Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Open Mics Abroad- Coffee Club R

It's Open Mic night in my area and I am reminded of how I love Open Mic abroad experiences. Over the past five years as hubby and I have traveled around the country or abroad we seem to find these venues. He gets four weeks vacation in his job, and we use it.

When we make the choice for a destination there is no rhyme or reason we just go where we both have always wanted to go. Before we get in the car or board a plane I usually look to see if there are Open Mics in which I can perform. I have had some luck finding good venues. However when we planned our Korea trip, I had no idea we would stumble into an Open Mic venue.

Do Koreans know what Open Mic is? The certainly have coffee shops. All over the place. Often three or four on each corner. It's crazy! But they love their coffee as much as Americans do on this continent.

We were walking the palaces of Geonju, Korea, and strolling the burial mounds of 1,000 year old emperors and became hungry. I noticed on the map we were right across the street from an area called 'Drunken Alley'. Streets lined with restaurants and bars. They also happened to have coffee houses. The first door we came upon and looking for a light meal, was Coffee Club R. The young man inside said he had sandwiches and light drinks, even cocktails if we wanted.

Jung Youn Kim (pictured above) as it turns out is the owner. He barely looks twenty something, but is actually mid-thirties. We began talking about Open Mics, as I spied the stage and music set-up off to the side. He graciously served us our food and drinks and picked up his guitar. Jung sat down next to us and began to play some folk tunes.

He told us that not too long ago the streets were lined with coffee houses hosting open mics. Fortunately he has held on to a prospering business and ideal of offering a place for people like me to perform. I had not brought any work with me on this trip, or I would have shared. But, I remembered my work was saved on this blog! So, I began reading from a few poems and the 'Crush' series. It was well received (the younger generation speaks English very well).

This experience reminds me no matter what our skin color, culture upbringing, or many other things that separate us...we are the same, we see art forms as a way of expressing our inner selves. There is so much more deepness to this, I can barely let the emotion come through on this post. It's beautiful. I love meeting others who share like this.

I also have been to a few Open Mics in the Pacific Northeast, Canada, Southwest, and many other areas we have traveled. Just Google 'Open Mics' and you might be surprised at what comes up. Maybe a little digging will take place. Ask Facebook friends, I did and they gave me so much other information for future travels.

Traveling abroad, or even a road trip on your continent? I suggest writers, poets or musicians take advantage of situations, be prepared, and bring material. Jung also provides instruments for singer/songwriter or musicians to use. He even built his own stage for the very quaint establishment.

Check out this live performance at Coffee Club R in Geongju, Korea 'Hey Soul Sister'

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hampton Bays Sunset

What a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Of course from the photo there was no black involved. It was a glorious beautiful sunny Friday. We did do some brief shopping and took hubby's step mom Valerie out for a drive in my new car. See the great sunset we caught on the way back to her house. The inlet can be a fabulous stop for a maple walnut ice cream fix.

Mom Val and I bought Christmas decorations, and I helped her get a door wreath lit and up. I will post when ours go up. Been a long time I felt like celebrating, but after I planted more mums out front and added a few garden friends around the porch, I got caught up in the joy of it all.

Hubby and I had a fabulous time with the whole Stelling family and beyond Thursday. I am the luckiest girl to have married into such a wonderful family. I am blessed period. We hope you all had a great holiday weekend.

We are relaxing, some lamb and cabbage stew is on the stove, movies in the DVD player and a glass of wine is next to us. Maybe even some poetry lines are reeling around my head right now.

(Photo above is Hampton Bays Sunset taken and property of Robert J. Stelling with his new Nikon camera)

North Winds

Spirits of years gone by
stand together
there on the pier
see them, their love
set the sky ablaze

loss settles across her waters
still and cold, after September rolls through
cool sand is swept back out 
footprints disappear from the beach
shadows wave good bye as they take flight

I stopped long enough
to make sense of pain
yearning burned into memory
we always had a good time, in those
long walks along these shores.

For Robert John Stelling, Sr. and the love of his life Valerie Bunda...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Family can be a wonderful reason to be thankful.

I have all the pies baked, cranberry, pumpkin and banana breads baked, and more to load up in the car for our long drive tonight, and I wanted to throw a hello your way.

Hubby's mom had sever back problems now, so all the women in the family get assigned one cooking job to contribute for the large meal. He has seven other siblings that may or may not appear around a rather large table. We also stay over at his step mom's house the following day and I cook. She does not cook, so it is a treat for her when we come.

Hubby and I wish you the best of what you desire for the day!

