24 December 2009

“Where Christmas Lives”

Part Eighteen

[Woodstock, N.Y. Christmas 2006: Bella cozy by fire]

Recently I spoke to the woman who cuts my hair about Christmas. She has three young children under 9 years of age and told me they're each allowed ten gifts a piece. "TEN!" I exclaimed, "Isn't that a lot?" She thought it was a fair amount to show her children how much she loved and cared for them.

While driving in N.H. I was listening to WZID radio station. The DJ spoke about the delight she felt while watching a father walk his three toddlers through the Mall of NH. Their sparkling young eyes attempting to devour everything in sight. The colorful world of plastic toys enthralling them like the Kiddie Menu at McDonalds. Wanting everything they see---but after giving it to them---not wanting it at all.

What their eager hearts and captivating eyes pretend to ferociously desire---is in fact a misrepresentation of their actual needs. Their unquenchable appetite wasn't for toys after all. It was for the warm, loving and adoring eyes of their mother---the strong but gentle approving hand of their father. That is what evolves their little world of love; a commodity readily available, but sometimes forgotten.

During their childhood an adult recalls the festively wrapped gifts stacked under a fra- grant, meticulously decorated, prickly green tree. But only one toy, if any at all, remains tucked away in your mind. None---in the confines of your heart. Within those walls reside the spirit of love and sentimental memory, made from the threads only a human connection can bring.

The simple yet all consuming love bond between a parent and child---is forever held, within the Spirit of Christmas past and present for no cost at all. And its wrapping isn't one of paper; it's of a warm embrace, a sweet kiss on the cheek, a tender glance, a hand swept across your mane, a joyous laugh pealing from your loved one's lips. Right now no one understands that more than the 8,000 disjointed families that have had to let go of their loved ones for a 6 month deployment to Iraq---to fight in a misguided war. And to those especially, who have lost their beloved beauties---much too soon---to the blue heavens above.

Those are non-tangible things impossible to grasp---like a perfect white sliver of snow floating aimlessly from the sky, evaporating from the lash of your eye. Or the initial waft of a freshly cut Blue Spruce Christmas tree catapulting you to drink it, with a slow deep breath. And the warm excitement fluttering within when we go home for the holidays, when we open the front door to see our beloved mothers face aglow. That is what weaves our Spirits together---that's where Christmas lives---wrapped in the packaging of our heart.

Copyright December 2004, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.

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17 November 2009

“Galloping Through Life with Filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld”

Part Seventeen
[original interview May 23, 2007]

Filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld, a New York City native and East Hampton/Amagansett resident [pictured above in trademark cowboy hat] began his career in the mid 1980’s as a cinematographer. Some of the award winning films he’s eyed the lens for; BIG the heartfelt comedy that catapulted Tom Hanks to film stardom, When Harry Met Sally the timeless romantic comedy with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal and Misery the Stephen King nightmare brought to life with Kathy Bates and James Caan.

In the late 80’s his ability to paint a picture with the lens caught the eye of the dynamic duo, the Coen Brothers and Sonnenfeld signed on to film Raising Arizona with Nicholas Cage and the gangster film Millers Crossing with fedora wearing Gabriel Byrne, and John Tuturro. By the early 90’s he directed his first film with Angelica Huston and the late Raul Julia in The Addams Family. Bringing the black and white 1964 cult classic television series to the big screen. Where characters who once appeared strange but loveable to us in the mid 60’s, donning black lipstick and clothes, has now incorporated into our landscape by this generations version of Goth.

Last year, Sonnenfeld directed a dysfunctional family’s comedic sojourn across Colorado in RV with Robin Williams, and this year produced the Disney film Enchanted with Susan Sarandon. In the movie business it’s directing he loves the most. “I like to be in charge of everything…since at home I have an opinionated 14 year-old daughter Chloe, and Susan, my strong and smart wife of 18 years who tell me what to do. So when I’m directing, I’m in charge---so that’s very exciting for me,” he mused.

Sonnenfeld who’s been involved with over a dozen blockbusters during his 20 year career in film. The most popular to span all demographics of movie goers was the 1997 mega hit Men in Black where he directed the stars, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. And it was at the wrap party of the 2002 sequel, Men in Black II that the crew gave their beloved director, Sonnenfeld an unusual parting gift, a Western saddle. “When directing I put it on top of an apple box and sit on it…..it makes me feel more manly,” he jests. “I don’t ride horses---I only ride the apple box.”

And he hopes to one day ride that saddle onto a set starring George Clooney, since he was able to only produce Clooney in Out of Sight in 1998. “Some day I would like to direct Clooney in a film. Because he’s comically handsome and very talented,” he explained.

Sonnenfeld’s favorite 1995 film that he produced, directed and had a cameo in, Get Shorty with John Travolta took him over 6 years to get made. “I acquired the script and every studio I pitched it to passed on the film. So it was very rewarding finally getting it made.” With Travolta not appearing in many films since the 1970’s, he hadn’t been Sonnenfeld’s first choice. Until his wife Susan saw a rough cut of Quentin Tarrentino’s, Pulp Fiction. “Many actors passed on the Get Shorty script, from Warren Beatty to Dustin Hoffman. My wife was a big Travolta fan and told me to watch Pulp Fiction. After I did I was more than convinced he’d do a great job.” And the character “Chili” spun Travolta’s career back on track.

But making films has its challenges when you’re trying to bring that Hollywood magic to the screen. “It’s very difficult to convince the studio heads to green light the films you want to make,” Sonnenfeld admitted. “I have scripts I’ve owned for years and the hardest thing is trying to convince the studio to back you and make the movie.”

This spring, Sonnenfeld as director/producer ventured back into television with an ABC series Notes From the Underbelly a comedy about the politics of parenthood starring Peter Cambor and Jennifer Westfeldt, based on Risa Green's novel of the same name. With his experience in both genre’s, movies and television shows, does he have a preference. “Making films or TV shows are both rewarding for different reasons. I like directing and producing TV shows because the pace is fast. While films are a slower and a drearier experience. What else I like about TV is if you direct a bad TV show it’s, ‘no harm, no foul,’ and it will never be aired. But if I direct a bad movie…it will be in Variety the next morning,” he concedes.

Sonnenfeld’s no stranger to adapting books to screen. He took Elmore Leonard’s novels Get Shorty and Out of Sight successfully from the page to the screen. Where some readers cringe when their beloved books are adapted to film because they claim movies don’t do the book justice. Sonnenfeld has been able to sweep those grumbles under the red carpet with his praise worthy adaptations. He explained, “What makes Leonard’s work so fun to adapt is he writes great dialogue and characters, two things that are hard to find in a script. His work supplies you with both. And adapting for TV or film has the same challenges, it needs to have three elements: a good story, compelling characters and be written well.”

