17 August 2013
Don't worry.....I haven't committed suicide.
Since 2010, I've been working on a novel, so I have been unable to post new Essay's.
Thank you ---RBS
09 October 2011
By R. B. STUART
In April 2007 shortly after my move from New York City to the outer tip of Long Island, I experienced an isolation and desperation that brought my thoughts back to suicide. Which hadn’t occurred for 20 years since the age of 26. Now that I was living in my future the hopelessness over my place in life and achievements fell short of the expectations I had for myself as a young girl with dreams of a bright future. After the death of both parents---an orphan for the first time---I witnessed my joy replaced by sadness---and youth traded in for jaded age. It became difficult to see my accomplishments and replicate the beauty cast over me by my mother’s eyes. The vanishing of everything I felt to be true created voids in corners of my life, becoming a vortex of pain that had reached the crux of….that spring day.
When I left the bank, I could feel the emotion snake up my throat---I didn’t expect to still be struggling at 46 the way I did at 26. I asked the teller Laura if any portion of the check cleared. I felt shame and sadness as I withdrew money from my account. Over the past two years I deposited yet another credit card convenience check to pay my rent and bills. Suspending the tears when she asked how I was doing, “Not well. Say a prayer for me,” I responded trying to hold down the emotions that were beginning to regurgitate. Her soft, compassionate blue eyes had a wisp of sadness in them, as if she knew the hardships I was undergoing. Reflected in numerous withdrawals that dipped my account to the $10 minimum.
I couldn’t turn my face to walk out the door fast enough before the pain and sorrow imploded from my heart, melting from my eyes. Orchestrated by a high-pitched whale I wept, ‘They say God doesn’t give you anymore than you can handle…it’s a lie. If it were true then people wouldn’t commit suicide.’ It seems God doesn’t ration the mounting pressure one experiences in life. In times of sorrow, sadness, desperation and hopelessness…. nothing changes. You cry yourself through it and wake to the same toil the next day.
Abandoning the thoughts in my head, I was lost in the grief of my heart. I reached my car door, opened it and sat in the seat of my pain. My apricot miniature Poodle, Sunday lept onto my lap and sniffed the emotions escaping from my mouth. He probably wondered what happened while I was in “that place.” He stayed quiet as I started the car and we left.
I decided to take him to the woods for a walk on the trails at Laural Lake. As we drove down the steep, mottled, dirt entrance I thought, ‘Should I tie him up to the exhaust pipe the way Daddy did with litters of kittens we couldn’t afford to keep.’ In the 60’s my father would have us kids go in the house while Mum turned up the radio. Then he’d place the unwanted litter in a bag, turn on the car and asphyxiate them. On the outskirts of the woods under mounds of dirt and dried leaves he’d bury the remains in a pit. The decaying animals would rest….living out their memories with us on the grounds in which we played.
I plotted, ‘If I didn’t have to worry about my dog, then I could kill myself. What if I killed myself and my dog survived, who would take him? If I killed him first I would surely want to die. I couldn’t bare life without him. Maybe a family member would parent him.’ I parked, he yelped and scratched at the door with pleasure having just arrived at one of his favorite spots. He hopped out, prancing as though life was grand, unaware I was premeditating his murder.
Tucked in the woods we meandered around the dirt trails when I noticed broken chunks and shards of glass from shattered beer bottles. I didn’t want him stepping on broken glass and cutting his paws so I was always cautious where we walked. I began picking up the brown chunks, green chips and clear slivers. I carried them in the palm of my hand, they reflected in the sun. He explored while I contemplated using the glass to cut my arms.
My thoughts raced, ‘What if I took the glass shards and sliced upwards from my wrist to forearm, the way suicide victims do killing themselves in a tub of water. If I sat down on the old cement foundation in the middle of the woods, and slit my wrists I would eventually bleed to death. Would Sunday howl or lick the blood off my arm? How many hours would it take before I died? Would I make it through the night alone in the woods? Whoever found my car would eventually find me. When opening my car door they’d see I had just come from the bank and was on my way to pay bills. The errand and food list wedged on the dashboard. Ready for execution.’
In my family, talking about death and dying was as common as discussing life. My thoughts drifted to my father Irwin, a 1st Division Calvary Specialist in WWII, an Army Master SGT who survived the invasion of Normandy but always wished he died with his war buddies. In 1966 he died at 46 from lung cancer. And as he wished, his ashes were scattered across the ocean…finally finding a resting place with his buddies at sea. My father left behind seven children and a 37-year old wife, my mother, Patricia.
Over a decade ago my mother told us that when my father relocated her from Boston to the 88-acre family farm in the country hills of Sterling, Massachusetts. It was the mid 1950’s, she was around 27, and they were newlyweds. She gave birth to her first two children, my brother Frank and sister Pearl. Desperate to get away from the seclusion of farm living, she went out to the barn and picked up my fathers shotgun. With one hand holding the cold metal barrel she sat with the tip in her mouth. The head pressing against her inner cheek, she tried stretching her other arm down the butt of the rifle. Unable to maneuver both, she fumbled to pull the trigger. In her attempt my father walked in. He ran over and snatched the gun out of her hands and thundered, “What the hell are you doing! Don’t you ever try that again!”
A city girl used to living a comfortable life, she was ejected into a meager existence as a housewife, and reasoned, “I hate it here! I don’t want to live in the country on a farm.” Desperate to be taken out of the surroundings that on one hand, brought her happiness with her children and husband, and on the other, torment and despair. The poverty, daily chores and tending to the farm animals wasn’t what she thought her life would be. She prevailed throughout the years, and after several strokes she died in 2002 at 73 from Congestive Heart Failure.
My brother Frank, the first-born and only boy, said at the age of 18 he thought about slitting his wrists with razors. Having felt caught between the stages of boyhood and not wanting to be the same type of man as our father. Which to him represented the negative connotations of being a man. Frank experienced violent physical abuse by my father’s hand. As a result he didn’t want to grow up and be the monster he saw our father to be. So instead he turned to drug use; marijuana, hashish and acid and developed a slicing sense of humor.
Four decades later, our fathers brother shared Dad knew Frank was homosexual and tried to beat it out of him---thinking he could beat his son into being a man. Frank had experienced bouts of depression since, but no longer suicidal thoughts. Now, in his mid 50’s, he’s drug free, but thick with the past. As a health facilitator he lives happily with his long-term partner.
Born in 1952 my older sister Pearl, who was a toddler on the farm when my mother attempted to kill herself, has had death thoughts since the age of six. Because of the role my mother gave her as junior Mum caring for her four younger siblings. Rather than be a mother to us, Pearl longed to forfeit her birthright of childhood---to die.
She’s the only one in the family to be clinically diagnosed with depression. Her desires to die were more silent than the other siblings. It resurfaced over the last five years partly because she feels stuck in her life, and being involved with a verbally abusive alcoholic for over a decade beat her down. Her self-inflicted punishment casts an anchor of guilt around her neck fearing he’ll have nowhere to go if she throws him out. So instead, each day he extracts a piece of her while she slowly dies inside.
Her seclusion, hopelessness, weight gain, loss of her son and resentments are at most times too much to bear. Pearl confessed to feeling jealous when hearing on the news of people who have accidentally died, “God why take them….I’ll gladly go.” Seeking relief from the pain, she attached a hose to the tailpipe of her car in a failed attempt to asphyxiate herself. It was divine intervention that the car wouldn’t start.
Pearl remains trapped in a life she loathes, childhood wounds still raw, her lackluster commitment to life saddled with the psychological and emotional loneliness of aging makes merely getting out of bed a challenge. As she disappears, she struggles to keep her grasp on living. Fortunately, a brief stint in a mental facility scared her sane. She finally kicked out her abuser, and life and love seems hopeful, as she’s in control of her life again.
In 1957 my sister Karen’s birth was shaky from the start having survived a ruptured appendix at age three. After the death of our father, and the remarriage of our mother to gold digging-child molesters, who over a three year period single handedly drained my mother financially, while desecrating everything that was once my fathers---including his children, especially the younger daughters.
Karen, the prettiest girl in the family, began experimenting with drugs and sex at 16. By her late 20’s she had tasted as many men and women, as drugs, and seemed to be the most seduced by hard drugs; barbiturates, narcotics, amphetamines, shooting up the latter and heroine.
