Thursday, June 25, 2015


"A Switch To The Same Wavelength"

Due to the hysterical nature of the current media opinion on the Confederate Battle Flag, here’s my favorite image of the flag.

I have loved this image for a very long time, finding it in a stack of Civil War era postcards that I picked up in a used bookstore, I stuck it on the wall next to my desk and looked at it every day for 14 years.  To me, it always meant that the first intrinsic battle of our Nation against slavery, had been won.  It also represents that America will never be the same, Civil War leaves no life unchanged.  The Confederate Battle Flag is being furled, General Lee has been defeated (don’t forget to ban his face), the war is over.  Everything these soldiers, right down to the drummer boy, were fighting for, is gone, and it wasn’t just slaves-how many soldiers do you really think were slave owners.  A way of life, understanding, and most importantly, freedom to behave and conduct themselves in a manner they saw to be most sustainable, is withering, much like the bodies of the dead and wounded in the background.  Fear of oppression by the Yankee way hovers on their sweaty brows. 

While I don’t have much of a problem relegating the flag to museums and monuments I have a very strong disdain for the idea of banning the image from public sales, relics, video games, and alas, Dukes of Hazard memorabilia-a television show clearly dedicated to furthering the cause of inequality, racism and mass murderers. 

A picture has been circulated, of a very mean spirited young man with the Confederate Battle Flag, who went on to kill 9 people, and now, all emotional reasoning rationally in place, it’s a symbol of hate.  Like the cross, the inverted cross, the swastika, Che Guevara’s face, Charles Manson’s face, lots of other people’s faces, the SLA symbol, and on and on and on.  History is rarely pretty, but history isn’t what you re-write in the present to explain away the ugly past, or has it become exactly that?  How much history, and access to American history, are we losing today as the flag is banned by big money and big influence companies?  And is the history we are losing, worth the history we are making by banning the Confederate Battle Flag?

You may disagree, but what the Confederate Battle Flag truly stood for, is beyond our comprehension, our current way of life offers no adequate comparison.  The flag was laid to rest the day General Lee surrendered, its only today’s misunderstanding and fear that give it new life and make it a powerful ghost of all we don’t want to remember about ourselves, about America.  A lot of people suffered, bled, sacrificed and died to make America the country that it is and to put away the symbols of that fight, that history, is to cower in the comfort of ideological idiocy. 

(To ban images of the Confederate Battle Flag - is to be afraid of the wrong thing.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oh Fiddlesticks, I've Got Foster Farms Chicken in My Kitchen!

I'd get rid of it if I were you.

If you have Foster Farms chicken with the following numbers on the packaging: P6137, P6137A, P7632, either throw it out or take it back to the store and exchange it for a non-salmonella tainted batch, or how about a different brand all together. With 278 reported cases of salmonella poisoning, and 42% of those cases resulting in hospitalization, all the CDC and Foster Farms have to say is, gee, that's a higher number than normal, people really ought to be using a meat thermometer when they cook their chicken. Really. So for the hundreds of thousands of people that ate chicken in the last month, these guys just happened to cook theirs improperly, I doubt that has much to do with why so many have fallen so ill in such a brief period of time. I believe the real culprit here, besides the despicable business and welfare practices of most companies in the food industry, is cross-contamination.

As someone licensed by the state of California in food management and safe handling procedures, and I don't mean a food handler's certificate, I am licensed to oversee the food handlers, food, and environment in which it is handled. In the 18 years that I oversaw a restaurant kitchen, we never had a reported incident of food borne illness and were actually put on an elite program, by the Health Department, to receive yearly inspections rather than quarterly or every six months, as our standards of cleanliness, and lack of reported safety issues, were above par. And yes, we handled raw meat in that kitchen.

