My Heart Belongs To…2020?

Well, 2020 has gotten off to a nifty start. The delusional, narcissistic, psychotic megalomaniacal fuckwad currently occupying the White House, is giving his equally psychotic Fundamentalist faux “Christian” supporters exactly what they want — bringing us to the brink of Armageddon and the Rapture. Does this make him the Second Coming he wants his brain-dead followers to believe he is, or the anti-Christ (the more likely choice).

And here on the home-front, my New Year, which got off to a rousing start with a great NYE party, was followed, a few days later, by my latest ambulance ride (my 3rd over the past year and a half). After a rather rough day, I was walking up the stairs, ready to fall into bed, when I stopped on the steps, unable to breathe, my chest pounding, and my left side in agony.

I couldn’t talk; couldn’t even keep my eyes open. I’ve had anxiety attacks before, but nothing that ever felt like this. The next hour or so is pretty much a blank. EMT’s arriving; questions asked; me trying to answer while gasping for air. My wife, Tanya (who had an ambulance ride of her own, at the end of November, which left her with fractured hip and pelvic bones), on her walker, standing over my somewhat crumpled body. Being carried out of the house on a gurney, placed in the ambulance and the ride to the hospital.

For the next six hours or so, I felt like a pin cushion, while waiting for the verdict. Was I having a heart attack, or was this simply the anxiety attack of all anxiety attacks? The tests came back saying my EKG and blood-work looked good, and it didn’t look like I was having a heart attack.

Just to be safe, however, the doctor wanted to keep me overnight, for “observation.” Here’s where one has to parse the terms, “being admitted” to a hospital, as opposed to “being held for observation.” If you’re officially admitted to the hospital as a patient, your insurance will cover it (or most of it, or, depending on the quality of your policy, some of it). However, if you’re only being held for “observation,” the insurance companies won’t kick in a dime.

But here’s an interesting thing about hospitals, and the insurance companies that our elected “representatives” allow to bilk the citizens of this country 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If anyone wants to know why so many Americans leave hospitals “against doctors orders,” consider this a pretty good answer. Saying insurance companies in this country have been given WAY too much power — yet again, corporate lobbying dollars buying our “representatives” on the Hill, as well as in state legislatures around the country — is like saying, “did you know every day of the week has the word “day” in its name?”

So, I was released — AGAINST DOCTOR’S ORDERS — with the suggestion I follow up with my cardiologist. As it happens, I don’t happen to have a cardiologist, so I had to find one through my insurance company. Interestingly, although I live in the second largest city in Maryland, very few local doctors take my insurance. But I managed to find one who did, and I will be following up on the 15th.

I was also told to “avoid stress.” Are they fucking kidding!!!

I’m a political junkie! As it is, due to the multitude of calamities which comprised the Hell that was 2019, I’ve already been forced to delay my long-planned podcast for more than seven months. And since I can’t stop laughing through the fart jokes, it’s not like I can use the Stephanie Miller Show as my only source of news. I’ve gotta have my Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell! And how can I not read The Daily Kos, The Raw Story, AlterNet, and (for my fellow entertainment industry folk) The Hollywood Reporter? I defy anyone (discounting the MAGATs, who don’t know how to read, and get all their news from our friends at Fux News) to read or listen to this stuff and not get stressed out.

So, what’s happening to help calm my aching heart and keep the stress levels low this week?

Oh, not much — Tangerine Man went and had the second in command of Iran offed, once again putting the United States in the position as world leader of assholiness, and handing the Middle East to his buddy, Vlad — the guy whose primary goals in life are a) destroying American democracy (whatever that is); b) rebooting the Soviet Union. And c) becoming the savior of Iran, Iraq and (may the great IS help us), Syria!

So naturally, Iran had to counter our “hit” with a little retribution of their own, followed by the “accidental” demolition of a Ukrainian passenger jet, which had just taken off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board, including Canadian, Ukrainian and even Iranian citizens.

I don’t know how much Putin is paying and/or blackmailing Twitler, McConnell and Graham with, but it does my pre-stressed heart no good to see the year 2020 starting off with this country doing a pretty fair imitation of Germany, circa 1933. This crap is not healthy for any of us.


A Message To My Fellow Democrats — Wake the Fuck Up!!!

Over the past few days, numerous articles have appeared on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, “warning” us about the perils of supporting Elizabeth Warren for President. These articles attempted to “taint” Senator Warren, by utilizing some of the same misogynistic language employed against Secretary Clinton in the 2016 campaign. Naturally, this led the Liar-In-Chief, to join in, reiterating his earlier, oh so clever, “Pocahontas” taunts of Senator Warren.

Given Senator Warren’s progressive cred, not only as a second term senator from Massachusetts willing to take on those who would destroy the American middle class, but as the driving force behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created to shield consumers from shady practices by mortgage lenders, student loan servicers, and credit card companies, permanently earning Warren the enmity of Republicans in both houses of Congress, this is somewhat insane. Even so, some of these articles have attempted to paint Senator Warren as, either a tool of the DNC (surely you jest), or, in an attempt to stir conflict between Sanders and Warren supporters, they refer to her as “Bernie Lite.”

But here’s where my brain began to explode. Minutes after these stories began to appear, Democrats began reposting and retweeting this bullshit propaganda, leading to even more negativity toward someone who should be considered a progressive hero. Forget the fact there is no basis in reality for any of this bullshit. All you have to do, it seems, is throw a little shit to Democrats, call it red meat, and watch them crawl over each other to snatch it up like a pack of voracious wolves. Democrats, it would appear, have a difficult time learning from the past.

At the same time, we know the only reason Agolf Twitler (yes, I still refuse to utter or even type the name appearing on the scumbag’s birth certificate) resides in the White House is due to a combination of Republican dirty tricks — including massive voter suppression — with an assist from their buddy in the Kremlin. No matter — we’re Democrats, so we prefer to blame the past two years on Sanders supporters, the vast majority of whom, we’re told, either sat out the election entirely, or voted for Jill Stein (full disclosure: I was a Sanders supporter during the 2016 primaries, who had no problem voting for Secretary Clinton in the generals. I’m a native New Yorker and all too familiar with the walking Cheeto, so I knew what was at stake. I don’t think I’m in the minority of Sanders supporters, most of whom, I believe, did the same).

