Where Were You…

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It was a beautiful morning – sunny, warm, a blue sky full of light fluffy clouds.   My husband had to go to New Jersey that morning on business and because I’d decided to take the trip with him, we had stayed on our boat in Mystic the night before.  We set out fairly early., hoping to time our trip around rush hour traffic near New York City.  We took I-95 and drove along, enjoying the day and each others’ company.   After driving for a couple of hours, we stopped at a rest stop for some coffee.  It was just about 9:00 AM.  When we went inside the Dunkin Donuts store, a television was on and a group of people were gathered in front of it.   Apparently, there had been a horrible plane crash with the plane smashing into one of the World Trade Center towers.  As we watched, though, the impossible happened.  A second plane struck the second tower.

Our minds do funny things when we can’t seem to comprehend what we’re seeing.   Rather than panicking, the small crowd in front of that TV became ever so silent.   We watched the scene and then watched it again, trying to make sense out of what had just unfolded.  Finally, one man said, “We’re under attack. America is under attack.”

My husband and I got back in our car and wondered aloud what we should do.   We weighed going back to Mystic versus going ahead as we’d planned.   Behind us were the Millstone Nuclear power plant and the Groton Submarine Base, both potential targets, and ahead of us was, well who knew what was ahead of us.  We then agreed that it really didn’t matter.   If our country had become a target of terrorists, no one place was any safer than the next.   The bridges leading into the city had been closed to incoming traffic and we were rerouted to the Tappan Zee Bridge.   It was quite some distance away and added hours to our trip, but, really, it was all so numbing that driving didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

When we finally got to the Tappan Zee, traffic was at a standstill.  One lane had been designated for emergency vehicles, and, as we sat there, an endless stream of police cruisers, EMT vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances and hearses passed us.  I think the sight of the hearses was the worst.  There were so many and we knew that they had to be coming from all directions.

We also listened to the radio, hoping to hear something that made sense.  What we heard was reporters, crying and scared.   There were reports that the White House, Camp David and the U.S. Capital had been hit.   It only made it worse to sit there and listen to these panic driven stories, so we turned the radio off and talked.  We talked about things we’d done and been through.  We told each other how much we loved each other.   My husband took my hand and said, “Whatever happens, it’s been a great ride.”  And then we held each other for a while until the traffic began to move.

We stopped again, at another rest area in New Jersey and watched another set of televisions as the towers fell.   Again, no one spoke.  The only sounds were from those who were crying  or placing orders at fast food counters, and even those sounded hushed – respectful.  We arrived at our hotel and found that we had no phone service.  The fallen twin towers, along with overloaded systems, had made calling home impossible.   We went into the bar, to get some food, and found a group of business people stranded by the no-fly order.   The only channel the hotel could get was CNBC and we watched Ron Insana, still covered in the dust which seemed to have fallen on everyone near Ground Zero, as he offered his own frightening experience to an equally shaken Tom Brokaw.

After finally getting to a working phone and calling my now hysterical Mom, we went to bed.   The next morning was just as beautiful as the day before, but, aside from that, nothing was the same.  Sure, the weather was wonderful, but, off in the distance, there was billowing black smoke in that oh so lovely blue sky.  There were no planes flying, except for military jets.

That day, and the days and weeks afterwards, will play over and over in our collective memories.   It was a national tragedy, and a shared sense of loss and grief fell over all of us.   For a while, we became a little kinder to one another, more respectful and thoughtful.   It’s my sincere prayer that,  while we may never forget the awful events of that morning,  perhaps we could dig deep and try to remember what kind of people we became in the aftermath.  What a tribute that would be to those we loved and lost.  Besides, I think the rainbow that appeared yesterday over that hallowed spot was there for a reason.

Empress

Posted in In The News, Politics | Tagged | 9 Comments

The Clerk’s Counsel

It seems as if everyone – the media, the public, even presidential candidates – has been focused on Kim Davis, the Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky.   It’s not that she isn’t worth our attention because she is.  She’s taken up a banner of sorts, by refusing marriage licenses for anyone because she won’t, or can’t, issue them to gay couples.  Her response, to anyone who asks, is that she’s working under the authority of God and, therefore, would be committing an act so heinous that it would send her straight to Hell.    Mrs. Davis proudly and defiantly went off to jail to demonstrate just how sincere she was in her beliefs.

That’s all well and good.  No one should be expected to betray whatever they wholeheartedly believe in.   The hitch in her stance, however, was that she was offered the option of resigning from her position in order to avoid being locked up.   As of yesterday, she’s out of her cell, with Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz joining her on the courthouse steps in what looked like something resembling a revival meeting, mixed with some political photo-ops.