And this time he’s inked his own script with writer/producer Bryan Fuller for their fall ABC show, Pushing Daisies a high-concept fantasy blended with romance and crime that Sonnenfeld will direct. This love story is about a young man “Ned” played by Golden Globe nominee Lee Pace, who in order to solve crimes, has the special gift of being able to briefly bring someone dead back to life with a simple touch. Another Golden Globe nominee Swoosie Kurtz will also be part of the weekly cast of this magical and quirky series. And unlike the challenges of Hollywood studio exec’s and films, ABC has been able with foresight to harness and corner the market when it comes to quality and enjoyable programming. Do doubt this production will fall into the charmed line up of new hot fall shows.

There is longevity in films as opposed to television programming, “What’s interesting about television is more people will turn on TV in one night, like 10 million viewers will watch Pushing Daises, and that’s equivalent to $100 million dollars in movie making ticket sales,” he says.

Unpredictable humor runs through the vein of Sonnenfeld’s work, whether it’s film, television, or writing, as he scribes a monthly column, “The Digital Man” for Esquire magazine since 2003. He attributes his innate wit to his parents, “I grew up an only child in a protective family. So I spent a lot of time with adults…my parents friends, a lot of time with funny Jews,” he recalled.

Even though Sonnenfeld was a short, shy and a quiet boy when he was in school. He grew 6 inches right before his senior year. And like most people who have a knack for comedic timing whether they’re famous or not, they’ve usually spent their early childhood years in some sort of uncomfortable inner torment. Which gives birth to humor as one ages. “As you get older you become your worst trait,” Sonnenfeld observes. “I find the world surreal and amusing as it’s always been---I’ve just become more tolerant.”

Sonnenfeld an East Hampton/Amagansett resident for over 25 years has raised all 3 of his children there. And has been a generous supporter to the local school system and helped found The Hayground School in Bridgehampton, NY. In the summer he packs up his family and leaves the Hamptons for their second home in Telluride, Colorado in the area RV was filmed. Maybe he used a hint of autobiographical material….

18 September 2009

“Dear Bill: A Politically Incorrect Correspondence”

Part Sixteen
A 2001 letter to Bill Maher

Dear Bill Maher,
I ran into you days before the WTC attack at a health food store on 8th Avenue and 55th Street in NYC. You were looking to buy a fan. I turned around amused and said, "I'm a fan." We chuckled as I had caught you in a double entendre. I congratulated you on your good work and left with my groceries as you searched a food store for electrical appliances (next time check a hardware store).

I wanted to write a diary of events as a volunteer behind the scenes. And for being a NY "fan" I'm sending along a FDNY T-shirt. I know you're a little fella so I hope it's not too big. The shirt is from my local company on West 43rd Street, Rescue One. This specialized unit was created as a rescue company of firemen for firemen. They're considered the Green Beret of firemen. They have lost nearly half of their men. Among the 11 missing, 6 have been found dead along with the Captain Terence Hatton. They hope to recover the other 5. So wear it well.

October 3, 2001
A Politically Incorrect New Yorker,
--R. B. Stuart

Dear Bill,

My diary of events from behind the scenes as a NYC volunteer: What disturbs me the most about this tragedy besides the obvious: Is Ian Schrager running full page condolence ad's in the Times and then a paragraph down begins hawking his luxury rooms to the people that were displaced for $3,000 a month. While Mayor Guiliani strut's around the city as if he's really done something significant besides touring politicians around the site. While begging us to spend money, he insists that we go back to normal by pretending nothing has happened, so NY doesn't go into a financial collapse. He's worried about money and camera angles---we're worried about mourning.

The Red Cross has been in hype mode for volunteers, blood and money. During the initial days and weeks of the tragedy, fifteen volunteers besides myself have watched first hand the multi-level confusion and disorganization with this agency. The miscommunication is rampant at Red Cross headquarters. From the thousands of LDV large disaster volunteers) workers whether you're a driver, food deliverer, shelter worker, telephone bank person; no one knows what's going on. The national Red Cross members continuously hand down incompetent information and instructions. As a result, this is one organization I will never depend on. My mother told me that my father (a WWII Veteran) always hated the Red Cross. I asked why. She said, "Because Daddy said the Red Cross didn't do shit for them in the war." It is apparent.

The Red Cross claims that they have never seen a disaster as monumental as this and they were unprepared. Well, what was WWI and WWII a play ground? This organization has been around since 1864, I think that's plenty of time to get their shit together. Frankly I think that they are using the WTC tragedy to restock their blood banks and fatten their bank accounts with all the financial donations pouring in. [Four weeks after this was written their financial support for the victims is in question as is the blood.]

By day three the city set up a volunteer center at the Jacob Javits Center. Within two day's thousands of people enlisted. We forked over confidential information and identification then waited on the sidewalks of 11th Avenue and 34th Street. Standing the day and through the night, waiting with a slip of paper in hand with a designated number. [I wonder what the city really did with all the data that they accumulated?]

The left side of the street was 10 deep with volunteer electricians, plumbers, steel and construction workers. The right side lined with out-of-town cops mingling with the NYPD, medical staff and us. We were being well taken care of with food and beverages by The Salvation Army and local New Yorkers walking around with trays and baskets of sandwiches, pizza, fruit, cookies, candy, water, soda, kindness and love. The unity had begun. A New World was forming. Some slept over night on the cold sidewalks; the voluntary homeless with make-shift beds out of newspaper and denim jackets, colored bandannas tied around their necks, scuffed yellow-buck work boots fastened at their ankles, pillows of blue plastic hard-hats, and rows of white candlelight looming over head.

The country that was built on the backs of these men, and were willing to break their backs again by sleeping on the grey concrete their brothers mixed and poured years before. Even still---they would wake with ease. Then at Ground Zero they'd gather the ruins that were laced with sweat and toil from their forefathers. Which was now soiled with the blood of our beloved, and our enemy. And they would do so lovingly.

Eventually you realized that your volunteer potential wasn't being utilized. Which prompted many of us to "do your own thing" by helping on the "block." The Relief Workers donation center was set up in a fenced outdoor parking lot on West 34th Street, accepting truck loads of supplies 24 hours a day. The trucks were jammed pack with newly packaged men's white socks, T-shirts, briefs, sport shirts, sweat pants, work gloves, black steel-toe work boots, masks, packaged food, bottled water, medical supplies, toiletries, paper goods, cigarettes, Canine booties, dog food and bones.

In the dark of the night we worked side by side unloading these trucks. Crews of construction workers and out-of-town cops. Women and men, shoulder to shoulder---white collar and blue. Each of us suspended in a new reality. Tied together by the red, white and blue ribbons that were pinned to our breast. While a quiet sadness filled our hearts and a peacefulness flowed from our Spirits---for once, we were all equal.

It was distressing to hear the next day that a truck was loaded from the donation center and the driver took off with the entire contents. Along with having to fend off the few meandering vultures that thought they were at a K-Mart free-for-all, as they attempted to stuff their bags with socks, T-shirts and toiletries. Only after reprimanding them with scornful dismay were they reminded of WHO the recipients were; the FDNY. Disgruntled for my spoiling their Christmas, they reluctantly walked away. One man did steal a sleeping bag, but claimed to be homeless. And a local fire company let a stranger into the firehouse to use the bathroom. He was graciously admitted since he was adorned with a FD sweatshirt. Once inside he pulled the fire alarm, and during the ruckus he wiped out the firehouse of their gear. This was not an isolated incident. At another station house someone stole a bag of protective asbestos masks ten minutes after it was logged. People were going to extremes to be allowed into Ground Zero. Although it was the NYPD that disappointed me the most.