The fact Hillary Clinton won the election by almost 3,000,000 votes, losing only because of the unbelievably outdated Electoral College — which allowed 80,000 questionable votes, from three Republican-controlled states — to place a criminal and traitor in the Oval Office, doesn’t fit the narrative that allows us to eat our own, so we, being Democrats, ignore that minor trivial bit of reality. This, even though we all know the voter suppression tactics, as well as Russian interference, were still alive, well and active into the 2018 election.

Why then, has it not occurred to those among the Democratic faithful, that Russian bots and Republican dirty tricksters are, more than likely, behind this early campaign to smear and delegitimize one of the most proven, progressive voices we’ve got? Instead what we see is our own people giving voice and validity to this bullshit, proving, yet again, Democrats are as gullible, and easily swayed, as the worst of Twitler’s sheeple.

Does it have something to do with the dichotomies within our own rank and file? Or, maybe, it’s that we fall in love with candidates, becoming so enamored, we have to believe in their flawless perfection, while seeing (and, all too often, magnifying) every flaw in the other candidates. So much so, we sit, pout and rail at the universe if our candidates name isn’t on the ballot in the general election. We see all too clearly when lower and middle-class Republicans vote against their own self-interest — not so much when it’s us.

Yesterday, former Virginia Governor, and  old, rich, white guy, Terry McAuliffe, wrote an op-ed, published in the Washington Post, in which he criticized some of the more progressive Democratic hopefuls (including Senators Warren and Sanders) for offering “unrealistic ideological promises,” like a $15 minimum wage, federal jobs guarantee, universal free college and downplaying the reality of the U.S. being able to afford universal health care.

On the plus side, McAuliffe’s arrogant comments may have done us a favor by killing his own presidential aspirations, before he even announces. What the overly self-entitled ex-Governor views as “realistic” is a continuation of policies that have put this country exactly where we are now, with a system that benefits the ultra-rich, as well as multi-national corporations, to the detriment of the rest of us, including the implosion of the American middle class. It also demonstrates there are still people in the hierarchy of the Democratic party to whom “reality” means, don’t fuck with the status quo — we like things the way they are.

His stated disdain for Twitler notwithstanding, the truth is, McAuliffe would rather see a foreign agent in the White House, as opposed to a liberal/progressive Democrat, who might actually work to alter the status quo. A Warren, Sanders, Harris, Brown (etc.) led White House, would leave a prick like McAuliffe, holding his own in his hands (where, in my less than humble opinion, it belongs).

But, c’mon kids! Forget all that! Let’s buy into all the crap being pushed. Let’s help get those bots and propaganda pieces reposted and retweeted. Better yet, why not add a few insults of our own. And while we’re at it, let’s help the Republicans continue to control the narrative and messaging — as Democrats have allowed them to do so well, for years. Let’s get that famous Democratic in-fighting going full steam, and then, in November 2020, we can all sit here, blaming each other (again), while the next Republican/Fascist gets ready to take this country even further back into the Dark Ages.

That’ll show ‘em!

The Surgical Trifecta

In the clusterfuck that has been 2018, I have had two surgeries (so far), taken the first two ambulance rides of my life (the first, for what turned out to be a giant kidney stone; the second for having been crushed by, and concussed by a large, full and vicious, bookshelf), been without a voice for nine months (as noted in previous blogs), and, altogether, spent most of the year in an exceptional amount of pain.

I know compared to some, my problems are miniscule. Hell, I’ve lost two childhood friends this year — one to cancer, one to heart failure. But we all tend to focus on what’s happening to us, personally, and I’m no different (or, better).

Anyway, as followers of this blog know, I did something to my shoulder on my birthday (August 1st). Thus began a four-month ordeal of repeated doctors visits, physical therapy, & an insurance company that kept denying my primary care physician’s and two orthopedic surgeons orders for an MRI. Needless to say, after the third rejection by the insurance company, I was furious.

As noted in my last blog, It took the scheduler in my throat surgeon’s office to point out, as I’d already met my deductible for the year, my insurance company was simply trying to run the clock out on me. They managed to stall the MRI until the 2nd week of Nov., before finally caving, and allowing me to get what I should have had months ago. Naturally, when the results came back, it showed exactly what my PCP said it would, way back in August — I have a torn rotator cuff.

So, playing it conservatively, the orthopedic surgeon I was seeing wanted me to go back to the physical therapist for a couple more sessions, to see if we could avoid surgery. While I was more than happy to try avoiding surgery number three, I also pointed out to the orthopedist, if I needed the surgery, I needed it done before Dec. 31st, because, as of Jan. 1st, I would have to go back to scratch, & pay my entire deductible (meaning, thousands of dollars I don’t have). So we scheduled three physical therapy sessions, prior to the day we would make the decision — surgery or no. That day was today.

9:30am sharp, I’m at the orthopedists office. I’m quickly ushered back to the exam room, and a minute later the doctor walks in & says, “well, you need surgery. Unfortunately, since I’m moving offices, I’m closing my practice for the rest of the month, & won’t be able to operate until January.”

“Uh, do you remember our last conversation & why I told you I couldn’t wait until January?” So he gives me the name of another orthopedist, tells me they’ll give me his contact information at the desk, and walks out. That was it.

As I walked to the parking lot, my fury grew. MOTHERFUCKER!!!! If you knew you weren’t going to be able to operate until January, why didn’t you fucking tell me this two weeks ago? Did it not occur to this fuck, it might be a little difficult to go to another surgeon, cold, & schedule surgery for this month? As I drove home I found myself getting angrier & angrier. This sonofabitch’s irresponsibility toward me, his patient, could have screwed me, royally. My surgical co-pay this month — zilch! Next month, thousands.

Enter my beloved spousal unit, who made a call to the office of the surgeon who had done her rotator cuff surgery. She spoke to the doctor’s surgical scheduler, and got me an appointment for Tuesday morning. So long as the doctor agrees with the findings of my physical therapist, as well as my former (asshole) orthopedist, the scheduler says I will be able to get the surgery this month. But, for cryin’ out loud!!! Between insurance companies and doctors, if I didn’t already support universal healthcare, this would have made me a true believer!

My Year of Maladies — Vs. 2.0

Yoni, in the bubble-wrap suit, presented him by friends, for Halloween, 2018.

I last published this particular post on November 8th of last year. At the time, I was looking at the possibility of ending the year, as I’d started it — with another (third) surgery, this one on my shoulder. As it happens, the orthopedic surgeon who ended up being the one I stuck with (there were three prior to him), decided he wanted to play things conservatively. I saw him in December. Instead of surgery, he gave me a shot of cortisone (I’d had two, previously, neither of which did anything to alleviate the pain). He determined the two previous injections were given in the wrong place. 48 hours later, I was pain free, and thrilled beyond my ability to express. There would be no third surgery in 2018.

