Friday, January 30, 2009

Run Updike Run!

What a meeting we had last nite! Tons of people on a freezing cold evening with the stars shining brightly and a delicious crescent moon, the kind that looks like a child's smile, and a few patches of ice as I drove down the backstreets to our church.

People were already inside as I backed into the unused handicap zone. God punished me for parking there by making the healing of my back bad very very slow. Did you know I refuse to take pain medicine for fear of becoming manic again?

When in doubt, blog! Or read the online NY Times. I wanted to share this superb pictorial essay with you, Dear Reader. Esp. with Nancy Wolen who's submitted some awesome paintings to the Compass.

The woman sitting next to me in our Small Group last nite had beautiful curly hair and was happily married. Her travails are second to no one's. That woman has probably had every single bad thing that can happen to a woman happen to her. She is not doing well. I asked her, Have you ever used artwork or writing to help yourself? No, she said. Well, there you go. There is always ONE MORE THING you can try to help yourself. I just mailed her the above link.

"New Directions Speaks" is the title of a new blog one of our family members created IMMEDIATELY after the meeting last nite. Very few people follow up as quickly as Debbie did. I am impressed! NDS will be a confidential site for our members to post How they're doing and to Ask other members questions.

A new member "Connie" age 22 was surprised to hear about "late onset bipolar disorder" such as I had and also Patty in our group had. At 22, newly diagnosed Connie thought she knew just about everything about bipolar disorder. Honey, there is a lot to learn. Connie is on lithium, the only drug that works for her. One of our table-mates began to bad-mouth lithium. This is something you never do so other members needed to get in there to shut her up & assure Connie it was fine to be on lithium.

Connie's doctor, however, didn't tell her about the possibility of renal dysfunction, which is why I went off the naturally occurring salt. I assured Connie that it only occurs after many years of use and is relatively rare. Kay Jamison still takes her lithium.

Connie and others wanted to know why I'm cured. I didn't wanna waste valuable time telling them as there were so many more important concerns in the group so I said wait till the end. Fortunately there was no time to tell my story. I hate talking about myself in front of the group. I LOVE listening to others.

In the large group I announced that our Iris has taken many of our people under her wing and talks for hours to them on the phone. I hope she has headsets like I do so she doesn't get a sore neck. If it's your nature to speak to people, it's incredibly healing.

A flotilla of cars went to the IHOP afterward. I politely declined and blithely drove out the one-way driveway - going the wrong way of course - to drive home on the backroads. Wow, I thought to myself, that was some fantastic meeting. I wasn't expecting it. I thought no one would be there. Murray suggested we do an Authentic Happiness Group a la Martin Seligman to keep people in the group who are doing better.

I'm all for that! I'll try anything to serve our people. After all, you're not gonna have Ruth Deming to kick around like a ragdoll some day. I can't stand people who write LOL to show they're joking. I never ever do that! I just let the reader sink or swim on their own.

First thing I did when I got home was remove my clodhopper shoes or as Scott says, my sexy hiking boots. That man is always up for a good piece of ..... nevermind.... LOL

I was exhausted! Do you get hungry like I do when I'm tired? The body is desperately trying to energize itself. What? I shouldn't help myself in the well-stocked refrigerator? I shouldn't finish off my salad with 7 vegetables that was stood up thother nite when my guests failed to show? My, it was good at 11 at nite.

Rules for falling asleep: Pitch dark, no TV, read till the words swim before your eyes.

I kept the TV on. LOL.

John Updike was being remembered on Charlie Rose. They had a panel of literati who knew everything in the world about Updike. Most novelists, they said, stop writing all forms of literature at some point in their lives except for the novel. Not so Updike. He continued writing short stories, poems, essays, book reviews. An editor at the New Yorker told him that a young writer had submitted a nice short story. Four days later, Updike faxed over a new short story he had written. Competitive up to the end.

I was lying in bed watching sans my contact lenses & couldn't make out any names of the pundits. There was an older woman with a gray pageboy hairdo named Judith Jones possibly. I was squinting and turning my head trying to read her name. She was very good. Had a deep man's voice. Reminded me of my high school English teacher Mrs. Harcourt.

Mrs. Harcourt was quite old. She wore skirts and stockings as was the fashion of the day. Our assignment was to write a term paper, a research paper. I persuaded her to let me write a short story instead. I typed it up the day before it was due. I called it The Madman and it took place down at the Cleveland Museum of Art near the huge pond with the swans in it.

The story appeared in the high school literary magazine Semanteme. I was so ashamed and so embarrassed for having written it, I could barely drag myself to school that day. Publication of that story absolutely mortified me. A Jewish girl named Leslie who had more muscular calves than I did told me she liked it. So did a few other people. I wrote some more stories when I went to Goddard College. And I wrote some poems. No one would publish them. I was aghast!

I've always had a fondness for my work.

After I woke up this morning I began singing in the kitchen. "I Get Misty Just Holding Your Hand." I pretended I was one of those Guantanemo detainees in solitary confinement who was trying to keep their sanity, so I was singing. Twenty-two hours without stimulation, according to a recent Frontline show. They begin hearing voices and cracking up.

Some people - and I am not one of them - believe you can help people by thinking good thoughts about them. Charles Williams wrote a book about this long ago which I read in high school. In high school, books were my dates, my boyfriends. I read just about every good book in the Bertram Woods Library. I'd stack em up and walk home with the books in my arms like newborn babies waiting to be born with my reading eyes.

Okay, novel-writing time!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One big fat chicken

First it was on, then it was off. My latest dinner party this time with my son Dan and his bride-elect Nicole. The question we were all asking here in the Philadelphia area last nite was IS IT GOING TO SNOW?

I'm lying in bed last nite. It feels great to sleep at the end of a hard day of doing some really backbreaking procrastination and I wake up in the middle of the nite with the eternal question: Has it snowed? And of course, Is there a God?

The room had an unaccustomed white glow around the edges. Too groggy to get up and look, I thought a moment & decided to place a million dollar bet that it had indeed snowed. Falling back to sleep, I never knew if I was right & of course there's the sticky problem of the possibility that I could die in my sleep & not collect my winnings.

Helene, one of my dearest friends turned 80. She had to call me up to remind me. A friend of hers told her 80 is the new 60. That made her feel good. When I turned 60 a coupla years ago I said to myself, 60 is the new 80. I'm serious. I think about being dead every single day of my life esp. in the middle of the nite.

Oh, I say, pinching myself. Hot dang! I'm still alive. Only HE knows how long we're gonna live. Next morning I get up & put the fire extinguisher outside my bedroom door. My bedroom of course is the family room. The fire extinguisher means, "Come on over & see me, Scottie, when you come home from work."