I don’t doubt that Ms. Davis is born again, that she experienced a moment when the Spirit moved her and she has dedicated her life to whatever God she believes in.   Doubt about how this has been handled crept in when I took a long hard look at her attorney.   Mrs. Davis is getting advice, not only from scripture, but from the founder of the Liberty Counsel,  Matt Staver.    The Liberty Counsel is a group, not unlike the members of the Westboro Baptist Church,  whose sole mission is to deny the rights of the LGBT community.  They swoop in whenever and wherever there’s the slightest sign that the LGBT community might be gaining some legal inroads with regard to their rights as American citizens.  Then they go to work, filing lawsuits and spreading their anti-gay rhetoric, under the guise of   coming to the defense of  “Christian religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, and the traditional family.”

They don’t charge their clients, like Mrs. Davis, instead operating on donations from like-minded individuals.   The group’s record on their court cases is less than impressive, with some courts simply refusing to hear their arguments, probably because their arguments are rarely based on the law.   One really baffling case was against a public library that awarded a “Hogwarts’ Certificate of Accomplishment” to young people who had read the Harry Potter books.  The Counsel argued that “witchcraft is a religion, and the certificate of witchcraft endorsed a particular religion in violation of the First Amendment establishment clause.”    The issues they’ve fought against and the way they’ve taken up their cause is so disturbing that the Southern Poverty Law Center has placed them on their list of twelve hate groups that crusade against gays.   None of this deters them, however.  They simply pack up and move to a different state, a different jurisdiction and try, try again.  Staver and his cohorts are, more than likely, going to come up the losers in Kentucky, too.

The bigger problem with their tactics and their twisted advice is what it ultimately means to their clients.   You really have to wonder just what sort of lawyer advises their client to ignore a court order and choose jail, instead.  It also makes you wonder is people like Mrs. Davis aren’t being used, more than just a bit, for something  the ramifications of which she may not fully understand.

The last comment from Attorney Staver, on those courthouse steps, was that Mrs. Davis would not betray her conscience.  He’s also stated that the marriage licenses which were issued in her absence are null and void, not worth the paper they were written on because her title still appeared on them  She’s due to return to work on Monday.  When she was released from her cell, the judge wrote that she was not to interfere with her deputies as they issued the licenses.    All of this sounds like a position of the rock and the hard place for Mrs. Davis.   Her deputies have already said that they only refused licenses out of fear for their jobs.   Davis isn’t about to budge on her position.   There is another alternative which would allow her to keep her job.  Her attorney could make a request under  the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows for reasonable accommodations  be made for religious beliefs.   Such accommodations have been made for others who found that their jobs and their beliefs were at odds.  In Mrs. Davis’ case, it would be a matter of removing her name and title from the licenses.   It’s odd that her attorney hasn’t proposed this, unless Davis is simply determined that no licenses will be issued as long as she holds office.

The question, then, is what happens on Monday, when she resumes her duties – well, some of them.  If she continues to refuse to issue the licenses and bars her deputies from doing it, then she’s going right back to jail.  That’s where she’ll stay until who knows when.  Civil contempt is meant to be coercive.  It’s purpose is to give someone a little incentive to rethink their position and set things right.   Will her attorney advise her to do just that?   If that’s the case, she’ll be sitting there for a very long time, at least until her term of office expires.   Witnesses who have refused to give testimony and reporters who wouldn’t give up their sources have served for months.  A man who wouldn’t tell the divorce court where he’d hidden millions from his wife sat in a cell for fourteen years, until the court figured out it wasn’t working.  And where will her attorney be?  It’s doubtful he’ll be staying in Kentucky, waiting for her release.  He’ll have moved on, looking for someone else to parade in front of the cameras,  without even checking his rear-view mirror.    While I might believe in the depth of Mrs. Davis’ convictions, there’s room for doubt as to the motives of her adviser.

Posted in In The News, Politics | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Fear The Walking Dead: So Near, Yet So Far

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The people of Los Angeles are starting to panic.  Principal Artie is patrolling the hallways of an empty high school.  Some residents are hitting the roads to go somewhere else and some who aren’t as aware of the danger are carrying on as normal.  Alicia decides to find out why Matt hasn’t been answering her calls and stops by his house.  The front door is open and she finds him, sick and in bed.  His parents are nowhere to be found.   Travis, Nick and Maddy, fresh off their close encounter with the dead, not dead Calvin are racing around, trying to find Alicia.  Their plan, once they locate the girl, is to pick up Travis’ ex-wife, Liza, and his son, Chris, and head out to the desert.   They finally get Alicia on the phone and she tells them how sick Matt is.