By day four, the FDNY were still not receiving the proper gear they needed for Ground Zero. What was being sent to the stations were work boots in size 6. A size a teenage boy could wear. The firemen still without masks or sufficient footwear were wearing their own make-shift work gear taped up. The work boots that did make there way to the site were hoarded by the NYPD. Some cops refusing the firemen boots saving six pairs for their fellow officers. I know the NYPD lost men in the collapse, but isn't it the firemen who are working in the rubble along side the iron and construction workers? Shame on the NYPD for such a power play. I guess they feel their guns and badge gives them the authority to bogart anyone.

With Guiliani having the Police and Fire Commissioners in his back pocket, it's no wonder why this was allowed. I hadn't realized it until I went to a firefighters memorial service at St. Patricks. When the Mayor went to the podium to speak I intentionally didn't clap. But when he introduced the Fire Commissioner, Thomas Von Essen the applause wasn't as grand as Guiliani's. I observed many firemen not clapping for the commissioner. And found it peculiar. I wondered if there was some underlying resentments with the firefighters. After some probing I discovered there was.

Over the years, with each promotion, Von Essen moved up in union ranks at the Fire Fighter's Union. The firemen supported him every step of the way and hoped, "Finally if we have one of our own in there. Then we'll start being treated better." Each year passed and nothing changed. Von Essen gained clout and eventually was selected under Guiliani's reign as the Fire Commissioner. The firemen who stood by his side voting for him at each step---he ultimately left in the dust, and rubble. No longer one of them. He sold them out to be another Guiliani puppet.

And as of lately, Guiliani has through the media, trashed the FDNY who only recently were the cities most beloved Hero's. It seems (by anonymous FDNY sources) the fire bashing Mayor was interested in hundreds of firefighters volunteering for the relief effort only until the truck load of gold and crime scene material was located and recovered. Days after the retrieval of this "valuable dig" is when Guiliani cut back the man power needed for the WTC clean-up. Which evoked the passion and dedication in these men who have tirelessly worked around the clock for nearly two months in a cause more valuable than gold---HUMAN REMAINS.

It is sacrilegious to remove the remaining 4,000 loved ones mixed with debris by dump truck. And to scale back the man power to twenty-five men is utterly preposterous. It will take seven times longer to clean up that area if this act of degradation is allowed by the Mayor. And the excuse Guiliani's using for the cut-back is ridiculous, "It's for their safety. There are too many firefighters working at Ground Zero someone might get hurt." The firemen are the one's who are in the rescue business. They weren't in the way or unqualified on September 11th, why are they now? It can't be because they're costing the city too much in overtime, because they are doing this for free. Even eight weeks later the firefighters working at the WTC are VOLUNTEERING. How about Guiliani volunteering for the city for two months and giving his salary to them?

It is a disgrace that Guiliani is attempting to turn the public against the FDNY. As the media hops on the band wagon of this smear campaign. Reducing the quiet, humble and caring firemen to a pack of violent thugs---is a shameful slander of character made by the news stations via Guiliani's police state. Because of his District Attorney background you'll never hear him slamming the NYPD who's reputation is one of a big-blue Teflon bully. He has a Gestapo mentality and cops blood running through his DNA. But he'll never possess what is needed to be a member of the FDNY: Heart.

Meanwhile Bill, the Mayor just sits by as the residents in lower Manhattan remain displaced indefinitely, and still have to pay telephone, electricity and rent, on some apartments that aren't even salvageable. Those rents should be waved with no questions asked. With businesses closing weekly, hiring freezes due to Anthrax, the city is in a financial crisis. If he wants to help us he should roll back the rents throughout the city. A $1,500 shoe-box studio will lose its appeal when people see Manhattan ends at 8th Street and the air has been infiltrated with asbestos. But it seems his only concern is car pooling or taking Mass Transit since it will ultimately create revenue for the city.

The irony is two years ago Guilini sunk $16 million into building “the bunker" on the 23rd floor of 7 WTC. Which went up in smoke along with the Mass Transit offices. Maybe I'm mistaken, but isn't a bunker a shelter below ground? Why doesn't he focus on that financial blunder for a day or two? His distraction for everyone is to shop, shop, shop, buy Broadway tickets and trinkets, eat Bon-Bon's and drink Cosmopolitans. There's atleast 10 percent of us in this city without jobs, how can we spend? Who wants to be trivial in such a tragic time.

I guess my question is really for the FBI and CIA. If there is all this file footage on television from camera men shooting video tape of bin Laden over the years. Where did it come from his P.R. people? And if he is really the master mind and such a dangerously evil man, then who is the Governmental Einstein (probably a friend of Guuliani's) that allowed them close enough to shoot film of him all around Afghanistan, but not shoot him dead. If they had access to him and knew where he was to shoot the footage, why wouldn't they know now? What was the CIA waiting for? THIS?

I must say that prior to this tragedy the word GOD was used only on Christian networks. On the 11th of September that changed. In the initial three weeks I heard news anchors, talk show hosts, and people in general talk about GOD with ease. Where people would once shirk at the mere mention of the word. Even Oprah has relinquished her New Age term "Higher Power" for the exact word of GOD. After thousands of years of spiritual bankruptcy, let New York lead the way. Maybe through financial bankruptcy our spirituality can emerge from beneath the ashes of loss and mourning. Could this be the second coming?

Maybe the two slabs of wood Jesus was nailed to now takes form in two steel towers, and the nails hammered into his flesh, was the planes thrust into the buildings. The blood from Jesus' body is akin to the blood shed of the 6,000 people. And the horror, the grief, the unbelievable sorrow is a reenactment of that day in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. The reason is the same: religion. The bottom line is the same: money. The outcome: mourning and resurrection.

A spiritual shift has occurred within the masses around the world and it is 6,000 times stronger. We just might be able to get it right this time. That's if our love and unity can overpower the hate and violence the Government is trying to jam down our throats via the media through fear. I have longed for the day to live heaven on earth---instead of in my mind and heart. Maybe now we're that much closer, and if not---then there's still time to bake anthrax cookies. If things get any worse I'll send you a dozen…..

Be well Bill, keep up the good work----and don't let the bastards get you down.
--R. B. Stuart
October 3, 2001

Copyright October 2001, R. B. STUART, All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction of this Blog in any form.

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22 July 2009

BRAVO's: "NYC Prep (H)"

Part Fifteen
All Images Curtosy BRAVO

With the diminishment of my cable channels since the DTV conversion….in desperation to be taken out of the reality of my life---I decided to watch someone else’s reality---in Bravo’s new show “NYC Prep” about the social agony of six city rich kids. The privileged lives of these teens splaying their parents cashola in upscale eateries and designer boutiques with cell phones glued to palm….almost brought up my nights supper.