I've just got to get a weather check. The driving's not bad he says. But walking home from the train, the sidewalks were slippery and slushy. If he'd walked in the street the cars would've splashed him.

Thus informed, I sent my son Dan an email titled Let's cancel dinner tonite. He wrote back and said Good idea, Mom. Stay warm!

All day cars are whizzing up and down the street with no problem. My car out front in the drive is covered over like a wedding cake which then begins melting with nice thunking noises. I call my boy back up & say, C'mon over as planned.

I begin preparing the chicken. It's a big fat oven-roaster. Haven't made one of these since I was a young wife. Looking on the Net, I found an enticing recipe called Lemon Chicken. I opened up the empty cavity of the oven-stuffer & began shoving in everything I could think of: taters, parsley, lemon slices, tangerines, an onion. I pushed and pushed to get it all in.

Immediately I pictured the octuplets from California snug in their mama's womb for seven-some months and that one little octaplut shoved up against "the horn of the uterus" just like my tangerine segment, drawing nutriments from the cord and weighing in at two solid pounds, more than any of his siblings.

Can you imagine holding a baby that tiny in your hands? Mama couldn't hold them for at least a day.

So I cooked that chicken and I cooked some big fat sweet potatoes and I made a delicious salad with a perfect avocado and a fruit salad for dessert and then the phone rang.

I always look on the dial for the name of the person who's interrupting my peace n quiet. Daniel Deming, it said. He gave me the news. I took it on the chin.

What'll I do with my big fat chicken, I asked him.

You'll figger it out, Mom. I begged and pleaded with him but they didn't feel like budging. I looked at all the neighbor houses. No. I couldn't invite anyone over.

I sat down at the table and began to serve myself. I had a thigh and a leg. They were dripping with golden-brown juices. I slit open the sweet potato and mashed it up. I'll tell you I was in heaven right here in my kitchen. That was some chicken I'd made. Its juices were a-flowing.

Then Scott let himself in. Smells delicious, he said, joining me.

I gave him the wings.

How can you eat wings, I said. There's no meat. That's the fun of it, he said, digging out the meat - and oh, that juicy fat!

There's not a bit of salt in this whole thing, I said, and yet it's tasty & delicious. How can that be?

We talked about the NYC health commissioner whose next crusade is to lower the salt content in processed foods, probably, he said, by gradually titrating down the amount without people's noticing it. He was responsible for the anti trans-fat campaign. And people think we don't need regulations. Eaten any Little Debbie Snack Cakes with Peanut Butter lately? Eight people dead. They don't clean their machines and have mold on the ceilings and airways big enough for rodents to come in.

Quick! Change the subject. Oh! A new ritual here in the diminished Deming household. Twice a day I mount my stationery bicycle and ride like the wind. It's actually my real bike but Scott bought a "stand" for it so it stays put right there on the rug. I ride for 10 minutes in the morning staring at the tube and 10 minutes at nite. I like it. I like it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cream cheese & olives

Before I left for the harp & vocal concert at the library, I took out the cream cheese to let it soften on the kitchen table. Then I left, planning to meet 2 friends there, who I was 60 percent certain would not show up.

They didn't but two other friends did.

I spent a lot of time at the concert looking at the man's neck in front of me. The median age was 70. I had a lot of fun looking at necks and hairdos and making up stories about people while listening to the harp concert, that is, what I could HEAR of it in the back of the room.

The man's neck was totally wrinkled. No one else's neck was wrinkled at all. This is the back of the neck, mind you. I will ask Scott about this. He has various esoteric expertises esp. about the body. Scott is a body-builder and an athlete. I hate bragging about him but it's central to my story. If he hadn't left for work already, I'd ask him about the back of the man's neck. It was just a roadmap of wrinkles, which in our American culture are forbidden signs of aging.

Half the people in the audience are Abington Library Groupies. They come out for whatever event is playing at the library. An older man and woman were sitting next to each other. I was trying to figure out if they were married. They were talking occasionally. I decided their hairdos matched up. They were not leaning toward the other like married people do but I figured they were sick of each other and liked the freedom of pretending they were alone. And independent.

A two-year-old child was at the concert. No, he was not by himself. He was not a baby Mozart, but was toted in by his mother. That kid did not make a peep! In fact, halfway into the concert the mother rose from her seat with Baby Mozart, walked to the head of the room & plunked herself down on the floor so she & Baby Mozart could get a better view. That mother sure knew her kid.

As for me, I never once glimpsed the harpist. That's how bad my seat was. And that's why I kept up such a head-chatter with the audience. The woman sitting next to me is from our group. At first I thought it was my imagination that she was staring at me. Then I looked over and it was true. SHE WAS STARING AT ME! She gave me a little smile and I groaned inside. Was she in love with me? She has two grown boys.

One never knows.

When I got home the cream cheese was soft. I cut some olives with a scissors and plopped them amidst the cream cheese. I like to talk on the phone when I cook but it was dinnertime. So I turned on Jefferson Airplane.

Then I spread five sesame rice crackers with the cream cheese mix and began munching. SUPER! Then I buttered five more. And then five more. This was my supper. Fifteen in all and Jefferson Airplane.

I did a terrific psychiatric intervention on Saturday. I see clients any day they're free and I'm free. Before he came over I said to myself, Ruthie, are you sure you can help this man? Maybe you should send him to someone who knows what they're doing. Everyone tells me what a terrific therapist I am but you know what? I don't for a minute believe them.

The saying is, You're only as good as your last poem. I haven't written a good poem in over a week so I thought my therapy would be ineffective. Turns out I sent him an email when the session was over. I wrapped up our entire appointment in the email with clear instructions on how to proceed.

Today he wrote back. Due to my intervention he got the guidance he needed and untangled himself from his yearlong problem.

Let us eat.

The well-dressed man

We were at the Starbucks Cafe at the Jenkintown PA Barnes & Noble. Robin was telling Pat and me about her job as a special ed teacher. I was sipping on a hot apple cider & had just written down Robin's contact info on a napkin. The contact of the pen & the napkin was superb. I took a small silent pleasure in this while she was talking about special ed.

Special ed? said a very well-dressed gentleman who was passing by. He wore one of those expensive woolen coats and had on a shirt & tie underneath. He looked like a man with substance. I stared hard at him trying to figure out if he was important or not. Yes, I'm like that.

Special ed, he said, quite a subject, moving over to our table.

Mind if I sit down? he asked.