Influenced by her as an older sister, with her guidance, I began an escapade with drugs. In 1981 at 21, Mum gave me my first journal. Karen and I had rented an apartment together in the North End of Boston. As young women, we hadn’t lived together since we were children, and wanted to experience freedom from abusive, controlling relationships. So we spent nearly a year partying together in the safe havens of Boston’s gay clubs. The drug use created erratic behavior and depression, and an uncertainty in my life. At that tine I needed the comfort and guidance of my father. So the first few pages of my journal were about depression and being caught in between life and death---success and failure.
Within months Karen had a boyfriend, a pharmacist and drug addict, whom I detested and she eventually married. She decided they would cohabitate so she moved out. Shortly thereafter they broke-up, and impulsively reunited, got another apartment, moved and separated again.
In the late 1980’s at the age of 28, Karen started complaining of pain on the back of her neck. She compared it to being hit on the back of her head with a brick. At that same time she began a mantra. The first time I heard it we were sitting in the back of a Boston cab going to her apartment in the North End, “I wish I’d get AIDS and die. I wish I’d get AIDS and die,” she chanted. I reasoned with her to stop saying that.
By January 1987, she wanted to reconcile with her husband who’d been bounced out of pharmacies around Boston for stealing drugs. He moved South, finding a drug store in Florida where he charmed his way back into the pharmaceutical business. Karen made plans to be in Florida with him by Valentines Day. Once there, within weeks she became exhausted, had a shortness of breath and developed the flu. By mid April she was diagnosed with AIDS. Three weeks later she died alone in a Florida hospital at the age of 29.
The death of my childhood chum, the beauty who shared bunk beds with me, the kid that tormented me, the girl that combed, cut and braided my hair, the friend who shared laughter and scars, my dance partner, the only one who knew my fears and collective memories, she was the black raspberry to my pistachio ice cream, the one who sang Jennifer Holiday’s “Dreamgirls” with me….the only person who corralled those moments in time, in our lifetime, had vanished. Into the ethers her spirit went---sailing the sea with my Daddy.
I was 27 when she died. My psyche was ripped from the core. My heart bled a constant river of tears and grief. As I mourned, I stopped smoking, no longer drank or did drugs, became celibate and read self-help books. Learned Transcendental Meditation and affirmations, became one with the earth and saw the face of Mother Nature for the first time. I searched the heavens endlessly for the meaning of her death…and to my life. Grappling with my own desires to die.
In the darkened hours of the night, in the mist of heartache and sorrow, I begged God, “Please take me I want to die. I don’t want to live anymore.” My head waved side to side against the pillow that cradled my inner torment. A flush of tears soaking the sides of my face as I repeated my pleas. My stomach ached from the heaves of anguish. I pleaded to take me from this misery. Exhausted, hopeless and feeling abandoned….I began to fall asleep….until I felt my feet being tugged off the bed.
A miniature casket was suspended in the left corner of the room where the ceiling meets the wall. There where two lights blinking, one red to stop, one green to go. As it began to move toward the bed the tugging at my feet continued. Like magnets, I was being pulled towards the casket. I looked at the foot of the bed and saw a three-foot high ugly brown troll, with a big animal like face and pointed ears tugging at my feet.
Frantically I pulled my feet back, using my legs to push myself back up to the headboard. I was horrified and whaled, “I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.” Instantly the spell was broken. I leaned over to turn on the light. My forehead felt afire, was it my third eye and a mystical episode I wondered. I was panting and called by brother to tell him what happened. That’s the night I made the conscious choice to live---and would never wish to die again. Until 20 years later….
Karen’s death transformed everyone in the family in different ways. My younger sister Nita decided the Lord was calling her and in 1989 became a missionary for the New Tribes Mission. Giving herself to the Lord she became celibate, refrained from alcohol and smoking, and learned how to preach fire and brimstone. For eight years she lived across the country learning and preparing for the ultimate goal of doing missionary work, bringing Christianity and Jesus to third world countries. She built houses by hand, cut off the heads of chickens, prayed, asked for donations, sang in choirs, learned linguists; Cherokee and Pigeon English so she could speak with the natives. With training complete and her life in crates, she and the other missionaries moved to the New Tribes Mission camp in Papua New Guinea. Where she’d do her life’s work.
It wasn’t long after she arrived did she meet a tanned and salty scuba diving instructor from Australia, who not only taught her about diving, but rekindled a few of the seven deadly sins. Within a month she was reprimanded and told to stop seeing him or else she would be expelled from New Tribes. The affections from her illicit love was stronger than Jesus, and so she opted out. Leaving with him for a torrid seven-day sojourn in Australia.
Knowing it was time to depart from her fantasy romance she reluctantly abandoned her heart. Aware that her life over the last eight years had dissolved, she flew to California and stayed with our brother and reverted to secular life. The smoking and drinking reemerged as Nita felt God had forsaken her by allowing a weakness for the flesh to return. For weeks she pondered at the crossroads, then moved to Florida. Overtime the doubts began to surface and by 1997 at 34 she uttered repeatedly, “I wish I’d die. I wish I’d get cancer and die.” She hasn’t died. At 43 she lives successfully….with those thoughts, and has recently begun journaling, writing “goodbye” letters to family and friends.
In 2006 my baby sister Ella, a 41-year old Army Captain Chaplain with the 101st Airborne returned two years post Iraq with stage IV Dygerminoma cancer. Although the dance of life and death has been one woven throughout all of our lives…when faced with an unwelcomed death sentence with a rare stage IV she whaled, “I don’t want to die. I’m only 40 years old. I’m too young to meet my maker. I don’t have enough memories yet.”
With all the prayers, a great medical team at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the rotation of family support in D. C. After 35 rounds of Chemo, two major surgeries, one to remove a volleyball size tumor from her abdomen, the other to remove her creative organs. As of November 2006 she’s in clinical remission and celebrating her rebirth.
As my yearlong dedication to her began to wane, I had to resuscitate the life I put on hold. During that period I allowed my already fragile writing career to disintegrate. Willingly, I sacrificed the focus of me, my life and doggy, to be certain Ella would live. I made sure not to make the same errors in judgment as with Karen’s death. The remission eradicated her mindset from the death sentence, giving her permission to take her life back, and in the midst forgetting she didn’t do it alone.
By January 2007 after several telephone arguments, the gratitude and sacrifice of the conjoined family efforts had vanished from her mind. As she reverted back to being the same person before the cancer, with the same sibling conflicts and issues. The near hint of death hadn’t yet transformed, or even awakened her. As a result, our servitude had evaporated from her thoughts.
This was the catalyst to my emotional devastation, compounded by my fragile financial outlook, and lack of work. Having spent a majority of the nine months with her in D. C., my credit card debts were mounting. Edging their way to swallow me whole. I turned from her to me, and what I found was feelings of forsaken. Being isolated in a new town, with work that was sparse. The burdens of my own and Ella’s, was too much to carry, crushing my last bit of hope. I couldn’t see around the corner---was anything even there? Or was there more loss, pain, suffering and abandon.
My daily and hourly prayers were marred by doubt. A blanket of confusion of what to do to twist out of the spiral of defeat was taking hold. I felt disconnected from the family, mostly misunderstood, and judged for not having a “normal” life. And slighted for following my fruitless dreams was only compounded by not having a steady income. It gave them the ammunition they needed. Would I abandon them---or my dreams?
As the work ended my hope diminished. I detached from Nita and Ella breaking the emotional bonds. It was a vortex of heartache that produced thoughts of death once again. Nearly 20 years, 1987 and now 2007. Karen’s death was the catalyst the first time. This time a blend of family and career; fear, scarcity, loneliness and loss.
I took Sunday for a walk and within blocks my mind was flooded with words, thoughts and visions of how I could die. I wept with each step pleading to God why has he forsaken me. The sorrow dripped from my eyes as I fell in a trance of grief. My dog oblivious to my howls of anguish meandered along the frozen edge of the country roads. The feelings of being misunderstood were apparent, as was the lack of respect for the life experiences I had tucked within my history. I pled to the spirit of Karen, my Mother and Father for help. My mind and heart became one---lost in a bounty of aloneness and suffering.
As I approached the homes along the bay the negative tape in my head began to silence. The vision of myself along the rocky shores of the beach started to emerge---I became still inside. Like Virginia Woolf’s suicide, I envisioned myself collecting rocks and putting them into my jacket pockets, into my sports bra, into my underwear, my socks, boots and tying Sunday’s leash to my arm. As we’d wade out into the calm winter water, he’d become cautious as I walked slowly through the graveled shore, clutching him against my breast.
