. I'd like to think I'll stay in touch with a few, but time will tell. Maybe we will.

I'm mentally exhausted, but physically I'm in better shape than I have been in years. That's the nature of massage - you have to be healthy. Giving a one-hour swedish massage is a workout. I'm hoping this flush of health I'm in right now will help me get off my ass and look for work.

This whole housewife thing I've been doing for the last few weeks has been surprisingly agreeable. I don't see myself that way, but I can't deny how much I've enjoyed having no responsibilities outside the home. Maybe I just needed a rest. It's hibernation time anyway. I normally nest this time of year.

So, for now... yay, I made it! I did it! WITH HONORS, I might add. "W00t." And the first massage since graduating went to my fiancee - his birthday was last Wednesday. If he hadn't been supporting me while I was studying - in all ways possible - I'd never have been able to do this.

Thanks, G baby. Love you more 'n my luggage. Let's go get married now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm not completely out of the loop

I did try to vote yesterday, but somehow I'm not registered in my district. I thought I had taken care of that when I got my new driver's license last January, but apparently not. No matter. I just sensed that this particular time, things would be ok without me.

According to the papers this morning, I was right. Things are looking pretty sweet. Granted I'm a cynic, so I see all this and say, "ok, this is a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot farther to go," but I admit, it's cheery to read the paper this morning.

My accompianist called me at 11 or so this morning and launched into this amazing liberal diatribe on what we need to focus on in this country. I listened dutifully for around an hour. He's a very smart guy. It was really great to hear him so enthusiastic and upbeat about things. He comes from a family of conservatives, with plenty of bigots, so I know he needs people to talk to about this stuff. But after awhile, from my seat in the choir, I get bored with hearing the same sermons over and over. I told him he should write a book, or start a newsletter or something. He really should.

Politics is something I care a lot about, don't get me wrong, but frankly, I'm sick of listening to the rhetoric. I do my research and I think I'm pretty well informed on the issues. I vote, I accept the results, and I donate to the causes I belive in when I can. When Chimpy Rich finally gets out of our white house and takes his dad's cronies with him, I'll probably open a bottle of champagne, but I just can't focus on this stuff for too long. I always feel like people think I don't care. I do care, but I get headaches after awhile. I don't want to listen to any more screaming and shouting. Or preaching. Or "Don't you think...?" Yes, I think. Can I go now?

This guy's post today, however, almost knocked me out of my chair. Now this is something I didn't think I'd see. Fabulous.

Let's just keep reading, keep thinking positively, KEEP READING, and keep voting. And hey - for those of you who are doing the shouting, don't take it personally. I make not feel like listening, but a lot of others clearly are. Keep up the good work. The country needs you. I'll do my part, and keep voting.

I dropped off the voter registration forms in the mail today. I won't miss another opportunity.

Update:I received a very nice letter from which included this snippet of dialogue from one of those people who went calling folks and reminding them to vote yesterday:

When I called, it was late in the evening and the woman I was talking to had less than an hour to get out and vote.

I told her who I was and why I was calling and asked if she had voted yet. Long pause. She told me that she knew this was an important election, and that she had criticized others for not voting, knowing how important it was that we find a new direction.

Then she told me about her work, and taking care of her young child after work. About how the polls close so early that working moms have a very hard time voting. "Can't they allow the polls to stay open later for us to vote," she asked me. I told her, why not go down there and show the poll workers what real life is like, what being a working mother is like, and bring your child with you.

She said she'd do it. I was happy for her and for the rest of us whose country's direction lies in the hands of voters, single mothers trying to make ends meet and still exercise their power to vote.

And then I got this phone call, later tonight. She had found my caller ID and called me back. "Hi," she said, "this is the lady you talked to wanting to go vote. I was the one who was talking about my baby and it being 6:21—40 minutes til closing. I just wanted to say that I did make it, and thanks for the encouragement."

That's how we won our democracy back.

I have already railed against politicians who actually tried to telephone-solicit votes from me. If there's anything Americans hate, isn't it telephone solicitors? Why would that make me want to vote for you? Well, I guess this telephone solicitor - granted, not for any specific politician, but for the process in general - made a real difference. I'm humbled, and impressed.

Monday, November 06, 2006


(From Dalila's blog)

The Stiletto
Deliberate Brutal Sex Master(DBSMf)

Edgy. Physical. Devastating. You are The Stiletto, of all types, the most likely to be a dominatrix and the least likely to apologize.

Sex is your object, and you have a LOT of it. Doubtless, you've figured out how easy it is for a dominant, assertive woman to have as many and whichever partners as she chooses. You're in control, you know what you want, and you get it, right there. It's highly likely you have a nice body, and it's even more likely we're getting all turned on right now writing this.

Your exact opposite:

The Window Shopper

RandomGentle LoveDreamer

You're generally careful with your actions and words, but your test answers indicate you've hurt some people, drawn some blood. This means one of two things. Either you're calculating, and pain is just part of your game plan, or hurting the occasional guy is just the unfortunate, but natural, byproduct of your liberated sexual existence.

Our tendency is to believe the latter: you're willing to engage men on a basic sexual level, and clearly they're attracted to you. It's understandable that a few might get overly attached, and sometimes harshness is the only way for you to escape: you've got to cut your way out. After all, it's not emotional bondage you're looking for right now.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Slow Dancer, The Manchild

CONSIDER: The 5-Night Stand, The Bachelor

Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On the 6 Train

MzOuiser: Excuse me - do you have the time?