We couldn't figger out what to do. In America, particularly in suburban Philly, it is unheard of for total strangers to approach you. My table all looked at me for an answer, as if I was Tuvia in the movie Defiance. (Go see it!!!)

All right, I said, sit down.

He passed by me & then I saw it.

Wait a minute! I shouted. You have a bottle of vodka in your pocket. I don't think you should sit with us.

The cafe was so crowded people were sharing tables. They were also looking at us.

The one thing in life I hate most of all is Wasting time talking to idiots. I now believed the well-dressed man was a bona fide idiot.

So he starts getting defensive.

How old are you? he asks me.

That's totally inappropriate, I said. You don't go up to someone you don't know and ask them how old they are. I want you to leave.

I'm running for president, he says.

Are you manic? I asked.

What's that? he asked.

Never mind. What's your name?

Bill, he said. What's yours?

Having learned the most important thing about him - his name - I was now ready to take action. Nearly an entire minute had passed and we were on the clock. The clock of courage and efficiency.

Bill, I'd like you to leave right now, I said.

I totally avoided eye contact. This man could turn out to be a beast. Never look a suspicious person in the eye. They can bop you with their vodka bottle.

At that moment, one of the Barnes & Noble associates came over with his swinging nametag. He was very nice.

I'm sorry to have this gentleman bother you, he said. Sir, can you come with me?

We finished up our snacks while reviewing the experience.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hot times in the ole support group!/Poem: Master of the House

Ada's Outing boasted 9 people yesterday. We watched the marvelous film Slumdog Millionaire. In the parts where they tortured the hero, I simply closed my eyes. Janet got up and went to Theater Two. Cassandra got up and went to the library.

Cassy was sitting next to me. I had an ulterior motive in sitting beside her. Last week was her first meeting. Diagnosed as bipolar one (the kind where you go off your rocker), I knew she also had borderline personality disorder but didn't know it.

How would you like it if you had cancer and the doctor refused to tell you b/c he didn't want to hurt your feelings? It would ruin your chances for survival. In the case of borderline, treatment would be delayed.

We sat in the dimly lit theater, both of us with our coats wrapped around us. Peggela had brought soft pretzels and I tore off some for me & Cassy to share, a good way to break the news to her.

Yeah, she said, I read about it in The Merck Manual and thought it sounded just like me.

It's very treatable, I said. You just need good therapy from someone who knows what they're doing.

How did you know I had it, she said.

Easy, I said. When we were at the IHOP last week you talked about yourself. You said you didn't know who you are (lack of identity), that you had major anger problems, trusted practically no one, and constantly obsessed about your abusive husband.

She looked away, deep in thought. I was sure I had done the right thing, telling her.

Three minutes after the movie began, she said she didn't feel well and was going to leave. She got up and left.

I wasn't so sure I had done the right thing. But I forced myself to have faith in what I had done. I'd thought about it the previous week & decided she was strong enough to hear it from me.

She returned in three minutes since she'd left her purse on the floor.

Listen, I said, meet us for coffee afterward and we'll talk more. She did. She announced she'd gone to the Doylestown Library and checked out some books on her psychiatric condition. Good! My intervention worked.

If it's broke, FIX IT!

When we were about to leave the theater, I reached into my pocket to put on my beret. It wasn't there.

I was SO MAD!

Every time I go to the movies, I said out loud, I lose my hat.

I went back into the theater, lay down on my belly and looked under the seats.

May I help you, said one of the ushers?

Yes, I said. Every time I go to the movies I lose my hat.

Oh! said the usher. Was it a beret?

Yes! I said. So I got my beret back. I still can't figger out why it keeps falling out of my pocket.

Why don't you keep your hat on, said my boyfriend when I told him about it.

I edited 2 stories for the Compass today. One happens to be a 10-page story called: A Mind of My Own: A Personal Account of Recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder. Its author, the pseudonymous Shae Scott, tole me she has a hard time when her pieces are edited. I explained to her I preserve the Voice of the person writing it but that the job of the narrator is to love the reader so much that you're willing to make changes so the reader can fully understand what you're writing about. Hence, I made a few minor changes for clarity. Shae has a natural poetic voice which I preserved with no problem.

She asked me to email her a poem. I will, I said, if I can find it. Here's the poem.


The master of the house
looks out the screen door,
I stand and look at him
look out the screen.

A woman with loose swinging hair walks by.
We have sidewalks here on Cowbell
and mailboxes so close to the front door
you can reach right over and lift out your mail
without leaving home.

The woman looks up at the perfect moment
and meets the eyes of the master of the house
and then of mine. The three of us lock eyes
for just one moment
as she passes by our house.

The master of the house,
swivels his head
as she passes by.
Intense, alert, curious,
he has made of her passage a celebration,
an occasion of great moment
drawing all things to a stopping point
to gaze upon this unknown woman
with swinging hair

his ears swivel too
tiny ears flecked with hairs
that let the light shine through

Is he picking up walking noises
or the sound of her breath? as,
in every way, he tries to be with her
behind the screen
in the separation,
the membrane,
that parts all things,
from being one

he, too, does that,
as most of mankind does,
longing to be one
with someone

Were I to vanish
would he go to her?
would he want her
as he does me?

I remember when he came
from Brooklyn in a cage
hot and dusty from the ride,
slinking from his cage
to take a look around,
body twitching,
yet master of his new domain.
Where was he?
Where had Dan taken him?

To live with Dan’s mother.
I came downstairs to meet him,
to learn to love him,
never had a proper introduction
to cats nor cared to
‘till now
my duty
as mistress of the house

I took my body and laid it
on the couch
lay there absorbing his
smell and fur and the delicacy
of his step
his silence
his stares
his wonderment
Let myself
soak up whatever it was
that made him different from me.
I needed to co-exist with cats. And did.

He has a thing for me
Wraps himself around me
whenever I sit or type
or try to sleep.

I let him sleep with me when I nap. I make a place for
him on my chest so he won’t crush me
so he can have me
as he wishes.
Never have I had the love of man the way I have
the love of cat. He reaches out his paw
strokes my
neck, my cheek, my closed eye.
He is good to me.

I carry him out to see my garden.
He squirms in my arms
trying to get free.
Jerking when he hears the birds chirp
I hold him tight so he won’t run away.

People love cats and sleep with cats.
Dan sleeps with cats. And women too.
But me, I only nap with the cat.
Don’t think me insensitive or cruel, I beg of you.
But I do it for the cat’s pleasure, not mine.
I enjoy the pleasure of watching him happy.