OH BTW I got my re-do test results in...BETTER THAN MY NUMBERS HAVE EVER BEEN! Lower than last years or the years before that. Whoo Hooo for me! Not the meds either, because I have not taken them long enough. It's the fact I have been exercising and eating right the past year, with some eating back sliding along the way in moderation.

Why was my test off in September, and scaring the hell out of me? Because I confess I got hungry before my 2 PM fasting appointment, having maybe some cereal or soda thinking it would not affect the long term number, but it did. My lower numbers have even gone down since my last physical and blood work. I may not look so great in that photo and that shirt, what was I thinking? But I was tired, we had walked a long way off the subway to meet my son's friends for Shabu Shabu (boiled meat and vegetables, or known as Hot Pot here in our country) in Korea. I love my family.

Another reason to celebrate!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My New Baby

Normally I would not be bragging, but this is the first car I have ever been in love with. I was sad to wake up today and see leaves all over it.  I had a fit when hubby threw his empty water bottle into the back seat on the way home from the dealer Saturday night. How dare him! It is hard to see the color, but it is midnight blue. The interior is what caught my eye first. I will be driving the Lexus on a regular basis, I drove my van to death. the neighbor laughed and told hubby he was never getting a new car. Why? Because he bought a German car thought would outlive us all.

I actually thought about adopting a new puppy, but now I can see there is plenty taking up lots of my time. We also got a new 'used' van for cookAppeal, my catering business this weekend. Off it went to cater a birthday party in PA yesterday. Dry rubbed pork loin, asparagus risotto, chocolate cake and brownies. Plus a wine tasting. Things are busy. I like busy.

I had a good visit with the doctor last week and I am going to give the new diabetes medication a try. Even though I have not bloomed into full scale diabetes they say it will help with weight loss. It has been making me sick in various ways, but I will hold out. Bariatric surgery is in the picture now. After January. The weight has to go. I am also eating like a bird. Sad, but I am finding I cannot even taste alcohol without stomach issues. All for the best.

Aaron and I will take the new car on a road trip, to Texas in March. He returns from Korea and will stay with us for a few weeks, then on to pick up the truck and return to St. Louis. I will enjoy spending another month with him before he returns to his life again.

I hope you all had a great weekend.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On The Same Wave Length

I'm not sure why, but I keep wanting to apologize...for long posts and no poetry. It's coming, soon. Not now because an amazing thing happened to me on the way to grandma's house the gym last Thursday. I left my red cape with powers of invisibility at home so I could hit the doctor's office, run errands and swim. Not sure you are aware that my van died two months ago. Hubby and I are sharing his, and let's just say the fight over the radio drives me bonkers, but when it's on NPR, National Public Radio (in case clueless secluded Appalachian peoples are reading this) I can deal with it.

After calling everyone to tell them about the diabetes consultation with my doctor I turned up the radio. I heard Brian Naylor guest host of Talk of the Nation begin to introduce a few people who would discuss and take phone calls for 'Channeling Dragons To Parent Terminally Ill Kids'. My ears went up like a German Shepard (go listen after you read my post). Oh how I wanted to call in, but I was on Route 1, and if you live in Jersey, driving in the madness of afternoon traffic is not safe, even with your headset on.

There is so much I want to say about this. I often want to talk more about being a mom to a child with a chronic or terminally ill disease. But to many it's too painful. Not me. There is a need to speak up about what I went through. It helps the healing process. I lost clients over this illness and her eventual death. Yes, many of my friends and clients dropped off the face of the earth after six months to a year. It's too close to home for them. So they avoid it.

How did my adventure begin with Anelisa in the first place? I like Emily Rapp on NPR found myself pregnant and making life plans. Being pregnant is a wonder in itself. You anticipate the future with much more emotion. I had the pregnancy and labor books memorized. I knew when I efaced, was nesting, although labor pains were like having cramps, a little too easy at the most, I had it all down. Her father and I blew off a pot luck dinner at church the night before and darted off to the emergency room. I was going to have a baby!

Thirty hours later, I was told the baby was in fetal distress, so a C-section was in order. Okay, knock that one off of my list- no natural birth, this time around. I unfortunately they put me to sleep, but awoke to the announcement of a girl. Not the boy the doctor told me. She was barely six pounds. We named her Anelisa Diane Dillion. I could deal with a girl. She was a clock work baby girl for the next fourteen years. Waking up for feedings every three or four hours, sleeping on my chest, no loud crying, just purring like a kitten, hardly any complaining, ahhh. Wait, I forgot something. Let's go back to the delivery.