Elderly Gentleman: It's just before noon.

MzOuiser: Thank you.

Elderly Gentleman: I take it your cell phone isn't working?

MzOuiser: The battery is dead, and I forgot to wear a watch.

Elderly Gentleman: You own a watch?

MzOuiser: Yeah, a few, actually!

Elderly Gentleman: I didn't think young people wore those anymore!

MzOuiser: I'm not as young as I look.

Elderly Gentleman: Neither am I, dear.

We both laugh

Elderly Gentleman: I must ask - does your watch have hands?

MzOuiser: It does. And no numbers, so it's a good thing I know how to read it. It also has a leather strap with a gold-tone buckle. It was a gift from a friend.

Elderly Gentleman: Ah. And you have to replace the battery from time to time?

MzOuiser: Yup. But I can buy a battery at radio shack and do it myself - I don't have to take it to a jeweler.

Elderly Gentleman: Good for you. I hope you have that watch a long time. It might be worth something someday.

MzOuiser: Maybe.

I got up to leave, as we had arrived at my stop.

Elderly Gentleman: Nice Talking with you!

MzOuiser: My pleasure!

As I left the train, the gentleman actually tipped his hat to me.

That watch was actually a freebie from my old days at the Seagram Beverage Company. It has the Seagram logo on the face. It's quite classy looking. I was reminded of my grandparent's cheap bedroom furniture, and how I never realized how cheap it was until after they had passed away, and I got a chance to examine it critically. Grandma always kept everything polished and looking nice - even if it wasn't worth much objectively. It was a matter of pride.

I felt much the same about working for Seagram, helping to make sure Seagram's Coolers were in every licensed Wal-Mart in the country. I also remember telling someone that if more people drank coolers instead of Wild Turkey or Jack Daniels, the country might be a better place. A condemnation of sorts, not so much against the beverages themselves, but the habits of their target market.

Thinking about the habits of the urban cell phone user, I realized I was proud to be identified as a watch wearer. I felt a bit smug, walking to my appointment that day.

There have been times I felt that I was born several decades too late. I love the graciousness associated with a slower time, when writing letters was considered an art, when personal visits involved conversation and a pot of coffee. When musicians had to play instruments that differed little from the ones their grandfathers used, and singers had to really, really sing. And I've always gotten a kick out of hats and gloves.

For a few minutes, I felt that I'd gotten a breeze of that way of life, taking a local train uptown with plenty of time to make my appointment, talking with pride about knowing how to read an analog watch. Having a gentleman speak sincerely to my face, and tip his hat.

Just a few minutes can make your whole day.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Days of...

Over the last few weeks, I've noticed it takes longer for the sun to rise in the mornings. Pretty soon G will be leaving for work every day before dawn. G and I hate this time of year. We hate Standard Daylight Time. I get Seasonal Affective Disorder, he just gets worn out more easily. Winter is coming.

Sometime last week, when G left for work, it was still dark. I had stayed on the couch the previous evening until 2am, flipping back and forth between Halloween on one channel and Bridezillas on another. I was feeling a bit guilty for having disturbed his slumbers when I crawled into bed just a few hours before. As he planted his traditional see-you-later kiss on my forehead, I reached for a hug. I pulled him into me as if I could somehow absorb some essential part of him into myself.

"Did you get enough sleep?" I asked.

"No," he laughed.

I fell out of our embrace and back into unconsciousness.

Some hours later, my eyelids registered light in the room. "Meow." Marge was trying to wake me up. She leaned into my ear, sniffed, and yowled "MEOW."

Other than a scratch between the ears, I ignored her.

At around 9:45 I floated back onto the couch. Part of me wondered if this was all I had left to my life, outside of school: Couch to bed and back again. Most of me didn't care.

At 10:00, I paused the TiVo and thought to myself, if I don't get off this couch, I'll stay here all day until 4:30, when I have to go to class.

Then I thought to myself, what's wrong with that?

Somewhere around eleven I made coffee and toast. I struggled with this feeling, this notion that sitting on a couch watching TV simply because I can is just inherently wrong. I've done an awful lot of that over the last two weeks, ever since my last temp job ended, and I'm feeling bad about it. I feel some obligation... not sure to what or to whom.

I've done some other things. The housework and grocery shopping have not fallen behind, and I've made trips to the gym and taken a yoga class. Last Friday I had a routine Dr. Appointment in the city, after which I hosted an Octoberfest dinner for G and our upstairs neighbors, just because I felt like it. I cooked for two days preparing for that. So it's not like I've been a complete slug.

I looked at Marge, sitting on the rug, blinking at me, no longer meowing, simply sitting there, as though she were expecting something interesting to happen. After a few minutes, she grew bored and walked away without a word.

I realized that this may be the last time in my life - perhaps the only time - when nobody other than myself really needs anything from me. I don't have work waiting for me in an office somewhere. I don't have massage clients anymore - last Saturday was my last clinic shift. (Still digesting that one.) G is doing his thing, like always. I joked to a friend on the phone yesterday that my parents have forgotten I exist. I'm... free.

What an odd feeling.