With an established background in food safety, what makes me think the salmonella outbreak is related to cross-contamination, well, you can cook your chicken all day long but do you cook your cutting board, your knife, how about the sponge you clean those things with, what about your hands? Here's the deal, all chickens have the possibility of becoming contaminated by salmonella, one sits around in a vat too long and the bacteria begins to grow, then more chickens are thrown in there with the contaminated chicken, the bacteria begins to multiply, then the chickens are processed and all the machinery, workers and surfaces that these chickens touch, become contaminated. You, dear consumer, unwittingly take home a package of this salmonella chicken, you put it in the refrigerator, you take it out, it sits on the counter, into the sink to get rinsed, onto the cutting board, into the pan, you wipe your brow with your hands before washing/bleaching/cooking them thoroughly and there you have it, a trip to the hospital. I am very curious to know, besides the number of individuals this has affected, the number of households. In a situation where you have brought home a product tainted by salmonella, your only recourse, the only way to be entirely safe, is to bleach the hell out of everything, including your hands.

This is what the food industry is telling us, it is our responsibility, as consumers, to cook the meat thoroughly, bleach, or don't use, a sponge, designate cutting boards for different tasks, and pray you aren't one of the unlucky ones who forgets to do all these things and makes themselves ill. Excuse me, accountability, anyone? Ever notice that meat is only recalled if it has Mad Cow Disease but any produce that is related to a food borne illness is immediately recalled, wonder why? Because you aren't expected to cook all your veggies, but the meat, that's all on you, not on the companies willing to allow contaminated product out of their facilities, into stores and into vulnerable bodies. In some European countries, salmonella has nearly been eliminated simply by tossing out batches that include any infected meat, this is considered to be too expensive of a practice to attempt in the United States. The United Chicken Council even noted that:

"Publicly available data show the prevalence of Salmonella on raw poultry products has been significantly reduced since the performance standards were implemented, but the incidence of salmonellosis in the human population shows no measurable improvement during the same time period."

That is from 2004-2012, their conclusion:

"For consumers, the bottom line is that chicken is safe when properly cooked and handled, and that chicken producers and processors are continually working to make them even safer. Instructions for safe handling and cooking are printed on every package of meat and poultry sold in the United States – when followed, one can be assured of a safe eating experience every time."

Its still up to you, its all on the label afterall. Foster Farms can generate infected meat for the rest of the year (remember, this is the second outbreak this year, the first was in March) and never be held accountable for it because it is your responsibility to cook your meat properly. With that in mind, we can all just stop buying Foster Farms chicken and if you can afford it, go organic, right? Coastal Range Organics is Foster Farms line of organic poultry so beware, just because it says organic, doesn't mean its safe or being handled better, they also refused to tell me what “natural flavor” was added to their “organic” ground turkey, so I've got an issue with them already.

My conclusion, leave Foster Farms products on the shelves, cook your chicken as you see fit and keep an eye on what is laying about where in your kitchen. And please, don't try to cook the salmonella out of the contaminated batches, its absurd and irresponsible to expect people to tote around bacteria laden meat and then blame them when it infects other products, surfaces, or hands, in their kitchen, in my opinion, you are owed uninfected product.

If none of that ruffled your feathers, the USDA has approved 4 plants in China to process U.S chicken and then send it back to the U.S. without labeling that the chickens have more stamps in their passports than many of us.
Profit before safety, this is what the warning on meat labels ought to say.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Explanation of Benefits Package

A note to our friends and family who are wondering, “Whatever happened to the Buzzells?”

    We had such a wonderful pre-tirement, lots of fun with family and friends, D&D afternoons that turned into parties that went on a day and more, too much rum and hookah and a glorious, indulgent time together being newlyweds. But on August 11th of 2012, Gary left to work in Korea, our pre-tirement came to an abrupt, and painful, end. We had been together every night since November of 2011, it was to be our first separation in nearly a year. I became very depressed and cried my way through, I did a good job of keeping busy with friends and family, all the while a little bit sad. To be honest, I hated going out of the house without him, most of our friends are couples and when in groups, I felt terribly alone. I lived for an email or the five minute phone call I got from Gary every evening, and if I missed that phone call, I became enraged because it was all I got, five minutes, none of which he was feeling great about, as he was miserable in Korea. The job in Daegu was good but the conditions were not favorable, besides bunking with 50 snoring men, Gary had to walk about a mile to work in 90+ degree weather with 90+% humidity. Before Gary left, one of his Commanders asked if he would come back and work for them permanently, Gary politely listened, but declined to make a commitment, thank goodness.