I am a woman who never met a man
I wanted to sleep with the whole night long.
Nor cat either.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Eve

Obama belongs to all of us. He represents the struggles of all of us as human beings. Who among us hasn't had their struggles, their own particular narrative of overcoming tragedy?

We see ourselves in this Everyman. Sure, his color appears dark at first, but soon he becomes that singular object - a man, a human being. His Inaugural speech was magnificent. Until that moment he was gentle, conciliatory, patting Bush on the shoulder, nodding at VP Cheney who rode humbled in a wheelchair with a cane between his legs.

His speech however told us what the man really had in mind. It was a bold indictment of the last eight years, no holds barred, and the solemn promise to establish new ground, the true ground that all Americans walk upon, and the reason why 2 million Americans had come to hear him in the 26 degree chill.

Obama himself is a believer. He told us our democracy did not have to die. He told us we were strong and resilient and did not have to cower with fear over our soiled economy and the blasphemy of our wars. He told us we can choose faith over fear, hope over despair.

And I believe him.

So do a few of my friends. Check out the blog of my college chum Iris A-A. And of psychiatrist Dan Hartman, MD. I imagine Sue Katz will be adding her comments of this stirring day. And perhaps Mr. Weinstein will divulge his thoughts tomorrow.

Inauguration Day!

I am glued to my TV! Remote in hand, I switch from CBS to ABC to CNN for the earliest and best live coverage. Did you see Barack & Michelle enter the new presidential limousine? What a couple. Wonder what they had for breakfast. Do you think they fell asleep last night? Can't wait to hear the Inaugural Address and to catch my first glimpse of Sasha and Malia. What a boost it gives grandparents that their grandmother is coming to live with them.

The Times did a nice video on one particular Tuskegee Airman, a 92-year-old gentleman Spann Watson who was personally invited by the Obama Team to attend the ceremonies. An extremely well-spoken gentleman, he was shown being photographed among young people in a crowd who had no concept about the magnificence that is the Tuskegee Airmen.

Although Obama himself will be the president, I think of his ascending to the presidency as sweeping in with millions at his feet. For some reason, it's not just Obama but scores of others who are governing with him, as if he's a transcendental figure representing all of us - all Americans and all the citizens of the world - whether we voted for him or not.

Monday, January 19, 2009

George I'm Bringing my Pearsauce! Ode to Bob

I'm on the clock now since someone actually invited me over for lunch! Hey, I'm moving up into the Popular Crowd.

Like a switch turned suddenly on, I'm hard at work on our Compass magazine, chockfull of stories about mental health, most with happy endings. After all, the magazine's motto is Tools for Inspiration and Hope. Sorta like the new Obama Administration.

I have not caught the Inaugural Flu Bug yet. I've been so beaten down by the Bush administration it's hard to come up again. Like a boxer flattened.

Was lying in bed this morning - what? I should be sleeping in my frozen car? or on the path in the backyard where the deer come in - or the red fox? - and I was so enjoying the feeling of being alive and reaching over to my night table to drink my water out of a Maxwell House coffee jar with a straw - and I decided to call up Pam, ya know, Pam London Barrett, The Singing Psychiatrist. I had something very important to tell her.

She was also in bed. Her son had a sleep-over & everyone was in bed so she was whispering.

I saw Gran Torino yesterday, I said.

Did you love it? she asked.

Absolutely. I was just thinking about it this morning.

I told her I was working on the Compass & have a fantastic story about a woman with borderline personality disorder. It's the only story I've ever read that explains to me, personally, how a person can self-mutilate, which she began at age 6. Wait till you read this issue! I told Pam I did some online reading by Otto Kernberg, now 79, whose research and practice revolves around bpd and also narcissistic personality disorder.

Every single human being worth his salt, when reading about borderline or narcissism, ought to think to themselves, Hmmm, sounds like me, except that the symptoms of the true sufferer are a million times worse.

Oy! An email just came in. Scuse me a sec.

Hey it was Sue Katz! It's so much fun having a friend you've never met before.

Saturday was my Hatboro Writers' Group. Four of us showed up and we had a wonderful session. I presented my latest poem In Memorium Bob Stuller which I'd like to read for you now, folks, without any fanfare. Well, perhaps a bit of fanfare. Did I tell you why I'm such a good reader?

Very quickly, I was reading at a small chapel outside New Hope, PA, for my very first time. I felt shy so I wasn't reading with confidence. Finally, I said to myself, I'm getting bored listening to myself read. I can't stand it I'm so goddam boring. This all took place in an nth of a second. So I looked up at the audience and said, I'm starting over.

Then I began to read with feeling. You've got to please yourself before you can please anyone else. Why am I thinking of Joel O'Steen now?


Originally I suppose
an umlaut crowned your U
how fitting
Bob Stuller
master of discipline and rigidity
How I cringed at your
rule of law
those Sunday afternoons
at our poetry group
putting people off
with your stiffness
of body and mind
hear! hear!

Grown frail
over the years
face thin
did it droop on your sloping neck
after the stroke
I could barely look
I hated you so
and only stole glances
when your head was down

You lived on a hill
- your house or hers? -
thickets and gullies
birds and wildflowers
you in the middle
Saint Francis of Assissi
careworn when I knew you
knees wobbling beneath your robe
breadcrumbs in your palms
for your wild beloveds

Your faltering heart
the surgeons could not save
you'd be interested
this morning
the Times did an article
Many come out worse
after their body's been
broken into
by surgery thieves
- that's you! - Bob with an umlaut

I skipped your funeral
we'd spent time enough together
over the poet's table
or the time you tried to....

Funerals only draw the dead closer
the spirit hovers 'round
cakey breath and
circles round the eyes
sagging flesh dripping from the elbow
take me home!

Apartness is what I want
I daren't show up
for our very last date
god knows what
you might have tried
alone at last
one of us dead
the other alive
though who among us
could tell us apart?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Walter scores big!

For my friend Walter Straus 2008 was a very good year & 2009 promises to be even better. Walt, who turned 90 in December, has an athletic background. Born & raised in Bristol, PA, he swam across the Delaware River as a teenager from the Bristol shore to the Burlington, NJ shore. I had written a poem about doing so in my first year as a therapist in Bristol when I used to go down to the rocky shore on my lunch hour to think and straighten out my head from all the clients I saw.

Walt's sister Charlotte who died 3 years ago had a brief romantic fling with famed folksinger Woody Guthrie. They never actually slept together. Woody's then-wife called Charlotte to remind her Woody was a married man & that he had a childlike self that knew no boundaries and Charlotte did the wife's bidding.