I want to DO SOMETHING with this time that is all mine - something dramatic, like travel, but of course, that takes more than time, doesn't it? So... I stood in the middle of my living room for a few seconds, taking it all in, looking at the closed Venetian blinds.

Every day in this apartment, when the day begins, we open and raise the blinds first thing, even before making coffee or turning on the computer. But on that day, 12:00 noon had come and gone, and the blinds were closed. Again, I felt that twinge of responsibility. G had left before sunrise, so it's my job to start the day today. And I hadn't.

I looked at the sunlight glowing behind the blinds, and I suddenly felt that I'm the one who's outdoors, looking at light coming from shuttered windows of someplace that I'm dying to see, that that I'm sure is full of untold mystery and beauty and excitement, but that I can't afford to go, where nobody inside knows me.

I looked down at myself. I was wearing an oversized T-Shirt and flip-flops. Nobody's letting me into any parties dressed like that. Something in me clicked. A half-hour later I was showered and dressed.

I keep coming back to the realization that this is a unique time in my life. I have no job, no income, but I have a roof over my head, and no immediate worries. School is essentially over. I don't have kids. Nobody is relying on me for anything. So where is this sense of obligation coming from, this guilt?

It would be so easy to chalk this up to money - I'm completely living off of G right now, and will for another week or so. Because he's paying for everything, I feel like I should be earning my keep in a more tangible way, such as cleaning the house 'till it shines, making meals, going to the gym more often so I'll be in the best shape possible, all those old-fashioned notions of proper wifery that somehow cling to me, despite all my efforts to shake them off. But I know better than this, in my gut. This is my screen. There's something deeper going on here.

I wrote a song two weeks ago, and practically flew to my accompanist to have him plunk it out for me. It needs a lot of work. It's rather ambitious - very Cole Porter sounding, lots of chatty lyrics. The tune isn't very original, but whose is these days anyway? I love the lyrics and the sheer fun of it. But that was two weeks ago, and I haven't touched it since.

My piano seems to be suffering here in our little apartment. The keys stick, almost all of them. I'm thinking the humidity isn't good in this place. I need to have the thing repaired. That's #2 on my list of things to pay for once I get another job.

I hardly ever think about my wedding anymore.

I am so freakin' tired. I swear, it's all I can do to get out of bed. I seldom get up before 10. I'm at war with myself - I can hear the battle between what I should be doing and what I feel like doing every day, every morning when I get up, and every day when I'm watching American Chopper or selecting a comfy shirt and jeans or whatever I'm doing that seems like nothing. Sloth wins because I don't know what it is I really should be doing. I've met all my outward obligations. So now...

This time may be unique in my life. I get to do things for me now. And what do I always want to do, more than anything?

Excuse me - gotta go. I have to get back to that song.

It's me I owe.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I'm in class on Halloween this year. After class, we're all going out. On Halloween.

I pulled out the costume I wore about six or seven years ago, a rather unimaginative black cat costume. It's so ghetto and homemade it's ridiculous. I also have this stupied grecian goddess thing in the closet that someone gave me to wear but of course I never did. I'm sure it'll be too cold for either option.

I'm dying to dress as my school administrator - Evil Hair and all - but hey, I haven't graduated yet.

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bursting at the Seams

I have three saved drafts in Blogger.

Tonight is my last final exam, but my class is still required to put in face time until November sixth.

Wonder how many drafts I'll have saved by then?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

In Case I'd Forgotten Why I Hate Yahoo

I TiVo Project Runway every Wednesday night religiously. I watch it, as I have all season, a day or so later with G. (Yes, my straight bf watches Project Runway with me. And gets SO involved. He's a Michael Fan.) I'm non-committal in my fandom, although I am anti-Jeffrey, in spite of his being so undeniably talented. Being a recovering drug addict from a bad home doesn't give you license to be a bird-flipping asshole, even if you do have a cute kid. But anyway.

So I get up this morning, shower, dress, coffee, boot up the PC. First thing I see on our internet Hompage is the Yahoo! News Headline "Jeffrey Sebelia Wins Project Runway."

You muther-fucking bastard Yahoos.

Well, at least I can look forward to his final recap. Which I've also been reading religiously, ever since the Couture Design Challenge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Home Stretch

Last night, after sweating and studying and stressing for days, I got the highest score in my class on our last minor Shiatsu exam.

I got an 84%. What a bitch of a test.

Next week is our final - our last exam. Next Saturday is my last shift in the Student Clinic. Sometime between those two events should be the graduation drunk-fest.

Somebody pinch me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chores - Updated

So, How'd I do?

Clean house, so G doesn't see what a schlub I am when left to my own devices, which includes:

--- laundry *G and I did it together*
--- Swiffering *DONE*
--- dusting *DONE*
--- de-cluttering *DONE*

- Study for Shiatsu test tomorrow *DONE but need more*

- Eat some sort of vegetable or fruit *DONE*

- shower *DONE*

- put on something presentable *Nope...*

- Perform a Shiatsu massage on G, my little guinea pig for my case study. *DONE*

- Have sex *DONE*

- Type up Case Study notes *DOIN' IT TOMORROW*

- Make G quiz me on test material for tomorrow *DONE*

- Watch the History channel on the couch until 1AM *DOIN' IT NEXT*

Not bad!