     After three weeks apart I picked Gary up from the airport and it took only a few minutes for us to get into a fight. I have trouble with being physically distant from a significant other, re-bonding is incredibly difficult for me, regardless of that, we were fighting about my driving of all things. We recovered from our argument but life was not to be the same, carefree, lazy existence that we were spoiled with before.

     Why did Gary go to work in Korea?  I had taken a very part time job in May of 2012, but our savings were waning and none of the law enforcement, or government, jobs that Gary had applied for were turning up results. While working for the Navy Reserves he discovered that he could go on brief assignments, practically anywhere, and get paid well. The only downside, of course, was that I didn't get to come along. Understanding that we needed to have an income, I was willing to let him go on these chosen assignments, this was before I knew what Hawai'i had in store for us.

     In October of 2012 Gary took a job in Hawai'i working at COMPACFLT, you know, the guys from the movie, Battleship. He was the first Reservist to be trained to supervise the “watchfloor” at COMPACFLT. I was under the impression it was another temporary position, this time for a month, but he was actually being groomed as the first in an experimental program that was not at all short term. Having literally no idea about this, I visited him in Hawai'i in November, had a lovely time, came back to the mainland and waited for his return.

     Throughout November and December I worked a lot, my twin nephews were born, there were tons of parties and Holidays and one more assignment that took Gary to Rhode Island for two weeks. While in Rhode Island Gary got a call from COMPACFLT, they wanted him back for a job that started mid-January and would go until September of 2013. We were on the phone, states and states away from one another and Gary was telling me all this and saying that he wanted me to move to Hawai'i with him for this job. I stopped him there and told him I would need to get off of the phone and call him back. We were, in essence, being asked to make a life-changing decision in 48 hours while we were miles apart, thanks COMPACFLT!

     I hate moving, everything about it fills me with horror, dread, anxiety and more horror, dread and anxiety. Who wouldn't want to live in Hawai'i? But it was more complicated for me than that, the complication of moving from our beautiful apartment, finding a new one on a foreign (trust me) island, then just turning around and moving back, having to find a new apartment, I was not keen on the idea, nor on what it would cost us to do so, none of which would be financially facilitated by the Navy. Thoughts, emotions, questions, swirling about in my head, I did what I always do in such a situation, I called family. My sis-in-law, Regina, answered and we talked it out. By the time we got off the phone I was ready to move, but that feeling was to be short lived. The more I thought about it the more I did not feel at peace with moving, it seemed a rash and financially unwise move to make. I asked Gary to get more information from his contact and, as it turned out, though the Navy would not pay for us to move, they would pay for our housing in both Hawai'i and California.  I was relieved to learn this, Gary also gave me permission to stay, he would need to be in California from time to time for job interviews anyway and it was decided that I would simply fly back and forth monthly.

     On the 13th of January, Gary got on a plane, it would be a month before I made it out to Hawai'i, we wanted to give him time to adjust to the job, get a car and apartment, I would fly out for Valentine's Day in February. I cannot express the emotion I felt when I hugged him in the O'ahu airport, except to say that I cried then and I'm crying as I write about it.

     Gary had found an incredible apartment in a friendly little area called, Hawai'i Kai. I had a nice visit and then returned to-San Jose, a lot of gin and an increasing self-imposed isolation. The months that followed are what I call, “Bottle Battles of the Pacific Blues”, more on that another time. To give you an idea of what life was like on a daily basis in Hawai'i, Gary had a 2-3 hour commute, if he was working a day shift he got up at 3.30am, drove to work, was on the watchfloor for 12-14 hours and then got home between 7 and 8pm. If he was working a night shift (he almost exclusively worked nights when I was there so I'll detail our schedule), he would get up around 3pm, have breakfast and leave for work by 4. I would then clean the house, do laundry and shopping, get home by 6pm, prepare his dinner, usually a casserole as I would need to heat it up in the morning, eat, drink and pass out. Around 6am I would wake up, waiting for his call that could come as late as 8am, once he called I would get up, put his dinner in the oven and go back to bed. He would get home usually a little after 9am, eat and go to bed. I would go back to bed with him as it was the only way to spend time with him, I didn't care that we were sleeping, I just wanted to be near him. I would wake around 11am, get up, start his laundry and the days would repeat themselves into weeks. Eventually I just stayed on Hawai'i time, even in San Jose, generally getting up late in the afternoon and staying up into the bleak morning. We didn't get out much, Gary was perpetually in need of sleep and I didn't have a car and was 49 bus stops away from what we called “downtown” i.e. Waikiki, which we didn't like anyway, and there was no reason to travel there as we had everything we needed in Hawai'i Kai, even a health food store! It actually wasn't until our last week in Hawai'i that I realized how much we never got out, I'm not sure if I'm bothered by it or not, it was our reality, the monotonous traffic, stiffling heat and maintained isolation, there were good things too, I loved the birds and made friends with some of the local homeless cats. Gary did have days off sometimes, but he usually slept during them and we learned to treasure any hours that we could spend on the couch together. During this time I turned 40 and we had our two year anniversary, which Gary had to work on, we did get to go to the Big Island for a few days though, and I cherish that trip and time off we had.