The smooth, faceless cold rocks pressing against my flesh---the weight taking hold, the waves knocking me off balance until I surrendered to the salty foam. The warmth of the water against the crisp air would cover me like a blanket. The life-filled world of Technicolor would become grey, still, and lifeless as my feet became heavy in the sand. I relinquished my will to the vast oceans of death that came before me. Sunday would frantically submit to his masters wish, staying tethered to my arm as our ship of life went down.
This reel in my mind had silenced my cries---as I was suspended by the vision. We floated back home along the tarred road. I thrust my body onto the bed and whaled for my dark thoughts. Sunday was confused and sat by my side. With no one except the spirits to hear my lowly inner turmoil, my journal became the caring caress I needed. It stood firm, spine erect, arms wide open, steadfast. In silent strength the pages took all I could expel. The unfettered paper marred by tears, pain and confusion absorbed the strife eating away my psyche. Only after I exhausted the power of death did the wave of emptiness rock me peacefully to sleep.
The next day brought a feeling of renew, and three weeks of unexpected part time work brought my optimism back. It made me feel self-sufficient and strong. I decided to see a tarot card reader in NYC. I needed to know what was ahead. The trees in the forest were closing in. She provided the hope that abandoned me. She spoke of success, riches, powerful men and love. I only had a few weeks and months to wait before all the cards fell into place. She affirmed my terrible life experiences with lady luck nowhere in sight, but all that would change. The depression would lift, and everything I’d worked for in my life would finally meet---with that elusive four-leaf clover.
I spun like a top with excitement. Nothing could penetrate my star filled eyes. The future was finally mine. Three weeks came, then five weeks, then nine, and….no powerful man, no money, no luck, and was out $50 dollars. I regressed back to the darkness on that crisp, bright spring day when I took Sunday for a walk through the woods at Laural Lake. With each step pieces of my family history sprouted in my head like jewels---suspending the visions of cutting my arms with the glass sparkling in my palm. Their events began to link themselves together. My family’s own personal demons, our own struggles, and fight with life and death I noticed had a similar thread. Like a patchwork quilt their stories surfaced and revealed themselves. Maybe we don’t own those thoughts---they belong to our parents, our ancestors. Their desires to die were passed down to us.
Woven through my parents and siblings is the fragile balance of doubt and hope, weakness and strength, confusion and clarity, sadness and joy. And if tipped one way for a long period of time desperation emerged wrapped in the package of despair, wishes of dying, or death.
While I was able to uncoil the intricate emotional longings that have replicated and connected us over the generations….the memories, the words, the sentences. It painted a picture for me of my family, and I thought, ‘Maybe the death wish isn’t mine after all.’
Just then, as I rejected death, I was possessed by generations of understanding. Their spirits gave me permission to be cradled by the muse and in euphoric excitement I grabbed a pen and paper from my pocket and this story began to unfold. The phrase I penned brought enlightenment, “my death wish was inherited in my DNA, it doesn’t belong to me.” And by unlocking the originators….I felt peace with my demons and was somehow set free. My soul, no longer lost in the woods of darkness---the spell was broken, and in my clarity I found the freedom to finally---live.
© COPYRIGHT 2007, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.
08 April 2011
Several years ago my mother suffered her second stroke, then in 2002 the 73 year-old widow had a third relapse. It rattled my existence and I began to ponder my 13 years in New York City, my childhood, and the possible loss of my mother. I reached an understanding; that in order for me to have a quality and healthy life---I'd have to rescue my mother, my own life, and leave New York. I knew I could always have NY but would never have another mother, so I'd forfeit my life in the city as I knew it, and move in with her where she spent the last thirty years of her life in New Hampshire.
In taking care of her disintegrating body I'd assist her as she made the transition to death. All the while I still bartered with God that she'd recover from this one as she did the other two. My heart and mind were split as I listened to her yearn for the days as a teenager drinking bottles of Pepsi-Cola and eating Devil Dogs through puffs of oxygen.
Reminiscing about her long swims in the cool ocean waters of Gun Rock Beach in Hull, Massachusetts. Mentally I knew she'd eventually die from refusing food, but in my heart I couldn't fathom the loss of my one and only---Mother. Yet, there was still so much I hadn't achieved in my life that I needed her to be around for. After all, I owed her the happiness of seeing me marry a wonderful man, that is after I found one, become a successful author, and buy a beach house where she would live with me while I write---a German Shepard patiently curled by my feet.
But in the six weeks that followed she died. As her life had unexpectedly ended---mine began. I bought my first car a 1992 Volvo and planned my mothers Memorial service. Within months I anticipated my move from NH where I restlessly left as a child three decades before. But during that mourning period I'd experience waves of grief along with periods of acceptance and a sense of well being. With emotions and their unpredictable manner, I felt consumed by the darkest moments. At midnight driving quietly along still country roads listening to a Dean Martin cassette, remembering the old songs that she loved. I pictured her sitting beside me in the car she’d never seen, swaying to the music and singing in unison.
That vision had put me into a tailspin of sorrow and grief. I missed her so. Riding down the blackened, barren roads howling in pain like a lone fox caught in a trap--no one to rescue her in the deep of the night out of the cold, dark woods. Suffering---the ache tightly gripped my head. The forceful well of tears burst from my heart---draining months of sorrow from my eyes. Sleep was the only remedy. It takes me back to Mum, and our family as it should be…
When I resuscitate myself from the tidal wave of pain, my memory ponders the last three years of her life….. The second stroke left her with left side paralysis and wheelchair bound, spending her final five years in a seated position. It reduced her sense of fashion and delight of shopping to elastic waist – wide legged pants sufficient for her leg brace. She wore clothes we thought would look good on her, as apposed to her choosing her own wardrobe.
The wheelchair made her extremely self-conscious producing a homebound shame that crippled her self-esteem. Her social life had diminished, her comfort came from a "pet" bowl of ice cream or chocolates. It took several years of cajoling when I'd come home for a visit just to attend family gatherings. She'd defy me and whimper with self-pity, "No one wants to see an old lady in a wheelchair." I'd reason, "No one is looking at you in your wheelchair. Do you stare and talk about people you see in a wheelchair?" “No,” she'd answer, pouting in defeat as she'd pivot from her recliner into her mobile metal chair.
Finally after four years of my drill sergeant methods to get her out of the house, she sulked when the transport service van drove us to Physical Therapy because afterwards we’d go on foot to the mall. She hadn't been in a store since the stroke, relying heavily on home health aids and family to shop.
After her PT I wheeled her 5'10 frame down the hill. Because of her pride she never attached the foot rests, it would only amplify her disability to herself and the world, so her long basketball legs were stretched out before her, her metal knee brace peeking out from under her left pant leg. We rolled along the emergency lane of the bypass, trudging up another hill when it began to sprinkle. She laughed and held her face up to the sky as the raindrops kissed her cheeks. It had been so long since she was out in the rain---like the tin man her caution gave way to ecstasy---filled with glee she shouted repeatedly, "Honey, what an ad-vent--cha!"
I tugged, pushed and pulled her around every bend until Kmart was only a roll away. Out of breath, her legs in cramps, both of us damp from the rain, the automatic doors opened and I let go of the wheelchair. Her feet clad in brown orthopedic Frankenstein shoes dropped to the floor and with her heels pulled herself over to the first rack of clothes she could find. The drunken excitement shown over her face. Childlike awe glazed over her protruding hazel eyes as she marveled and caressed each fabric like it was a babies head. She'd gasp in adoration as each rack of clothes were better than the last. A simple pop into a department store for me---was a life changing event for her. After that landmark day her desire for life began to blossom again.
But as she became psychically disjointed by the silver metal frame with hoola-hoop sized black rubber wheels that flanked her, I eventually felt socially crippled by the car that had been bought to give me freedom. Even though after her death I moved back to the Empire State and lived closer to the beach, the three-ton metal box with four rubber wheels would begin to erode my self-esteem.
It began to cloak my public self, as if putting on an overcoat. I’d adorn my chariot and duck in and out of stores, shielding my lack of make-up behind Armani sunglasses. The rear view mirror the size of a blackboard eraser would reflect the only portion of my body I didn’t mind looking at; my eyes. My lips no longer kissed by a coat of Chanel Star Red lipstick.
When living in NYC walking along the city streets is like strutting on the catwalk of life. Paved with cement sidewalks that glisten like diamonds---you’re on display for the world to see. Your gait, your posture, how you feel about yourself is neatly packaged by your Manalo shoes, Hermes red Birkin bag, 4-ply Burberry cashmere sweater and Chanel scarf---all strategically placed---dripping from your neck, shoulders and arm.