Friday, October 13, 2006


The thing that makes me sickest about this is:

But in the end, it was a simple landlord-tenant dispute — and owner Hilly Kristal saw the handwriting on the club's dank walls.

"I knew the closing was inevitable, because my lawyers said, `You can't win this case. The law is that your lease is up, and they don't even need a reason to put you out,'" said Kristal.

How long can I fester and squirm, watching New York lose it's soul, morphing from a place for people to live into a place for corporations to get richer and for petty business people to make themselves feel important by doing shitty things simply because it will line their pockets more thoroughly and there's no law in place to stop them?

My first time at CBGB's, I could afford either the cover or a drink, but not both. While I was dithering on the sidewalk, trying to decide if it was worth getting in line, a random guy in line hooked his arm around me and pulled me into his group of friends. I paid my own cover, and I sat the rest of the evening at a table with his crowd of NYU students. He bought me one beer, and I drank water the rest of the night, until one of the girls bought a round of shots for the table, including me. We all toasted our worthless college degrees. It was fun and wild and everything that being young is supposed to be. The band onstage was loud, fast, and really interesting, and of course I can't remember who they were, and they never made it big. I remember joking at the time that we should buy one of their CD's since it might be worth a fortune someday. Everyone laughed. We all knew Ceebee's was, in 1995, what it had once been - just a place to hang out and hear some music.

And that's exactly why it's closing is so tragic. Maybe, if CBGB's had retained its legendary status and continued to book bands that went on to play Letterman and attain the platinum albums, the landlord might have given a damn and let Mr. Kristal renew the lease. Because then the place would be making money. For starters, the cover might be fifty bucks instead of fifteen. The bartender would be mixing far more Grey Goose cosmos than Red-Bulls-and-Vodkas. And the crowd would be well-dressed. And older. And quieter. No more tables full of NYU students drinking one to two beers apiece because that's all they can afford. That would be a business worth keeping around, wouldn't it?

Oh but wait. There are already plenty of places in town for that, and you can go contribute your hard-earned cash to those million-dollar enterprises all you like. Stand in line for two hours with a bunch of people who don't even know what's inside. Once you get in, IF - and it's a big IF - you can find a place to sit down, your beer will be imported and overpriced. The cocktails will be overly sweetened and mostly mixer. After your second drink, The waiters will hover around you in their costumes, looking at you like your mother waiting for you to spit your gum out, until you finally agree to buy something, anything, even a COKE, from the bar, just to justify your continued presence, because the manager harasses them to do so. The crowd will not talk to anyone other than the people they came with, until they get drunk enough to try and pick someone up. Oh - and don't wear jeans and a T-shirt, unless the jeans cost over $100 and the T-Shirt has Juicy Couture bedazzled onto it.

Those places make so fucking much money. Yeah.

Wait - do you hear that? From all the way across the Hudson River, that sniveling landlord of 315 Bowery Street whining "But where's miiiiiinnnnee..."

This is not a bitch and moan because a historic music club is closing - not really. This is a rant about the continued corporatization and soullessness of New York City. A place where the integrity of a business is meaningless if someone else, somewhere in the city, is making more money. It's not enough to rent space to a legendary place, a place where new forms of music that changed the cultural landscape of America were nurtured, music that changed the dialogue between parents and kids, between classes, between political extremes, between country and city. Nothing to feel good about there, nothing to take pride in. Making more money is all that matters.

I want to live in a place where musicians can play live gigs simply because the club owner liked the audition, where people like meeting new people without an agenda, just because people are fun. Where rock and punk and opera and jazz and symphony musicians can all find a place to just relax, where your hangout isn't a strategic place to network. Where a club owner can push the tables and chairs against the walls when the joint starts jumpin’ and let people dance - and they will simply dance - without fear of being shut down. Where being nobody makes you feel like somebody, just because you're there. Where we look at the Statue of Liberty showing us her ass and laugh about it, because we don't expect anything more from her but a welcome, and we've gotten that. We're not afraid of hard work. We don't mind who else is here, and we don't want something because it's what someone else has. I want to live in a place where what you do is more important than how much you make doing it. Where civilization evolves. Where money is simply a tool.

There was once a time when those in power, who owned businesses and property here, felt civic pride. When New York's wealthiest citizens put their money into libraries where immigrants could learn English by checking out books for free. The philanthropists developed the parks, where we could sit and read those books without someone accusing us of loitering, or threatening to report us to the government for reading subversive or ungodly material. There have always been corrupt landlords - but there were some mayors in the past who worked to pass laws to protect tenants and force landlords to do business fairly, and keep rents reasonable.

Because, see, once upon a time, that's what Liberty really meant. New York City was populated by people from all over the world, looking to make an honest living in a home of their own, with time to relax and enjoy a little cooking or fiddle playing or dancing on the weekends. People who just wanted to exist.

There have always been people who cared about New York City as a whole, about the people in it, about the fertile art scenes here, about the accomplishments of the people, accomplishments that, if you had the power and ability, you could feel good about facilitating in some way, not because it made you money, but because it furthered the development of the city itself.

Now there's too many skyscrapers and not enough people who can afford to live in them, or keep a business there. Maybe they were right, those people in the midwest where I used to live, who said there are no values in New York City, just greed. Maybe this is Gomorrah.