Two weeks ago, my shoulder started to ache again. I had good days and bad, but the bad ones were excruciating. Over the past few days, I was having good hours and bad ones. But since my follow-up with the orthopedist was already scheduled for today (February 14th), I decided to just wait and see what he thought.

Well, this may not be the beginning of 2019, but it looks like I’m getting that third surgery, after all. Although the doctor believes I may need an entire shoulder replacement at some point (oh joy), this time out we’re just gonna go with a “simple” rotator cuff surgery. If you know what that entails, no explanation is necessary. If you don’t, I’ll sum it up like this — three to six months of hell! So enjoy the story of how we got here, and please send good vibes. This shit is getting old!

For those of you who subscribe to my blog (and bless those of you who do), you probably know how physically traumatic 2018 has been for me. I’ve written about the complications caused by my first surgery of the year, what should have been a fairly simple, double hernia. Unfortunately, as I learned subsequently, it seems I have an unusually small larynx, something the anesthesiologist failed to note when putting whatever contraption he placed down my throat to inject the anesthesia.

The result of this faux paus was the loss of my voice for the better part of nine months, including a second surgery, this time on my throat, to try and mend the left vocal cord, damaged by the anesthesiologist during surgery #1. It took another five-plus months after the surgery on my throat, before I started to see beneficial affects, and was able to start talking again. My voice is now somewhere between 60 and 70% recovered. If I talk for long periods, it gets hoarse again, and begins to fade. And I still can’t sing, something that disturbs me to no end.

As those who’ve known me since childhood will happily tell you, when I was born, I was most likely vaccinated with a phonograph needle (for any young’uns reading this, ask your elders about that reference). Talking (and singing), is, and has always been, a major part of my life. It’s also been my prime source of income since I was 20. So not being able to talk was not only frustrating, it was terrifying.

Had that been the only problem I suffered this year, I might not feel so much like someone put a hex on my body. But it didn’t end there. On my birthday — August 1st — I was reaching for something on the butcher-block unit that sits in the middle of our kitchen, when I heard a snap in my left shoulder. I thought to myself, “well, that can’t be good,” so I started testing my arm, to see how it felt. Surprisingly — no problems. An hour or two later, I was sitting at our dinner table when a stabbing pain went through my shoulder, like someone sticking a knife in, and twisting it all around. Whoopee! A birthday trip to urgent care.

The P.A. who saw me, put my arm in a sling, and ordered an X-ray, which, as expected, showed nothing. As suggested, I followed up with my primary care physician later that week. He did a 15-minute evaluation, moving my arm (as best he could without me screaming in agonizing pain) this way and that. At the end he said he thought I might have torn my rotator cuff. He ordered an MRI for me, which my insurance company promptly rejected. They wanted me to do six weeks of physical therapy first, to see if that would help. So I made an appointment, and went to see the physical therapist whose office, as it happened, was directly across the hall from my doctor’s.

The therapist was a very nice woman, who spent about half an hour testing my shoulder, seeing where my pain was, moving my arm about, assessing what she thought could be done to help me. At the end of her evaluation, she asked me to wait a minute, and disappeared. Ten minutes or so later, she returned, my doctor in tow. She had actually gone across the hall to his office, and asked him to come over, which he did, even though he was in the middle of a very busy day. For the record, my doctor is the kind of guy you could imagine still making house-calls (again, kids, ask your parents and grandparents).

Anyway, the physical therapist told us there was nothing she could do for me. The damage was too extensive, she said, and physical therapy would only increase said damage. My doctor, being the wonderful person he is, gave a little whoop of satisfaction, and said, “well, now those bastards at your insurance company have got to approve the MRI.”

They didn’t.

It seems, United HealthCare — my insurance company — has a policy that once they reject a request, you have to wait 45 days to make the request again (I can only imagine how that policy might affect someone suffering a potentially terminal illness). So my doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, figuring, if a specialist ordered an MRI, policy or no, they couldn’t deny those findings.

Say it with me — oh yes they could!

The orthopedist I saw, did a somewhat cursory (I thought) evaluation, gave me a shot of prednisone (a steroid meant to relieve pain) in my shoulder, and ordered the MRI, which was promptly rejected by UHC.

So we’re now into October, my arm is still in a sling, and the voice that’s only now returning is going raw from my screaming bloody murder about the lack of care insurance companies — again, in this case, United HealthCare — extend to sick or injured patients.

By this point, I was so disgusted by the entire mess, I was ready to walk around with a bum shoulder for however long it took for it to just fall off. I decided, fuck it! I’m not even going to wear my sling inside the house any more. What’s the point? It only get in the way.

Fast forward to Sunday, October 28. I was already in a volatile state of mind, which is putting it mildly. But the added rage I felt over the massacre which had taken place at Tree of Life synagogue, in Pittsburgh, the day before, as well as the Nazi-like ginning up of hatred and violence toward minorities being used as propaganda by the current occupant of the White House (whose name I refuse to say or type), had me somewhat out of my mind.

So much so, when I tried to reach for a book on the top shelf of a tall bookshelf in our family room, and couldn’t quite reach it, I was so insanely angry, I jumped for it and just yanked the fucker!

Not my greatest move, ever.

Along with the book, the entire shelf, obviously not well balanced to begin with, toppled over, falling directly on me. I was slammed with books, shelves (one of which, hit my head, causing me to black out), and other items we had on the shelves. But here’s the kicker — as the bookshelf was falling, my immediate instinct was to raise my now slingless arm, to try and protect myself. As the shelf hit, it also slammed my arm and, in turn, my shoulder.

When my wife, Tanya, walked into the family room looking for me, all she saw was a toppled bookshelf. It took a second before she realized I was under the shelf, at which time I believe she screamed, before rushing to pull the shelf off me.

A short ambulance trip later, I found myself in the E.R. at a nearby hospital, where a CT scan was taken, to make sure my brain (such as it is) wasn’t bleeding, internally. Unfortunately, by the time the E.R. doctor ordered an MRI for my shoulder a number of hours after I’d arrived, the entire radiology department had gone home for the night. So even in the E.R., no MRI.

There’s a reason a group of my friends in Chicago, gave me a bubble-wrap suit for Halloween, this year. I should worn the fucker, full-time!