My chosen pediatrician came on the second day and said the nurses heard a murmur. A what? A blast from the past. See I was born with a murmur. Actually a VSD, Ventricular Septical Defect, or a hole in the heart. They called us 'Blue Babies' back in the sixties. The minute you begin to breath on your own the heart begins to show stress and lack of oxygen. I was three months premature, and was in the hospital for three months. Growing up I heard how sickly I was, and my lungs were never really strong. Asthma and all that. I out grew mine, except for an irregular heart beat, but they watch me carefully.

The pediatrician told me they had to whisk her away to another hospital, Children's Medical Center Dallas, so they could do a catheter. You cannot really see inside the heart without this they told me. It tells them more details about the problem. Medicine had come a long way from my mother's agonies.

During this experience I remember feeling...but I was a new and confused mother. What had I done to deserve this. My whole dream of being a mom was kind of shattered. You feel so helpless at times. When they are suffering you want so badly to change places with them.

Fortunately I had a couple friend who were both in medicine. Matter of fact the wife worked with the heart surgeon, Dr. Nikado (since retired) who went on to do Ane's first and five altogether Blalock Shunt surgeries. They help explain things all along the way. See Anelisa had five defects, but she was too small to fix anything. Actually when she was one year old, they told me she could never be fixed. The bigger you grow and the problems aren't fixed, the body begins to deteriorate. I could see in the couples eyes they knew her fate.

Down the road her case was looked at by the father of heart surgery and a panel of the best in Chicago. They could do nothing, not even a transplant, because it would mean a heart-lung, and they are barely doing it on monkey's. I've learned more about medicine than I ever cared to know. I still can spout out that stuff to medical professions if it comes up. And it did a few years ago. Two pediatric cardiologists sitting next to hubby and I at a wine and food pairing said they still hadn't perfected surgeries to help children like my Ane (Ah-knee). Sigh.

We had no idea how long she would live. I walked out of that doctor's office in shock that first year. Hadn't medicine come far enough they could fix her? No they hadn't, but there was still hope. Hope. A pretty name for a girl don't you think, but not powerful enough to heal my baby. I fell to my knees that day in my own agony. My mother spiraled down into her mental illness abyss when she heard the news. Friends, they offered up "I will pray for you guys", "Surely they will find a cure", and as Emily says on the radio "I can't imagine the pain you are going through". Or can they?

It's something we all never want to feel. When I got pregnant, which was soon, after Anelisa, I was so scared. because I lost three pregnancies before my first live birth, what if I lose this one, or it might be sick too. Could I handle another? Life begun to suck, that is until I brought her home. Seeing her in that ICU unit day after day, hooked up to leads, wires, and tubes was awful. It sucked big time.  My first photo to show friends and clients was me holding her hooked up like Frankenstein. What could people say? Do not be afraid. I swallowed the tears and gave her the best life she deserved. She was a princess to everyone who had the chance to meet her.

When the fog lifted it had been four years since she left us eleven years ago. I often think if I had not kept so much of my feelings pent up trying to be strong, I might have survived the grief period better. See I never went to support groups. I kept my composure when I spoke about her, my chin up. You have no choice since you can't spend your time crying in the open. On the outside she looked eighty percent normal so it did not come up with strangers. Blue lips, nails and pale skin. Oh and extremities that were long and lanky, like we were starving her, but she ate, She ate well. So most people, even friends and family thought she would survive.

Listening to Emily Rapp on NPR brought a thought to mind. I should encourage others like us to attend support groups. To find others like us, and not hold back the tears. We have every right to cry. I will never see my only daughter attend her first dance, graduate from school, or wear a wedding gown. Not hear about her first kiss, although we often giggled about boys. She could not understand how I like a boy with dark hair and she like blondes. I used to I told her, but you cannot predict who you fall in love with.

Her last trek outside was to hunt down the cute boys in our new neighborhood, but she was only gone for five minutes. I encouraged her to take her motor scooter so she wouldn't be so tired, but she cried and said she felt ugly, and wanted to know why she couldn't be like everyone else. You can't predict your fate in life I told her. Hers was a purpose beyond my motherly concepts. She lay against me and I soaked in every moment like that until she was gone.

I am glad NPR chose to host that radio program. You can go and listen to Emily Rapp on NPR. Educate yourself and imagine what it is like to be a mother of a terminally ill child. You are missing out on the most wonderful experience we have been given. Death wonderful? No, but it's an eye opener. My son Aaron has made up for many things I will never have with Anelisa, but he is a boy. They have other issues to hurdle. He hugs me and tells me he loves me, so I am glad I had another child so soon after her.  One day when he becomes a father, we will be on the same wave length. His pain of loss is a whole other post, and maybe he will share here one day.