But somehow, I can't lose sight of the city I used to live in, where I shared a clean, roach-free $900/month one-bedroom on 95th street between Amsterdam and Columbus, while my roommate traveled with a touring musical and I sang in concert operas, where I worked a 9-5 job for %15 an hour and felt proud of everything around me. I can't forget that. It wasn't so long ago.

I can't stop thinking that the essential element of New York City is almost gone, and what little remains is disappearing bit by bit, year by year. I also can't stop believing that it can be recovered. I can’t turn my back on the place.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

She was afraid to come out in the open...

I've got a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy yellow polka-dot bit of faith in the universe. So in my emotional cocoon I'm going to stay. For awhile. From here I can see that good things are happening to people around me, which helps. Sort of.

Actually, that's not quite right.

Writing these days is like trying to watch TV without cable. I keep moving the rabbit ears, but I can't get a clear enough picture of what's going on, so I don't know how to talk about anything. And I'm sick of posting my angst. Reading my past entries, I wonder why MzOuiser doesn't just jump off a bridge if she's so damn miserable. She's disgusting me.

The year-long Work Phase I've been moving through ends in less than five weeks. I have senioritis, and want to start doing other things NOW. Like singing, writing, making trips into Manhattan, enjoying clothes. Too soon for any of that. I'm going to try and wrench my focus back where it needs to be. Pathology test every Wednesday. Shiatsu tests every Monday. Clinic every Saturday morning. Classes and a case study to complete in between.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sick of this

Can September please end now? This month has just sucked. Sucked, I tell you.

And not just for me. People all around me have been going to funerals, losing money, getting sick, and suffering disillusionments of various kinds. Is this Pluto's revenge?

No more posting until October.

Hey, a lot can happen in four days.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Disturbing Realization of the Day

I learned recently that someone I went to high school with - who took one of my best friends at the time to prom - who was someone I always thought highly of - has a blog. So I went and read it.

He's married, has a rugrat, lives in Queens. His posts are all... happy. Disgustingly so. So I'm not going to email him and say hi, because I don't want him to read my blog. Because my blog is too depressing.


Does Ouiser not want to contact this person because:

a) Seeing how happy this person's life is has caused self-loathing and humiliation to envelop her like so many layers of suffocating plastic wrap

b) She's embarrased to let someone whose mother is friendly with her mother read her blog

c) She can't handle going back to high school in even the slightest of contexts

d) She's afraid this person might reveal himself to be as screwed up as everyone else, and his shiny blog persona will be exposed as fraud?

Tuna got this trick question. Answer is E: All of the above. Can you believe we've only shared one cocktail? Must remedy that next time you're in town, girl. Smooches.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yoga, Meditation, and Hope

I won't go into the details, but I have reason to believe all is not lost as far as the school thing goes. So until these chickens hatch, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing - working my ass off. I'm good at that.

The end of my job was something I'd been looking forward to anyway, albeit not so suddenly or in such a nasty fashion, so given the additional stress I'm more glad than ever to have my days free. I spent this morning doing Yoga and Meditation, and tomorrow I'm hitting the gym. I did a bit of grocery shopping yesterday and might do a bit more later, after I swing by the bank, but for the most part I'm taking it easy on the errands and the chores and just giving myself this week to recuperate and practice some extreme self-care. Thank the goddess I haven't forgotten how to do that.

I'm not really angry anymore. I'm sad, and a little scared, but mostly I'm just tired. At the same time I'm ready to do whatever it takes to graduate on time. I find energy to do the things that have to be done. I just find it somehow.

So.. I'd better get to it.

Thanks for the supportive comments and emails, folks. You have no idea how much it helps my mood, helps me to dig a little deeper to tap into my strength.

Or, maybe you do.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thank You Sir May I Have Another

I enrolled in this program at this school because it was a) reasonably close to where I live and b) it would give me enough hours to be eligible for New York Licensing.

I didn't learn until I was almost 1/3 of the way through the program that the New York State Licensing exam is only offered twice a year. As soon as I learned the test was offered in January, I felt better. I graduate in October. No problem.

Not too long after that, my class learned that in order to be able to sit for the January licensing exam, New York State must receive all our paperwork, including the official program completion notice from the school, by November first. This caused some nervousness, but we were assured that we would graduate on October 26th. We'd just barely make the deadline by one week.

My class learned about two weeks ago that, thanks to an error on the school's part, we will not graduate until November 6th.

We panicked.

There is only one class holding things up. That instructor is sympathetic. He's basically a great guy. He agreed to meet with us on the weekends, so we can complete that extra week of class early, and still complete the program on time. We all agreed to check our calendars and schedule something soon.

A couple of Tuesdays ago, on September 5th, I got into a car accident. I was driving G's car. It wasn't my fault, and it wasn't serious, but it was the first accident I've ever been in, and I was quite shaken up for some time. It took a week of making official statements with the insurance company and dealing with the approved local auto fix-it shop before the whole situation ended. I missed two mornings worth of work (and pay) dealing with that, and grew several grey hairs. I wasn't injured, insurance covered the repairs, and everything is now fine. But damn.

Last Tuesday night was the night my class scheduled the makeup classes. We scheduled one for yesterday (Saturday, 9/23), one for today (Sunday, 9/24) and one for next Sunday (9/30).

Last Tuesday night at about 8pm, I was informed of my unceremonious booting from the temp job.