Two days later, I had a previously scheduled surgical follow-up with my ENT (that’s the throat surgeon, for the uninitiated). This was the first time I’d seen him since my voice had started to return, and I was excited as hell to show him my progress. However, what ended up being even more interesting than the exam, was a conversation I had with his scheduler, after my visit.

The scheduler, a very nice guy, and I had chatted before because, like me, he used to play baseball, and had gone to a very progressive high school where he took classes in film production, giving us something else in common. But that day, he pointed something out, no one else had bothered to mention. What he said was, “you know why your insurance company is pulling this crap, don’t you?” “Cheap bastards,” I responded. “No,” he said. “You’ve met your deductible for the year. They’re putting you off, so in case you do need surgery, you won’t be able to get it until next year, when you’ll have to meet your deductible again.”

Well, my jaw just about hit the floor. I don’t have a lot of respect for the overlords of the medical industry in this country, specifically, the insurance companies raking in billions, under-treating and over-charging patients for something I believe we have an inalienable right to — medical care. But as much as I despise medical insurance companies, it had never occurred to me, the company my wife and I are paying a fortune to, on a yearly basis, would play that kind of game with my welfare.

Naturally, I did what I always do at times like this. I went fucking ballistic!

So, once again, back to my primary care physician, who, after hearing all that had occurred since last we’d met, reacted exactly as I expected — he went ballistic, too. He grabbed a piece of paper, quickly wrote down a name and number, and told me, “go see this guy — tell him I sent you. And I want you to tell him the entire story. He’ll make sure you get your MRI!” My doctor was sending me to another orthopedic surgeon, one he thought would be able to push through United HealthCare’s bullshit.

So, this past Monday, Nov. 5, I went to see the new orthopedic surgeon, telling him the entire story, as my doctor had instructed. As it turned out, the new orthopedist was a homey. He had grown up in Yonkers, NY, not far from where I grew up. He and I had even had our tonsils removed at the same hospital, so talking to him was like old home week. In any event, after doing his evaluation, he gave me yet another referral for an MRI. However, this time he said something the other orthopedist hadn’t — “don’t worry about your insurance company. I know the exact wording to use so they can’t deny you.”

And damn if he wasn’t telling the truth! At long last, tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 9, I will actually be getting an MRI, which United HealthCare finally approved! The only remaining question is, what will the results show? Will I need yet another surgery before the year is over? And if not, how the hell do I get myself off this fucking treadmill, with a working (and pain-free) shoulder?

My only thought — c’mon 2019!!!!

Addendum: As I was writing this blog, I found myself so hung up on my voice (or lack thereof) and shoulder problems, I forgot this was also the year of ambulance rides — two, in fact. The first two times in my life I’ve ever been in an ambulance. The Bookshelf Incident (as I’m going to call it), was the second. The first came early this past Summer. I was standing in my bedroom, one afternoon, doing G_d knows what, when I felt a pain in my side, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I went down like a shot! And with no voice, I was screaming my ass off! And this pain kept growing and growing to the point, I truly thought I might die.

After an incredibly painful (and, thankfully, brief) Uber ride to my doctor’s office (we are a one-car family, and Tanya had the car that day), my doctor took one look at me, felt around the left side of my abdomen, and said, “well, you’ve either got a nasty kidney stone, or a burst appendix. Either way, you’re about to take an ambulance ride.” And then, my doctor just sat there, telling me jokes, trying to take my mind off the excruciating pain, until the ambulance could get there. The man should be nominated for sainthood (and that’s coming from a Jew)!

Interestingly, my first ambulance ride was not quite what I expected. As the vehicle headed toward the hospital, there I am, lying on the gurney, screaming (quietly) in agony, and the EMT sitting in the back with me, casually asks if I’ve got my wallet. He needed to see my ID and insurance card. Talk about surreal.

Fortunately, once they got me to the hospital (a relatively new facility, not even fully-staffed), I was hooked up to a morphine drip which, after the initial rush — a feeling I fucking HATE —the pain eased, somewhat. Following this, they took blood and did a battery of tests, coming back with the verdict I had a nice big kidney stone, which was working it’s way, down my body.  

For entertainment value, the E.R. nurse told me about her kidney stones (yes, plural). She said it was more painful than giving birth, and she had three kids! She also told me she needed surgery for the first one. Then, the week after the surgery, she had another kidney stone. If that was supposed to comfort me, we’d have to term it an epic fail!

In any event, they kept me hooked up to the morphine, waiting to see if the stone would pass, which, eventually, it did. If you’ve never had a kidney stone, and someone tells you it’s the most painful thing they’ve ever felt, believe them! I NEVER wanna go through that again. No one should have to go through that kind of pain. Now I understand why women in labor scream, “EPIDURAL, GODDAMNIT!!”

When Outrage Meets Despair, Moves Toward Anger & Settles On Rage!

So the motherfucker who molested me when I was a child, is dead.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!!!

The childhood friend who shared this information with me, couldn’t find out how, or where he died, just that it happened 10 years ago. Personally, my hope was, he was dropped out a 30th floor window, head first, by — I dunno — maybe the adult version of someone like, oh, say, me!

I also found out, the father of another neighborhood child — this one a girl — actually confronted the fuck’s father when he found out what happened to his daughter (I never told my parents — how could I? I’d suppressed the fucking memories). But for a while, I felt good about all this.

It doesn’t change what happened then, nor does it change the other things that have happened to me, since. But the bastard who started it all is, and has been dead for 10 years. That’s closure, right. I feel better.

No, I really don’t.

When I started writing about this last week, all the new realizations and memories, I thought, this is good, I’m purging. I’m getting all this out of my system. The only problem is, I live in a country that just put a mother fucking molester and rapist wannabe, who they all fucking knew was guilty of the crimes he’s been accused of — they all know he actually perjured himself in front of Congress. So what did these noble statesman and woman do? They put this cock-sucking, son-of-a-bitch on the goddamn Supreme Court of the United Fucking States of America!!! Not only did they put him where he has no business being, they actually started blaming the victims for putting this poor, ignorant, temperamental, over-privileged, white piece of shit, through such a traumatic hearing.

And, why? What’s the real reason behind all this? To help Republicans — many, more corrupt than the newly annointed, Supreme molester — to pass the kind of laws they want. Laws that will set this country back 50 years — if not more! Laws that feed the rich and starve the poor. Laws that strip rights away from any group who isn’t them! And let’s not forget that all-time-favorite reason (the actual reason this incompetent was nominated in the first place) — because Brett Mother-Fucking Kavanaugh, will protect his fellow molester, the orange fuck, sliming his way around the White House, with a Get Out of Jail Free card, because, you know — you can’t indict a sitting president.