     On Monday the 15th of July, Gary missed a phone call, it was the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. I was playing on the computer next to him when he returned the call, they wanted him to come in for his final interview. Just so happens that I was flying back to California the next day, Tuesday, so we booked Gary a thousand dollar plane ticket and flew back together. He had his interview Wednesday, flew back to Hawai'i Thursday and went back to work Friday. He got the job!

     Ecstatic, I flew back to Hawai'i the following Wednesday, we moved out of our apartment a week later and into the BOQ (Bachelors Officer's Quarters) on base, the same BOQ he had lived in during his first week in Hawai'i, almost a year before. It was at this time that I realized how little we had left our apartment as a couple, we finally had time to go to the Punchbowl, climb/hike/walk Diamondhead and even just have breakfast at a cafe together, I thought it was paradise and that it would continue while he was in the Academy, wishful thinking.

“Working in Paradise is not a vacation.”-Navy co-worker

    Most important to me, when Gary got temporarily stationed in Hawai'i, was that he was somewhere that I could visit him, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. I repeated this phrase to myself and to everyone I spoke to about the move, over and over, like a mantra, like something meant to soothe, but it became too easy to say rather than to express my confusion, depression and loneliness, all of which still rests with me today. You see, normally when a spouse comes home from a deployment, there are a few months spent with family before they go back to work, the military understands the need for the couple to re-bond before sending them away again. It may seem that Gary and I were not so separate as I could see him in Hawai'i, but please re-visit a few paragraphs before this one and read again that I had to get into the same bed with him to spend time with him, we were asleep, not talking, not bonding, not sharing more than a bed, this was on and off for a year. When he moved back to San Jose, he had three days spent on work, two with family, 2 ½ with friends and 2 ½ with me, then he started Academy.

     The first night of Academy we were up until 2.30am trying to manage his workload, at 4am, he got back up and went to the Academy. The first weekend he had off was devoted entirely to Academy chores, it was, for both of us, an extremely difficult time. We are at the end of the third week, our routine is as follows: Gary gets up between 3 and 4.30am, leaves the house by 5.30am, gets home between 7 and 8pm, eats, does homework, gear preparations, shines his boots, irons his uniforms, lays on the couch with me for 20 minutes and goes to bed by 10pm, if he's lucky. I cook, I clean, I cherish my 20 minutes at mealtime and my 20 minutes on the couch and then, we sleep in the same bed together.

     So what has happened to the Buzzells is a very long, hard year of repeating that August feeling, waiting desperately for a 5 minute phone call.

     Last weekend, Gary actually had Labor Day off and we got to watch some movies together, it felt like the best thing ever. This weekend Gary has Reserve Duty, he'll come home from Academy tonight, get his uniform ready for the weekend, eat and go to bed, he'll leave the house at 5am tomorrow and be home at 6pm on Sunday, then he goes back to Academy Monday morning. I'm not complaining, I'm extremely grateful to him for the unbelievably hard work he's done the past year, he found some very ingenious ways of getting a paycheck. I'm also in awe of his dedication, commitment and continued patience with me. He is an amazing man and I am very lucky to have him as my husband.