Then, about 1/2 hour later, we scheduled the classes.

Wednesday night, I had a Pathology test.

Thursday, I received a bill for just under $700 from a collection agency. Apparently I never paid an ambulance bill from February of '05. I never paid it because they never sent me the bill, even though I called and asked for it twice after the date of service. I stated that to the agency, and insisted they put that on record. They agreed. G sent them a check for the full amount yesterday... but that's a pretty pile of coins, and every time we have a major expense crop up, I see my wedding date disappearing farther and farther into the future.

Friday night was Yom Kippur. I remember being depressed that the local temple charges $500 per couple to attend that service. We made a nice little holiday for ourselves at home, but I remember feeling somewhat excluded from a lot of things, in a rather universal way.

Saturday, I completely forgot about the class.

At about 2pm I got a phone call from my classmate Ally. I didn't pick up because my phone was on silent - I'd forgotten to turn on the ringer. I got the message about two hours later, and immediately called Ally back. She sounded grim. "Nobody came," she said. "Nobody showed up. I was the only one who came."

"Holy Crap," I said, my stomach churning. "Oh God."

I mean, we knew Penny and Vic would be late, they have to work today," Ally continued. I could hear her puffing her cigarette. "Everyone else just didn't show. The teacher is pissed. I mean he's really pissed."

My heart sank. My knees buckled. "We're fucked, Ally. We are so fucked. All of us. Fucked."

"He canceled ALL our makeups. He said he's nobody's babysitter, and that we could all graduate late, take the exam next August, and it's not his problem."

I don't know how I kept from throwing up. I wanted to call the teach right then and apologize, but Ally warned me not to. My head swam. All the seventeen- and eighteen-hour days. Rendering myself unemployable during the holidays last year, because of my insistence on leaving jobs by 4:30. My complete disappearance from life, from my friends, even from my relationship. For this.

Somehow I managed to tell G about my amazingly awful brain fart. Possibly the worst fuck-up I have ever committed in my life. G did not yell and scream at me, but he is furious. Not so much at me as at the school, for putting my class in this situation to begin with. He's got a point, but I don't trust the administration to see things that way.

I called my classmate Vic. He knew. He had showed up just in time to see Ally and hear the bad news. He suggested I apologize like crazy on Monday, and maybe the teacher will show leniency, given the fact that I've never missed class or clinic the entire time I've been in school. "Give teach a couple of days, maybe Monday he'll cool down."

When I hung up, my cell phone rang. It was Penny. "It's gonna be ok, Ouiser." I cried into the phone. I ranted and raved. "We're gonna figure this out, Ouiser," Penny said soothingly. She and I brainstormed on what we might be able to do about this - sit in on some morning classes, work extra clinic shifts, whatever they ask.

When I go into class on Monday, I'm going to get there early, lick my teacher's feet, offer to wash his car with my toothbrush, and tell him how horrible I feel that he had to waste his time on a beautiful Saturday, and apologize for being a complete flake at the worst possible time. I might ever-so-slightly allude to the fact that I've been a little distracted lately, but I'm not going to harp on it. I'm not going to make excuses for myself. I'm just going to grovel.

This is no joke. I have worked too hard for this. We all have, but nobody's worked harder than Me, Ally, Vic and Penny. We are all honor's students. Ally showed up, Vic and Penny had pre-approved excuses for not being there on time. I'm the only fuck-up, and I've never fucked up before. Not allowing me to graduate on time, even if I work extra clinic shifts, even if I sit in on day classes - that punishment doesn't fit the crime.

All day today, I keep thinking of this tarot reader I met last year. She could see that I was exhausted and emotionally broken from all I'd been through with my old job, the temp agencies, the loss of my apartment, and my numerous failed efforts to build something out of my life. I told her that I had just started Massage Therapy School - that this was my latest attempt to live a constructive, happy, productive life. I told her that I was depressed, because I 'd had too many disappointments. I had no reason to believe the 15 grand in student loans I'd just taken out would be worth anything. That I was afraid that, like everything else, something would come along and screw this up for me. Or I'd make one false move and ruin it for myself.

That nice lady took my hands and told me I needed to relax, refocus, and trust. She said it was time for me to do the work I knew I needed to do, and then trust that the Universe would step in and play it's part.

Stupid bitch.

Oh no - I meant me. I was the stupid bitch. I actually believed her.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I was dismissed from of my temp job yesterday. I was informed at 8pm, while I was at school, on my dinner break. I am not allowed to return even for 15 short minutes today to retrieve my sweater poncho, delete my internet cache and history (it's a good thing I'm boring), or empty the trash can at the cubicle.

I'm going to miss that sweater.

I pretty much knew right off the bat what had precipitated this, and my suspicions have been confirmed. It's not about me, and it's not my problem. Never was. I feel quite at peace, and I truly wish those poor, poor, well-meaning people the best of luck.

I never really wore that sweater much anyway.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Jam off the Spam*

When I was in grade school, my art teacher asked each student in the class to bring in a piece of trash - an empty soup can or a plastic 8-pak ring - and make art with it.

This text came from a bit of spam I found today in my gmail. Before the ad for lower mortgage rates came a bunch of random phrases in no discernible order. Somehow, in the time it took to reach for the mouse and drag the cursor to the delete link, I managed to read some of the sentences. I found the images curiously haunting. I deleted the spam, but I saved the text.