That person (and I use the word “person” with the greatest of contempt), in Kavanaugh’s feeble,

Supreme Scumbag

narcissistic, partisan swamp of a mind, is ABOVE THE FUCKING LAW!!!! In a country where everyone is supposedly “equal” (what a croc that is!), let’s watch as they demonstrate just how big a pile of bullshit our system of “justice” is, by demonstrating the most vile, corrupt, contemptible, disgusting excuse for a human being to ever sit in the Oval Office, is so busy doing “the people’s work,” he can’t possibly face the same laws that every other person in this country does (at least, the ones not in orange jump suits).

So, yeah. I felt better for about 10 minutes. Now, like the millions of women, and other men like me, around the country, I feel violated all over again. And this time, it’s 100 times WORSE! Because this time, a bunch of people sitting in Congress, along with that piece of walking, talking shit in the White House, stopped any real attempt at an F.B.I. investigation, and brazenly told the American people to go fuck themselves! This country belongs to them, not us. We have to follow the rules; not them! And what did the mainstream American media do — same thing they usually do — not a goddamn, motherfucking thing! The NY Times sat on a story about Twitler’s criminal lifetime in NYC for months, released it, and then — like magic, it disappeared! Why? Because like the rest of the corporate American media, they jumped on the “hey people, go fuck yourselves!” bandwagon. Lookee here — we got us a brand new Supreme Court Justice!

So no, I’m not outraged. I’m well beyond despair. I crossed anger a few miles back, and am now living in a pure unadulterated homicidal rage! And if this rage — which I’ll be taking into the ballot box with me, later this month, or in the pieces I’ll continue to write so maybe, just maybe, SOMEONE out there may actually hear me — doesn’t have the effect I pray it will, then you can Ghandi me, or tell me how we need to be above it, or better than them, all you like.

But if you even think of uttering any of those phrases, or any other stupid fucking phrases of pacification my way, be forewarned — you’re also going to be one of the first people to see what I’ll be capable of, if this homicidal rage, burning my heart, mind and soul, grows any fucking deeper, and more intense, than it already has.

Molestation — When Will Enough Be Enough?

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this blog for days. It’s not that I don’t know what I want to say. I’ve just been trying to think about how to make it cohesive, easily understood, and not written in a way that gets me pilloried by anyone who only reads part of this (although, I suppose I should be happy when anyone reads any part of my posts).

I wrote a blog back in June, 2016, after the political insanity and outright viciousness within the Democratic party during the primaries (from both Sanders and Clinton supporters) did something to my psyche, that awakened a memory I’d been suppressing for 50+ years.

Between the ages of five and seven, I was molested, repeatedly, by the older kid (male), who lived next door.

It started with two of them — the Protestant fuck next door, and his Roman Catholic buddy across the street. They both came from rabidly anti-semitic families (my family was part of an influx of newly middle-class Jews from NYC, to the suburbs), with the kid next door being the son of a member of the John Birch Society (an organization not particularly keen on anyone to the left of Attila the Hun). But the kid across the street declined to participate after the first time, so it was the guy next door who was the real molester.

After regaining these memories, I can’t begin to state the level of emotional trauma I went through. There was a point I even questioned my memories, my own sanity — did these events actually happen, or was my psyche just losing it.

Fortunately, after posting the blog, I received a call from someone whose identity I’m still protecting. This person told me about the trauma and guilt they’d lived with for most of their life, because they had been witness to this motherfucker molesting several other neighborhood kids (in this case, girls). The trauma came because, as a five-six year old, they hadn’t done anything to stop what they didn’t even have the capability to realize was happening at the time.

Nevertheless, dealing with the trauma of my recalled memories, plus a few other major events going wrong in my life around the same time, I ended up spending 72-hours in a psych ward, on a suicide watch (an experience almost as traumatic as the molestation, which I also wrote about).

However, with the advent of the #MeToo movement, which I feel very much a part of, I’ve been very involved, as I have for most of my life, in fighting for the rights of women. I thought the rage I felt at what women have been, and are continuing to be put through (I’m talking to you, “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” the Republican members of the Senate, and the serial molester in the Oval Office), had to do with having been brought up by my feminist mother. Until recently, it never occurred to me there were deeper reasons, other than my love and respect for women, for my particular passion for this cause.

But social media can have a funny effect on one’s feelings. For example, while a number of women (minus one truly nasty person) truly supported my right to consider myself a member of the #MeToo movement, and while I understand that probably 98% (or more) of the sexual harassment, molestation and rape in this country is perpetrated on women, by men, still, I felt the boys and men who had suffered through these same things, were being given short shrift.

Granted, I have skin (pardon the expression) in this game, but over the past week or two — possibly because of the particularly disgusting treatment received by Dr. Blasey Ford, at the hands of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that orange shit in the White House, and Mr. Kavanaugh himself — the fact there were boys and men who had suffered equally, was getting lost in the shuffle. I would also point out, being this is the (supposed) United States, while taking nothing away from any of the women who have shown courage in telling their stories, it’s no easier for men to tell theirs.

So, yeah — I was feeling the small percentage of men who’ve gone through these traumas, were getting lost in the shuffle, among the huge numbers of women who had.

Then, listening to women talk about how they had never told anyone, or honestly believed (at the time, anyway) they did something to deserve what happened to them, a thought occurred to me which hadn’t, before. What happened to me as a child, wasn’t my only experience with what could be deemed, at best, harassment, but also, molestation.

When I was 20 years old, and just starting my acting career, I spent a short period of time, working in the psychiatric department of a hospital in Queens, NY. Every morning, I would hop on the express subway from East 86th St., near my apartment, down to 59th St., where I would transfer to the RR or N line to Queens. When I was 20, especially clean shaven, I looked closer to 15 or 16 years old. And if you’ve ever taken a rush hour subway in NYC, you know what it feel like to be a sardine, packed in tin.

One day, as I was making my way downtown from 86th St., there was this very strange looking man standing in front of me. He was tall, dirty, with long, straggly hair, and an unkempt beard. If you’ve ever seen the album cover of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, that’s pretty much who I was facing.

In any event, “Aqualung” was kind of moving up and down, with a very strange expression on his face — to put it bluntly, he looked like he was cumming. Then, I realized I was feeling something I shouldn’t have been. I looked down, and realized this guy was rubbing his hand over my crotch. The subway was too packed for me to move, and I was beyond way too shocked to say anything. But as soon as we hit 59th St., I pushed my way out of that car — fast!