I haven’t seen this many hair flips since Farrah Fawcett. While the conceited, player-in-waiting, Sebastian attempts to use the five French words he memorized in class on unsuspecting girls. His François Pig Latin begets him a cell phone number and hopes that he’ll seduce her out of the white cotton day-of the-week training bra set she’s wearing. It’s then you realize you may need a dollop of Prep H to sit through the hour of awkward flirting, manipulation and gossip by this pack of sniveling brats.

Between the neurotic twitches, arrogance and pretentious behavior---this clan of wealthy juveniles---makes the elite society look…well…boring. As each of them are too consumed with appearance, fashion and higherachy to foster a pinch of character.

If this is what growing up urban rich looks like---then I’m glad I grew up country poor. Only now do I aspire to a Chanel & Tiffany lifestyle….as I crawl my way up the ladder of success with splinters in my hands, averting the broken rungs and rats squirreling down below….do I wish I’d been born rich.

For centuries you’ve heard, whether people or puppies, females mature faster than males----well that theory is depicted here with these high - schoolers. As the Bravo reality cams shadow the teenage Manhattanites, who are already showing neurotic tendencies, and obvious “issues.” Using their parents carte blanche to access the art scene, black tie benefits, and front row fashion week seats----their privileged lives are suppose to glamorize teen life in NYC----but manages to make it look pathetic, as they whimper about meaningless hub-bub.

When most New Yorkers are transplants from somewhere else, these sex-tuplets, born and raised in the city, are the future of NY. They introduce us to what happens to a group of teens who are reared in a soulless urban environment, desensitized by concrete, money, smog and noise. Their psychological make-up has less to do with Bobbi Brown (pun intended) and more to do with neurosis.

PC, 18 (above), a Senior is the most pompus of the group. Should rename himself PT for paper towel or PJ for peanut butter & jelly. He thinks calling girls “bitches” is cool. And condescendingly addresses the others (only a year younger) as children. Attempts to use “psychological analysis” on “the children” to see how “mature” they are and if he can get them to “crack under pressure.”

See’s a therapist (needs a therapists). After he explains to the therapist he’s growing up and no longer interested in superficial partying, he interns at a photo shoot where he bares his chest and slaps a gay stylist on the ass. This behavior will be his entrée into the NYC party scene…as all jaded New Yorkers know how the city thrives on fresh, young, innocent meat. His cavalier attitude around seasoned adults----will surely set him up to be exploited.

As he begins to party with those a decade older --- and skipping school --- his desperation to be cool and hang out with what he thinks is the “cool crowd.” Will undoubtedly parley him into as lifestyle of drugs, sex and rock n’ roll---as he bankrolls their good time---he’ll learn a lesson early on. That money not only buys designer threads---but in NY---friends too.

Jessie, 17 (above), a Senior is a mini me of Mom, former girlfriend of PC and still in love with him. Is always on the fringes of anger. Has an overly developed false self-esteem, and is arrogant to female underlings. Although she does charity work, is unable to mentor. She is threatened by the attractiveness of other girls or women --- especially when PC is involved.

Sebastian, 16, a Sophomore is the most narcissistic of the bunch. He flips his hair more than a girl, plays girls against each other, while manipulating them out of their phone numbers for future dates. Uses snippets of French to lure unsuspecting teens into his web of lies. He is calculating, and pretends to “score” when talking about the dates with his boy - friends---and was actually rejected. When he could have gotten a girl to give him her panties---he blew it---because while on their date she asked to touch his hair. He was appalled and retorted off camera, “What am I a dog? Let’s pat Sebastian.” (below far left, Camille, Sebastian, foreground Taylor)

Camille, 17, a highly opinionated, articulate Junior that attends an all girls school, which Jesse threw a dig about. Most adjusted in the bunch. She’s a perfectionist, academically focused, seeks intellectual stimulation, and has a self-professed high standard for boyfriends. She admits it’s partly to blame for never having a serious boyfriend, and is succumbing to peer pressure to date. Realizes guys are “sub-par.” Although it’s refreshing to see that she is less tolerant than most girls when it comes to the boys games and B.S. Has no problem confronting PC for being inappropriate and immature. Her strength, determination and assertiveness will aid her well as her goal is Harvard.

Taylor, 15, a Sophomore is dating Cole, an outsider that attends their dreaded and frowned upon “public school.” He’s a back ground character, but the most adjusted and normal of the teens---sans pretenses or manipulations. She is soft-spoken, a vegan---and is being seduced by the ulterior motives of PC. Who if successful, will taint her purity with his evil clutches.

Kelli, 16 (above), a somewhat fragile Junior lives in the city with her brother (not too much older than she), while their fortysomething parents live the single life in the Hamptons. And briefly visit their kids once a week---I guess to make sure the apartment hasn’t burned down. Their children fend for themselves. Kelli actually interviewed singing instructors by herself. Inviting some less then desirable types into her home unsupervised. In which she was a fidgeting wreck---and rightly so. Should a 16 year old be interviewing adults? If the Bravo camera’s weren’t there I worried for her safety…as she’s a rape waiting to happen. If her parents didn’t want the responsibility of having children and parenting them in the home until they are 18---then they shouldn’t have had them at all. To me they are unfit parents. Delusional to think a young girl can live in NYC---the most unpredictable and sometimes ravaging city in the world---without an adults guidance.

So to those breeding urbanites you may rethink location---even though suburban strip malls may be an eye sore, devoid of culture and lack cosmopolitan style---rearing children in the city---may not give the fragile little seedlings the grounding and perspective needed---to become whole, healthy, well formed adults. Once you lift the veil on the raw underbelly of life in the city---there’s no recapturing that innocence---and to experience that as a teen….there’s no telling what the years of over stimulation and lack of human connectedness will produce.

Remember nature equals nurture. Animals and humans need nature under their feet to grow into the best they can be. They need to be kissed by the sun in the morning. Blanketed by the stars at night. And their joy needs to be carried away by the laughter of the wind.

Copyright July 2009, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

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02 June 2009

“OPRAH: My Soul Sister in a Parallel Universe”

An Observation

Part Fourteen

In 1998, New York City is when I first began watching The OPRAH Show. It was when ABC started airing it at 1:00 am in the Tri-State area. She announced the spiritual format, “Change Your Life,” and since I had spent over a decade reading self-help books, and many of her guests were the authors I read---I watched.

I didn’t know much about Oprah Winfrey, except she had a daily television talk show. While discovering her as a television personality I observed her camera angles and judged her self-consciousness that the camera magnified.

Around the same time, while reading an interview with her, she shared a quote from Stedman about her childhood abuses---her honesty and vulnerability was palpable, and a way of thinking that I could apply to my own life and abuses---so I took notice. And the more I learned about Oprah while watching the show---I found a kinship that unfolded over time, as there were many coincidences woven throughout our lives. Although she was born 6 years before me into a different culture---our similarities are uncanny…. I’ll share them with you below. Please let me know your thoughts. And if my imagination has carried me away…. ### RBS

Our names both 5 letters & 2 syllables.

Oprah’s father, formerly in the Army, worked as a coal miner.
My father, former Army SGT. worked in the boiler room of a company fueling the fire with coal.