Charlotte herself had one child from the town's merry tippler who came into possession of all the material that Woody had mailed Charlotte during their brief romantic correspondence which fanned the flames of Woody's creativity as can be seen in all the memorabilia that went up for auction last week at Philly's oldest auction house, Freeman's Auction at 18th and Chestnut.

I've been a fan of Guthrie ever since I discovered his records issued by the Library of Congress at the Southampton Library & took out every record he ever made. When I visited Walter last year he placed all the memorabilia on his dining room table and I carefully looked thru it all. Walt had carefully encased each precious typewritten letter - or handwritten letter - in plastic. They were preserved remarkably well.

Walt is proud that he did research on what to do w/them by telephone and not computer. First he took them up to a place in NJ, a reputable place that charged him about $150 per hour for advice, and then he ended up dealing with Freeman's Auction in Philly. The auction was scheduled nearly an entire year away. "I hope I'm still alive when it goes to auction," said Walter.

He's got more to live for at 90 than most people do at 50. He met the woman of his life Amy who drove him several days ago to the Auction. Click here for more details on this Philly Inquirer auction preview.

Asking price was between 8 and 12 grand. The Woody Guthrie Collection owned orig. by Charlotte Straus which passed into the hands of her daughter & then of Walter reeled in $34,000.

He has already bought Amy some nice gifts with the moolah.

Walter lives 5 minutes away in the tallest apartment tower in the neighborhood. He walks several miles a day around his complex without a hat. He's a sharp dresser and his mind is kept sharp by the endless Scrabble games he plays with his many friends.

He was at the nearby Staples copying the newest Scrabble words accepted for the game when I met him. We stood side by side and he explained what he was doing. I looked agog at all the words now accepted including 'dumbshit.' Look, who am I to argue with the gaming experts but somehow it doesn't seem right.

After that, Walt & I became friends. His second wife had manic depression.

Here's my poem:


They come
one by one
to the intake worker's office,
calendar pictures
of mountains
and deserts
and places they will never see.
And they answer the tough intake questions:
So how old were you when it happened?
How frequent are the dreams?
What made you take the pills?

Sometimes they cry.
The intake worker
has a box of Kleenex
and a nice way about her
so that after the tears
they say,
I'm glad I got that out.

They ask when they will see the doctor.
Soon, please? It's no good.
I can't go on like this.
I haven't touched my wife
in over a year. She'll leave.

The intake worker bites her lip
and flips through the schedule
that has no spaces.

she lays her cheek across a pile of papers
that stand for
all the people who've come and gone
but never really left.
She begins to picture
sharp rocks rising
from the blue-green sea,
a spit of land
where she and James would go.
I'll bet I could swim the length of it,
she'd brag. You couldn't, he'd. say. You're an amateur.
But she could.

She'd pick a fine day.
The water would be cool and fresh.
She'd begin with breaststrokes,
rippling the water with wide swirling arcs.
Why, I can probably clear it in less than an hour,
she thinks.
They might come looking for her.
But she'd fool them all
pulling out to sea
with firm strokes
gathering speed
parting the waters with cupped hands
as she puts the sea
behind her, and hearing what sounds like
faint cheers on the other side,
she shakes the sea from her hair
and touches shore.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Four more days!

Obama and his family are in town tonight. Yes, they're staying at a Sheraton in downtown Philly and then the family is riding the train into DC Saturday morning. I'll bet Malia and Sasha are really excited. Do you think their parents will write them a note so they can miss school?

When I send out emails to lots of people, I occasionally send one to:

Barack & Michelle "We're the Obamas" at

It actually goes to one of my Comcast accounts.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dinner is served!

I have so much going on - compared to, say, two weeks ago when I was drowning in boredom & ennui - that I must write up the entire dinner menu. Ray from Accu-Print on Davisville Road, Willow Grove, PA, cultural capital of Pennsylvania (not) gives me free scratch pads, rejects. You would not believe what I could pass as. Among other things, a school superintendent.

My favorite scratch pad is pink. What a cheery color! I told Ray I didn't want any of his blue pads... too depressing.

I write up my menu on the pink pad & then hang it up in my kitchen. I need all the counter space I can salvage. Like you, Dear Reader, I am one of those people who use her kitchen table as both desk, storage repository, and filing things I know not what to do with.

I checked with my guests in advance to make sure they liked what I was serving. Here's what we had, our dinner party for four.

H'ors d'oeuvres
Celery sticks stuffed with (a) Smucker's Organic Peanut Butter, creamy (so the nuts won't stick in your teeth) and (b) cream cheese & olives (remember these sandwiches from when we were kids?)

Spring mix interspersed with cucumber, green pepper, toasted pecans, cherry tomatoes with a homemade dressing of:

Hellmann's mayo
peanut oil
spicy moutarde
two cloves gralick
real maple syrup

Main course

Large sweet potatoes basted with olive oil
Salmon poached in mushrooms, green peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes
Animated conversation, particularly about Bush's last press conference which we'd all watched on PBS News Hour w/Jim Lehrer. We were amazed that the news commentators wore straight faces as they analyzed his speech. For 8 years, people have observed the Emperor's New Clothes Phenomenon with this guy. He presents his viewers with the truth straight from his mouth but no one appears to hear the idiocy emanating from him. In retrospect, I'm wondering if he perhaps suffers from an increasing dementia due to his early years as a drunk.


Homemade yogurt with full-fat milk
Blend of fresh berries - blubberies & raspberries
Drizzling of maple syrup

I had such fun buying the ingredients, just like Bush had such fun during his 8 year tenure over the nation. Dyou believe that shit? He had fun destroying the great civilization of Baghdad, of torturing men in Guantanamo, of losing stature all around the world.

My guests were none other that Ada and Rich Fleisher. At one point, I called up Scott, who lives right next door, and I said, When you get a chance, can you come over & help me prepare dinner? I wanted him to stuff the celery which he did. Then I asked him to arrange them in an attractive pattern on the platter.

I didn't even have to trick Ada into reading two of my poems. They were lying around and she actually said she wanted to read them. Remind me to load one or two later on.

His Letter Arrived!

It had been so long I'd stopped watching for his letter. When it arrived I didn't know it was from him. I'd sent him a self-addressed stamped envelope but he doesn't use a return address. Economic nature like his letters, his poems and his visits. He makes small pit-stops throughout life. I am so glad he stopped for me.

He would've written sooner, he said, but he'd been 'fighting off a bout of despair' - ah! so like poets. He always told his classes he sees a psychiatrist. Poets tell all. You can't be any good if you keep secrets. We want the whole world to know about life from our point of view. I think of him mostly as a father. A father to so very many.