The absence of being on street-display, saddled with using the car to hide…a whiplash of weight gain emerged. While I forfeited walking---the lack of caring for myself trailed behind. Gaining seven pounds a year over the last six years (although not in that order), the newly packed 40 pounds of girth cushioned the blow of feeling unattractive, and the thicker the insulation---the more secluded I became. The outside world mirrored a shame and inadequacy that cloaked me like new lingerie. My stunted sexuality protected by the metal four-door box in which my social persona lives. No longer do I stand erect along the city streets, but seated in a guarded wheeled cage that effectively protects my pride…while I ride.
When you abandon city living---you’re no longer center stage of the style capital---instead your artillery of fashion accessories become abandoned in a darkened closet. The garments are symbolic of the passage of time when they lived amongst the yellow taxi cabs, salty steam of manhole covers, clap of pigeons, hot dog carts and cat calls that make NYC. Like a ghost I’m haunted by a walk in Central Park, my collection of silk scarves rattle the closet doors to be taken out for a wisp of city air. The boxes of Gucci loafers edge themselves further out on the shelves….craving the pavement underfoot. The arm of my Ellen Tracy raincoat longs to drape my shoulders, as my Louis Vuitton tote reaches out to hold my hand.
I push back my thoughts of fashion as it’s been replaced by country roads, farmland, vineyards and an automobile---which I have adorned as my armor for the last six years, shielding me away from society. Hiding within the metal comfort of 250 horsepower it replaces the pulse of the city streets, sweeping away the stimulation and culture. Eventually separating me from the world….as I’m no longer bejeweled by my clothes, but a car.
While the echo from the city wafts through my senses once again, she begins to tip the scales, like a magnet she draws me away from the seclusion, and reawakens the desire of a women to beatify oneself---through fashion---and accessories are but a drive away…
15 February 2011
As a Huffington Post contributor, I was invited [self, above] on FOX Business News on Valentines Day to Interview live with David Asman on Nightly Scoreboard, to discuss the recent acquisition of The Huffington Post by AOL. Even the media is dumbfounded to learn that while Arianna Huffington has been building her website and reputation over the past five years----she has never paid any of her writers.
I don’t know who Arianna has been consulting as of late, or how many times she’s watched “Wall Street,” but it’s obvious her new mantra is, “Greed Is Good.”
This sale of The Huffington Post to AOL last week for $315 million, has caused a backlash throughout journalism, because she, without conscience, profited off the backs of her free labor. The 6,000 dedicated, progressive, professional writers, who over the past five years were responsible for transforming the former wife of a U. S. Senator----into a Greek Tycoon.
The sale, coming off the heels of her latest book about America becoming a Third World country is ironic, as she treated her devoted writers no better than a boiler room operation in Taiwan.
These are the very writers whose quality of content has brought credibility to The Huffington Post. This year Harvard University has accepted the publication as a viable web news source, including its credentials among the categories of national newspaper and magazines for its Investigative Journalism award; The Worth Bingham Prize, in which I’ve submitted my series of soldiers diagnosed with Cancer post-Iraq.
It’s unthinkable that her father, a newspaper publisher himself, would have instilled in his daughter that when she builds her own publishing empire---to be sure she stick her Manolo Blahnik heels into the back of her writers---as she climbs her way to the top.
In good faith, Arianna Huffington should have included in her February 7th “contributors” E-mail, that out of the $315 million sale, she would be cutting each of the 6,000 free laborers a check of $1,000, as a thank you [still an insult, but at least it would have been an effort of gratitude]. It would have totaled to $6 million dollars---and still would have had $309 million left.
The writers are what made the publication what it is today, and what made her a valuable commodity. So to think she’ll stuff her mattress with $300 million in cash, while her own stable of writers lay their head on a pillow of poverty is unfathomable and ruthless.
And to assume that selling her lot of slaves aboard “The Grecca” AKA The Huffington Post, to the conservative billion dollar corporation AOL, where they would continue to provide content for free----puts her in the category of Wall Street execs shafting the middle class. And it is the ultimate act of betrayal and exploitation to her servants of news.
This buy-out may have been a shrewd business move in the boardrooms of corporate America---but it has solidified the new tier in the landscape of America’s Workforce---two levels below interning and volunteer work is now exploitation and free labor. The former six levels, will now be seven. Beginning at the bottom; exploitation/free labor, volunteer work, internships, minimum wage, high school diploma, college degree and Masters. This hierarchy of the American work force and age discrimination will saturate journalism with inexperienced mediocrity, and abolish the strife our colleagues suffered at picket lines over a half-century ago when they demanded better wages and working conditions. Their steadfastness and courage for bettering the value of our craft has been usurped by this deal.
The only light on the horizon I see is moving to Asia where I can finally be paid by American corporations for the labor I provide. And I will do so willingly as a true American patriot, only marred by the Made in China tattoo stamped on the back of my hand.
© COPYRIGHT 2008, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.
07 February 2011
By R. B. STUART
As a contributor for The Huffington Post since 2008, I have posted 25 original content articles valued over $25,000 for free. So eager to have the platform for my soldiers stories, of U. S. soldiers returning from Iraq with Cancer ---I didn't ask for payment---merely handed over the 20 - 30 hours of reporting of each piece for gratis.
Over that period I had asked Arianna Huffington several times for financial support with this work, but after being referred to the D.C. based Huffington Post Investigative Fund as a candidate for payment---I was turned down, as well as by executive editor, Roy Sekoff.
I become incensed to learn that in December The Huffington Post hired away two New York Times editors for well over $100,000 each.
Then to receive an E-mail today from Arianna and Roy about their "Exciting News" of the AOL take over---I was less than enthusiastic. Do they really think 6,000 slave writers will continue to write for free for an international conglomerate like AOL (who pays their web-writers, even if it is meager) without pay?
The deal was made between AOL and Arianna Huffington while they courted her over the weekend at the Super Bowl. Not only did they buy out The Huffington Post for $315 million, but $300 million is in cash.
Essentially, the 6,000 writers Arianna lured with coveted bylines, then exploited their content while the site raked in ad revenue in the millions---has now sold us without our permission, under the guise we'd continue to write for AOL for free---it is presumptuous and arrogant to say the least.
The only way to turn this downward spiral for writers providing original content for the web for meager wages, or in this instance, for not even a slap on the back---is to withdraw. We have grumbled over the years that our craft has lost its value with technical advancement. Web-writing will never compare to print---in respect nor payment---unless we change it. Since the Internet is unregulated when it comes to rights for writers and photographers and collecting fees, then my fellow scribers, this should be a turning point were we no longer write for free. How can one person sell another’s work, without their permission, unless they are slave labor without laws protecting them?
We might not have had rights contributing for The Huffington Post. But it is OUR right now---whether or not to write for free for AOL--- the new owners of The Huffington Post.
This may be an exciting payday for the masthead....but for the thousands of writers that have kept the site in business and lucrative for five years with incentives for advertisers---for AOL to assume it's business as usual without pay---then the executives brokering the deal need to think again. As writing for free for an international corp like AOL---is another beast altogether.
To think the award winning, much admired and regarded Arianna, sold her soul as well as The Grecca ship of slaves---is not only corrupt---but unthinkable. And in my opinion this act of greed and exploitation may be the beginning of her demise.
And I may not be the only contributor to need a glass of water to wash the bitter taste from their mouth....
© COPYRIGHT 2011, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.
15 January 2011
Studies show that when a woman is shown images of babies their pupils dilate. I have never experienced that sensation but know when I see furry images of a floppy-faced, innocent eyed puppy, my mouth breaks into an immediate smile and my heart is filled with joy. Like when The Grinch is converted by the unconditional love and compassion of little girl Who?, in the town Whosville he’s taken Christmas away. An x-ray of his heart shows it expanding and beginning to pulsate with love and joy, while the sparkle in his eyes give way to half mooned grin. That’s how I feel when I see dogs.
Was that the prediction that I would never bear children? Or was it because me and three other sisters were molested for a three-year period all under the age of 12 by our ex-stepfather and his 16 year-old pedophile son?
When that psychic scar penetrates your entire life---with a secret that distorts all your romantic relationships. If by your 30’s you don’t allow it to surface into the rage it’s festered---then we turn on ourselves.
As my older sister Karen did with hard drugs introduced to them at 16 by a street hustler twice her age. He infiltrated her life preying upon that protection she craved since the death of our father when we where six and nine. The drugs numbed out the childhood pain, and glazed over the domination, exploitation and beatings he’d give her to keep her submissive and fearful of leaving him.