Oprah lived on a farm.
I lived on a farm till I was nine.

Oprah is from Miss.
I am from Mass.

Oprah’s grandmother used to hit her as a child with a switch.
My father used to hit us as children with a belt and a horsewhip.

Oprah loves blueberries.
I picked wild blueberries on our land as a child and it is my summer favorite.

Oprah wore glasses as a child.
I started wearing glasses when I was 6.

Oprah was molested at 9 by an uncle and cousin.
I was molested at 9 by an ex-step brother.

Oprah ran away from home at 13.
I left home with a fiancé and my mothers blessing at 13.

Oprah became sexually active at 14.
I was sexually exploited at 14.

Oprah’s half brother was Gay.
My brother is Gay.

Oprah’s half brother died from AIDS in 1989.
My sister died from AIDS in 1987.

Oprah’s early dating years was with abusive men.
Till I was in my early 20’s, I had relationships with men 10 – 20 years my senior, the latter was a black man. I experienced years of mental, physical and verbal abuse.

Oprah’s film debut in “The Color Purple” was 1985.
My film debut in “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” was 1986.

Oprah loves books and is an avid reader.
When the abuse ended, I began reading and collecting books for over a 15 year period.

Oprah keeps a journal.
I began journaling at 21.

Oprah meditates.
I began meditating at 27.

Oprah loves trees.
I began hugging trees at 27. Oak is my favorite.

Oprah’s middle name is Gail.
My sister’s name is Gail.

Oprah’s fragile self – worth after several break-ups resulted in weight gain.
My self esteem and body image was shattered by my late 20’s and I packed on weight.

Oprah doesn’t wear a bathing suit in public.
I stopped wearing bathing suits in the mid 90’s.

Oprah’s top weight was 220 before she began a program.
I hit 220 lbs. in 1994 when I began working out.

Oprah’s never been married.
I was engaged once as a teen---but never married.

Oprah never had children.
I used birth control and was fearful of having children.

Oprah loves dogs, her first as an adult being a medium sized black Cocker Spaniel named “Sophie.” [6 letters, starts with S, 2 syllables]
I love dogs, my first as an adult, a medium sized white Poodle named “Sunday.” [6 letters, starts with S, 2 syllables]

Oprah moved to Chicago for her career in TV.
I moved to New York City for my career in film.

Oprah used the number 111 with an audience contestant on one of her mock game shows.
I hit the NY state and NH state lottery number 111, 5 times since 1992.

Oprah entered into publishing in April 2000 with her O magazine.
I entered into publishing when writing a memoir in February 2000.

Oprah’s 70-acre California estate is on a mountaintop.
My family home was a ranch on a 35-acre wooded hilltop.

Oprah’s astrological sign is Aquarius, an Air sign.
My astrological sign is Gemini, an Air sign.

Oprah has a large gay following.
I have more male gay friends then women.

Oprah's sister Patricia died in 2003.
My mother Patricia died in 2002.

Oprah gained back most of the weight she lost in the past 3 years.
I gained back the 20 lbs I lost plus 25 more in the past 4 years.

Oprah’s favorite junk food is potato chips.
Mine is Ruffles with sour cream.

Oprah’s switched to Blue Corn nachos.
I started eating yellow corn nachos 5 years ago.

Oprah discovered a 40-year family secret November 2010.
I discovered an 80-year family secret July 2010.

Oprah is a billionaire.
I am penniless.

Copyright May 29, 2009, R. B. Stuart. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

15 April 2009

“Exploited by The Poetry of Pimps” - The Disintegration of Today's Culture

Part Thirteen

With the glamorization and mainstreaming of language from the underbelly of the street. The word whore is softened by the street pronunciation as ho’---making it not only more acceptable for the mainstream, but more acceptable for broadcast media. Whether comedy or news, Imus’ remarks would have cut him off the air instantly had he said the “square white man’s version” of the word, “Nappy Headed Whore’s.” It’s more of a derogatory and demeaning statement to all women, no matter what the hair type. Since the significance and outrage is on the word whore itself.

With societies adoption of this exploitive gutter language, he along with many others have been convinced that the terminology is cool. But it is not cool….thus the outcry by those that know better in the media and entertainment industry. The issue lies with the degradation of girls and young women in today’s culture.

I lost my childhood due to early sexual exploration and exploitation. And thought at 21 when I left the exploiter who was 20 years my senior, that I was leaving all the negative connotations and verbal abuse behind. But not so….as it has meandered from the slimy sidewalks into our living rooms. And it shouldn't take Imus’ comments for us to find outrage about the language used on our young women. Maybe it’s a blessing, for the discourse it’s created maybe we can share with the society that has welcomed it in….that ho’, whore and bitch, is unacceptable no matter what the color of a woman’s skin, as it is a direct violation against all womankind.

When I hear those words.…it turns me inside out with anger. The n word and faggot have caused equal reactions....it’s time that the softness of whore = ho' be taken as seriously offensive as its disrespectful and hurtful cousins mentioned above. And bitch, since it's not the modern day endearment of Darling, should be addressed and discarded too.

For the last eight years I’ve been trying to speak about the demeaning and exploitive language of Rap and Hip Hop music. The discomfort I’d feel daily while hearing snippets of it when flipping through channels on the television or changing the dial on the radio. As someone who knows the repercussions of this language, being assaulted with it for over seven years, I know first hand how damaging it can be psychologically and emotionally.

Most of the time this street language is used in unison with physical violence. Because there is no respect for women (ho's) in the street no matter what their race....and it is this exploitative, demeaning, abusive language used in the street as part of mind control by pimps, so as to keep the women with a low self-esteem.....afraid to leave them.

This street language and its negative attributes has infiltrated main stream not only because it's been glamorized and introduced through music, but because the self-acclaimed pimps, Snoop Dog and gangsta’ rappers have become the rappers pimping an entire culture, not the poets as Russell Simmons declares.

The young, urban fatherless boys emulates their local pimps from the 70's and 80's, as they were the black cultures version of Joe Cartright in Bonanza. And in essence began to sing what they knew...pimps and life on the street. It’s hardly poetry---but more profitable than pimping, and resulted in what we have today with Hip Hop and Rap. In 2005 I sat in angst and disbelief as I witnessed an Oscar being given to a new song, "It's Hard Out There for A Pimp" from the movie Hustle and Flow. Even the Academy has been seduced into believing it is cool to honor pimps. And I am astounded that the media rewards Snoop Dog’s exploitation with his own fatherhood reality show.

It was a struggle for me to sit idle while this verbal rape occurred on a generation of innocent women, but unfortunately the women’s magazines aren't ready to discourse the issue. When I attempted to emphasize the infiltration of language from the street and its dire consequences to editors…it fell on deaf ears. Maybe as Imus' statement slices deep as a knife into the heart and psyche of women as a whole, we can begin back peddling and correct what has been wronged.

I am not an advocate for censorship but, "Each one of us are socially responsible for the betterment of humanity." And right before our eyes we are losing a generation of young women. Because of their inherent need to be loved and accepted, they are sacrificing their self-empowerment and self-esteem---to be what men and boys want them to be. And it is through education, at home and in school, that we need to teach our children love, peace, respect, responsibility, all the healthy and positive aspects of life. Not the negatives; hatred, violence, racism, exploitation and abuse.