    Please don't be offended if we are distant for the next 6 months, completing Academy is a priority, as is spending any free time we have, alone, for now. I'm sure we'll eventually make it out into the world again, in the meantime, be patient, know that we miss you but that for now, we need to take care of one another and spend what time we do have together, awake.

This concludes your Benefits Brief.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There once was a place called Piratedom...

    For my nephews, and just for the fun of talk like a pirate day, the first chapter of tonight's bedtime story:

Tales of the Dreaded Pirate Brothers of Mustache Mountain

A Mother's Treasure
Chapter 1

Iron Jenny Vane was swabbing the decks of her family ship, the Iron Falcon when, suddenly, she heard a creak. She whipped around, best she could in her pregnant state, only to find herself staring into the steely eyes of the Dreaded Pirate Brothers of Mustache Mountain.

“Arggh, Wench, we are here for yer treasure!”, Robert the Red sneered as he grabbed her wrists and motioned at Robert the Yellow to hand him some rope. “We're takin' ye ashore to do us some treasure huntin'!”

“Don't be ridiculous,” Jenny Vane sneered back, “do it look to you like I can do any sort of huntin' in me knockered state.” She struggled to free herself from fierce Robert the Red as he began to tie her hands together with the rope he had snatched from Robert the Yellow.

“Knackered, Wench, ye look me a bit on the rotund side but sober still!”

“Not knackered, ye bilge rat with a tongue, knockered! Ye see me size, whaddya think, I just swallowed a whale whole!”

Robert the Red and Robert the Yellow took a good, long, wide look at poor Jenny Vane, and indeed, the woman was as round as though she had been stuck in a giant barrel of rum and had no more than her head, arms and legs hanging out.

“Blimey, me lady,” Robert the Yellow looked sympathetically at her tummy and then bellowed up at her, “Don't make no difference, its off to treasure huntin' or off the plank with yer belly of rum, ye hear!

All the while, below deck, Jenny Vene's sister Pirate in-law, Iron Bess Flint and her husband, Iron Harry Kidd, were hidden and listening. “Should we help her, poor lass?” Bess Flint whispered at Harry Kidd.

“I have me a better plan,” he snickered, “let the heavy laden wench lead them in circles, while we head to Mariposa Cove, then we will see who's treasure be ours by sundown!” Harry Flint threw back his head, his wild mane of hair and beard smacking Bess Flint in the face.

“You may have the pelt of an Australian camel but a smart mate ye are, quiet now til' they finish with her.” The pair stayed crouched in the furthest corner of the ship's brig where they had been laying new straw in anticipation of their raid on Mexico Valley. There was a big, Iron Pirate Family plan to recapture Iron Mann Barracuda and his handsome, stolen lass, Portugal Peggy, who were hiding out with what was rumoured to be more loot than any inhabitant of Piratedom had ever seen. Mann Barracuda had disappeared earlier in the pirate season only to return from the South with Portugal Peggy and the grandest ship ever to grace the seas. It was made of real Portuguese Oak and embellished with jewels, gold and silk sails, at least this is what Mann Barracuda claimed. To all others the ship looked rather dank and drab, not a trace of brass anywhere. Mann Barracuda said he had covered the ship in tar in order to smuggle the great treasures out of Portugal, disguising its hidden glories by building it with the spoils of every man's ship he had ransacked on his journey. When he disappeared from the Iron Pirate Family Lagoon, those left behind vowed to track him down and divvy up the spoils between themselves.

Bess Flint cringed as the sound of a scuffle began above her.

“Ahoy, skullywaggs, what makes thee think I'll be going anywhere with ye! And what makes ye think that if I do, I'll lead you to me treasure?”

Robert the Red squinted at her, then back at Robert the Yellow, “Because if ye don't, our parrots will do thee the favor of making space in yer pretty face fer some wooden eyes!” He cackled like an old drunk woman in a young man's arms, his golden teeth glinting in the sun. “Boys!”, he whistled toward the crow's nest.

Two mangy parrots swooped down, alighting, one on each of Jenny Vane's shoulders. “Wooden eyes, wooden eyes.” they chirped merrily.