In her 20’s her love for heroin was stronger than the addiction she once had for him. And she parlayed that for a new life for herself with other functioning addicts that didn’t abuse her. But it was only time before the drugs would call her home….
At 28, while she was going through a period of sobriety she said to me she longed to be someone’s wife, at the same time her demons clawed at her and wished she’d contract AIDS and die. She married a pharmacist with a drug habit and access to pharmaceuticals….and with all her fortitude attempted to salvage her once reckless life. But the mantras of death had already begun to weave their web and she developed full-blown AIDS Easter of 1987. She died that May at the age of 29.
Tormented by sexual abuse of my ex-step fathers hand, Karen partied hard and lived recklessly until her body couldn’t withstand the violation it absorbed when she was 12. I watched as she psychically willed herself to death.
It left four sisters and a brother to grant my mothers wish of grandchildren. The latter would be removed from carrying on the name since he was gay. The future rested in the wombs of the four remaining.
When she died I was 27 and the loss shook the foundation of my holy trinity as she would never reach her 30th birthday and I would ultimately outlive her. Her life was frozen mid-stream---her image burnt into the Kodak paper in my mind. Like a caveman in search of a fossil---I clung to her personal effects as remnants of a life half lived, but had evaporated into the ethers. Her remaining belongings reduced to a few cardboard boxes were sifted through by the family---like wiping the dust from the rubble of a gold mine---in search of the one nugget of artifact that extracted the totality of her life. That would essentially invoke an image, thought or feeling of her.
Now only I was the locket of our shared childhood of bumps and bruises, lies and betrayals, jealously and envy, love and empathy. I inherited what was and had the power to change what would be for my own life.
I stopped drinking, getting high, partying, quit smoking and became celibate. I lost the support of my intoxicated weekend friends and turned inwards for the first time in search of myself, my pain, my God.
As the calendar months flipped by, so did the decades. As I celebrated the milestones of 30, 35, 40---I marked the loss of what could have been for her. Having come from a family of five girls and one boy, after our fathers death in 1966, our innocence was sacrificed for the pleasures of out ex-step brother, as three of us had suffered sexual abuse by him. It would permeate every facet of our life, and forever stain our ability to love, trust and experience intimacy with a man.
So damaged, I observed each of us girls become abstinent and relinquish our maternal clocks. While I feel the pricking of turning 50 in a few months I am acutely aware I am childless. Having lost my mother in 2002 at the age of 72 I am now parentless---officially an orphan. Being emotionally maimed by abusive relationships until I was in my mid 30’s---I find myself spouseless. The psychological injuries obtained stunting my ability to love again---trust again. As I’ve resolved it’s too late for me.
My family jests my apartment is so over run with memorabilia and collectables---that when I die they dread having to dismantle my tangible life. Threatening me and my objects of affection with a garage sale or much worse the dump. As I scan each intricately placed photograph, shelved Norman Mailer books and an assortment of his framed letters of encouragement and sketches to me, souvenirs from my world travels and longings for Italy hang side by side, religious artifacts, and wall of achievements---my eye rests on a Bible sized, Italian leather bound coffee table book, with a cover etched with a trio of naked female figures.
Within the parchment pages is my New England Family Tree dating back to 1834 and 1844 in Naples, Italy, 1616 Scotland, 1711 Belfast and 1847 County Cork, Ireland. My fathers and mothers lineage ends with me and my siblings.
Having four childless and spouseless sisters prepares us for a life of spinsterhood. But even more jarring is there’s no one to tell the family stories to, no one to leave the genealogy with, and no other generation who’s interested in my baubles, much cared for chronological photo albums of 25 years---all of which will one day lay on a wobbly aluminum table in a dusty thrift shop. Being picked over by the pelicans of the future.
Like those before me who beloved trinkets line flea market tables or antique shops because their family found no attachment or they had no one living that would carry on their memory. No one to leave their every hope and dream, shared laugh and tear, no one to mark the life they had lived.
It brings sadness to my heart, as I mourn the life I’ll leave behind. The life that will ultimately vanish into the incinerator of death. The only value of my achievements will be in the money I leave behind. There will be plenty of takers for that…. But my grandmothers cameo pendent and engagement ring, my grandfathers communion ring, my fathers WWII dog tags, my mothers Mother’s ring and ruby, the jewelry from the chapters of my own life---will they lay encased in a darkened, antique store marked with white price tags? Will they strike a strangers fancy and find a home ‘round their finger or neck….their history forever dormant.
Or do I have all those keepsakes buried with me, or thrown into the crematory with me? Is it vulgar to ponder adopting a teenage boy and girl to selfishly carry on my Family Tree, and who will mourn my passing by cherishing my volumes of poetry, journals, books, manuscripts and other possessions? Or do I spend the last segment of my life distributing what I’ve amassed over the years to my friends? What will come of my mothers belongings that I horded after her death? The white chest stacked with magical memories and doo-dads laced with her fragrance of “White Shoulders”….the contents and their past only sentimental to a loved one. Will it be impersonally bulldozed into a landfill for seagulls to nest?
After her death is when I became more entrenched in her lineage---the parts she kept secret or long ago forgot. I uncovered generations of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins she intentionally detached from decades ago when she was a young bride in her 20’s. The reasons were hazy. Her estrangements made us, her six children suffer, as we knew no one else except each other.
The floodgates of her private heritage opened up with merely a brief tug. My desire to know who she was, and who I am, brought forth a domino of living great aunts, great uncles, cousins, and childhood chums who happily resurrected her life by recalling moments with her. Within two years I’d been introduced to branches of my mothers side back three generations to Italy, and three to Ireland. As I became engulfed in the family history I longed for while she was alive. I saw a pattern in the Irish genealogy beginning with the seven children born in early 1800’s---none ever married.
I noticed every generation from then on, whether in a family of two or seven siblings; one, two, three, five or six of them within that family never married. Including my own. And I wondered had their families fallen victim to abuse or dysfunction? Just as I noticed numerous drowning from boat or water accidents over the centuries in my lineage, should I beware of the water? Is it better if a family not reproduce and die-off---rather than perpetuate the dysfunction? Was our need not to procreate a good thing for our lineage? As the torment on my mothers side will end with us. Could it be our mission, our destiny is fulfilled, our spiritual work complete? Or had it been in our bloodline----a prophecy effecting certain family branches like mine?
The answers I may never uncover, and it may just be a destiny that no matter how I play tic-tack-toe with my life----the end result is the same for my family: no heirs. At some point I have to come to peace with my inability to pass along all that is precious to me. So along your journey if you come across a bauble, a trinket, old pictures or a journal along the way and find my name etched somewhere----please buy it and give it life----knowing that it came from a girl without a tree.
© COPYRIGHT October 2009, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.
19 October 2010
They tell you as a writer to write what you know. It’s not that I set out on a path of vaginal cobwebs---it just happened that way---by choosing emotionally retarded or sexually deviant men over the years, paralleled with idealistic notions of love and romance portrayed in 1940’s films. My travails into premature spinsterhood was emphasized by broken promises, disappointments and misunderstandings. Compounded by my own emotional vocabulary comparable to the board game level of four letters (Scrabble). My trust issues percolated just below the surface with fear of intimacy and abandonment.
Since my late teens I went from abusive relationships with men 10 to 20 years my senior to intoxicated sex with the rare gay male friend, parlayed into fantasy relationships in my early 30’s upon moving to New York City. Which at the height of AIDS graduated to abstinence and later celibacy. My last casual relationship was with an impotent man (unless silicone was omni present) who still lived at home (fully aroused when watching the Playboy channel). When I caught him one day masturbating to their televised, artificially enhanced, shiny naked bodies---our fragile year long relationship ended, and so did my self-esteem as it was marred in cellulite. That finale edged me towards abstinence and into fantasy relationships.
My aptitude for fantasy affairs was born when I was 5 years old twirling around a silver clothes line pole holding the imaginary hand of my “man.” We'd end the dance with a kiss---my innocent tongue reached out to lick the salty, cold metal, as my blue plastic Cat glasses clanked the pipe. Immediately, my notions of men became eschewed as they took on an air of an inanimate, lifeless object. [photo above at six years old]
Likened to a romance novel unfolding, my imaginary ideal of love resurrected itself a quarter of a century later with a handful of fantasy relationships. They were rich with sexual gratification (in my own mind). Literally carrying on a romantic conversation with my latest conquest that escalated to sexual encounters. They were fueled by suppressed longings and an inability to communicate my attraction in real life (unleashing imaginary escapades).