Chris is on a school bus on his way home when a man jumps aboard and starts screaming how the cops shot a homeless guy. Everyone gets off the bus to see the scene of the incident, including Chris, who begins to film the mayhem.  He’s under the impression that it’s a case of cops gone wild, and the crowd is shouting at the officers in anger and outrage. The chant from the crowd is “Hell no, we won’t go”, which would be more suitable for protesters if this was  the Viet Nam War era.    Not that it matters, because the mob has it all wrong, they just don’t know it yet.   EMTs, dressed in hazmat suits,  arrive to remove the body of the homeless man.   Another dead, not dead woman staggers into the middle of the chaos and is shot in the head by an officer.

Maddy, Travis and Nick arrive at Matt’s house and Travis sees the bite mark on Matt’s shoulder.   Matt keeps telling Alicia that he’s going to be fine, but the other three know differently.  All four decide to leave Matt to whatever fate awaits him, against Alicia’s wishes, and head home.   One of the neighbors is setting up their yard for their nine year old’s birthday party – bouncy castle and all –  while another is packing to get the hell out of Dodge.   Travis still hasn’t reached Liza or Chris, so he decides to go over to their house.   He tells Maddy that if he’s not back soon, to leave without him.  Leave for where?  The desert?  Where in the desert?  At least give her a description of the cactus where you’ll all meet up.  That’s the most basic part of an emergency plan, isn’t it?  Rendezvous point 101.  Nick is starting to feel the effects of going without drugs for the better part of a day and Maddy makes the decision to leave Alicia in charge and go out to find something to hold off his withdrawals.   Before she leaves, she does walk across the street to tell the neighbors that a birthday party might not be the best idea under the circumstances.

Travis gets Liza on the phone, at last, and tells her about the plan to leave, but she thinks he’s nuts and tells him that she’ll see him on his court mandated weekend visit.  As he continues on, Travis sees that traffic is tied up in just about every direction and even a cop is loading cases of water into the trunk of his car.  He manages to get to Liza’s house, and fills her in, as best as he can, about the growing insanity that’s taking over the city.  When they do talk to Chris on the phone, he’s determined to stay at the site of the shooting and join the rest of the clueless engaged in righteous indignation directed at the police.   The two turn on the TV and figure out where he is, and, of course, head right for it.

Maddy is at the high school, on her mission to find something to tide Nick over for a while.  After getting her key to the nurse’s office, she breaks into a locker where student’s prescriptions are kept and grabs a few bags of whatever she finds appropriate.   She’s surprised by Tobias, who asks for his knife.  He’s there for a little stockpiling of his own, by taking food from the school cafeteria.  As he and Maddy make their way through the halls, he tells her all about how this unfolding disaster is going to go down.  He knows in what order the utilities will be lost, what businesses will be looted.   How does he know, you ask?  He knows because he’s a teenage boy who plays video games, absorbs  everything on the internet and can probably hack into the International Space Station.   They hear noises on the intercom system and realize that somewhere in the building is one of the undead.   Just like that, and they find that it’s Principal Artie.  Maddy moves to help her friend but Tobias knows that that’s a horrible idea and lunges at the man with his knife.   Apparently, Tobias hasn’t quite caught up with the idea that only a head shot stops these things, and he and the principal fight and fall down the stairs.  Maddy grabs a fire extinguisher and begins to pummel the man, until she finally does enough damage to his skull to end it.  They make their escape, and Maddy drives Tobias home.  Realizing that his parents are also missing, she offers to take him home with her.  He assures that he’ll be fine and also tells her that this thing that’s going on isn’t going to end.   “They don’t die.  They come back.”  He’s right. They do. Go for the head.

Travis and Liza are at the scene of the shootings and searching for Chris.   More police have arrived, in riot gear, and are trying to control the mob.   Fires have been started and buildings are being vandalized and looted.  After locating Chris, Travis and Liza run with him to a barber shop which is trying to close.  The barber lets them in, reluctantly, and they, with the blessing of the barber’s wife are allowed to stay there until things quiet down.  It could be a long wait.

Alicia is worried about Matt and tells Nick that she’s going to check on him.  This is a great idea, don’t you think?  I mean, what’s wrong with one more teenager on the loose when you’re in the middle of God knows what kind of mess?  Before she can get out the door, Nick has a seizure, which really pisses his sister off.   Now she has to stay and take care of him.  Bummer.  Maddy gets home and hands Nick some of the oxys she found at school, then takes the rest of her stash and her bloody jacket into the bathroom – and starts to cry.  Travis calls to tell her that he, Liza and Chris are okay but that they’ll be held up a while.  Something explodes outside the barber shop and angry voices can be heard.  Travis tells Maddy to go on ahead to the desert and he’ll meet them there.  The barber’s wife prays, then prays some more.