Disgusted, Jenny Vane began the short walk to the side of the ship where Robert the Yellow motioned for her to get in a net the brothers had hoisted onto the deck. She shrugged off their taunts, sending the parrots flapping above her ears as she laid herself carefully on her back, into the net.

“Yer one heck of a catch wobbly wench, too bad we can't eat ye ourselves!” Robert the Red made sure she was tightly wrapped in the net then yelled to Robert the Yellow, who was waiting for the signal to start the rusty pulley, “She's ready, hoist the lass up!”

Robert the Yellow began cranking the reel until it rose high enough to pass over the side of the ship. His brother gave Jenny Vane's rump a push and the net swung over the dingy tied to the side of the Iron Falcon, he then waved as Robert the Yellow reversed his cranking and the net began to lower. “Get over there ye stupid swine, don't want her escapin' now do we!”

Robert the Red grabbed a rope tied to a brass nob and shimmied down into the dingy where Jenny Vane had landed with a thud and jangle. “What are ye, full of empty bottles?” He peered down at her, “We'll keep ye there til we get ashore, no need of nuisance from ye in the meantime.” Robert the Yellow joined them, sitting near the back of the boat, oars in hand, he started the half hour row to dry land.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Neurotic Joy Erupteth, 'tis Our First Anniversary

     A year ago today, at about this time, my newly christened husband and I were arriving at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. We were in our wedding attire and upgraded to the Presidential Suite, it was bigger than any place I had ever lived. We ordered a pizza, hamburger and a few, very expensive, bottles of wine and began to unwind. I love everything about that day, Saturday the 9th of July 2011.

     On Tuesday the 12th we received news that we wouldn't be staying with the Navy. We had a honeymoon anyway, just not knowing what would come next but feeling united in facing whatever variable we would be dealt. And we have.

     We made plans for our first anniversary, a return to St. Helena (Napa) on our anniversary date, wine tasting, just celebrating. Then the F.B.I. called, husband would be having an interview with them on the 10th of July and would need to fly to L.A. on the 9th-of July 2012, our one year anniversary. Plans got rearranged, reservations moved, situated, adjusted, everything adjusted except my attitude.

     I'd just like to celebrate my marriage without challenge after challenge affecting that sense of joy. The first year we were so burdened by uncertainty that we did our best to enjoy our nuptials without worry, and we did ok, but to face it again, on the day that I'm supposed to just love every minute and reflect and be feeling great, there is so much stress, due to the interview, that I feel like I've time-warped to last year, again, overwhelmed by something being more important than me.

     For a year I've looked for a lesson, if we had gone to Colordo Springs, Colorado, as our pre-separation orders said, there's a chance we would have lost our home and more, by now. Alright, but.

     I have an amazing life, anything I want with the person I want most, so why am I so pissed off?

     When I left our hotel room to come to the lobby and peruse the internet, rather than keep him awake, the song that was playing was Hayling by FC Kahuna (the first song I ever heard by them, by the way):

Don't think about all those things you fear

Just be glad to be here

Don't think about all those things you fear

Just be glad to be here

    Those are all the lyrics, over and over and over again. Today in the taxi to the hotel, the wedding march came on the radio, I have never heard it played, other than at weddings, so how unusual is that. And there's more, coincidences, lost acquaintances, being across the street from Santa Monica Highschool where I attended a few classes with, and watched, my amazing friend Rima graduate from. I'm in a place that I spent so many summers, from the age of 14, that its like another hometown. But I'm still angry.

     The food, the setting, the company, the music, the damn weather-nothing could be better unless he was here with me instead of having to spend this night almost alone so he can get a foothold in our future. I get it all you writers of love songs, of sonnets and Tracy Chapman, I get it when you would rather just have nothing if you can just have the one you love.

     That's what I've done a less than stellar job of communicating-it doesn't matter what job or if there's a job, it just matters that we have one another.

     Please forgive me for sending out resumes rather than laughing with you on the couch and reassuring you that no matter our income, your love is our most valuable asset. No, doesn't feed us, neither do ideals but when our focus is that love, we have the strength, ambition and motivation to work for more.

     This has not been our year in a nutshell, but in a hotel lounge playing an Astrud Gilberto remix and serving very sorry excuses for a gin and tonic.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aesthetically Challenged: The Weight of Women in Brick, S.