I first met Chris Bursk when I was a therapist at Bristol-Bensalem Human Services. We'd knocked around a bit on how and where to meet. He lives in Langhorne. My therapy agency was on the fringes of Bristol, PA. The Great Man motored down & was waiting for me at my office. When I saw him I paid little attention to him. I thought he was either a maintenance man or a patient early for therapy with his white haystack of hair and his thermal undershirt.

I was really nervous. I was on my shitload of bipolar medicine at the time and ushered him into my huge office. They didn't know what to do with me there so they gave me the conference room. I ran groups so I needed space. We sat at the round table and he had 37 poems I had mailed him. He'd marked em all up.

As things go, looking back, it was one of the greatest moments in my life. We're both in our sixties now. And here's his typewritten letter sitting on my desktop. Undated. Economy again. For the ages. When I got it, yesterday or the day before, I wrote on top: Received 1-12-09.

Where shall I put it?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I don't use capital letters

When sending emails from my laptop, I usually don't capitalize words like you're supposed to. Hence, an email I sent out this morning reads - and I quote:

bob, how in thor's name do you dig up all these arcane stories?
rhetorical question.
new blog at

There's a very good reason which until now I haven't told a soul. The reason is I type most of my emails with only my left hand. This is b/c I'm lying on my side & am too lazy to sit up.

Now you know!

Free & you don't have to travel to CT

My friend Iris Arenson-Fuller bears a striking resemblance to Audrey Hepburn. Iris is a wise woman who is offering free coaching sessions to interested parties. If interested, click on her website and get in touch.

A Movie I Would Never See

Kate Winslet won best actress last nite in Hollywood's Golden Globes ceremony for her performance in the 1950s period piece Revolutionary Road directed by her husband Sam Mendes. Knowing nothing about the film, and never having heard of Kate Winslet, it was a movie I was not interested in.

Why then did I see it - with Sarah in Brooklyn at the famed Brooklyn Academy of Music - and enjoy it immensely while still proclaiming to Sarah, "It's a movie that kept trying to find itself, just like its characters."

I pompously pronounced Winslet's character a manic depressive with a large dollop of personality disorder and stated the movie is All About Her... and all those lantern-jawed lascivious businessmen who lusted after her. Why? Because she was a beauty and her eyes reached toward the heavens.

We saw the film cuz we were shut out of Milk, having bought tickets but not being able to get a decent seat inside.

I maintain that in a good watchable film each and every scene must be a tiny nugget of perfection. No slacking. If even one scene is dull, then you've lost your audience. Such was Rev. Road - every scene was perfect, even though the totality of the film didn't quite gell into the fine story line, say, of a Casablanca.

So much for statements like "I'd never see that movie." By default, many nice things happen.

During the endless coming attractions before Rev. Road, one movie of note captured my interest. A screaming muscular blond-haired man ranted from the screen, an actor name of Mickey Rourke - who he? - in a film called The Wrestler. He absolutely demanded to be seen in that role. And look! Like, Winslet, he also won a best actor award in last nite's Golden Globes.

What's in an award? Recognition mostly. Not hiding your lantern under a rock as the Bible says. Anyone know that quote?

This is the first post I've ever done without my contact lenses in. Too much trouble to go into that freezing cold bathroom and put em in. Bulgaria is without heat. Man o man, if that happened around here, I'd set up a tent in the backyard and burn a fire. I'd keep a pot of hot water over my fire and drink it slowly to warm my innards. There are three horrible feelings in the world for the normal unafflicted person: Being cold, constipated or sleep-deprived. I remember I used to tell that to my former boyfriend Pauly when I'd sleep over his house in Queens. He went off and married someone else (thankgod) and became a peace activist. I can just see him now marching over the Throgs Neck Bridge on behalf of the Palestinians.

Someone's gotta keep guard over the world's atrocities.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Winter Bares Its Breath

If the fog comes in on little cat's feet, how does winter come in? I like when PBS airs programs showing winter at its worst, avalanches trapping people underneath or a NOVA show where they were climbing Denali, the tallest mountain in North America & all the climbers had elevation sickness, were dizzy & had air pockets in their lungs & had to climb back down.

These shows make me appreciate the endurance we need in wintertime, esp. as we grow older and have no one to dress us for the outdoors or carry us in their warm arms. You must be a hardy soul to survive even in the more moderate cold of a Philadelphia winter, n-est-ce pop?

Here are some rules I made up:

- Wear thermal underwear or dress in layers. Thermal underwear is one-third off at Sears if you BUY IT NOW.

- Put everything on before you leave home including hat and gloves. By covering your hands you'll avoid chapping. Have several pair of same-color gloves in case you lose them. In emergencies, you can wear socks on your hands.

- Carry a hot drink with you on your errands. I stopped at a Starbucks and bought their luscious apple cider.

- Avoid unnecessary exposure to cold. When filling your car w/gas, sit in your car while tank is filling. You can watch other gassers dancing with cold as they stare at the gas tanks instead of the beautiful world around them.

- Bundle up & park away from the fray and walk to your destination as long as you remain warm. This way you will absorb Vitamin D from the sun & possibly get a little color in your cheeks. You will also feel proud of yourself that you braved the elements far from Ididerata.

- Appreciate the cold as one of the great wonders of nature. I go for brief trips to my garbage can right outside my side door wearing my clogs and my new skivvies. I don't stay out long b/c I don't want to harm my body from the shock of The Cold, but while I'm out there I feel the extraordinary power of the winter in all its fury. Just a little tilt away from the sun, a few degrees, and the earth shivers and shrivels up.

- Do something unusual to0 snub your nose at ole man winter. Tuesday night I'm having Ada and Rich (The Fabulous Fleishers) over for a fish dinner. I'd also like to invite the Tamaccios but my kitchen table is too small. I'll buy whatever fresh fish is on sale and we'll each have a humongous always under-appreciated sweet potato slathered with butter. I learned this word on

- Oil yourself up. I use coconut oil on my face and hands. It smells sweet and attracts the bees.

- Walk with bended knees and minced steps on ice and snow and don't worry how silly you look. Remember, silly is good!

The Lady in Blue

Scott takes me on a shopping spree for a late birthday present. No, wait. Make that a belated birthday present. Late birthday present means I'm dead already. I'm probably not, though we can never be sure.

He takes me to his favorite store at the Willow Grove Mall. Sears. Buy anything you want, he tells me. What a guy!

I never buy things I want. I only buy things I need. I am seized now with a vision. Pardon me my visions, will ya?