When Maddy and Travis hang up, Alicia and her mother hear screams and look out the window to see one of their neighbors being attacked by another, right in front of the bouncy castle.  Alicia tries to go out to help, but Maddy stops her.   This is how it starts, this thing that doesn’t end.  It’s still early and there’s no sense of purpose yet, no feeling that maybe you should help that person under who’s under attack, because it could be you next.   Rick Grimes is still in a coma and Atlanta isn’t faring much better at this point.   Los Angeles should listen to Tobias.

The barber’s wife recites a rosary, beginning with a Hail Mary, stops praying and extinguishes her candles.

FTWD won’t be back until September 13th.  See you then.  

Empress

 

 

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Fear The Walking Dead: Pilot

Fear The Walking Dead - Cast

When the producers of a hit TV show with a loyal and discerning fan base announce a spinoff , viewers tend to give it a little side eye.  Better Call Saul is an example of a show that lived up to expectations of those of us who missed Breaking Bad – and those were some very big shoes to fill.  It also acted as a prequel to the saga of Walter White/Heisenberg and Jesse Pinkman, the same way Fear the Walking Dead presents a storyline that predates The Walking Dead.

“Fear” takes place in Los Angeles, which isn’t a bad locale to offer some change of scenery and a different set of characters from the Atlanta location.   It also starts out at some point before Rick Grimes woke up from a coma to a world that had already become something unrecognizable.   A teenager, Nick, wakes up from a drug induced fog, in an abandoned church which now serves as a shooting gallery, calling to his friend, Gloria.  He finds her, in the middle of a very bloody scene, munching on a hapless victim.   Nick runs from the church and is hit by a car, then taken to a hospital.

We next see a family, split by divorce and trying to come together as only weekend parents can.   Travis is the live in boyfriend of Madison – Maddy – who is Nick and Alicia’s mother.   Travis also has a son of his own, Chris, who isn’t happy with any of the arrangements, which becomes clear as he reluctantly tells his dad that he’ll come over for his weekend visit.   Travis is a high school teacher and Maddy is a guidance counselor at the same school.

When they get the call about Nick’s accident, they go to the hospital, where the cops tell them about Nick’s rantings.   He had talked about blood and gore and viscera, but almost everyone thinks it’s just the drugs talking.   That would probably be the answer under normal circumstances, but there’s also bits of news about some sort of virus which is making people kill each other and has reached at least five States.   One of the high school students is way ahead of the curve, already carrying a knife to school, just in case.   Travis goes to the church to see for himself and finds that it’s just as Nick described.

Nick, still in the hospital, and awaiting a psychiatric evaluation, is presented with a bed pan  by a nurse who tells him that she decides when he’s to use it, just like she expects from her dog.  He asks her to untie one of his restraints to make it a little easier, and when she does, he waits for her to leave and starts to undo the second restraint.  The bed pan crashes to the floor, and the patient in the next bed codes.   The patient is whisked away, and Nick grabs the man’s clothes and makes his way out of the hospital.

While this is all going on, Alicia and her boyfriend, Matt, are meeting on the bleachers and making plans to see each other at Venice Beach.  There really isn’t much more to say about her, because, at least during this episode, all she really did was act annoyed, be annoying and exhibit teenage angst.  Matt never did show up at the beach.  Maybe that’s something.

Maddy and Travis are notified that Nick is gone and go in search of him.  Maddy thinks that they should look for him at the church, and when they enter, the bodies are gone.   Maddy sees the drug paraphernalia and breaks down.   Their next stop is to see Calvin, a friend of Nick’s but he swears he hasn’t seen Nick for a while.    On their way home, Travis and Maddy run into a traffic jam.  Police cars and helicopters are everywhere and they hear gun shots.  Travis moves over a couple of lanes and they make their way out of there.

When they get to school the next morning,  They see a new report about the incident they drove past the night before.  A man is seen fighting with EMTs and cops,  beaten and shot, but still fighting.  The only thing that stops the man is a head shot – but we knew already knew what it would take.  We’re seasoned veterans.   The school officials decide to close early.  In the meantime, Nick has bought himself a burner phone and is meeting with Calvin at a diner.   Calvin isn’t happy with the visit from Nick’s parents because, as we find out, Calvin is Nick’s supplier.  After asking Nick how long it’s been since he’s had a fix, Calvin drives Nick to an isolated area, then takes a gun out of the trunk of his car.  The two fight over the gun and Calvin is shot and killed.