I left the sentences intact, but arranged them into paragraphs. This is what I came up with:

The motor-cars returning to town left early, in a little group. The curious seed-rattling hum of voices that filled the plaza was hushed. The whole village was in that state of curious, reptile apprehension which comes over dark people. A people that has never been redeemed, that has not known a Saviour. A race old in subjection to fear, and unable to shake it off. Unless there comes some Saviour, some Redeemer to drive a new way out, to the sun.

But the police in most countries are never present save where there is no trouble.

Even the fifis had a pistol on their hips. She lay absolutely crushed, in a kind of quiescent hysterics, tortured. Their very naked torsos were clothed with a subtle shadow, a certain secret obscurity. And the flesh would mortify around every claw.

In the absolute silence could be heard the soundless stillness of the dark lake. And herself woman, wheeling upon the great wheel of womanhood. She had been sitting at a little table, with Juana for dueña, sipping a glass of absinthe. "It has five shots," he said, showing the weapon. Then he looked at Kate with flashing black eyes, very much the man to the rescue. "Till I saw beneath me white breast-tips of my Mexico, my bride." The heavy, evil-smelling weight of an unconquered past.

There was neither urge nor effort, nor any speciality. They sat still, talking, listening with a second consciousness. At the same time, she was listening intensely, with a clutch of horror.

So hear now, you men, and you women of these men. The ghastly fear of the rabble; and during the war, nations were nearly all rabble. Ah, Niña, we poor women, we need a man and a pistol.

And Kate turned to the darkness of the lake. "If you open the door in the night, you must say a word to me first." She grew quieter, shut up with the dusky glow of her candle. In the cave which is called Dark Eye, behind the sun, looking through him as a window, is the place. She would lie and listen to the thickening darkness. "And so hear now, you men, and you women of these men. When men forget me, I lift the back of my hand, farewell!"

Thus the big word was spoken behind the back of the world. Just as I, without the sun that is back of the sun, am nothing.

*What do you mean, you don't like spam? I'm having spam, jam, eggs and spam!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

See, here's the thing:

If I write about my sore muscles and my fatigue and my frustrating Shiatsu class that I'm completely not getting and the first test in 20 years that I've failed and the upcoming practical and my nervous breakdown in class last Saturday morning and my job where the entire department is rendered powerless and my job has heavier responsibilitites than ever but I'm not making any more money and my friend who works here is leaving in two weeks for a job in Manhattan and I'm so jealous my stomach cramps thinking about it and my graduation from school is one day before the day I need to have all my paperwork into the State of New York so I can sit for the licensing exam and I have to do nine clinic shifts in two months and I'm going to have to do double-shifts to fit them all in by graduation and I am shaking like an epileptic every time I have to give a massage and I just want to get married and stop the temping but my student loan payments are kicking in and I still have to get a car next year and have a baby before I'm 40 and...

Well, that would be a distraction from my awesome new birthday iPod and new birthday cell phone with the camera in it and the drink-up G is throwing for me at a Karaoke bar in Elmsford this Friday night and my new iTunes account and my snazzy new cameraphone and how extra-snuggly my cat has been lately and the amazingly delicious Chocolate Chunk Crunch Coffee Coolers I get almost every evening from the Java Cafe down the street from school and my funny classmates that I get to work with and my near-perfect scores in Neurology and Advanced Anatomy & Physiology and my Certification cards coming in the mail for CPR and First Aid and my upcoming appointment with my long-lost Sylist Peter for a day of glam on my birthday and the 10 or so people who have already responded to the Evite G sent for my party and I can't wait to sing Karaoke with them and the simple joy of having G to snuggle up to at night and the exhilaration of driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge in the convertible with the top down and the beaded jeans I'm going to wear to my party and the wedding dresses I'm hoping to try on next spring.

And really, that second paragraph is just so much better than the first.

There is a LOT more going on in my life besides my birthday, but right now, I prefer not to focus on it. It will all still be there in a few weeks.

So I'll be back in a little while.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Birthday Nano!

Birthday Nano!
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
So, now I have to get iTunes. Will my 2000 mp3s that I already have still play?

This is going to be a FUN afternoon! Oh, how I love my baby.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pirates are the Thing This Year

Arrr Ye Buyin?
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
My first birthday present of 2006. My birthday's not until the 26th, but I'm already feeling over-the-hill vibes. 35 is rougher than I thought it would be.

And I really need to see Johnny Depp in his pirate outfit. Me timbers is shiverin' already.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Film at 11

From yesterday’s New York Times:

This movie has nothing to say about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda or jihad. That comes later.

In the Sept. 11 of “World Trade Center,” feeling transcends politics, and the film’s astonishingly faithful re-creation of the emotional reality of the day produces a curious kind of nostalgia. It’s not that anyone would wish to live through such agony again, but rather that the extraordinary upsurge of fellow feeling that the attacks produced seems precious. And also very distant from the present. Mr. Stone has taken a public tragedy and turned it into something at once genuinely stirring and terribly sad. His film offers both a harrowing return to a singular, disastrous episode in the recent past and a refuge from the ugly, depressing realities of its aftermath.