My client Puneeta and I still are close since her daughter Anjuli passed three years ago. I am still waiting for her to have another baby for me to help with (smile). She is afraid. We talked about the NPR show, and she is so fresh into the grieving period that she does not want to go listen to others talk about the pain and loss. She will one day. She will help another like I helped her. We also will be on the same wavelength. Till then I hope there will be another chance to meet or help another mom, and I can share in the love these children bring into our lives.

Emily Rapp has her own blog for which she said has saved her (I feel the same way Emily!) Little Seal, Ronan's Blog. It is a great insight into what others have to say. The comments are often as good or better than the posts.  One of her friends Jennifer mentions watching him so Emily can do some things, and how she is watching 'a sweet dying baby'. Truth is can be such an eye opener.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On The Edge Connections

As usual I woke up around 4:30 AM, and began reading with the television on in the back ground. I love documentaries! I am a people person, so any of them that focus on the human dynamic catches my attention. I often find connections which makes sense of my own past. Hmm, maybe there is a documentary on this. 'Picture This' follows fashion model Sara Ziff as she chronicles the life of a model. My opinion is she does it to prove that models are not just dumb stiff bodies.

In doing so models are interviewed on the issues of sex exploitation and being degraded by the industry. One model mentions a 'famous creepy photographer who makes the whole photography session sexual'. But if you want to get in or be noticed models have put up with his antics. Many have complained publicly. They don't mention names, but I Googled 'famous photographer who uses sex with models' and only one name popped up. He is all over the web. You know me, sexual predators get my goat. Bahhhhhh.

In reading many pieces about this man I stumbled upon something which sparked a memory. I cannot get right down to it without writing it out, so bare with me. I might make sense, and I might not.

“It was comedy,” said Mr. Richardson. “We’d be in Miami shooting beauty pictures for some magazine, and my dad would be yelling at the editor: ‘Terry’s going to do what he wants-and if you’re going to get in the way, we’re going to get on a plane and go home!’ And we were just so broke, I was like, ‘ Noooo , we’re in a hotel ! It’s free food and free drinks and I want to stay!’ Dad was really into tantrums and trying to emotionally devastate people. The 60′s was a different time. You could get away with these incredible scenes.”

For a spell, his dad was living in Terry’s studio apartment. “And I would just go to sleep on people’s couches every night, because I just couldn’t handle sleeping in a bed with my dad every night,” Mr. Richardson said. “I’d come home and he’d be wearing my clothes and hanging out with my friends.”

- 'Terry Richardson's Dark Room' New York Observer, Phoebe Eaton, 2004

After reading this article, especially this section I made a connection. A mom and my life connection. During my first marriage, we were renting a portion of a house in a prestigious part of town. Life was good for the early eighties. Of course now I see it was all a bad phase of the decent into abuse and a wild party life. An escape from my own family upheavals.

Back when my ex cheated on me one too many times. I know how can once not be enough? I just did not know about everything he was doing until I returned from a trip visiting friends at Baylor. It was finished, he was gone, his stuff was on the curb and then my mom calls. If I had access to a video camera I am sure the out takes would be pretty hysterical.

I invited her to come visit me. She was crying, like always, saying "this was it, she was leaving my dad for good." I knew she never would, but felt she needed a sort of vaca from the house. I hated that house, so if I could leave and feel better, than it would work for mom.

A week goes by, yeah a week, and I come home for lunch after complaining to my friends she was still there, to find the house full of firemen. She had my jewelry on, was dressed to the tee and had made lunch and coffee for them all. I was introduced as her 'single and available' daughter. I rolled my eyes. Inside I was screaming, but outside I let it go.

Is this the right time to begin screaming and throw her out I thought to myself. My roommate came home and was surprised by the scene as well. I had thought this girl was fantastic. She was hip and introduced me to all the right people. It was all part of the eighties scene really. Yes, really. I was going to the Stark Club, hanging with wealthy people who recognized my talent,  had gotten me on stage, but my mom was a mess. My roommate proceeds to tell me my mom has told the world she has won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. Yeah.

But she also began telling everyone someone was watching her and the light bulbs had cameras in them. I never said this story had a good ending. I am not sure why I had not seen the signs. Growing up she suffered from horrible depression and checked out often. Was it the chaos of my upbringing that made me shut out the signs of craziness? I am sure it was now. I was running, she was slowly descending into madness. I might be making light of it now, but when I read about dysfunctional families like Terry Richardson, I can see why he is a mess.