The last fantasy relationship I had was with Ken, a young George Clooney type who worked at World Gym in Lincoln Center. In time, the disinterest and endless rejection from my object of affection, would eventually slap me back to reality. That is after I realized my lovely wasn't able to wake-up and smell the obsession. The hope of my affections being returned would ultimately go unfulfilled and the heartwrenching discovery became apparent, that once again, I latched onto unrequited love.
Ken interest wasn’t in me---but rather a heavily painted, faux bronzed gym tart with implants. I wasn’t dissuaded. To me he was strong and solid like a rock---unmovable. But unknowingly, internally, he was shaking in his Nike’s. His silent strength emerged when he was still, quietly listening to me, and for the first time I felt understood and accepted. I thought during those seven months we had a special, equal, honest connection. Unfortunately, I was so excited by it, (becoming an exuberant puppy with men I’m attracted to) I couldn't contain myself and wanted to share with him every aspect of my life (without peeing on his foot). And in turn he became overwhelmed.
I felt that I had so much to offer and searched years for a man that could handle it, that my unexpressed emotions poured into him. The only way for me to stop the overflow was to step-back and give him and myself---space. Only a few days after we stopped talking did I realize that I appeared "needy." Maybe I was needing to be heard by someone familiar who would just listen. To be understood, accepted, and liked for who I was---by a man.
But a week later the abandonment set in and I crumbled. In an attempt to cloak my emotional collapse, I grappled with small talk, but Ken was swiftly doing sets, and the more he pretended I was invisible, the more desperate I became. I couldn’t bare the hurricane swirling within and it being Easter weekend---searched for the nearest church.
Barely able to contain my psychological and emotional convergence, I scurried down Ninth Avenue and leapt up the stairs of a church at 55th Street. I found myself weeping at the foot of another man----a priest, begging him for clarification. With sorrow spilling from my heart, I cried uncontrollably and in between heaves and puffs of breath asked, “Father, every time I find a man it’s unrequited love---no man ever loves me?” With a halo of candles burning behind him, he replied matter-of-factly, “You have to love yourself first.”
Those detached words of wisdom didn’t bring comfort or understanding, and I staggered drunk with sorrow to the M11 bus home (where I would rekindle a late night rendezvous with a Trinitron sized David Letterman).
Except, Ken’s rejection was so severe, it sent me to the cold white tiles of my bathroom floor. Symbolically, the bathroom where one cleanses, the primal pain of lovelessness throughout my lifetime surfaced as I sat hunched on the floor in the shadows of a night light. Trying to muffle my howls (from the other tenants), I cradled myself behind the closed door. The portal of pain became uncontrollable sucking me into a trance of one question to God, “Why doesn’t anyone love me?” That mantra reverberated through me as I rocked myself looking desperately for answers.
The emotional breaks of past loves (post abusers); Stephen, Michael, George, Marcello, Leonard, and imagined ones; Roy, Blaire and Ken---had ruptured. Looking at pictures of myself in a variety of ages and stages spanning my life---no longer a young, taunt filly. I realized I spent my youth wildly---and wept for the girl I used to be.
Is that me? Such a beautiful, young creature. Why didn't I see it then and love her more. Have I lost my youth? I didn't know what it looked like when I had it. Now I see--it was me. How could I have wasted so many years wondering what's wrong with me?
Believing I was too fat, too homely, too crooked, too loud. Now I see her as thinner, prettier, and all the crooked lines have disappeared. What a fool I was to spend her so recklessly.
While laying in the hammock of my loneliness I cried uncontrollably for quiet some time. I reached for my journal to write what was unearthing. I wrote about the loneliness I felt. It was then I observed my own mind, it wasn't cluttered with the obsessive thoughts of a man. The fantasy obsessions were for many years a distraction for the lack of a man----the void of love in my life. Without the daily pining over a man whom didn't want me, my dejected spirit, negative feelings of self-worth and unattractiveness became intertwined. I was finally alone with the emptiness of my own heart and mind. The more I scribed and reflected, I began to put the pieces of my emotional and psychological puzzle together.
I had many fictional relationships begin and end in my mind. Each ending was as traumatic as in real life. Aware of my regrets and mistakes, with each termination learning more about myself. I'd jest with my siblings that I was the only person to have a relationship, and cause infliction upon myself without ever touching or involving the other person. The fantasies protected me from a partner with unsuspecting sexual dysfunction's or diseases, feared pregnancy or the dreaded, awkward confrontation of clearing out your clothes or his (and asking for the return of apartment keys). It was less messy. Only one partner was hurt. One side of the story (literally). And after I woke from my hypnotic obsession, I'd wonder what I ever saw in him anyway.
As a writer I found the paper helped clear the dead wood hanging around the attic of my heart and mind. An emotional eruption gained momentum with each memory unleashed and re-lived. In order to write about it I had to re-experience it. During a moment of being stuck in a deep fog of emotional pain from the past. I came to realize while walking through the fire---that somewhere along the way I stopped needing people. The endings of important relationships, the loss, the deaths stacked upon one another until I closed my heart and stopped needing and loving others. In the interim it was safer to fantasize relationships. Ending a fictional relationship was still hurtful for my young heart, but less permanent. The obsession was created as a need to not feel any more pain or loss---I was already filled to capacity and needed to empty.
The vessel I searched my lifetime for, to pour my love and adoration into, wasn't a man after all. I mislead my heart in a continual quest for "the one" who could handle such powerful love and devotion. The prose tumbled around my soul while I waited for him. I had so much to share with this creature, where was he?
The years of suppressed emotions saddled with the inability to communicate laid dormant no longer. As I hovered over my laptop rewriting the past, the sorrow and pain surfaced. A cluster of tears dripped from my eyes and through them I found my way clearly. All the experiences and words I absorbed until that point imploded onto the page. The paper morphed into my vessel. I poured all the love, sorrow, regrets and heartache into those pages; strong enough to handle the abundance of painful words. In its silence---effortlessly absorbing the overflow of what I could no longer contain. Unconditionally accepting everything I offered.
But the more I wrote….the more detached I became from men and relationships---as the work became my lover---the memories and experiences became my muse. The reams of white cotton 24 lb. Strathmore paper parlayed my way to celibacy.
Trying to quell my sexual desires the first year of abstinence was the most difficult. The second, somewhat challenging but fulfilled by conjuring up liaisons. Years three to five were satisfied by porno….
And what I notice now after living without the warmth of a mans hand, is that the more I’m in my head as a writer---the less I feel my body below. A disconnect emerged. The less physical touch I experience---the less time I invest in (presumed) dysfunctional friendships or relationships, it severs my connection with other humans. I’m not sure if there’s a way of going back. As I still sense the trappings of inadequacies, the older I become, the more beautiful younger women appear (affirming that without enhanced procedures my days are numbered).
So instead my thoughts drift off to prayer and God (the ultimate in imaginary figures), imagining a better life, and what I want to accomplish. I ponder how iconic religious figures, whether Jesus, the Pope, Dalai Lama or Buddha dealt with the lack of intimacy that comes with celibacy. In 2007, new Mother Teresa journals surfaced, one inscription read, “….I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness, coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. (If I am) The Child of Your Love….you have thrown (me) away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no one to answer — no one on whom I can cling — no one. — Alone…”
Is it harder to walk this life alone, independent, and seemingly self-contained---then committing to the pain and sorrow brought by exploring and loving another? Or will we as humans always crave the love and closeness of another, whether we are celibate or not.
21 July 2010
Living in an International atmosphere like New York City you are exposed to the United Nations of culture, daily. I welcome and enjoy the diversity of a city that epitomizes a multitude of ethnicities from food, music, clothes and the arts. It’s common place to be saturated in foreign languages, styles and traditions. And when it comes to a lover….a foreigner is always best, even after a few Red Stripes then washing down the sex with a burrito and nachos. To possess a few coveted items across the pond, I’d consider renting my womb to own an Italian Villa. Would likely have no qualms donating my teeth to an orthodontic school for dentures if it meant a red Hermes Birkin bag in return. And with a penchant for foreign motorcars, there’s nothing like driving 120 MPH on the Autobahn with a Chanel loafer underfoot.
