Anthony Rapp’s Without You Memoir/Show

I feel compelled to write today because I saw this extraordinarily moving show performed live by Anthony Rapp off Broadway at the New World Stages Theater, just on 50th St, which is really smack dab in the theater district, although situated between 8th and 9th Avenues. And the Stage Door is a block away too, which was convenient 4 me and another fan, Kevin, today, from Rapp’s hometown of Joliet, IL, also a RENT-head. That’s what we call these fanatical lovers of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning musical RENT, which premiered on Broadway in early 1996, and opened that April. I was one of the 1st members of that audience, back in April 1996, w a $36 orchestra seat, along w my dear mama, and 2 high school buddies, Maria Lyrist & John Lynch, also w us, to see that spectacular show. I even have the original stubs to prove my price, seat, and who went, as I have been scrapbooking my entire life since age 11, but we r sticking w this RENT theme here, because again I was blown away today! I shook, sang silently, as I am tone deaf, and don’t inflict my voice on the listening audience…as Anthony deftly told and sang a tale of his life, to date, since arriving in NY, and getting cast as Mark Cohen in RENT, when it was at the Public Theater, & NY Theater Workshop preceding the Broadway run. He was only 22 yrs old then, fresh faced, singing his lungs out w gusto and verve. And he had the opportunity to get the part via impressing the playwright composer Jonathan Larson who became his friend, after some performing on the stage.

Without You is a deeply personal trek of the man Anthony Rapp became with his family of origin, including an encouraging, beloved single mother, mostly, as the parents had divorced…and the life she led in Joliet IL, w Anthony pursuing his musical career in NY, and getting some breaks, particularly RENT, which turned out to be life changing for Rapp. Rapp’s mother battled cancer over some number of years, and eventually succumbed to it, but not before seeing him on stage in NY singing the Mark character in RENT, which had to be so fulfilling for Anthony. To see your child perform to standing ovations on Broadway has to be some major prideful maternal moment. And the original cast was in fact all brilliant as well, many going on to successful careers in theater and movies, TV. I was there then, and even today, my tears were summoned forth in that theater, yet again, happy tears to see my idol Anthony Rapp, still belting his voice and his emotions out to the audience, and we clapped and we sang (albeit me singing silently, mouthing it), and still we were given a piece of a consequential person’s life…on stage, in a limited engagement, it runs only until late April 2023.

Anthony works on a show I watch also: Star Trek Discovery, which streams either 10 or 13 episodes per season on Paramount Plus network. He is fantastic in his role as the Chief Engineer Lt. Paul Stamets, who has a good brain and even better ethics to lead the Discovery ship in the 32nd Century that they now inhabit on that series. But he moves me then and now, always, as he has hit a nerve w me, w his lyrical expressions of emotions…and his sheer talent. He is presently 51 yrs old, has a son, and is engaged to a man, and he talks about his homosexuality w frankness in the show as well, including his mother’s stance on it, and how she accepted it. Anthony wrote his memoir first, and was published in 2006, and the show has been received to mixed reviews in a bunch of international and domestic locations before it came here to NYC. But his talent is undeniable, and we r the richer for having been on this Earth w a talent such as his is, simultaneously sharing time and space together.

I got to chat w him a few times too, including today, because I went outside to stand by the Stage Door, just me and another single fan, Kevin, who had gone to the performance too. And we got some candid shots w Anthony. I had seen him sing last year aboard the Star Trek Cruise V, and got his pic and autograph then too, on that cruise, late February 2022. U guys know fan comes from fanatic, right? But I am just extolling his praises, as I admire these actors and singers. I am not a fanatic, just a fan. I recommend u catch Without You, even if it is heavy subject matter, to look at a life, and then to lose it, of someone dear. But we achieve immortality through our work, as Jonathan Larson did, even tho he died at 10 days short of age 36, from a burst aortic aneurysm. He had fulfilled his time on Earth, and it was time to go, tho to the detriment of so many who wish he had lived as long as Stephen Sondheim did. But we have not it within ourselves to deign to dictate to the Creator how long we should live, as we r His creatures, not our own.