As adults we must be aware that children also eat with their ears and eyes---that the mental stimulation of positive music, video's and movies can teach them how to grow into healthy functioning adults. And as they digest this repeatedly---they'll emulate and learn the goodness about themselves, others and life. That will be....humanity at its finest.

Copyright 10 April 2007 R. B. STUART, All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

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17 March 2009


White Collar Crooks Pillage America

Part Twelve

The acid reflux of the Clinton – Bush years has given us NAFTA, guised as a good trade agreement. But since it’s implementation in 1994 we’ve seen that isn’t so by the erosion of U. S. jobs. It’s left the American worker in a Mexican state of underpaid joblessness. You will soon find American workers hopping the fence to Mexico just to find work at the American companies that abandoned them. And although in 2008 Bush left us a $1.3 trillion deficit---the banking crisis we find ourselves is the culmination of President Clinton’s decision in 1993 to deregulate the banking system. And as the cleaner President Obama has come in to clean up the bad decisions and poor politics left to rot by Clinton and Bush.

I recall the very day the financial shafting began, I walked into my bank and looked at the metal stand that held the sign with removable numbers and letters. It notified the customers of the saving accounts percentage rates. The 5% or 6% rate had been replaced by the interest rate of 2%. We wouldn’t find out how much we were really losing until 2008.

Fast forward past Presidents 42 and 43 and a country riddled with Ponzi schemes. The white collar crooks would amass billions over a 15 year scam of stealing from the naive rich and unknowledgeable poor---and giving to the crooked corporate wealthy. President Clinton is the blame for the free for all attitude---President Bush for exploiting Clinton’s policy making. The deregulations Clinton enacted across the banking, telecommunications and transportation [airlines] sectors paved the way for Bushy and his cronies to step in and rape and pillage the U. S.---like a gang of Brooks Brothers wearing corporate oil thugs.

Clinton's decision to be soft on regulation initiated the financial gluttony within the first consumer driven corporations; Enron, Adelphia Communications and WorldCom to collapse under the weight of greed. By deregulating, the lack of government regulations and oversight, Clinton gave them the green light to gouge the consumer with ease. Fifteen years worth of buy-outs and takeovers, gaining financial momentum and no one to answer to---produced a greed beyond comprehension, and the financial ruin we currently find ourselves in. While consumer product and services suffer increasingly year after year, the public's only recourse is to file a grievance, which our Washington officials simply crumple up for use in interoffice putting practice.

We had our first taste of corporate greed with the CEO's at MCI WorldCom and Enron. It all began in 1996 when the first of the corporate deregulation's occurred between the Telecommunications Companies. The telephone companies involved were: NYNEX / Bell Atlantic (currently Verizon), AT&T and MCI. The deregulations were meant to assist the consumer with discounted competitive prices. But, within months additional taxes, taxes on top of taxes, surcharges and connectivity fee's were applied to the monthly bill. During the first year I observed the .75 cent connectivity charge creep to .98 cents, then $1.50, onward to $1.78.

At that point I wrote a letter to then AT&T CEO, Michael Armstrong in protest against this additional connectivity fee. For many months, I and others refuted the charge but without any support from our Governmental officials, AT&T extorted the fee. Behind the extortion was FCC honcho, Harold Furchtgott-Roth, raking in monthly from New York State residents solely (who pay the highest rates in the country) $37,763,000 (Yes, that's thirty-seven million dollars a month).

By the second year the connectivity fee went upward to $2.50, pulling in $53,000,000 million per month for Mr. Armstrong's lunch money. Allowing him in 1999 to purchase Time Warner Cable, or should I say "we" bought it for him. One month after the acquisition, cable companies were deregulated and the cable rate increases were unstoppable. By 2000 New Yorkers forked over $9.04 per month to the renamed Universal Charge (also known as The Universal Service Fund), giving Mr. Roth a nice little IRA of $191,648,000 million. Imagine $191.6 million dollars from ONE State in one month. Throughout the United States they pulled in a hefty monthly allowance of $2.5 billion from long-distance telephone users (separate from your long-distance charges).

What a profitable deal Washington, D.C. has made with the FCC. If the purpose of this Universal/ Connectivity Charge is really intended for the use of providing "affordable" telephone communications for low-income consumers, and consumers in rural areas, along with assisting schools, libraries, rural healthcare providers with Internet access and lastly disbursing funds to local telephone companies. Then with a liquid monthly income from The Universal Service Fund of $2.5 billion across the country, these recipients could have been wired ten times over. If they were truly spending the monies on the goodness they profess, then the surplus "Fund" money (PAC money) collected by American's should reach out further and wipe out poverty, hunger and homelessness in the United States, and probably could in one month.

Unfortunately for us, the Electric Companies followed suit. Hiding behind the shield of deregulation they are using the same staggered inflation practices. Electric bills were suppose to decrease $5 a month for each customer, has conveniently reverted to increasing rates. The cost of a newer form of deregulated energy.

Interestingly enough Utility Companies invested heavily in telecommunications. Allowing them to use jointly owned telephone/electricity poles they offered the consumer one-stop shopping. Telephone-television cable-electricity became "one," charging whatever they want since they bought up all the competition. This is the backlash from the 1994 Clinton administration's introduction to the "Information Superhighway."

The California Enron black-outs have shown us the repercussions of deregulation by using this strong arm control tactic: "Pay us more or you'll sit in the dark." This is a sampling of how Utility deregulation is letting the U.S. Citizens see that we have literally given our "power" away to Corporate Washington. Our water source is next. Maybe down the road even the air we breathe.

With such lucrative dealings in deregulation, acquisitions and merges---the airlines have jumped on the band-wagon. (I wonder if the board game Monopoly will add deregulation to their game?) The Airline Industry has spent the last decade dismantling competitive airlines by gobbling them up one by one without even a burp. With the fading antitrust regulations, three of the six major U.S. carriers have swallowed up other Domestic and International carriers through mergers and buy-outs---once again their reasoning: to supply the consumer with one-stop-shopping.

The new conglomerates called OneWorld Alliance, Star Alliance and Global Airlines in essence have formed an alliance against the consumer. Inflating fares on some routes from 30 - 200 %, and increasing pet fares from $75 dollars round trip to $400 for the same flight. Forcing the consumer to pay as much for Fido as for another human being and he won’t even get to sit beside you. Then after Sept.11th they all cried poverty and bankruptcy, and the Government bailed them out---repeatedly. Deregulation and bailouts---what more could a company ask for.

With the airlines in cahoots, as consumers we have to pay-up or shut-up. Shopping around with other airlines is a thing of the past. The big-three are banding together arm and arm charging the same prices. Using airport taxes, surcharges (there's that word again) and fuel costs to hide behind. And they wonder why there's air-rage. At what point must we the consumer be financially bled before we lock arms and regulate ourselves against Corporate Washington? Please, don't be mistaken---I have nothing against Big Brother. I kind of like living in the new Deregulated States of America, it gives me a warm, cozy feeling as I sit in the dark without a telephone or cable T.V., and wonder what life must have been like in the old Moscow.

