Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy 74th Russell !!! The Joy of Eating Half a Bananana - Poem for Russell

Russell Eisenman, PhD, remains one of my favorite people, even tho I haven't seen him in 26 years. We began seeing each other when I moved back home from San Francisco. His two kids - David and Susan - and my two kids - Sarah and Dan - had loads of fun together.

Who'd ever dream that Sarah, now 40, would have donated her kidney to her muddah!

Here's a Polaroid of the two of us at Village Green Apartments. Russell never saw my beautiful house, which the kids and I moved into around Thanksgiving, 1990.

Russell taught psychology at Temple University, but then moved out of the area in 1988.

He was immensely supportive in 1984 when I had my first manic-psychotic break.

I'm on Russell's email list and receive his often-humorous stories of his life in Edinburg, TX, where he teaches psychology at University of Texas-Pan American, which, in 2015, will merge with another school to become University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

After I became a woman with manic-depression - Bipolar One - in 1984 at age 38, Russell asked me to talk about it in one of his psychology classes at Temple, in North Philadelphia.

I probly took a train to his big house on Harrison Ave in Elkins Park, and then we took the train to Temple, as I did years ago when I graduated in psychology from the school.

Fairly shy back then, esp. after being traumatized by my illness, I stood up in front of the class and told what happened to me.

Russell said it was a great talk! The man is endlessly supportive.

Years ago, Russell had heart problems but refused to get surgery. Instead, he takes medication, and his cardiologist said he's doing better than any of the other patients who had surgery.  He now walks with a cane, he said, and I urged him to get on his stationery bike, stationing it in front of the TV.

He and I used to play tennis at Wall Park in Elkins Park. 

I called him at 11 pm - after Secrets of the Dead about the last of the Neanderthals (silent h) - 10 pm his time. I'm never on the phone this late and instinctively began to multitask, while listening carefully: checked my blood sugar and injected insulin, scanned some documents on my Canon printer, and did my back exercises in bed.

We discussed how we both get cold at night. His students bought him a warm and expensive blanket from Mexico - Pan Am University has mostly Hispanic students - and they refused to accept money for it. He also has an electric blanket. I told him I sleep in sox, and he said he does too.

I prefer pink.

Because of his frequent emails, which he sends to a dozen people, I keep up with him. Ram, his next-door neighbor, is 50, I ascertained.

Oh, he's young, I said.

To us, that's young, said Russell.

We laffed.

Russell teaches students who are about 22 yo. To them, he must seem as old as God. But he's very popular with the kids, esp with his great sense of humor.

He mentioned that any time he thinks about moving, he'd have to give up his neighbor Ram.

Two things, he said, about Ram. He does chores for Russell... mows the lawn, fixes things like leaky faucets, plus he's a great friend.

Sounds like my next door boyfriend/neighbor, Scott.

Scott in his warm gray sweater I bought him from Paris.

Russell and I talked about how we love living alone and sleeping alone.

I suppose it's what you're used to.

During the course of our conversation, Russell and I both used other people's names and spelled them afterward.

For example, at the end of our conversation I told him I'd mail him our new Compass, which Russell remembered as being "terrific." I went over his address with him and he said, You're one of the few people I don't have to spell the word "Pheasant" Drive for.

Very few people up here know enough, I said, to spell tricky names.

We talked about computer skills. I told him I was very impressed that in today's email he sent a photo within the email. Comme ca:

My pet tiger who guards the house.

I told him that when I left my job as a therapist at an agency I had absy no computer skills at all, othan sending emails. So I volunteered at two libraries where I picked up some computer skills.

Russell did something similar. He wanted to teach at another college, so he purposely interviewed at a school where he didn't want the job, but would practice his interview skills there.

Wearing a suit and tie and speaking in front of a number of people, he took off his jacket since it was unbearably hot.

Everyone looked at him as though he'd committed a crime. He learned you cannot do dat!

Told Russell I went shopping this evening and how difficult it is for me, as a person with diabetes, to bypass all this delicious food and doughnuts and fruit but still maintain my sobriety (sic).

However, on a Diet Plan my diabetes doc Rachmel Cherner gave me, it said OK to eat half a banana as a bedtime snack.

After we hung up I savored it

I told Russell I'd call him next year on his seventy-fifth birthday.

Just wrote a poem for Russell in the cinquain form I just learned at Lynn Levin's Poetry Workshop


Who knew

we’d never part?

Healer, teacher, lover

you never really left my side




  1. I remember your speaking about Russell. Wish I had a tiger like that! Nice that certain people stay in our lives in one way or another, and especially glad that you are one who has stayed in mine, though we haven't actually seen each other in a very long time.

  2. what's great about the relationship i have with russell, is that when our romantic life was over, we remained friends. i had another BF, chris ray, who i renamed and wrote a short story about. and, of course, you and i.... so glad about that!