But this was a fine day in my life, today, and I am radiating happiness for having witnessed this show! 525,600 minutes, how do u measure a life? Measure it in love, not minutes… Yup, always a RENT-head, me.

Well, here we r: 2023 A.D.

This annual ritual of celebrating the holiday season is getting boring to me, even tho I too like the eating of Thanksgiving much,

the over months long search 4 appropriate gifts 4 our nearest and dearest family & friends, and then finally ringing in a New Year w parties, drinking, dancing, maybe a feast, and generally merry making w a kiss at midnight, if we have a partner so inclined to be at our side. A proportion of couples will go further than a kiss at midnight, trying to make a baby for the New Year. But as the birth rate has fallen precipitously in these United States of America, and concomitantly the immigration rate, legal that is, has also dropped massively, because of politics, we have an aging population that is increasingly drawing benefit payments from Social Security, in large numbers, because of the aging Baby Boomer population, without a correspondingly high rise in the younger workers we need to offset those monthly payments.

Add in a larger cohort of people now who r also permanently disabled, who managed to qualify for Social Security Disability, which has a high bar to entry, and must present copious medical evidence of why u cannot do substantive work anymore, in the occupation(s) u have done before. Psychiatric diagnoses also count in this evaluation as well. If u r a nut job and can prove it to a judge, w legal representation, u may get your monthly check, frequently paid out in a huge lump sum initially, because it often takes years to collect your 1st payment, after filing and being refused, which is customary for about 96% of all eventual recipients.

We cannot have people faking their disabilities, and they must be sufficiently severe in number and severity, such that the former occupation is no longer feasible as a way to make a living for the person so afflicted. U need stacks of medical records to convince them that u can no longer do that job anymore, or even any reasonable accommodation thereof. I am not the only person I know who eventually secured the SSD (Disability) ruling, back in May 2018, it began for me, but dated back to December 2014 actually, to date when my disability was legally determined to begin. So my wait was actually 4 years long to get that approval, as u go further back and can only file when u have not worked for 6 months long, due to the alleged disability. When I was approved, they owed me in excess of $38,000 in back payments, for those almost 4 years wait. Medicare began 4 me immediately upon approval also, and I took all that it offered me, including Part D, prescription drug coverage, and a plan by AARP, American Association of Retired Persons, which covers deductibles and co-insurance payments not covered by original Medicare. U still have to pay over and above these amounts tho, in co-pays, and I keep my receipts annually, to add up in the New Year, for my accountant.

Every year feels like rituals repeated, but it’s ok. We do change over time also. Even if we have predictable bowel habits! I can guarantee u what approximate time it takes me to go to the lavatory every single morning of my life, and am envied for my regularity! Such r the considerations of advancing age…when do u move your bowels?! How often? Is it a full movement? My Yiddish language comes in mind, screaming “Oy vey!” (Which means, roughly, do u have to detail this 4 me?! I don’t want to know!) I do my “Oy veys” a lot these days, therefore, as u might imagine, being so expressive, and so succinct, at the same time. I like that. I acknowledge my Jewish cultural upbringing as a rich one, varied, and asserting itself even more forcefully as I age, even while I pay my homage to my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I see no contradiction in being both Christian and Jewish, actually, but I am unlike others: I call myself hybrid, much as Jesus Himself was, in this life He led in the flesh once upon a time. I also cite karma often to my friends, that which u do to others or 4 them, is coming back 2 u, often multiples of your acts of harm or kindness. I firmly believe that u know men and women by the fruits of their acts, as it says in the Bible.

I have been exceedingly blessed in this life, and recognize it daily, gratefully, doing my utmost to pay it forward to others, because what did I do to deserve the Lord’s favor? I do not know how I was this blessed, but I resolve to do good for my fellow man, in general, like w donations for natural disasters, support for worthy, vetted charities, educational institutions, health care organizations, social services orgs, fighting hunger, etc. I also help support my dear friends, whom I consider my actual family these days. I am particularly proud of having gotten two friends out of life & health threatening emotional and physical abuse situations, by providing funds that enabled them to establish separate living quarters from their abusers. This is life changing stuff, that makes it better for them and their children as well, who were also suffering.