    I stayed up late last night wondering why Samantha Brick's article, on how much she is hated by women for being prettier than them, was keeping me awake and then it dawned on me-I've been hated by women that actually meant something to me, not acquaintances, neighbors or co-workers but women with whom I have had deep connections as well as loved and appreciated. I'm not sure Samantha has ever been close to another woman, to say that she is shallow is an understatement of her complete lack of knowledge about the social constructs of female relationships. It is almost as though she suffers from a kind of “She'spberger's”, wherein she cannot relate socially or emotionally to other women through any other channel than that of oppression. From her counts, I say she has actually been bullied by women who are, socially and professionally, stronger than her. Her reaction to her perceived victimization has been to go behind the backs of these elderly, female tyrants and talk shit with other sulking, confused females, like herself. Women expect other women to talk behind their backs but if you confront a female, she will, most likely, respect you. Samantha admits that she often bursts into tears when bullied by women, really, that ruse only works with men, but again, evidence of her social autism.

    It is sad to me that she is incapable of looking beyond herself, that she must have been so wounded by an experience, early in her life, that she has shut out reality and moved into the warm, dark chasm of Narcissism. I'm not sure she is capable of understanding the phrase, "Beauty is on the inside."  In her world, there is no inside, just her looks, her French husband and her feelings of being reviled for being pretty.  Undoubtedly, there was serious competition in her home, either between she and her mother, or another female sibling, for her father's attention.  Or, perhaps, vice-versa, for her mother's approval, as her most vehement complaints are against older (French, she mentions this in the video interview though she is complaining about British women in her rebuttal) women. One has to wonder if she was abused and justified her mistreatment by believing that she was attractive to her abuser, therefore becoming victimized for her beauty, not her vulnerability, as a child. There is more to the story but she cannot tell it for to reveal the root of her seemingly oblivious vanity, would be to destroy her a thousand times more completely than a world of “vile” emails and tweets, possibly could.

    But enough about her, a bit of reflection on my experiences with women: 
    The first female I recall disappearing from my life, for no apparent reason, was L.C. She and I rode the bus to High School together every day and were fast friends. Then, I met Rima. Rima and I became good friends and within, what I percieved to be a very short time, L.C. went as far as to leave the school we attended. I would call her house, try talking to her Mom but I was forever shunned for some sort of mysterious atrocity I committed.

    Then there was Myssi. She and I lived together in my room at my parent's house for a year, finally moving out and getting our own place.  Our relationship, which I once described as having the qualities of a marriage (little did I know), deteriorated into a few violent confrontations and her moving out of our apartment, within 4 months. What had changed, besides the fact that we had to buy our own toilet paper, I got a boyfriend.

    Probably the most painful for me, was Nalani. We were friends for 8 years when, in the midst of my Mother's re-diagnosis with cancer, she became hostile, distant and ultimately unavailable. When my Mother died, a mutual friend told her and she sent me a card. Without opening the card I put a big question mark, “return to sender” and put it in the mailbox. In effect, death is not anyone's invitation to step back into relationship with me.  If I couldn't trust her to support me in one of the most important moments of my life then I opt to never trust her again, seems a sound decision.

    Over the course of my and Gary's relationship, Regina, an eventual bridesmaid of mine (take that Samantha), became increasingly insane. I'd love to dump all the juicy details here but I will simply say, she became someone I did not recognize who's hatred for me was so obvious that she could not even smile in my presence any longer (we have wedding photos to prove it). We had been friends for twelve years, she had written poems for me and wonderful letters about how I would one day have all that I deserve, etc. Her behaviour became erratic and cruel, I confronted her, asked her to be a bridesmaid and hoped for the best.  I have not seen her since the wedding, despite several attempts.

    What do these 4 women have in common besides being close to me and becoming crazy? I think each of them felt threatened that something greater than them had come along. If a woman behaves strangely, I am much more likely to believe its their insecurities, not my infallible attractiveness, coming to light. I hate how much I hurt for each of those women, some still girls when they left me. I hate that I had to lose them to become who I am because they meant so much to me at the time, but I am neither ashamed of my actions, nor frought with regret.  Not everyone can go onto the next stage of our lives with us, not everyone meets the opportunity to grow and change with enthusiasm and gratefulness, never mind Grace (that one's for you, Mom).