But with all things foreign, as an American I have less acceptance with illegal aliens who intentionally exploit our legal loopholes and our leniency by fraudulently making a home in our country by producing “anchor babies.” It guarantees their right to citizenship because they have procreated on our soil, and not just one child, but many children, solidifying there claim to not be sent home, therefore anchoring them in the U.S. To me being able to get knocked-up in America doesn’t constitute a reason for entitlement whether government assistance money, food, housing or medical care.
Being an American and immigrating to “the land of opportunity” should include a list of expectations, one being to speak English, to respect our environment and not litter or pollute, to not undercut our workforce by accepting our jobs at lower wages [gratis of Clinton’s NAFTA], and refrain from criminal activity. The latter we have enough American made criminals spanning from street drug traffickers, petty thieves, to the upscale robbers of Wall Street. If you want to contribute to our society then be a productive member----since we’re already filled to the brim with psycho’s, scammers, environmental slayers and financial rapists.
The issue is with illegal immigrants, not those immigrating here with a heart of hope, a skill, pre-born children, and a basket of good intentions. As many did three and four centuries ago through Ellis Island. My Italian grandparents immigrated here three generations ago, and my Scottish grandfather was sent to New England seven generations ago against his will as a POW. A soldier, Duncan Stewart was one of 2,000 Scot slaves captured after King Charles’ II, Battle of Worcester in 1651. Some not only lost their lives…but lost the right to their homeland. They were sent by ship to the U. S. in the port of Massachusetts. They reincarnated their birthplace by naming the Western Massachusetts towns Worcester, Leominster and Sterling, the namesakes of their abandoned beloved Scottish Highlands.
They worked hard, eventually bought up land, cultivated farms and contributed to the American way of life. They infused into their children a respect for the earth, how to care for animals, and be self-sufficient. Even if they were poor, with dirt floors, an out-house in lieu of plumbing using a nearby tree leaf to wipe, and at nighttime wrapping hot bricks in newspaper and placed at the foot of the bed to keep you warm through the night. These humble means built character and built Americans. Without sending home their U.S. wages weekly, they contributed to this economy.
No doubt there are still poor American’s living in the United States….but to an outsider looking in, the perception is askew. I’ve met natives from Mexico, Jamaica and Nigeria who believe “all Americans” are rich, and it is that notion that foreigners pack their suitcases and head for our shores----hoping that the preconceived riches will be theirs too. They board boats in the blinding night heading towards Florida where they are met with the law of a “wet foot or dry foot policy.” If they are caught in the water they are deported back to their country, but if their foot touches U.S. soil, they are sent to Crown Detention Center in Miami where they are detained and allowed the opportunity to enter the U.S. legally.
In Mexico with meager or no possessions they run with their life towards our boarders for the promise of the American dream. They scale walls, crawl on their bellies, hide in brush or are transported illegally by a carrier. Their network of families and friends already here house and guide them along the way. But why leave the poppy fields of Oz for a land of crusty, old whities who only want your cheap labor and homemade salsa.
The Mexican aliens work hard for miniscule pay in all areas where English isn’t necessary. They may bring a tireless work ethic, but they also bring the environmental disrespect they have learned in their own country. The dirty water, lack of sanitation and poor living conditions in Mexico are translated when they arrive in the U. S. as they begin “trashing” our country.
Dawn Nita, American born, formerly lived in Papua New Guinea where she spent a year like the natives living off the land. She’s lived in Southern Florida for 15 years and has witnessed a decline in her community. “Living in South Florida is a great cultural experience and I love it here. Over the years I have noticed not only does the influence of the South American cultures impact us in a positive way with the uniqueness of their culture, but if you will, I have also noticed an increase in their “cultural garbage.”
She explains, “As these cultures spread-out over south Florida up from Miami so has the amount of litter that lines the sides of the highways, roads, and parking lots. It has increased significantly even in the communities where I do now, and have lived. When I walk my dog I see fast food bags, bottles, cans and even household items that are thrown without a second thought out of car windows or as people walk down the street.”
“Seeing this brings me back to the days growing up in America and the education and habits that were instilled in us as children.” Nita vividly remembers the PSA’s, “Don’t Be A Litterbug,” “Give a Hoot---Don’t Pollute,” to a single tear rolling down the cheek of an American Indian who witnesses our carelessness with mother nature, as a bag of fast food trash is thrown at his feet. As well as the street signs that started appearing warning of fines for littering. “These messages were ingrained into my generation resulting in as adults we are conscious of recycling and not littering.”
“Now that there has been an influx of Third World immigrants---they haven’t learned the respect of what it means to live here with our standards of living. The cultures that now populate our towns and cities didn’t have the same influence to “Keep American Clean.” They find it natural to throw their trash anywhere they please, even if the garbage can is only a few feet away. It saddens me to see this, and I witness it every day. Leaving their waste for someone else like myself to collect and properly discard,” Nita expressed. “I consider myself a keeper of the planet, but without fail the next day more trash has replaced what was removed.”
“It would serve America well if we made an effort to re-run the PSA’s in many languages teaching our new residents and citizens the same respect we were taught growing up in this beautiful land of America,” she ended.
Those striking images and messages at a young age impresses upon us to care for our environment by not polluting our air or littering our water, and land. But those public messages aren’t developed nor brought with those illegal Third World aliens. Without that initial respect for the land, sea and air, their ignorance smacks us everyday as we contend with their abuse.
Strewn plastic water bottles, broken glass beer bottles are the gifts from our new “grateful” residents, who with their thoughtlessness have made America truly feel like home. By disposing of their refuse in the streets, beaches and parks, maybe intentionally out of defiance, in retribution for low wages and for the U. S. not being all they’d expected---turning our environment into theirs. As we become the minority in our own land with bed bugs crawling under our covers, garbage lodged in between the daffodils, and where the McDonalds French fries and waxed paper are a seagulls delight, while pigeon’s peck in a frenzy at the shiny glass soaked pavement---we have been stamped with the escalating appearance of a Third-World.
So if Arizona believes the many years of illegal Mexican infiltration and cultural garbage has crippled their quality of life---then it’s our way or the highway, and let them enter legally and respectfully---learning the rules of the land and what it takes to actually “be” an American.
But what if we are the intruders of their land? Gary Frank, an American and twenty-year resident of Los Angeles admits the Mexican’s do the work Californian’s won’t do, but we are the aliens. “Essentially, we [American’s] stole the land from the Mexican’s like we did to the Indians. Originally back in the 1600 to 1800’s California, Arizona, New Mexico and the boarder of Texas were all part of Mexico. They are just taking back what is rightfully theirs.”
The Mexican/American wars of those era’s were depicted as a “murderous plunder” only benefiting the U. S. The bloodbath feuds over the centuries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia have been steeped in religious conflict between Christians, Jews, Muslims, Catholic and Protestants, but here in the U. S. our acts of violence, oppression and slavery have taken on a different tone, one of skin color, beginning with the American Indian, then Mexican and Blacks. During our history religion had less to do with our prejudice---but if you were darker than white and owned some land, particularly mineral rich land with natural resources---we took pride in our need to dominate, control, and without conscience take anything you had of value, especially if you were of a darker pigment.
“I find racism deplorable,” Frank underlines. “But each State has its right to do as they please...after all we were not founded as a democracy but Republic for and by the People. This being said...California has many, many lovely Mexican National legal and illegal residents.”
But Frank wonders if we grant them citizenship does it solve the problem? “Why are there no Jobs in Mexico…surely the Gulf Disaster can use some day laborers to clean up for the next 30 years.”
“Living in L.A. we also have general overpopulation with gang and drug issues, including homelessness and destitute people of all races to contend with---so it’s far from the “California Dreamin” fame of the 60's.” Frank’s personal concern about immigration is the crime. “People who reside on Arizona's border have a right to protect themselves and property. There are the safety issues from the have not's robbing the haves which resulted in L.A. and San Diego putting bars on many home windows. Because of the drug trade helicopters hover above all neighborhoods at all hours, and shootings occur at random restaurants.”
“Compounded by our State crying broke to provide social services, there is much work to be done in America,” he concludes. “We were founded on caring for the huddled masses yearning for freedom...now there are so many people our freedoms are dissolving into history one by one.”
If the Mexican people want to leave the home in which they grew up in and migrate to the land that was once theirs, a place where the new American owners have painstakingly developed and beautified over the centuries transforming it into the oasis they sought. Then they should respect the country we have built and partake in making it even better by contributing environmentally and economically, by not sending their resources back to a country that has long ago self-destructed, with the inability to accommodate their basic needs, and failed to become the Eden in which they hoped.