I’ve told that story over the years, thinking of it as a really strange, if very NYC subway, experience. In all the years since, it actually took until this very week for me to — or, maybe, accept is a better word — I’d been molested.

My second subway story was also kind of strange. On another day, I was one of only two passengers on this particular RR car, headed toward Queens. The only other passenger in the car, was an old man in a long, black trench coat. For anyone old enough to remember Artie Johnson’s dirty-old-man on the bench character from the 1960s sketch comedy show, Laugh-In, that’s about as close a description as I can give of this guy.

Anyway, as the subway pulled out of the 59th St. station, I was seated on one end of the car, the old guy at the other end, across the aisle. But as the subway started moving, so did the old man. First he moved halfway up the car, in my direction. Then, he crossed the aisle to my side of the car. Finally, on this otherwise empty subway car, he sidled up next to me. And by next to me, I mean he was leaning into me. As soon as we hit the first stop, Queens Plaza, I jumped off that train. Again, I thought it was just another typically bizarre NYC subway story.

The final story I want to recount regarding these events, may be the strangest. A number of years ago, my wife and I were driving cross-country. We’d either stay in cheap hotels overnight, or, if we had friends in the area, we’d crash with them. In one city, we crashed with a friend — a woman — who was kind enough to give us her bed, while she took the bed in her son’s room, since he no longer lived at home.

The following morning, my wife woke before I did, and went to take a shower. A few minutes later, I woke to find our host — nice person, but not someone I was sexually attracted to, in the least — in bed with me. To say it bluntly, I woke up to find her sucking my dick! That brought me to consciousness, really quickly. I stopped her, trying to be polite and not offend her, saying I didn’t think my wife would appreciate walking in on that. In truth, I was repulsed. But as we’ve all heard and read in so many variations, I was a guy, and she was a woman, so it had to be a misunderstanding. It couldn’t possibly be considered molestation…or, g_d forbid, rape!

I recount these last three stories, because up until this week, it never occurred to me what these events really were. I have no idea if it was denial, or because I was an adult male, or what. The point is, realizing all this regarding myself, I believe I now understand much more clearly, why, every time I hear a similar story from a woman who’s been put in a similar situation to those which I was, I go into something of a homicidal rage that’s not pleasant to feel, or be around.

As those who’ve been there during these times can attest, were I within striking distance of, for example, a Chuck Grassley or Orrin Hatch, especially while they were questioning Dr. Blasey Ford, or even making their disgusting, misogynistic comments about her (and all the women victimized by men) to the press, I would happily take a baseball bat, and break every fucking bone in their worthless bodies.

The final story I want to recount in this saga, kind of goes in a different direction. I want to preface this by saying how incredibly grateful I am, to have had the parents I was blessed with. I believe it was their deep love, care, concern and respect for each other, that helped my brothers and I become the men we are.

When I was 29, I was performing in a show at a regional theatre. When working away from home, it’s natural to bond, and spend time with your cast-mates and crew. But at this particular theatre, there was a young lady working in the box office, who I would speak with regularly. She was cute, sweet as could be, and the mutual attraction was fairly obvious.

So one night, after the show, I asked if she’d like to go to a nearby diner and get something to eat. She said she’d like that very much. So off we went to grab a meal. Over dinner we talked about a myriad of subjects — me, what it was like being an actor; her, why she enjoyed working in a theatre so much. We told each other a little about our lives. She was only 19 or 20 at the time, and had graduated a very strict, all-girls Catholic school. I told her about my life and aspirations, and we got to know each other a little more.

Afterwards, she drove me back to my hotel, where I asked if she’d like to come up to my room, which she did. We talked a little more, before we started kissing. The kissing developed into more intense kissing, followed by a bit more than kissing, ending up with us naked on my bed.

This is where the story becomes kind of an inversion of the usual way this would go. I was on top of her, ready and more than willing to proceed. But I looked at her face, and could tell there was something wrong, so I stopped. I didn’t know if she was scared, felt she wasn’t ready for this step, or whatever. So I asked her what was wrong. She told me she really liked me, and wanted to, but was also scared, and not sure if she was ready to take this step. So I got off her and said, “then we don’t have to do this.”

Here’s the part that freaked me out. It seems she felt, since she’d gotten me “excited,” and we’d gone this far, it wasn’t fair to me, and she didn’t think she had the right to stop at this point. To say I was totally shocked by that comment would be the ultimate understatement. I mean, this was the 1980s, for crissakes!

I held her for a minute, looked at her and said, “listen to me. It doesn’t matter how excited I am. I could be halfway inside you. If you decide you’re not ready or don’t want to do this, you say, no — and I stop! No questions, no arguments, no nothing. And, I added, this didn’t apply to just me — it applied to anyone.” Her response stunned me — she asked, wouldn’t it make me mad? Wouldn’t it make any guy mad?

I responded with, if I was the kind of person who got angry over something like that, then I have the right to not see, or go out with you again. I’d be a dick if I did, but you never have to do anything you don’t want to do, or are not ready to do. And if anyone ever tries to make you think you have to, or you owe it to them for some sick reason, fuck them (I know, ironic choice of words)! And get away from them, immediately!

What was unfathomable to me at the time — and still is, all these years later — was the fact I had to explain this to her. How did we get to the mid-1980s, with women, even young ones, not understanding they have the right to control what they do, and don’t do, with their bodies. The fact that, to a frightening degree, that lack of understanding still holds true today, is something I cannot comprehend.

In any event, I held her for a while longer, we talked some more, and she left. We remained friends for the run of the show, but the relationship never gained any traction after that, mostly, I think, because she was embarrassed. But I have never forgotten that night, and will forever be grateful to my parents for helping make me the kind of person who reacted the way I did.

It is often said, as justification by men who believe women exist to service them — people like the orange pig whose name I refuse to say, the Brett Kavanaugh’s, and their ilk, “a hard dick has no conscience.” That’s very convenient thinking if you’re an over-entitled, spoiled, narcissistic, misogynist. But that hard dick is attached to a human body, with, hopefully, a brain attached. One that understands right from wrong. Unfortunately, as we have seen all too clearly in the year 2018, that is far from the case.

A Different Story, Inspired By the Events of September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001 marks a date most of us will never forget. There’s no need to repeat the sights, sounds and heartache of that day, when so many, far more eloquent than I, have done so since that tragedy. I don’t even want to discuss the politics of that date, and the days following, most of which has also been reported, over and over, fairly thoroughly.