    And so, Mrs. Brick, Aesthetically Challenged as you are by your “beauty” (quotation marks compliments of my husband), subjected to the horrific paranoia that accompanies denial, you are telling the world how much you think a woman weighs-
    You are the epitome of female insignificance and of someone who pines for invisibility because its safer than being challenged by the charge of your own Worth.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

That Party, is Never Going to Happen

    But I have an outfit if it does.

    I have a lot of clothes, this was an easy thing to admit in my studio apartment which was converted, year after year, to house the clothes, and other wares, that I picked up for “That Party”.
    I have too many clothes has come to mind continuously since we set out the 10 wardrobe boxes and assorted others of my belongings, clothes, shoes, makeup, scarves, even gloves, so many that I became afraid of my closet, of the boxes that hadn't entered it and of why all these boxes existed in the first place.

     Clothes are the journal upon which my skin writes. I can pick up a shirt and remember songs I danced to while wearing it, underwear and the man it first met (upon reading this to my husband he has informed me that those undies had better be thrown out), hoods and gloves meant for cold that never happened and then, just that beautiful thing I wanted. I have, physically, grown out of most of them. Emotionally, I've grown out of some. I still have the tank top I was wearing when my husband remarked about how beautiful my skin looked against the color red (it was 2001). I wore red every time my mother saw me for nearly two years, as I believed red represented healing. Eventually she went into remission and the red faded to pink, which has, (3 years after her death) softened to green, my husband's favorite color. One friend recommended that I make a quilt of these valuable items, that I keep a square and let the whole go, but I need to let a lot of these clothes go completely. All the shoes that I've never worn, the dresses that still bear price tags, the crazy fuchsia Guess sweater jacket with sparkles that belongs back in the single girl closet and that pair of size 2 jeans that never should have fit in the first place. But each have memories, strong, seemingly important memories that I need to keep so that I keep me.

    I am a kept woman. Kept by a man who loves me, worked for our future and has given me every opportunity in the world to be anyone I want, even a clothes hoarder. I don't want to disrespect his intentions by holding on to everything I have ever been, afraid, me thinks, to embrace what could be-bereft of the need for


Holding on, the head says.

Holding on, the heart says.

Sometimes its just holding on to knowing those memories will remind me of my Mom, others to the time before she became sick and life seemed so easy.

    It was effortless to be me back then, what a feeling.

    Don't misunderstand, I had all the angst and the traditional doubts but I didn't have the burden of being emotionally responsible to anyone other than myself. I knew that bad boyfriends expected me to be emotionally responsible for them but I just got more angsty, it didn't really make a difference. With my Mom, I had to be aware, so that my family would survive. Someone has to stay awake in the dark or no one sees the light and that dawn has come.

    In 1986 my Mom was packing up my closet and said, “I didn't realize how many clothes you have.” So it started long before she got sick. I write my days in clothes, actions, memories, the smells the fabric collects, the years stay untouched, waiting. Waiting for me to take the time to heal enough, to accept the choices I made, and let the garments go. I don't need a quilt of my past but an understanding. Every day that I go through the boxes I take steps to put the red clothes away, the club years, the Jack years, the first trip to Paris and the pair of Dickies that I bought for a dollar, never washed and wore every day for more than a year. By the time I threw the Dickies out I hadn't worn them in 12 years, but I remember what they felt like, who I loved, met and became, in those pants. 

    What I have ultimately learned is that if the pants are gone and there is no quilt, the journals are still written. I can still share every memory for I am the canvas, the parchment, the great internal hard drive of my own history.  I choose to accept myself clothed or unclothed and there is no need to forget, hide or throw away (but one must for hygiene's sake). When we allow objects to become our history we lose our own role in its creation, what ought to be effortless, yet is often, a fleeting understanding of all that one knows of one's self.  Tomorrow you will put on another outfit, and maybe, like me, have a whole new experience of who you are becoming.

    As an aside: On our trip to New Zealand/Australia I was allowed to carry 40 pounds, total weight, for 5 weeks and it was liberating.