15 May 2010
By R. B. STUART
Since the consumption of Reality TV in 2000, a genre that at times is forgettable, America’s fascination is quenched by the dirty laundry and beatification of the average couple next door---all dressed in professional make-up, designer clothes and lights. They may be anointed celebrities because of their media exposure and real-life drama----but they don’t have the staying power and public adoration of the Hollywood made television or film star’s that have, or will become, legends in the entertainment industry for not only their natural glamour, but gift of craft. [Unrelated to Divorce or Reality TV are two Hollywood stars pictured herein, the multi talented since a mere babe, Brooke Shields, and newcomer Mandy Moore.]
Lasting notoriety, celebrity and stardom is earned, not donned like a badge on a Girl Scout uniform. And maybe that’s the culprit why so many of the reality show couples, who started out on the small screen in a loving marriage---become hostile and combative with one another, ultimately ending in divorce. The final act is punishment by The God’s for selling out on something sacred, pure and honest---the love and partnership of another---in exchange for money and [fleeting] fame.
With the exception of the already famous Celeb’s who signed on for reality shows and eventually settled in divorce court upon wrapping their series: “Being Bobby Brown” with rapper Bobby Brown and iconic songstress Whitney Houston, “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica” with popster Jessica Simpson and boy band husband Nick Lachey, “Hogan Knows Best” with pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and stay at home bombshell mom, Linda, “The Osbourne’s” with metal head banger Ozzy Osbourne and wife turned reality judge, Sharon.
Others who attained infamy and termination of marriage; “The Real Housewives of New York” [Countess once removed] LuAnn and extra marital affair European hubby, Count Alex de Lesseps, “John & Kate Plus Eight” with [another double dipper] John and Kate Gosselin, and as of late “Housewives of Orange County” Tamra and controlling but faithful spouse, Simon Barney.
The non-performer and ordinary reality Mom, Kate Gosselin depicted just how painful it is to watch a non-professional in a professional role, as in “Dancing With The Stars.” Her Frankenstein dance steps and inability to “turn on” that extroverted aspect of her personality who craves the camera lights and applause---shows the stark contrast of real actors/celebrity’s capability to effortlessly call on the performer within to entertain.
If we asked Dr. Drew Pinsky, the celebrity psychotherapist with his own VH1 reality show that addresses celebrity drug addiction “Celebrity Rehab.” These married couples who’ve acquired immediate false stardom through a reality show, by putting each argument and neurosis under the magnification of a camera lense, eventually exposing themselves to public scrutiny. How does that “celebrity” effect their relationship?
Why does marriage become more fragile when public scrutiny is thrown n the mix? After seeing the inner-workings of the marriage on television---how does seeing oneself 360 degrees effect who we are? And that self-awareness and observations of the spouse is so severe it’s capable of breaking a committed relationship?
Is it because they are able to witness for themselves their own shortcomings, or their partners flaws---their differences too painfully apparent when seen on television. With a focus so intense it replicates an experiment, a case study in ones home, who’s subjects have gone awry. Was the relationship doomed from the start?
Since the veil of ignorance was lifted on their own and their partners behaviors, as well as them as a unit, then is the reality check of a divorce the only recourse---as they can’t go back to who they once were---and now that the conflicts and differences have surfaced, are they too apparent to ignore, too great to work on, too ill matched to continue a relationship?
Because reality show couples are foreign to celebrity and unaware how detrimental it can be to their privacy. They make the grave mistake of taking “the show on the road.” Whereas celebrity that has been achieved and warranted through years of hard work and success from the craft of an actor whether television or film---they are familiar with the pitfalls of fame and its attempt to snake itself into personal aspects of their private life and relationships, making them more capable of maintaining boundaries and savvy at side stepping [if desired] journalists and paparazzi.
So without having the experience of the media, as an accredited actor does, and allowing the world into your marriage, and being seduced by, and ill-prepared to handle all the instant trappings of the faux TV land fame. Than it has the ability of contaminating your relationship.
It is that decade or longer learning curve of show-biz steps one acquires being a professional in the entertainment industry before the taste of celebrity ever kisses their lips. And it is that preparation that reality show marriages are devoid of and the reason for the dissolution of their union.
COPYRIGHT 2010, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.
12 April 2010
In February NASA came forward, not to discuss their erroneous decision to lob a Centaur rocket at the moon on October 9, 2009---but to share their probe into ice on Saturn. In October, in search of water, the mega ton missile blasted a hole in the moons lunar surface at twice the speed of a bullet.
Now I don’t know who else isn’t paying attention, but their hair-brain idea to attack the moon has caused a weather calamity on earth. Within one week after their mission of “boring a hole in the moon looking for water,” snow fell on New Jersey---and it wasn’t even Halloween yet.
Since then no officials have stepped forward with the findings that what they have done, is alter the moons natural rhythms in association with water i.e. the tides umm.....floods. I believe NASA is to blame for the enormous changes we've seen with flooding throughout the U. S. since their test last fall. They have downplayed their moon-water venture by stating the moon can handle their assault, adding it was infitessimal in the grand scheme of outer space explosions.
If the moon was able to handle her timing being "off" by the manipulation of an unnatural collision of a man-made weapon on her surface. Then why has the water NASA was searching for on the moon, all of a sudden fallen to earth 100 fold in the form of snow or rain? And in behemoth proportions.
But the U.S. isn’t the only obnoxious super power to challenge the ball of light in the nights sky, as Japan’s Kaguya impacters collided with the moon in June 2009 seeking aqua. And Hello Kitty---the tit for tat for that crash---has impacted Toyota worldwide.
The evidence of NASA’s nonsensical actions is record high snowfalls and floods in areas that don’t normally experience snow i.e. Texas. Thus far, for the U. S. 1,180 snowfall records have been broken across 49 of the 50 states. Even in Washington, D.C. where Mother Nature’s offenders reside at NASA Headquarters, they’ve been pummeled with 54.9 inches this winter breaking their 1898 record.
Philadelphia admitted they haven’t seen this much snow in 14 years at 65.5 inches in one winter. This season has surpassed that number by five inches----and it’s still snowing here in NYC as I pen this.
The sideway falling snow on Thursday caused such havoc in New York City that a 42 year old-man was killed when walking through Central Park when a snow laden tree toppled onto him. Just strolling through the park---is like the NY lottery of death, ‘hey’ you never know.’ Throughout the city trees were bending, breaking and being uprooted by the maddening storm. In a city that’s withstood the raping by Wall St., the westward angle of the rapidly falling-frozen-white-flakes---caused the Big Apple to buckle under the strain of yet another, snowy concrete landscape.
The heck with El Niño---it’s more like the El’ Ninny’s at NASA for believing they can interfere with piercing the moon with a fuel soaked, school bus sized titanium rocket, and not expect her wrath and retribution for searching her private crevices for water. It is arrogant, egotistical and self-indulgent---and mostly unnecessary since we have an abundance of water here---that the earth has provided for free. Oh yes, but it needs care and cleaning-up after the centuries of corporate exploitation and industry abuse---so I guess it’s more economical and easier to search for clean water on a planet suspended in space light miles away.
No matter how minor they claim the assault of the moon was---it is apparent the slightest interference in its surface has most certainly affected its role in regulating not only the oceans ebb and flow throughout the earth, but its precipitation; whether rain, snow, sleet or hail.
When will the “powers that be” realize that Mother Nature is fragile and wields more power than any nuclear weapon, any money printer at the Federal Reserve, any White House Presidential seat, or any Deregulation to the laws of the moon, the earth….and with one fell swoop she can cause a catastrophe in one fragment of a country called Haiti, send in waves to wash away people on a California beach, or bury us in 70 feet of snow. This extreme weather is a mere smack in the face since with one backhand, she can slap us into extinction, and will ultimately have the last word….you don’t mess with Mother Nature.
COPYRIGHT February 2010, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.
12 March 2010
Now I know why Mum used to sit in the yard watching us play,
Because she knew time was slowly slipping away.
Now that I’m older---
Life without her has grown colder.
My yearn to leave her to explore the world,
Brought me right back with tales of my journey and trinkets of foreign pearls.
She’d listen captivated by the stories from distant shores---
Her eyes would widen so she could drink in more.
But now she’s gone, no longer sitting and watching us from home,
Her face, her smile, her laugh, her love---
Now hangs suspended from the heavens above.
Her words, her gaze---
From the days we watched her…..as we played,
Brings me back to the time I was born---
And the loving clutch of a young, mothers arm.
She has left this earth far too soon---
Now I sit and watch her sing and dance, ‘round the moon.