Copyright 30 July 2001, revised June 2002 & March 2009, R. B. STUART. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

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11 January 2009


An Intimate Portrait With Man's Best Friend
Part Eleven

On Easter Sunday morning of 2003 my sister let me sleep through the much awaited first birth from her 3 year old Poodle, Snowy. A crying bunch of Apricot beauties plopped out in the center of her bed, three boys and one girl. The father Buddy, paced nervously through the house as he couldn't comprehend who was interfering with his beloved snow-white girl, and why she was so bitchy towards him. I dangled him over the bed, when he got a look at the mass of tan shiny rats desperately sucking his Lady's breast's---he was dumbfounded. Feeling confused and betrayed he was shooed out of the room by her crazed glassy stare and snappy white fanged smile. For his life and ours---would never be the same.

The enchantment was instant. One could simply not get enough of the four inch, close-eyed Chinese egg rolls. Their sweet watermelon pink noses, tongues and bellies, made me want to lick them like lollipops. But Snowy was doing just fine without assistance from the humanoids ogling her at each waking moment. Their squeaking cries signaling her for food and warmth.

Since they were born on my sister's bed, an impractical choice which would prove to be dangerous for these squirming quadruplets. As they blindly pulled themselves along the mattress towards the warm crevices of the covers, or scent of their Mumma, eventually reaching the edge of the bed then tumble and thump to the carpeted floor. Only a three-foot fall, but as my brother-in-law said, "To them it must have seemed like a sky scraper."

I was horrified the first few times as they would hit the floor either whaling in terror or stunned silence. I realized they were resilient and kept my fingers crossed. We began laying pillows, blankets and comforters on the floor around the bed---a safety net for the four tumbling blind mice. One even managed to find a hole in the seam of the comforter and crawled in it for warmth. Which I discovered upon my morning inspection when one was missing. I began to panic, looking around the bed, on the floor, under the bed. As I moved the comforter I noticed it protruding like a hot dog in a bun, nestled quietly asleep in the filling. I proceeded to untangle its needle hook claws from the white thread. Then laying him down to sleep safely with the others. Thankfully none were injured, and as to date there has been no brain damage.

As the days wore on Snowy singled out the runt. She began carrying him in her mouth, hiding under the bed, attempting feverishly to bury him by digging a hole in the carpet. The poor minuscule, blind-squealing-bundle was tucked in her jaw like a bone. She repeatedly terrorized him in this way. I insisted Snowy was trying to kill him by because he was either sick or the smallest. I volunteered to become his surrogate mother. With the Vet's guidance I attempted to feed him new born formulas with a bottle or eye-dropper. Keeping him warm by tucking him in the collar of my shirt; laying wedged between my bosom and neck, heated by the warmth of my heart.

His pugged face and unusually wide tongue made us wonder if there were some torrid affair with the local Bull Dog. The indescribable smell of his breath was a cross between a freshly opened can of dog food and mother's milk. So intoxicating and addictive, "Chanel" could create a new men's cologne called "Puppy's Breath"---it would drive women wild. Snowy eventually accepted him. He fought his way to her teats, pressing in between the others. (Surviving his tumultuous childhood, he is now a 2 ½ year old 15 pounder named Jake.)

At three weeks old their eyes opened. It is unknown whether they could focus on these gargantuan bare skinned humanoids continuously in their faces. Although they did lock their sweet, round, milk chocolaty velvet eyes upon ours. And expressionless, listen to you banter and coo a foreign language into them. I was enamored by all of them. So much so my life took 2nd place to this litter of love.

Once they developed their sight---their need to maneuver took precedence. On nimbly legs their drunken stumble kept them from wheeling over stuffed animals, and rubber toys scattered along the play pen like an obstacle course. After weeks of learning how to roll from their backs onto their feet---vocalizing erupted. Actual chirping was heard coming from Sunday's mouth (the male I kept). Soprano notes pealed from the gums of their toothless mouths---beckoning the warm underside of their mother's belly. Unaware as to what sound was coming out of their own months---they attempted to mimic Snowy, and horrify their neglected papa, Buddy.

When the white-bone needles broke threw the skin of their gums---they took delight and fascination in the wiggle of your toes. Your bare feet with a selection of 10 knobs to chew on--- provided enough entertainment for all four.

Once they began trusting their fleshy Amazon friends. While sitting floor level they'd climb your legs, arms and chest with the goal of reaching your hair, chewing on it or suckling on your bulbous ear lobes in a fervored attempt to draw milk. While their tiny breath blew warmly inside your ear, they'd continue to crawl up behind your head and rest under the mane covering your neck. At times I expected them to meow---reminiscent of a litter of frisky kittens.

Enthralled by their presence, I'd pose them around the house so I could catalogue their growth by burning it into a roll of Kodak film. It was the beginning of "Aunty's Baby Dog Book." My addiction to their faces connected me to each one as if I'd given birth to quadruplets. Nurturing, playing, cuddling, becoming a surrogate mother took precedence over my own daily meals and baths. Their innocent eyes put a glow on my face. Being childless, I had entered a world of motherhood---an experience foreign to me. My conversations were monopolized by puppy stories. I proudly shared my puppy photo album as if it were my own new born. My friends had noticed an apparent shift in my personality. A new level of calm centeredness had permeated my being. Healing the void within by protecting and unconditionally caring for the vulnerable creatures of the earth.

At six-weeks-old the boys were biting, chewing and rough housing with one another, by ganging up on the smaller ones. Jake (the one Snowy tried to bury) and the little girl, Lilly were taking a beating---mainly her---as they began using her as a chew toy. Boring a sore into her lower back. Coupled with her inability to push through at feeding time. She began a downward spiral of dehydration, weight loss and atrophy. Unnoticble until....

One morning I woke to find her hovering under the first step of the stairs. I was horrified to see her shaking, crying uncontrollably, unable to use her hind legs, and her bum covered with feces. I rushed her to the Vet's. It preempted a two week period of one on one nursing. I dusted off my Florence Nightingale whites and committed myself to Lilly.

The Doctor was instantly smitten by her. After a bout of emergency antibiotics and IV fluids, he carefully advised me of an every two hour feeding regimen and medicine plan. Lilly needed warmth, food and a soothing of her frayed spirit. When around the boys she needed constant supervision and to be separated at night. She gazed her sweet eyes upon me as I carried her around the house tucked under my arm upon my breast. At bed time Lilly laid lovingly next to my shoulder as we went peacefully to sleep.

Within 48 hours Lilly became progressively worse. She squealed in pain at each attempt to hold, move, or pick her up. Her stomach became distended, her fever increased and every 10 minutes she whaled out in pain. I wept as I saw the look of death upon her sunken innocent face and frail body. It was a look I'd never forget, since it was the same look of death I saw upon my mothers face just a year before. I wondered, would Lilly die in my arms the way my mother had? All I knew was that I had to tell Lilly I loved her and allow her brothers to be with her one last time.