I want a lifesize replica of Jesus Christ down here in my family room. We'll work with the police sketcher who will do an as-last-seen sketch of the man before he made his getaway on Golgotha.

What anyway would I do with the lifesize replica? Perhaps sit him, walking stick & all, on the large vanity in the bathroom. I'll shove aside my new electric toothbrush and contact lens case to make room for Jesus.

Then I could see Him for consultations and solace any time I please.

Those of you who truly know me, know I am not kidding. I am a deeply devoted disciple who vehemently does not believe in an Afterlife.

I AM The Afterlife, roars in voice in my mind.

Oh, go fly a kite.

Ya know what? I'm an artist. Lemme make a lifesized replica of Jesus myself. Thank you Lord for the idea. I'll contact Jane Tamaccio & see if she'll work with me on this. She's my late brother's piano teacher & art teacher. Mrs. Tamaccio we call her in our family. She works with developmentally delayed youth so I fit right in. You can call me Peter Pan.

Scott & I return home from the shopping spree. I have received my heart's desire.... and go upstairs to take my monthly shower and dress. Then I return to our bedroom in the family room. Scott is at his accustomed place, lying in his jeans and Eagles sweatshirt on the bed, tiny barefeet curled up, and he is playing chess on the laptop.

He certainly hears me coming down the stairs. Usually he looks over. He continues to play chess.

Has he grown tired of me? Already? It's 2 and a half years.

Ahem! I say at the foot of the stairs.



Nothing. The man is rapt in his pawns and queens. Is he joking with me?

I stand there and clap my hands. I refuse to give it away that I am wearing the gift he bought me at Sears. I want to surprise him.

Finally, finally, he turns & looks at me over his shoulder.

His face breaks into a smile. "Welllllllllllll!" he grins. "It fits perfectly! You really look sexy in those longjohns."

In truth, I feel like a new person. These are matching top n bottom thermal underwear from the men's department at Sears. You'd probly have to go to Alaska to buy thermals for women. Two colors were available - white and navy. I chose the latter, holding them up to gauge if they'd fit me. I'm an expert in this, having held up baby clothes when my kids were growing up.

I am so attached to these skivvies I just wanna stay home all day & walk around in them. Make my phone calls in them. Roll around the floor in them doing my yoga. Daughter Sarah is a yoga teacher & when last I visited - was it last weekend? - we did some backpain-reducing postures on the floor. That girl knows her stuff.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bobby Henrey child star

Upon returning from New York, I revert to my old ways. I sit on my huge bed typing on my laptop and watch Channel 31, Turner Classic Films.

I had eaten my crab dip and celery. I pretend I work at Pathmark and have invented the dip to sell to our customers. I keep adding this n that to make it savory and irresistible. Nothing works. The dip lacks potency. It is too sweet. Where is the fulsome crab flavor? I have failed as an inventor of crab dip at Pathmark. And now, I must eat.... crab.

While munching away, I watch one of my favorite movies: The Fallen Idol. This black & white British film is a masterful portrayal of an unhappy British household and in particular a confused little boy about 8 years old who is the center of the film. His acting is so superb, so natural, all eyes are upon him; he is one of those child actors who seemingly has a long acting career ahead of him. Or so one thinks.

I goggle his name.

Before I tell you what I found, lemme tell you I checked out a Graham Greene book of short stories at the library. Greene, a Catholic convert and a manic depressive besides, had written a story called The Basement Room. It is the very same story upon which this movie - The Fallen Idol - is based upon.

I rejoice experiencing the story in another format. It is a sad story as stories are about unhappy people, but it is saved by that little boy, his innocence, his love of childlike things like lizards, ices and cakes, and this strange moral rectitude he has, perhaps like Graham Greene's himself.

But you see the child actor was so difficult to work with, so very hard to get to cooperate and stop fooling around, that not only was he nearly fired from The Fallen Idol but he got only a couple more parts before his career ended.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Last Night at the Village Vanguard

This time last night instead of sitting in front of the telly watching The Late George Apley and dunking celery and carrot sticks in bought crab dip (the girl has expensive tastes) I was in Manhattan at the Village Vanguard sipping from a glass of dry white wine while waiting for The Bad Plus to come onstage.

The club is bright red. A Christmas wreath of bold colored lights hung onstage where the piano awaited Ethan, a set of drums sat quietly until Dave King got out there and a man-size bass lay in wait for Reid Anderson, the boys from Minneapolis known as The Bad Plus.

Wanna hear a story? I said to Guillermo (do scroll down for his manly photo) who sat next to me. I waited until his girlfriend Julie and my daughter Sarah looked at me. We'd been talking about losing things, namely winter accessories such as my navy beret which I left back home in Philadelphia at a movie theater. Julie, a dancer with the Mark Morris Dance Company told about finding a $20 bill in the lining of her coat.

Well, I said, I have this really nice red coat and the shoulder pads started loosening so I figgered I'd just cut them out entirely. I cut them with a scissors and then noticed that one of the puffy pads was heavier than the other. In fact, upon further examination, it was filled with some objects.

My god, I thought. This coat was probably made in Kuala Lumpur or Vietnam and was intended to smuggle out some quality hashish or other contraband, maybe diamonds. Now is my chance: I'll become a millionaire.

Furtively, I cut open the shoulder pad and out popped a piece of used Kleenex, a business card, and my car keys.

What the heck? I'd inadvertently removed my front pocket.

The waitress came by and Sarah ordered a bottle of dry wine which arrived in a silver bucket. It was delicious. The lights dimmed and out strode the boys across the length of the room and onto the stage. This was their last of 5 nights at the Village Vanguard, all sold-out. Sarah told me that upon occasion Ethan has come home from big gigs like this with twenty thousand dollars cash.

Sarah and I watched both sets that night. Between shows you just kind of stroll around and if you're me you strike up a conversation.

Hi guys, I said, leaning over a table of three young beer drinkers. So, where are you from?

South Africa, they said proudly.

South Africa! I enthused. Wow, that's really far away. I did not say, South Africa: The Land of Apartheid! The land of organized racial discrimination possibly worse than post-slavery USA. I did not mention the nobility of Nelson Mendela or even blink, How COULD you? I do know how to keep my mouth shut. But not for long, as you'll read later.

The South African fellows were big followers of The Bad Plus who have played in many lands, most recently in Moscow, but never Transvaal.

Hey, I said, looking at Ethan, the pianist, at the nearby table. Let me introduce you to Ethan. He's my son-in-law.

So I did and they were thrilled. TBP are known to be very gracious to their fans.