My mother just wanted to be noticed. She spent her whole life in the shadow of others and I saw the web of lies and stories she created, not to mention the hypochondria, it was her way of trying to make a life she never got to have. I see how Mr. Richardson's father in a sense was doing the same thing. My mom just wanted to have what I had. Actually what I had at that time was only youth, and what a waste of youth it was. Thankfully I eventually recognized all the fuel being thrown into my fire of life needed to be extinguished. Before everything blew up in my face.

My mother sadly refused to get the help from medical professionals, until she fell, just after my daughter passed away. She remained locked up, I blame my father and his back woods ignorance for this one, in that dark house. It was too late by then, but I hoped for a few weeks she really enjoyed herself. At my rented house of course. As far as Mr. Richardson is concerned, and solely my opinion, he refers to himself as a caricature, and obviously feels his actions toward other human beings are perfectly normal.

Deeper connection made, at least in my mind.  Some people just never see the chaos of their past, and how it trickles down into their own personal choices. They never wake up, or maybe they know what is going on, but make a choice to call it their own while eyes wide shut.

I read that creative people feel keeping themselves on some kind of edge keeps the juices flowing. Always looking for that next high. Are they just ringmasters looking for an audience. No connection in that for me. Well, maybe a tiny one.

Oh, why was the fire department called when my mom came for a visit? She was cooking me lunch and caught our high tech stove on fire. The smoke alarm went off and she called 911.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wish Me Luck

Actually it's my own fault. I had a physical before going to Korea and did not get my report in the mail like I usually do, so I figured it was because they screwed up my insurance information and needed more time. Which is a whole other story.

When I returned, I opened the report to see once again my blood sugar was 'elevated'. Something I have been seeing for the past four years. 99 is the normal high range, but they did lower it from 123 or so two years ago. They say because people are not taking diabetes seriously and more people have it nowadays.

Silly me, I went into the doctor's office and brought it up. I said "Well it's not like I have diabetes, just because my levels are a bit elevated". They have been 114, and consistent the past four years. I did not notice the number was 173 on this report. Ooops, my bad. He said "Yes, you have diabetes." His options were try once again eating a well balanced meal, see a dietician, exercise, and attend diabetes workshops. Or...all of this and take an insulin pill.

I opted for the pill and the rest, but made an appointment to be retested. Why? Because in the back of my mind I think I ate something due to my insomnia, after midnight (the fasting cut off time for testing). So I have eaten like a good egg since Friday (seeing the doctor) and have been taking my Metformin. I go today to get retested. No eating after midnight, I was a good patient. However...

I have spoken with two of my nurse friends in Dallas. I have been experiencing repeated hunger, sleepiness, and shaking throughout the day. I have been warned it could be low blood sugar, that I should not be taking this medication.

One of the nurse friends, Joyce said she was surprised he did not tell me to monitor my sugar levels. She is mailing me a sugar level tester. Her boss, a doctor gives them out for free. That will help me see what is going on after meals.

I will talk about it today with the doctor and report back. I am hoping I just majorly screwed myself by eating after midnight. I don't have diabetes and have another chance at changing my diet, meaning eating breakfast and not after seven in the evening. Also, I made the choice to give up alcohol altogether. Its been a long time coming. I am getting older and never really was a party animal. I did not drink until I was over thirty, as I have said before.

I have been saddened to tell hubby 'no more wine' with our meals. He loves his wine, but he also knows he has gained weight from the alcohol with meals. He lost weight from all of our walking and his food poisoning in Korea, we both have. I would rather be able to eat the foods I love than drink calorie laden and sugary alcohol that has no bearing on my happiness. I used it to numb the pain of Anelisa's death before moving to New Jersey, but now it is time to go back to the non-drinker I was before she got very ill sixteen years ago.

A chef who loves cooking and pairing wine with food giving up that passion? I had already begun a no-scotch regime for the past year, so what is a little wine. Scotch is the real culprit in my diet. Sugar filled foods too. My sweet tooth has to go.

Wish me luck on the testing...I have not wanted to ever hear the words "You are a diabetic" like my mom did all those years ago. Because I know how hard it will be to change on a dime, rather than given a chance to make changes at my own pace.

(Photo above- I found this pic in my files thanks to my friend Donna. Me and my son Aaron when I had my Dallas catering company, and working as a chef consultant for assisted living facilities, and was a size fourteen/sixteen. Sure I had a belly already, but I was more fit than I am now. My son had a chili bowl cut, and was around fourteen, he is adorable!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What Do You See...