Nick calls Travis, and when Travis arrives with Maddy, Nick tells them what’s happened.  They drive to the place where the fight took place and Calvin’s car is there, but there’s no sign of Calvin.  We knew that, too.  As Travis starts to back out of the tunnel, he sees Calvin approaching.  He and Maddy get out of the truck and approach Calvin, who’s bleeding heavily from his wound. Calvin then lunges at them and nearly bites Maddy.   As they struggle, Nick takes the wheel and runs Calvin over.   He’s still moving, so Nick runs him over again.  As Travis, Maddy and Nick watch, Calvin looks at them and snarls.

It wasn’t a bad beginning, at all.   We just need to see more walkers, or whatever they call them in California.  I’m sure it will be something  ominous, like kale salad.

Empress

 

 

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Notes From The Widow’s Walk

Grief is a sneaky son of a bitch.  It lulls you into a false sense of security, lets you think you’re doing okay and then pushes you right off the ledge.    It happens over and over, like some cruel remake of Groundhog Day, to the point that you don’t  trust yourself to do the smallest thing, for fear you’re just going to free-fall and hit the painful bottom once more.   It also doesn’t care when it makes its moves.   I’ve come to approach just about everything I do with more caution than optimism.   I’ve stood in the cereal aisle of the grocery store and cried because there were all those boxes of my husband’s favorite cereal on the shelves.   The tears  came again when I went to Home Depot to pick out paint and found myself thinking about past trips there.  My husband looked at Home Depot the same way a child looks at Toys ‘R’ Us – as a giant playroom, chock full of things just waiting to be explored, taken home and enjoyed – even if we didn’t really need them.

If you’re familiar with the works of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, then you know that she describes the five stages of the dying process.  Well, the five stages of grieving are exactly the same.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise because grief feels very much like you’re dying.  In a way, pieces of you have died.   If you’ve loved someone long enough,  shared their life for decades,  you become a part of them and they become a part of you.   Their absence feels as if someone has gutted you or peeled back your skin, leaving you ragged and raw.   The pain isn’t  some phantom pain.  It’s real and it’s excruciating.   I’ve felt each and every one of those stages,  sometimes more than one at the same time.  And you don’t get through them, you don’t get to check them off the list, because they come back to visit  when you least expect it.  Sneaky bastards.

I’ve always thought of myself as someone who walked the earth with a certain confidence – ballsy and bulletproof.   Now I know that a good deal of that confidence came from the man who presided over my fan club.  Without him,   there’s a gaping hole in my armor.   I handle things differently now.  I’m more vulnerable, more afraid.   I hate feeling like that, but I can’t seem to shake it.   I’ve had conversation with others who have lost their partners, and they say the same things.   Your center is gone, you’re off-kilter and now you’re just trying to maintain some sort of equilibrium.   Take it from me,  that loss of balance can and does make you puke.

The notion of moving forward seems an impossibility at the moment.  I go through the movements.   That’s it.  I try to accomplish something each and every day, but it’s as if I’m on auto-pilot.   The things I manage to do seem hollow, empty, because there’s no one to reassure me, admire what I’ve done and tell me “atta girl”.    I do these things anyway because I want to believe I’m creating a life for myself, a life as a single person – a widow.   I can’t tell you how much I hate that word.

Everyone tells you not to make any major decisions about your life for at least a year after losing a loved one,  a spouse in particular.   I have no intention of doing anything even close to life altering.  Hell, it took me two hours to choose from among three shades of parchment at Home Depot’s paint department.  Seriously, beige is beige, no matter what fancy name you give it.   Planning anything beyond the next 24 hours isn’t even a consideration.

One of the worst aspects of widowhood is the loneliness, the quiet that falls over a house when only one person lives in it.  I’ve had long, serious conversations with my dogs but, while they’re excellent listeners,  they’re not big on responding.   It’s the kind of loneliness that can’t be overcome, even in a room full of people.  You see, I know and understand, even if no one else does,  that there was a person who could fill a room, even when it was only two of us,  and he’s no longer available.