I first saw the previews for this film at the Palisades Center Mall theatres. I don't remember what G and I were there to see - they have all been pretty forgettable. As the images flashed before me on the enormous screen, and the dusty faces of the men began to speak, I sat like a stone in my seat, my stomach ice cold. "This isn't right. They can't do this," I whispered to G. "It's too soon." G murmured something that sounded like agreement mixed with discomfort.

The review makes me want to see it, which is more than I can say about most films these days. I've always loved Oliver Stone's work, but this...

September 11th is still so fresh in my mind. It's in the past, but my memories evoke such emotion that I simply choose not to think about it too often. I can, however, still tell you everything I did that day, every thought that ran through my mind, and every person I spoke with. There's a timeframe of events seared into my mind, beginning with the moment I first learned of the horror transpiring just 90 blocks from me, and ending about a year or so later.

I'm lucky that it's a year or so. I'm lucky that the events did not touch my life as personally as it touched others. This is the overwhelming fact that still grips me - how lucky I was. None of my loved ones were harmed. I was not harmed. I think, in a subtle, yet important way, this realization changed my life. I certainly have done a lot of things differently since then. I have seen myself differently, and looked at life and the choices before me differently.

I went through a time where I said that the destruction of the towers and the deaths of thousands of people didn't affect me on the deep level that it seemed to affect so many others. I was wrong. I was just too numb to feel it. I have that problem at lot.

I said when I saw the previews that I didn't think I'd be seeing this movie, but I wonder if it wouldn't be good for me. I wonder if re-living those days, after five years of my own internal processing, might inspire something in me. Might I find a new sense of courage? Might my gratitude deepen even more?

What's the worst that could happen? I'll waste another $10 on a bad film? Get outraged, eviscerate it in my blog? Complain to everyone about it? That happens all the time. Bad films about sacred subjects have been done before. I'll get over it, and so will the world.

I'd rather take the chance that something inside me will be awakened. That I won't be numb anymore. That I might finally be able to shed something, that thick old skin, that dura mater over my tenderest sensibilities. That all the realizations and changes and revelations and heartbreaks and resurrections I've gone through over the past few years have restored something in me, something that will let me feel with all of my being, accept completely, mourn honestly, release with love, and step forward into the world with a renewed joy of living.

That's probably expecting too much from a movie. But...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Neal's Gift

A week ago last Sunday, my friend Neal passed away. He was less than 60 years old.

I say my friend because he was someone I knew reasonably well, who I liked and admired and respected. He was part of my church group. We never really hung out or anything, but I had once visited him and his wife at their home, and walked their dog for them.

When I moved out of the neighborhood almost two years ago, I didn't really say goodbyes to anyone, as I knew I'd be popping into church from time to time. We'd see each other eventually.

Somehow, almost two years have passed, and I have not seen or talked to pretty much anyone from that group, except for those rare occasions when I make it into the city for a service – usually because I’ve been asked to sing. We’d catch up over coffee hour, exchange hugs and kisses, and never hear from each other again until several months later. Rinse, repeat. It doesn’t seem like much, but it mattered. We all take our little community for granted.

I never really imagined never seeing these people again. And now Neal is gone.

I didn't go to the funeral. It was on a Wednesday, and I had to work, of course. I had two days notice, which really isn’t enough to ask for a day off, especially when it’s not a family member’s funeral. My Piano Man friend, however, works evenings, so he was asked to play the music for the funeral. He called me to discuss song ideas. Neal’s wife had requested all Beatle’s songs. “In My Life” was a given. I suggested “The Long and Winding Road.”

Neal was a songwriter himself, and had composed hundreds of poems and songs. That was one thing we’d had in common, a love of music. I remembered the time I’d visited them, sipping tea in the living room, and Neal had played me a tape-recording of a beautiful love song he’d written for his wife. He and I seemed to be kindred spirits in that way. I remembered talking to him once about the torch songs I’d written over the years for various lost loves in my life. Neal had taking his writing that one step further, and gotten someone to play and record his songs for him. Something I’ve never made the effort to do.

Neal was living with encephalitis for a considerable number of years. I never knew this until after he’d passed. I never asked. I always felt that the nature of his illness was his business, and that it would have been intrusive for me to ask. I’d imagined he might have had MS, due to his gait, or possibly had suffered a stroke, as his speech was labored, and there was significant tremor in his hands. Encephalitis never would have occurred to me. Encephalitis attacks the central nervous system directly, and usually causes very sudden death. Somehow, Neal and his wife must have been able to manage it, medically or otherwise. I suppose I should have been foreseen that Neal might pass away at a relatively young age, but he always seemed so vibrant… so full of life.

His relationship with his wife was beautiful. Their love was completely tangible. I remember them sitting side-by-side in church, almost snuggling in the pew. They had an ancient Springer Spaniel named Needles, who passed away a few years ago, after which they adopted a Cocker Spaniel puppy. I can only imagine the laughter in that house, with such an energetic pup. They were such a family, Mr. and Mrs. Neal and their dogs, and such a special part of our church family.

When Piano Man called me with the news of Neal’s death, I didn’t process it right away. I was shocked, but so distracted with the extraordinarily hectic day I was having that the news didn’t really sink in. It took me days to process it. And when I finally began to understand what happened, I cried.

I just wish it hadn’t been in the middle of a Shiatsu class.

(To be continued…)