...first thing in the morning?

Lately I am waking up around five o'clock in the morning. In the past I might lay there and eventually go back to sleep, but not since before Korea. The doctor told me to get up and not lay there. I simply would take a nap later in the day if time afforded the luxury.

I leave hubby to his dreams, but lately he is awake as well. My routine is to go downstairs, get on the internet; read, check Facebook, and do some writing. Then at some point hubby comes downstairs; we joke about being on Korea time, but really he has not felt well and we both know it will pan out for him. He cannot go on without sleep. If he does it will mean mountain dew's and falling asleep toward the end of work.

Not good either way. I on the other hand am making due with no caffeine, and am on my way to the gym again. Again? I have always enjoyed getting up before others and going for a swim. A routine I took on the past six years since we moved to New Jersey. I just back slide from time to time.

In this morning routine I am enjoying watching the sun come up. Out my dining room window is a burst of reds and gray, bouncing off cloudy skies this time of year. The trees have begun to lose all of their leaves, so it makes for a 'Headless Horseman' kind of scene. I love it. My own private creepy view in which I can add my own characters. Silly I know, but fun to use our imagination.

I also wake up to an email about my new website, Z-composition. Things have gotten behind, but Brooke is finally making progress. We are getting excited. I am aiming for the new launch date of January 1st. Full steam ahead.

What else is new? I have been thinking about an ex-husband lately. and wondering about his family. I kept up with them when the kids were young. I would stop in or call his grandmother in Texas. They have a ranch there and were always a joy to be around. He (the ex) had his problems, but the family made me feel loved.

I stumbled upon a website mentioning the family ranch. Their phone number was still the same (as the now deceased grandparents). Should I call? Me being me, I did. The father answered and we had pleasantries. Then I spoke with his mom, and it was as if we had never lost contact. She asked if I had heard the ex was deceased, I said yes, I had heard some small thing. I knew more than I let on, but felt it was rude to discuss him. There are still mixed feelings. But it was good to hear the ex's son was doing well. Unscathed from any abuse of his mom from the ex during his childhood.

Life goes own right? The sun comes up each day with brilliance. I wake up and get to witness the glory of it all. I miss Anelisa in all the autumn color, as this was her favorite time of year. The poetic side of it all just sits, waiting for me to put the words down onto paper...but I will not go there. Sometimes you just have to let sleeping dogs lie.

Peace to you all out there under the same sunrise. May you find the beauty of it all, even if it doesn't always make sense. Don't let things go unsaid. In your hearts at least. Do what you have to do to make peace with your world, and have no regrets. The higher power out there wants us to find peace. I know it.

(The author owned photo above was taken several years ago this time of the year. Pretty right? The Finger Lakes area to be exact- E. Stelling)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Preditors and Victims Are In The Open

Where do I begin? A question I have been asking myself all weekend.

I am sure most of you know about the Penn State Scandal. So many emotions are stirring for people, especially victim's, like me. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered beyond belief. Reading or hearing about another predator running around living his life as he destroyed the innocent.

I know 'innocent until proven guilty', but you cannot help be outraged from details leaked into the press.

Which brings me to something I had written months ago. A rape piece which has been looming in the back of my mind. I often think about the purpose of this blog. Creative TMI. I began steering towards artistic endeavors over the past few years. But now and then I have to bring up something serious. Talk about something that changed my own life in many ways. Topics that have changed others as well.

Most people want negative news to fade away, because it can be hard to swallow. Knowing about horrific acts such as sexual abuse is hard to swallow. But speaking out about these topics help people like me, a victim of sexual abuse as a child and an adult.

Any act of sexual abuse is horrific, especially for the victim. We live our own experiences over and over when things like this come up in the news. I was channel surfing in between working on my book and poetry when I came upon a show 'The Downfall of Anand Jon', and I thought "Who is Anand Jon?", and where have I been?

I do not watch or read about the news very often, but do read hubby's newspapers left lying around the house when I can. But it is hard to keep up with everything. I was a week behind on the Penn State Scandal.

The show I stumbled upon began by describing Anand Jon's rise to fame in the fashion world as a up and coming designer by dressing Lawrence Fishburn, Paris Hilton, and many others. He had appeared on America's Top Model, which I definitely do not watch, and then jetted into the world of (and according to acquaintances, employees and a business partner) engaging in dangerously close relationships with very young woman who aspired to be models, or were his models.