When they were about to begin their second set, I sat next to Guillermo and looked at his big biceps. His long dreadlocks fell below his shoulders. He's an uncommonly handsome man. As the boys filed onstage I whispered "Here we test our powers of observation," quoting the title of one of their tunes & also stating how we were all getting a good look at the boys.

I wished I was sitting next to Sarah so I could smell her perfume and look at her beautiful body and houndstooth checked dress but she wanted to sit near Julie. I didn't feel all that comfortable mumbling little comments into Guillermo's ear so I basically kept my mouth shut. Darn! Saving my comments for later such as: Ethan, when you play it seems like you command your fingers to play, that they seem almost not connected to your mind but possess their own brains. (He liked that comment.)

When they played Song X by Ornette Coleman, who's now 78, I was riveted by Reid's bass playing. I told him, "I felt the sorrow of slavery, and then Dave came in with his drumming and that little toy he shakes and the sound changed from sorrow to surrealism."

Guillermo was dancing to the music with his head. He also cupped his ear to bring the piano sound forward away from the drums. Drummer Dave is a great crowd pleaser. He plays with an ecstatic saint-like grin on his face as if he's seen Christ Almighty descend the grand stairway at the Vanguard and seat himself over by the wall of photos of the greats. Dave is the only non-inscrutable one among them. Ethan keeps a straight face at all times, Reid looks like he's about to burst into tears, but David King is the visible emotion of the group.

We all left the club around 1 in the a.m. Ethan summoned a cab. He sat in the front next to a bullet-proof shield while Sarah and I sat in the back. Behind a bullet-proof shield, of course. One rule I'm obliged to follow when I ride with Sarah & Ethan is Do not talk to the cabdriver. They don't like me to interact with strangers.

On the cab radio was an Arabic-American program about the Israeli attacks in Gaza. They're trying to bomb the hell out of Hamas once and for all. As if it's possible. I checked the name of the cabbie and saw he was an Arab. Ruthie, I said to myself, keep your mouth shut.

But, dear, I said to myself. It's such a long ride to Brooklyn. We'd just driven over the Manhattan Bridge and saw the lights of the city twinkling in the darkness. The waxing gibbous moon shone over the millions in the city.

I leaned forward toward the bullet-proof shield. Where are you from, sir? I asked.

Egypt, he said.

Sarah and Ethan said nothing. I hoped they weren't angry with me. I had violated the rules. I was certain though this would be a fruitful discussion where we would learn some fascinating tidbits about the cabbie as always happens!

He began to blast President-Elect Obama charging that Obama was a Muslim.

I cut in quickly. Obama has never been a Muslim, I said in my firm voice. Never. He's always been a Christian.

I knew it does no good to try to dislodge the firmly held opinion of an ignoramus.

He IS a Muslim, said the driver. I saw it on TV.

You were being lied to, I said. Not everything you hear on television is true.

You're Jewish, aren't you? said the cabbie.

Well, I said, me and Sarah are Jewish, but Ethan's not. Ethan was wearing a new black fedora Sarah bought him for Christmas that made him look like a Hasidic Jew.

Here's where the cabbie began to play his trump card. He asked,

Jews appeared in Egypt in the Old Testament. Who were they?

Steely silence from Sarah and Ethan.

Jews in Egypt? I mumbled. Oh! What's his name. Joseph!

Right, said the cabbie under his breath. WHO ELSE?

Oh god, I thought to myself, there's more? How many friggin Jews werre there in Egypt? I was sitting in the back of the cab with my warmest coat wrapped around me and my newly purchased black beret warming the top of my head. I was looking forward to going home and lying on the air mattress in their middle room and falling asleep to my Clive Cussler thriller Scott lent me.

The last thing I wanted to do was be interrogated in the backseat by an angry Egyptian who had total control of the car.

Give me a hint, I said.

No hints, he said.

Oy veh, I thought. I was under the influence, I must tell you, of a well-made documentary on PBS about the illegal capture and torture of so-called suspicious persons at Guantanemo Bay. A two-hour special, I sat riveted to my television while I watched these horrors perpetrated in living color. Instead of stopping the program, I would change the channel for a few minutes and then return to it.

For two or three days thereafter I had mild PTSD thinking that while I lead my ordinary, devil-may-care existence these men are subjected to unspeakable horrors.

Next day I gave a small donation to some Human Rights Organization asking them to reassure me it goes directly to this cause. The lethargic young man on the phone who had the charm of a stagnant pond perked up a bit when I told him about the TV show that led me to make the donation.

Joshua! I shouted out triumphantly.

Sarah tried to change the subject by saying she'd been to Egypt. The driver didn't care. He wanted to stomp us out with his superior knowledge of the Bible. He was a Christian, he said.

One other time I'd met an asshole like this. I was in Colorado driving with Carolyn and her then husband Bob. The contest Bob proposed was Whoever can read the most street signs wins the game.

I explained to Bob that when I get nervous & try to read street signs, my contact lenses fog up. I was 22 at the time and this was the truth. I lost the game 40 to zero. It wasn't fair. You can't just make up a contest you know you're good at & then challenge the other person.

We're almost there, said Sarah. You can stay on the left. Ethan had his head down and wasn't saying much. Occasionally he'd offer what he thought was a helpful comment. But in actuality there were no helpful comments. This guy was in his glory. We were trapped in his cab.

How many more hours do you have to drive tonite, I asked showing my immense personal concern and humanity for this man.

Seven more hours. My shift just started.

Make a left here, said Sarah.

I love you all, said the cabbie. It's been a pleasure driving you home.

Jesus, I thought to myself as I descended from the cab.

I LOVE YOU ALL, he shouted out the window as we walked up the steps of the Brooklyn brownstone apartment with Christmas trees on the curb for garbage pick-up.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Private Practice

Ruth Z Deming, MGPGP
Master, Group Process & Group Psychotherapy
Hahnemann University 1992
Studied under Fabian Ulitsky, MEd and Michael Vaccaro, MD

Founder/Director New Directions Support Group, Inc. 1986

New Directions is the premiere support and education group in the Philadelphia area for people with mood disorders and their loved ones.

Ruth has 23 years of experience working with bipolar clients. She is the mother of two grown children and has many connections and relationships within the community. She's an award-winning poet and published journalist.

Clients describe her as warm, visionary, creative, and solution-oriented.

She offers family consultations at your home, phone counseling, and office visits that may last up to two hours.

Says Ruth, "Having lived through bipolar disorder myself, I devised my own Keys to Recovery which I introduce to my clients. I have enormous confidence is our ability to lead a healthy productive life with minimal interruption from our illness."

Competitive rates, no insurance please.

RuthDeming[at] or 215-659-2142