People, friends and family, tell me that it will get better over time but I don’t know what better means.  Does it mean that the pain subsides or that you just learn to manage it?   I’d like to think that it will somehow get easier, that I’ll learn how to control the grief attacks with distractions and coping skills, but getting better is a lot to ask.  Ms. Kubler-Ross said it much better than I am. “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

I’m just about through with all of the “proof and paperwork” side of death.  I’m also packing up my husband’s things and donating them.  Yesterday, I dropped off bags of  those things, enough to fill the back of my SUV, and left them with the nice man at Goodwill.  I then drove to Kroger to do my grocery shopping and couldn’t get out of the car until I stopped sobbing.   I told myself, when I was packing them up, that it was just stuff, but I was wrong – very wrong.  It seems that with every step forward, there’s also a very visceral, gut-wrenching reaction to it, even when it comes to shirts, jeans and sneakers.

I have a plan, though.  I want to find out who am I am now.  I want to get to that place where memories make me smile instead of bringing me to my knees.  I’m not the person who was married and I’m certainly not the person I was before I became half of a couple.  So, yes, I’ll repaint the master bedroom and put up the new curtains and make up the bed with the beautiful new bedding, the very feminine bedding, I might add.  And then I’ll move back into that room because I know I have to.  It’s a baby step in the healing process, but a step nonetheless.

Wish me well, my friends.   I’m going to need it.

Empress

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The Real Housewives of New York City – New House, Old Grudges

Housewarming In The Hamptons - The Real Housewives of New York City

The ladies spent most of the time in the Hamptons.  Bethenny arrived, eventually.  You see,  what’s happened is that Dr. Amador morphed into Matt Foley and Bethenny has been living in a van down by the river.   It’s sad, really.  All that money and she can’t find anyplace to live except for the backseat of a (chauffeur driven)  car.

LuAnn is selling everything from her old house – light fixtures, floor tiles, toilet paper holders, the works, because the buyer is tearing the place down.   She has some new digs in Sag Harbor, which Sonja finds “cozy” –  Sonja’s code word for one step above government housing.   Dorinda and Ramona stopped by and Ramona starts to talk with LuAnn about the memories she has of the house.  She also pulled LuAnn aside to apologize for the things she’s said in the past.  She says that she now understand how it is to walk in someone else’s shoes, especially when it comes to cheating husbands.  LuAnn accepted the apology, cautiously.  It sounded sincere to me.

Ramona is going to have Dorinda and Sonja stay with her at her house and gives Dorinda the room normally reserved for Sonja.  Sonja isn’t happy about the arrangements and says that she’s been relegated to Mario’s doghouse.  She then proceeds to talk about all of her houses, in Aspen and France and New York, some of which aren’t hers anymore and some of which may be turned over to satisfy a couple of lawsuits.   It’s classic Sonja in all of her delusional grandeur.  Dorinda  pretty accurately described her as Mary Poppins meets Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Back at LuAnn’s, Carole has met LuAnn’s new chef, Adam,  and is immediately smitten.  She’s even willing to pretend to know how to cook just to stay in the kitchen with him.   Kristen arrives.  I think that’s all she did – arrived.  If she said or did anything else, it wasn’t very memorable.

Ramona, Dorinda and Sonja go out for lunch and are joined by Ramona’s sister, Tanya.  Sonja starts asking Dorinda about her dry cleaner boyfriend, but it seemed like an opportunity for Sonja to bring up Mario – over and over.  Ramona makes it clear that she doesn’t want to talk about him, but it wasn’t clear to Sonja.  She just kept prattling on and on about Mario and how he must be like John the dry cleaner because one is Italian and one is Armenian.   That makes sense, right?  Spaniards, Norwegians, Estonians, Greeks –  same difference.  They’re all European.

LuAnn is playing hostess for a dinner party ate her new house for all of the ladies.  Lady Morgan shows up with some bottles of Corona in her purse.  They weren’t a housewarming gift, they were her beverage of choice.  It must be a high society thing.   Then Bethenny arrives and the entire dynamic changed.  Bethenny said that she was concerned about the reception she’d receive and she had good reason to be.  Ramona straightened her back as only Ramona can and was ready to go after every word Bethenny said.  Bethenny asked Ramona about her dating life and Ramona said that she was keeping the company of men.  Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds the a courtesan.  Bethenny said as much and commented that Ramona must be doing men, banging men, f**king men, sucking men.    In her talking head, Carole said that it was like watching a battle of the alpha dogs.

Heather didn’t cut Bethenny much slack, either.  She mentioned that LuAnn had a copy of Bethenny’s first book and that she understood that LuAnn helped Bethenny invent Skinnygirl Margaritas.  She laughingly said that Bethenny owed LuAnn a car or a Rolex.  Heather said that if she were to ever sell Yummy Tummy for ginormous dollars that she’d buy the friend who helped her name the company a car.