Their ages ranged from fourteen to twenty one. He was eventually caught in the car with a fifteen year old aspiring model, and was seen making out with her by the police. During her police interview she admitted to giving him oral sex, and being with him on other occasions. But he did not go to jail at this point. The mother knew, why did she not proceed to have him charged. The mother should be charged with neglect, if she is found guilty.

Years later a twenty one year old model came forth and stated to the police he raped her. After that girls came out of the woodwork saying they also had been forced, or he forced himself upon them (video tapes were found) to have sex or perform sex with Anand Jon. Of course I decided to Google him and see what updated news I could find. He was arrested in 2007, found guilty, and has been serving time in jail. I believe he is also in NYC facing trial for more sexual crimes.

I am not an expert on the whole story from the brief news reports and one blog, but I can say I know rape. From my experience I can understand why someone would be afraid to come forth. Why would I share such a horrific story with you? Because I now feel it is important for people to understand what being a victim entails. Here is a piece from one of the on-line accounts of his ordeal.

Anand Jon's victims say they were assured reimbursed airfare, drivers, secure models-only living quarters if they were accepted for modeling, as well as fees for their time coming to LA. However there were a few warning signs, no one ever met them at JFK or LAX; a call to Jon would elicit instructions for the women to take cabs to his studio — which was actually Jon’s home. Jon’s digs have invariably been described as “filthy,” “disgusting” and “gross” — a disheveled crash pad that was really a clothes closet turned inside out.

The details of what went on in his apartment are almost unbelievable, and no one saw these signs? I am sure someone saw and knew something. But people are afraid to ruffle feathers.

Many people questioned why woman would wait so long to come forth. First of all the girls were under age. Can you imagine how scared they were. Immature and inexperienced with the modeling world. I am sure they might have been embarrassed. They had all told their family and friends a famous designer wanted them to come to LA and become one of his professional models. They believed he would help them break into a world which was hard to break into. I am not surprised he intimidated them once they arrived.

Okay, even I admit, who in their right mind would allow their daughters to go unescorted to his apartment like that. Well he did live with his assistant, another female, who now admits she was afraid and intimidated by Anand Jon. Where were the adults who were responsible for their well being?

And what parent or who let children go alone with an older man to a ball field, as in the Penn State Scandal? I am not saying that sexual abuse cannot happen close to home, because it happens under your own roof.

I was a similar victim so many years ago. Years before my siblings and I were victims of molestation. Where were my parents? Unfortunately alcohol was an influence in our situation. Why did we not tell our parents what was going on? Adult predators have their way of intimidating children. Just like men who rape have their ways of scaring the hell out of women who are passive. It does not matter how old you are, you can become a victim of a sexual crime.

I am not going into details of what happened to me or my family. It happened, and I survived. Nor is this written to get sympathy for myself. I am just outraged that the above two cases were not reported earlier, and it took so long for the predator to be apprehended.

Just remember when you hear about someone like Alexander Anand Jon or the coach who was seen with an under age boy in the showers of Penn State (he has not gone to trial yet, and maybe found innocent), we all have dark sides. A majority of us just do not act upon criminal impulses. We know right from wrong. There were warning signs to many who knew both of these men (I have read), or were close to them during that period the crimes were committed. If you see something going on that doesn't seem right, then you should speak up and help a victim. No if's and's or but's.

One of my predators  in the early eighties was reported, and brought to justice shortly after the crime took place. Thankfully a much stronger woman he victimized came forth, and I felt such relief. I am a much different person now than I was back then, and would not hesitate to take a predator down. My heart goes out to the children this latest predator has victimized. Honestly I think they should take any staff who knew down.

Victims, I personally feel speaking out about these crimes is the first step to becoming a survivor.

Readers and all others, just listening can help.

Predators, I do believe you will get your punishment in due time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Sweet in so many ways...

Have you ever traveled for 24 hours? We did. It took me longer to fly home than it did to fly to our destination. Yeah yeah yeah, I'm complaining again. Sure, did you expect me to go to a foreign country and not complain about something?

I'm just a wee bit grumpy arriving home at 2 something in the morning.