I unwrapped her from the hand towel she was bundled in and laid her on the seat of a soft cushioned chair. And one by one I brought her brothers to her. Sunday was the first out of the play pen. He appeared scared. He cautiously sniffed her face then remembered she was one of them. Lilly laid with death around her. Sunday knew she was sick because he used his nose to cover her up with the towel. He expressed empathy. I didn't know it was possible in animals, never mind in a 5-week-old puppy. Next was Jake then Bee Gee (the largest male my other sister took). They both were afraid. They sniffed at her but seemed too scared to go any further. I was content they had said goodbye.

I took her gently in my arms and went up to my bedroom. I laid with her on my bed, lit candles and prayed to God and the angels who looked over animals. My voice cracked as I called out to the Universe to send Lilly a Vetnerian spirit to heal her, take away her fever, and assist in a full recovery. Even though my pleas weren't heard for my mother. Through the sorrow I cried out in faith that the Divine Spirits would hear me and come to her aid. We fell asleep in each others arms.

I woke the next day to a spunky little girl by my side frolicking with my fingers needing to pee. A miracle I thought, wait until my sister and her husband see the revitalized Lilly. I took her to the kitchen where she ate ferociously. Then tousled around the floor with her brothers. We were all amazed. The first 72 hours being the most detrimental---Lilly made it to day three and was holding her own---on the road to a happy pup hood. I breathed easier---and thanked the Divine Power for healing her, and for guiding me on how to care for my sweet, Easter Lilly.

In the interim the Vet had their eyes on her for a Father's Day present. My sister wasn't able to keep the entire litter, so at 8-weeks she'd rest her sweet gaze on someone else's face. Lilly slept with me one last time before I left NY for a business trip. With her tiny eyes resting shut I held her in the crook of my arm and kissed her goodbye. I bid her a wonderful life in a new home with a great family. I asked her if she could---to come back one day and see me again. The tears of farewell stung my eyes as I knew when I returned---she'd be gone.

By the time I returned Sunday, Bee Gee and Jake were approaching nine weeks old. Sunday seemed to have missed me terribly. Unbeknownst to me he had chosen me to be his lifelong friend. Sunday was feeling unprotected and not really identifying himself with a master. Snowy and Buddy belonged to my sister and her husband. They were keeping Bee Gee so they doted on him. We all fawned over Jake since he was the cutest, most lovable and had the happiest wagging tail ever seen (their tails were not docked). It clocked back and forth like a pianists metronome. Therefore, Sunday was at the bottom of the puppy pole, but not any longer, since Lilly was gone he could wiggle his way into my heart.

The second night back I slept on the living room couch. Puppies scattered along every crevice of my body. Wedged beside my head, my arm, in between my legs, Snowy at my feet, Buddy under my other arm. At 7 o'clock in the morning their excitement of seeing a humanoid sleep with them, woke me. They jumped off the couch and ran all over the house. Up the stairs into the bedrooms, the bathroom and of course peeing and pooping on the rugs before I could catch them.

As I was cleaning up after Bee Gee and Jake, Sunday was in the bathroom getting ready to vomit. I ran to him while he was dry heaving and snatched him off the throw rug and placed him on the newspaper on the floor. Out from his mouth came a blonde hair ball. I thought, "Gee he must have chewed on my hair a lot, or is this burnt grass?" I bent down and with my bare fingers plucked it up to throw it in the waste basket. When I did it began to uncoil. I threw it in horror. I scrubbed my hands with soap and boiling water and looked again, this time with a tissue in hand. The closer I got I noticed the coiled Vermicelli had dark brown horizontal stripes and was moving; it was a worm.

I was frantic thinking that they laid all over me through the night and at any moment worms could of slithered out of them---into me. My skin crawled, my psyche was traumatized for days afterwards. My sister was away so I called the emergency clinic asking if it was Ring Worm. She replied, "Round Worm. All puppies have them. It's time for them to be dewormed and given their shots." My days and nights were filled with the re-enactment of the episode. I shunned the puppies for days until they were dewormed. I researched the human contraction of Round Worm and began herbs to kill the "infestation" I was convinced I had.

I questioned myself if I really wanted a puppy. I was uncovering a fear of commitment over having to care for a dog. What if he dies or we're separated like the other dogs from my childhood? All that pain and sorrow again. I really never wanted a small dog anyway---especially a Poodle. What if I move and can't have pets? As the list expanded, the fear grew. Then Sunday began following me throughout the house.

Jumping up wanting me to hold him. Shadowing my every step by laying at my feet no matter how often I moved. Convulsing with excitement and joy when he'd see me in the morning. Bouncing off my calves when I walked around the backyard, trying to grab at the hem of my sundresses. His beautiful peaches and cream face dotted with a black Licorice nose, his personality and affection---was making it extremely difficult to renege.

By week ten Jake was ready to leave the den. Five dogs had become overwhelming and my sister had to let him go. Papa Buddy had already taken over the paternal pup rearing, while Snowy was recovering from "Chewed Teat Syndrome" and was more than happy to just lounge and eat steak Bon-Bons.

During this time Bee Gee and Sunday discovered their love for water. The grateful duo frolicked in a freshly filled kiddy pool every afternoon. They learned how to fetch Buddies beloved squeaky ball, run like Greyhounds, hop and leap through the air like bunnies---flying on the wings of the thrill of the fall. Blackened by dirt from rolling in the holes they dug like two junkyard dogs and yuking it up in the mud like a couple of swine, brought me to my knees with adoration. The same loving eyes a mother has while watching her children play outside for the first time---had shone upon mine. When I placed them at the top of the lemon yellow plastic slide on the swing set---they slid down in delight---further into my heart and mind.

When Sunday and Bee Gee neared 5 months old, these two Tenors learned to howl Indian chants in the morning as a wake up call. Baiting me downstairs to release them from confinement. I ignored their seductive pleas, as I attempt to break them and me, of their separation anxiety. Their manipulative serenades wean them towards independence---while floating a furry smile up the stairs to my face. Bee Gee had grown into a sweet, dopey, big, fury blonde bear---out weighing his parents, at 12 pounds.

And Sunday well, everyone thinks my one testicle male puppy, is a girl. I believe I've acquired the first gay Poodle. He's afraid of children and strangers, basically anything that moves. The excessive barking and growling he's adopted from Snowy, which I hope to change with obedient training and socializing. His morning kisses as he tucks his nose under my chin, wiggling up my arm to hang over my shoulder. Are enough to keep me engaged with this little blonde ball of softness, this feisty spirit of puppy love---for atleast another decade.

As 5 ½ years have gone by, this 16 pound pup has filled a void in my life I didn’t know existed. His unconditional love, his extreme patience, protectiveness, dedication, obedience, understanding and joy, was a gift I was unaware that I needed…..until I finally rescinded and opened my heart to make the commitment to love and care for him, as he does for me. Only then, did the hurts and pains from my past have the ability to heal, as I was swathed in love that he so endlessly and effortlessly provides his humanoid friend---me.

Copyright June 2003, R. B. STUART. All Rights reserved. No reproduction of this blog in any form.

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