It only got worse for Bethenny when she invited the ladies to her house in the Hamptons to brunch in the morning.  Ramona started peeing on her house guests’ legs to mark her territory and began to lecture Bethenny on guest protocol.  According to Ramona, one can’t ask someone else’s guests to do anything or eat anything or say anything without first asking permission from their hostess.     She then sought a ruling on the matter from the highest authority by asking the Countess for her opinion.  LuAnn mumbled something which really didn’t help things much. Yes. Maybe. No.

Bethenny then went outside with LuAnn to find out if Ramona had stolen one of Monty’s pills and was high.  Oh, sorry, wrong Housewives.   While they were outside, Ramona tells the others that she sent them an email inviting them for brunch.  No one seemed to have gotten the email and Ramona says that her computer has been putting her emails in the trash.   Dontcha just hate when that happens?   Well, it doesn’t matter, because Ramona insists she sent it and they should have accepted her invitation whether they got it or not.   She called dibs and that’s that.

Ramona then takes her story of the disappearing emails outside to explain the situation to Bethenny.  Bethenny is having none of it, though, and tells Ramona that she doesn’t want to hang out with her.   Ramona begins to channel Kelly Bensimon and, while speaking in the softest of voices, tells Bethenny to take a breath and calm down.   Somewhere, in Australia, Alex McCord is smiling and nodding.

We don’t know where the ladies are going for brunch.  We’ll find out next week.   Stars99 will fill you in on the details then.  If you missed her recap of episode one, you can find it here – http://lynnfam.com/2015/04/08/real-housewives-of-new-york-city-the-b-is-back/  I promise you, it’s worth your while.

I don’t know why Sonja’s missing from the picture.  If I were LuAnn,  I’d be checking the kitchen – or Noel’s cottage.  An ankle monitor might be a good idea.

Empress

Posted in BravoTV, Real Housewives of New York City | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Taking Care

I’ve been writing this for weeks, maybe months.  It’s on scraps of paper, notes to myself and in my head.  It’s my life now – our life.  There’s a new rhythm to our marriage that wasn’t what we wanted but life doesn’t always go according to plan so we deal with it, put one foot in front of the other and carry on what with what’s been given us.  Part of my struggle with publishing this is that we’re intensely private people.  I’ve never written anything so personal before and I wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t gotten my husband’s support on telling this story.  He is, after all, not only my best friend but my biggest fan and critic, as I am his.

I’ll cut right to the chase.  My husband is dying.  The difficulty of seeing that in print is indescribable.   He’s been seriously ill for well over a year, now, and there is no hope for recovery.  He has Stage IV COPD – end stage, to be perfectly blunt.  His lungs have finally succumbed to too many years of cigarette smoking.  Yes, he made bad choices, ignored the warnings and is paying the ultimate price for it.    This disease is horrible.  The inability to breathe, to take a deep breath, have led to all sorts of damage to his entire body.  Every calorie he takes in is just as quickly gobbled up by the labor of simply taking another breath.  At 5’7″,  he now weighs 108 pounds.   No amount of milkshakes or Twinkies can help to put any weight on him, so he is reduced to someone who looks not only frail but fragile.  Cooking what he wants doesn’t always work, either.  Eating is its own struggle when breathing is the priority.   Any part of a meal that’s consumed is a victory, even though it means that he’s totally exhausted afterwards.

Other more undignified things happen to someone with advanced COPD.  I won’t detail all of them, but suffice to say that most of his bodily functions aren’t working the way they’re supposed to work.  The medications he has to take to stay alive add to the problem.  Long term use of prednisone has left him looking bruised, and his skin has the consistency of tissue paper.  When he falls, and he’s fallen more than once, his skin also falls away, making for weeks of ointments and bandages until it repairs itself.

The lack of oxygen and poor circulation have made him, for lack of a better description, a little loopy.  He tries to find the word he wants to say, and, when he can’t think of it, becomes frustrated  – with himself and with me for not grasping what it is he wants.   He has flashes of anger during these times, which send me off to another part of the house in tears.   I tell myself that it’s the illness talking, but the hurt is still there.  I still see the lovely, sweet, kind man I married 36 plus years ago and find it hard to always understand that he doesn’t mean to lash out.

In fact, a lot of my time is spent trying to keep a happy face on while, on the inside, I carry equal parts tension, sadness and terror.   Several times a day I check to make sure he’s still breathing, watching for the barely perceptible rise and fall of the bed covers.  I take my own deep breath when I see that he’s still with me.   It’s then that I can go about my day.