TMI details about my trip:
  • I was tired of Korean food by the eighth day, with nine left to go. There is not as much western food, or at least of what we are used to. There versions are off by a lot of ingredients, and I don't eat burgers, even here in the states. 
  • Broke my right foot toes for the third time. Long, long, long story...
  • Hubby and my son walked my rear off (more than a few miles each day- try 20 per day with my asthma. Well it felt like it!)
  • Had to put up with a cranky and tired hubby due to opposite time change, but I was not allowed to complain when he woke me up three times during the night. We also slept on a hard double cot each night.
  • Hubby was sick the last three days, not a fun flight with our two connections (happened twice on trips before) from food poisoning. 
  • My son also had it eight days before him, from another meal, and kept us up all night (bathroom next to our cot). Men. They eat anything! Do not eat unidentified mystery meats or raw fish late in the day, or before you travel.
Okay, back to the 'sweet' side of this post. Each year hubby gives into the commercialism side of Halloween. He buys two large bags of junk mixed candy and waits for the kiddos to show up. The past three years there has been less and less of the little goblins, or even over the age limit teenagers knocking on our door. Last year only two before we retired for bed. This year, we would be gone. I cannot tell you how happy I was not to see the candy in our basket.

I thought it was a given- no lights, no kids, and no candy... to tempt my sweet tooth. Uh huh, sure, that was until we arrived home last night at 2 AM. As I got my key out I thought "Is someone taunting me?" (photo above)

I scooted the contraband out with my foot from the under side of the storage closet to see if it was a mere and equally tease of an empty wrapper. Left by some sneaky kid who couldn't wait to get home, or out of sight of an unsuspecting parent's watchful eye, leaving trash on my door step. Hubby feels if it is not good chocolate, then it is trash. But yet he buys it for them each year, go figure, because he won't eat it otherwise!

It speaks to me, even now. Like a sugar zombies constant craving for "Eat more candy...", and yes, I have not picked it up. I am afraid to touch it, since there is no food in my house due to our long trip. What is a sweet-aholic to do?

Tonight, I am heading for the nearest Tex-Mex restaurant for nachos. Even if it means I have to run screaming like a child to the car, stepping over that evil candy, a mini at that. You would think On-The-Border in Korea would have had shipped real salsa in from the states right? Noooooo, theirs tasted like kimchi!

On one last note...I got calls from neighbors asking if we were alright. I had no phone service in Korea, so calling them back was not an option. Did they know that I was a sweet-aholic and might not leave a candy bar on the porch? Or did they put it there to lure me out? Someone has been up to no good. That pooper scooper we threw out after we lost our dog would come in handy about now...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bow To A Gift

I'm smiling right now. Imagine that. Yes, really imagine a happy face. We spent a week in Busan without my son so I am happy to be on the train. Heading for Seoul, and Aaron's arms. A mother's peace. Knowing she has a few more hours in the presence she gave life to.

There will also be better internet for pictures, and my lap top for retrieving my notes. Yes, another reason for smiles. I have done some writing since we left Seoul. Lots of it. We saw strange things on our journey. So strange, you can only read about them or hear of them through back alley gossip.

Russian Mafia and prostitution all rolled up into a perfectly congealed and packaged Mochi box. Japanese businessmen, fast cars, and dead bodies. Where did we hang out? When you barely understand a language and only have a few weeks to do so, well you can find yourself walking down lots of streets oblivious to surroundings. Good or bad. Very bad indeed.

Or was it all in my imagination?

Wait and you will read about everything.

I bow, "gam as ham nida" my friends...

Friday, November 4, 2011

No Photo Upload

Unfortunately IPad does not support this application, so I will have to illustrate via words...

Dining Sanctuary

Laying down three prong utensils
picking up chop sticks as walking canes

Taking stomachs east into Asia
A pilgrimage past mountainous fantoms

chanting waters flowing down
Griping rocks and loose green moss

Moving over what the eye cannot see
Directing a suns reflection

Toward giant carvings of Budda's belly
A quick rub for prospierty and a giggle

From children when I pat my own
In hunger and ask why rice fields lay

Undisturbed, resting in November
On its side as women in large hats

Squat along road sides selling tea
Flowers and fermented soy products

Tangerines add color to shades of brown
And gray dirt blowing in the cold wind

Across 'The land of morning calm'
commanding oceans to the south

where seafood is abundant
Practically jumping into baskets

To be eaten raw with spicy sauces
But smelly and sweet on the tongue

As pickled radish and kimchi accompany
Washed down with crystal clear rice wines

Or yogurt colored mokgli which old men
Drink all day long as ajumma's push forward

Leaving foreigners back and puzzled for days
Royal courts ate abalone poRridge as commoners

Prepared seasonal squash with barbeque or fish
Over grains and rice, but where are the green veggies

Back home in a land of silverware that sits
Waiting lonely and cold in the drawer

Under the counter where a colander will help
Rinse a whole lots of my own garden picks

I am having problems with writing and editing on this device. Will come back and edit after I return...Needs more food visuals and leads, maybe even two poems here.