For me, September 11th started a few years or so before the actual event. That’s the story I have never talked about publicly before today.

Sometime in 1998, my wife and I were informed the rent on our tiny, 12′ x 17′ studio apartment on the upper-East Side of Manhattan, was going to be raised to $1200, a figure we simply could not accept. So, like many New Yorkers in the same boat as us, we decided it was time to look for someplace else to live.

We started the hunt in Hells Kitchen, an aptly named neighborhood, stretching from around 34th to 59th Streets, on the very west side of the City. In an effort to make the area sound a tad classier, real estate brokers called the neighborhood, Clinton. How better to justify the exorbitant rents.

At this point, for those who’ve never lived in NYC, I should explain how the game of renting even the shittiest apartment, worked back then (I say back then, as it’s the last time I had to deal with it).

A number of years earlier, the owners of apartment buildings in NYC realized they could make a killing by having a second party — usually a friend or relative — open an apartment rental agency, which would then represent all the apartment buildings owned by friend or relative #1. That way, you couldn’t rent directly from an apartment building’s owner. You had to go to the agency “repping” a building (or, more often, buildings).

Why would they go through this charade I hear you ask. Simple, a rental agency’s fee for “finding you” an apartment was, legally, anywhere from 15-25% of a year’s rent. To be fair, most agencies charged 15%. So to rent an apartment in NYC, you had to come up with first and last months rent, plus a 15% fee to the rental agency (more often than not, owned by the owner of the buildings you were looking at).

If you figure a small studio apartment (like ours) went for around $1200 a month at the time, that means to rent it, you needed to come up with $2400, plus a non-refundable agency fee of $2160. That’s a total of $4560 before you movie in. But that’s not all — most agencies wanted you to prove you earned at least 52 times your monthly rent — in this case, $62,400, per year. And if you happened to own a dog, as we did, there would also be a non-refundable pet fee ($500), plus, in some cases, you actually had to pay an additional rent for the dog (cats, you could sneak in).

If you work on Wall Street, that number might sound minuscule. But if, like my wife and I (and thousands of others), you’re an actor, never knowing when your next real job will appear, it means you’re also waiting tables, doing clerical work in an office, or something to help you survive. In that situation, you usually won’t have pay stubs, or a tax return proving you earn at least $62,400 a year. To get around this obstacle, what many of us did back then was, forge the documents.

So, for all this, what were we shown (and by “shown,” what I mean is, if an agency has an apartment you want to see, you leave them your driver’s license, or a credit card, they hand you a key, and you go look)? More studios apartments, only in these places, you had little innovations like the tub also serving as your kitchen table (you just pick the top off, and bathe). We were shown shithole after shithole, some claiming to have been recently remodeled — maybe a new fridge, or stove — more often than not, it simply meant a new paint job.

Being a tad frustrated, we were talking to another actor friend one day, who said, you need to come look at Jersey City! Jersey City? You mean, like, across the Hudson…in Jersey?

You have to understand, to me, a native New Yorker, New Jersey might as well have been another planet. If someone told you they lived in New Jersey, the immediate response was, what exit? Again, for those unfamiliar with the east coast, Jersey is known for it’s exits along I-95 and the Garden State Parkway. New Yorkers did not cross the Hudson.

But, being desperate, we decided, what the hell. What we didn’t know was, there was a subway we’d never heard of (or bothered to notice), called the PATH, running from Herald Sq. (in front of Macy’s), running down to Greenwich Village, and then under the Hudson, to Jersey City. At the time it cost less than the subway, and was a lot cleaner. So, surprisingly, we were off to a good start.

The trip ended with the second stop in Jersey City, at Grove Street. It had taken about 20 minutes from Herald Sq., which was kind of amazing as it took us a 15-minute walk from our studio on the very East Side, to even get to the subway going downtown. Being so close to the City, Grove St. was kind of a shock, as, at the time, it had much more of a small-town feel. But, there was a pizzeria and Duncan Donuts right there at the PATH station, which we found somewhat comforting.

Anyway, a two-minute, block and a half walk down Grove Street, took us our friends’ building. He was living in a studio there, as well. But when he opened the door and we looked in, what we saw was a cavern! This studio was HUGE! We could easily have fit three of our studios into his. He had high ceilings, and it was bright. So I asked, how much are you paying for this? $500 a month, came the answer. After I picked my jaw off the floor, I asked if there happened to be any other apartments available in the building. So, my friend looked out his rear-facing window, into a small backyard, where a family was having a barbecue. He opened the window, and shouted down, “Hey Moustafa, you have any apartments available?” As it happened, he did — a 3-bedroom on the top floor.

My wife and I almost choked, knowing there was no way we could afford a 3-bedroom, but our friend said, what the hell, you can at least take a look. So we did. When Moustafa, the landlord, opened the door, we both almost passed out. The room we saw — a combination living-dining room — was huge. It had new carpeting, and recessed lighting in the ceiling. On the other side of the room, was the kitchen. Not a narrow, NYC kind of kitchen you couldn’t fit two people in, but a real kitchen! Tons of shelf space, and — oh my g_d! — a dishwasher!

The first bedroom was also off the living room. It was a pretty fair-sized bedroom, almost the size of our entire studio, overlooking Grove Street. But it also had a closet running the entire width of the room. Then, we proceeded down the hall. The first thing we noticed was a cubbyhole for a stackable washer-dryer. We didn’t have a washer dryer, but this freaking apartment had a place for one. Movinging further down the hall, we came upon a very nice bathroom — full tub, toilet, sink with vanity — no kitchen table. And roomy. Okay. Beyond that were two doors. We went through the one on the right, first. The second bedroom was bigger than the first, and, like the other, had a closet running across the entire width.

But the most incredible part came when we looked out the window. There, stretched before us, was the entire skyline of NYC, with the World Trade Center prominently visible in front of us. We just stood there a moment, looking — kind of like tourists seeing Manhattan for the first time.

Then we went into the third bedroom. It was huge. I mean, really big, with high ceilings, and the same breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline. But i this room, the closet was different. Instead of running along the entire wall, this bedroom had a seven foot-deep, walk-in closet, with racks and shelving on both sides. But, no, that wasn’t it for this room. We had one more surprise in store. This bedroom had it’s own bathroom! A second, full, master bathroom. And, holy shit!!! The tub had jacuzzi jets!