Going about my day is a tricky thing.  I have to be ready to change my plans depending on how he feels at any given moment.   Our outings have been reduced to numerous doctors’ appointments and, for me,  grocery shopping.   Getting him ready for his appointments is a marathon session, as donning each article of clothing requires a rest period.  His home oxygen machine has to be replaced with a portable model.  Extra batteries and medications have to be packed and put into the car.  By the time we’ve left the driveway, his disposition has turned surly, as he’s already tired just from the preparation for the trip.  Most of the time I try to keep silent on the way, as I’ve learned that my attempts at lightening the mood don’t really matter.

As his care giver in chief, I’ve become an expert on this disease.  I’ve learned the language and understand the tests he takes with each doctor.  I’m fluent in pharmaceuticals that relate to COPD, and can administer, monitor and look for side effects for each and every prescription.  Google is my friend, leading me to websites which explain what the doctors are trying to achieve.

We are lucky enough to have a friendship with my husband’s cardiologist, and she also happens to be our neighbor.  She has never lost patience with either of us, or refused to take our calls, even when they’re from me, in the middle of the night, having a panic attack because something doesn’t seem right.  During one of my last overwrought conversations with her, she told me that she would see to it that hospice care would be put in motion, and, this week, she made good on her word.   A whole team of professionals have joined us.   A visiting nurse has been to the house twice, and she, like some sort of medical drill sergeant, has seen to it that we have what we need to make my husband more comfortable.   A hospital table, wheel chair, new oxygen machine and special pillow were delivered by the next morning.  FedEx has made two deliveries, bringing a plethora of medications.

As much as I find some comfort in having the hospice workers at our beck and call, there is a new sense of dread involved.   It’s hard to explain, but I suppose that it’s the sense that this is a real thing, that my efforts aren’t enough.  It’s as if the illness has turned into its own entity and nothing I can do will change its course.  We’re not in denial about the outcome, well maybe I was, on some level, but this new-found help represents a game changer, in my mind.  In one of the FedEx deliveries was a container of morphine.  It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the need for it at some point.  Our doctor friend had explained why she would order it.   I see it, however, as another reminder of the severity of this illness.  When I administered the first dose to my husband, my hands shook and I hovered over him until I was certain he was going to be okay.  Frankly, I hover a lot lately.

The illness has claimed me as a collateral victim.   All of the worry and stress have taken its toll on me, too.  Sleep, which has never been easy for me, is nearly impossible now without some sort of medication.   Even then, it’s not what one would consider restful.  I wake up tense and with a sore jaw, having slept with my teeth clenched.   My back and shoulders ache from tension.   I pop Tylenol like candy, but nothing really puts a dent in how I feel.  It’s there, all the time.   I find it hard to concentrate on anything.  Reading a book, watching TV or even walking through the grocery store, my mind drifts back to what has taken over our lives.   You see, our lives are not ours anymore.  The illness is calling the shots, for both of us.

I’ve told friends and family that I feel as if I’m disappearing – the person I once was no longer exists.  The illness steals parts of both of us.  The couple we were has turned into the patient and the care giver.  I miss those people.  I miss our impromptu dances in the kitchen when one of our favorite songs is playing. I miss the man who could make me laugh when I wanted to be mad as hell.   That used to really piss me off, but I’d give anything for his goofy self again.   More than anything, I miss just talking to him.  He was always my sounding board, giving me advice or not, depending on the situation.  No one knows me like he does and no one ever will.

Our long conversations have been had.  The future has been discussed.  Plans and arrangements have been made.  Grief has already begun.  This illness and all of the things that have taken place feel like some sort of long, drawn out dress rehearsal for being his widow.  Learning to do everything myself feels like I’m preparing for the time when it will be just me.  I spend hours alone, finding ways to keep busy or distracted by other things.  The quiet sometimes seems like too much to bear.  Despite the people around me and the hospice workers, the journey is incredibly lonely.  I  cry at the drop of a hat and at the most inappropriate times.  Any random act of kindness, even an offer to carry my groceries to the car can bring me to tears.  I’m just so tired and overwhelmed, so any help seems like a lottery win.

I’ve learned a lot about life and myself through this ordeal.  I’ve found out that I’m not as impatient as I once thought I was.   I’ve come to realize that I can’t do it all, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.   People are more than happy to lend a hand if you just ask for it.  I’ve become more tolerant and understanding of those who make mistakes or do things that aren’t necessarily good for them.  We’re imperfect beings and, at some level,  no one is without their fair share of faults and flaws.  The biggest lesson is this though – wherever this road takes us, and whenever it ends,  I know that I have been loved, more than I could ever had hoped and for that, I’m grateful.

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Take care,

Empress

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