By this point I was salivating. But I knew this was also the point where the fantasy would come crashing down. So, not really wanting to hear the answer, I asked Moustafa, how much the apartment rented for? He said, I’m asking $1200 a month. Before I could say a word, my wife turned to me and said, “but we said we didn’t want to pay more than $1100.” Before I could say, are you out of your fucking mind, Moustafa said, “I like you two. I’ll give you the first year for $1100 a month.” I turned to my wife and said, “write him a check.” I was not about to let this palace get away. So I started to take out all the forged paperwork I’d created to prove we made enough to afford this place. Moustafa just shook it off. I don’t need to see all that — I trust you.

And that is how we left the city of my birth, and moved across the Hudson, to Jersey City, and an incredible apartment with the most amazing view of Manhattan you could ask for, with the World Trade Center prominently featured.

One of the more unexpected, and kind of breathtaking things we learned, on days the Hudson got fogged over, the WTC seemed to disappear. Then, as the fog lifted, like Brigadoon, it would magically reappear. It was cool, beautiful and, at the same time, somewhat eerie.

After having lived in Jersey City for a year or so, my wife found a day job at a financial institution with offices in the WTC. It was an incredibly short, if crowded commute. Two stops on the PATH train, ending right underneath the twin towers. Two-minute walk to the PATH. Five minutes underground. That was her daily commute.

During the year, we had also gotten ourselves a roommate, which helped cut our expenses. The second bedroom, next to ours, we turned into our home office, where I worked, when not teaching or acting in the City. It was truly ideal.

But all of that changed one unbelievable day in the year 2000.

Tanya, my wife, and I spent the entrance to the new millennium with my family in Norfolk, VA. My brothers, Richard and Ethan, were then running 2nd Story Theatre, a non-profit stage company the three of us had started, number of years before. It was a nice way to ring in the new year, and we had a wonderful time.

Back home, I was working on the script for a television pilot, my friend Joe and I were writing. Things were looking very up. Then, as so often happens, we lost the funding for our pilot.

At this point, I should mention — I have a certain degree of psychic ability. I have no control over it, but sometimes I know things are going to happen before they do. It also helps me read people — who they are, their thoughts and dreams, and, sometimes, their intent. The one person I’ve never been able to use this gift to help, is me. When it comes to predicting my future, I haven’t got a clue.

I mention this because, one night, a few months into the new year, I had what I can only describe as the most vivid dream of my life. In the dream, I saw the southern tip of Manhattan immersed in smoke. I didn’t know if it was from a bomb, an earthquake or something else. But in the midst of all this smoke and destruction, the most frightening aspect was, the twin towers of the World Trade Center were no longer there. They, along with pretty much everything in the area, were destroyed.

I woke up with a start, my breath coming in heaves. The first thing I did was look out at the window, to ensure myself the twin towers were still there. But I couldn’t shake the dream/vision I’d just had, and felt nothing other than a complete and utter sense of danger.

I slowly walked into our home office where Tanya was working on the computer. As usual, she greeted me with the loving smile that always melts my heart. But this time, I couldn’t push back the dream I’d just had. So I pulled another chair up to the desk, took Tanya’s hands in mine, and told her about my dream. I finished by saying something I hadn’t really known I was thinking. What I said was, “I don’t think we’re safe here, anymore. I think we have to get out of here.”

There are people who would have looked at me as if I was crazy. There are those who would have said, “are you insane? Our entire lives are here. Our careers are here.” And who would have been able to blame them?

But that’s not Tanya’s and my relationship. Our love, and our understanding of each other goes much deeper than that. having heard me out, she looked at me quite seriously, and said, “then I think it’s time we leave.”

A few days later, I received a call from my brother, Ethan. He was calling on behalf of himself and Richard. And the timing of what he had to say simply fit the moment, perfectly. “Rick and I are totally burnt out running the theatre. Is there any chance you and Tanya would be interested in moving down here and taking over the theatre for us?”

Exactly 60 days from the date of my dream, an army of our friends came over, and helped us pack a truck being supplied by one of our friends. We put all our belongings in the truck, and whatever was left, into our car, and left our beautiful Jersey City apartment, for a new home in Norfolk, VA, an apartment we’d never seen, which my brother, Richard, had rented for us.

When we got to Virginia, and went over to the theatre, a loft on the 2nd Story of a building (thus the company name), we found a company in total disarray. Grant applications had not been finished, loose contracts lost us the next play scheduled in the season, and the script for the play after that, was not only unfinished, what had been written was a disaster. The final blow our first week there, was finding out our landlord was cancelling our lease, leaving a theatre company with no home.

We did our best, managing to find a new space, which turned out to be temporary and changing the name of the company to the Actors Repertory Theatre.  We managed to produce the East Coast premiere of a wonderful play, Supernormal Clutches, which Tanya co-starred in, and I directed. But after a series of further disasters, we decided our only choice was to relocate ourselves, and the company. So we moved to Frederick, MD, Tanya’s hometown, northwest of Washington, DC.

As we were working to get ART up and running in Frederick, Tanya took a temp job, to help keep us afloat until we were back in production. That was where she was on the morning of September 11, 2001. I woke that morning, to a shaky call from Tanya, who told me to turn on the television — quickly. Five minutes later, with the first WTC building already in smoke and flames, I watched as a plane rammed into the second twin tower.

The rest of that story is known by everyone, especially our friends who were nearby, or helping as first responders. Tanya came home a short while later. Her temp job had let her go, because they didn’t approve of her reaction to what she’d witnessed — the destruction of a building which, up until we’d left Jersey City and Manhattan less than a year and a half earlier — where she’d worked. Had we still been there, Tanya would have been arriving at the WTC subway stop, under the twin towers, just as the first plane hit.

In the years since, Tanya has said (on multiple occasions), my dream probably saved her life. No question life would have been much different had we stayed.

The events of that day, ended up changing the lives of millions of people. Not just those who perished that day, their families, and the entire City of New York. Not just the people who died when the plane hit the Pentagon and their families, and not just the people of flight 93, who crashed their plane in Shanksville, PA, to save others, and their families. It affected all Americans, and eventually hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, as well.

But for Tanya and I, while we feel the same anger, sadness, and sense of loss felt by all Americans, there is also something else. A feeling of gratitude that, for whatever reason, some power — whatever you want to call it — I find no need to define it, warned us well in advance, and saved us. It allowed us to share the strange ride we’ve taken ever since.

It was something special, and it kept us together.