When I will have to account for my life acts before my Final Judgment, I will acknowledge my mistakes and omissions, but also point to those things that changed lives for the better. Even when the situations continue w the abusers, in some fashion, at least it is better to have a place of solace, away from that man who caused harm, a place of refuge, of peace and quiet. A time and place to regroup. No more beatings, emotional torture that leads to serious physical illness/maladies, that over time will lead to life threatening conditions like cancer. One cannot keep being emotionally tortured without it affecting one’s health, permanently. And that is especially true when one is in one’s 50’s. It is a vulnerable life stage, that decade. I have also done other things too: provided for people’s homes, upgrading them, repairs, providing funds for cars, that were necessary to get around in certain types of towns, because mass transit is not functional 4 them. And the vacations, events like concerts to hot performers, Broadway and West End shows, countless gourmet meals, spa services, because that’s good 4 u too, gifts…and paying for pet care, medical expenses, home repairs, a whole plethora of support, that comes from the heart.

The good u do 4 others is coming back 2 u too, at least tenfold, in my experience. But beware also the ides of March, which is to not malign March, but alas, recall that karma is also a bitch to those who do ill to others. Lots of criminals and evildoers forget that. But Rod Serling knew it well: another cherished ritual each New Year is watching some of The Twilight Zone, which aired around 1960, and went on for many years that decade. An evil man will reap what he has sowed, and that goes for women too.

Funny Girl vs The Handmaid’s Tale

This emphasis on marriage and having a child in my Jewish cultural upbringing is so ingrained that even when u reject the patriarchal nature of it, as if it’s the end all and be all of a woman’s existence on Earth, as seen in stark relief in the show and movie Funny Girl, still playing on Broadway now, to cheering crowds….and u know that u were indoctrinated in such values, from your childhood…and u did not live up to the promise of doing so…well, it hurts, even when it isn’t exactly your fault. I felt the shame of it, as I was assimilating the life lesson that u really HAD to be a wife and mother, or else your life was for naught. This is an antiquated notion, thankfully, these days. A woman is so much more than her acquiescence to becoming any man’s wife, whoever will come up first and ask, no matter if he is a good catch or not, or even reasonably compatible…just take the 1st one who asks! U may never get another suitor…and that is exactly what my maternal grandmother and mother both did, to their joint detriment. Apparently, the Jewish culture only believed in a woman’s fertility, and marriage was the social convention by which that promise was fulfilled morally. 1st marriage, then the babies…and to be picky was ridiculous, as women were brought up to be of low self esteem also, so it was important to accept anyone who was male, who was interested. I DID NOT ACCEPT THAT! I KNEW THAT I WAS SO MUCH MORE THAN A WOMB 4 HIRE, BY VIRTUE OF MARRIAGE, and so I was in fact picky, as to whom to date, and who deserved consideration of more than a casual relationship.

Today’s series of A Handmaid’s Tale is fascinating to me, as it brooks the notion of putting women in their place, in a rigid hierarchy run by men who r known as Commanders in a land called Gilead. Now and then, u see the women rise up in protest, and take action against their oppressors, and even defeat them by mass murder of one who was particularly egregious to June Osborne, the star. They terrorize the ones who oppressed them, and r also damaged beyond recognition by the sexual servitude they have endured, in a society that is mostly now infertile, w only a minority of the women still able to bear children. U become subject to this male hierarchy, and their rules, and u r shown how what u want is not heard by this ruling tribunal: they decide your fate, and even whether u need your fingers, or one of your eyeballs, or your ability to walk…all such penalties have been meted out to women who dared to question the Commanders’ decisions for them. And u might be locked up also, as due process no longer exists. If they tell u that u r going to stay in a designated building, on foreign soil, because they like your performance on TV, and be a mouthpiece 4 them, well, that’s what u r going to do, even if u have nowhere to go, outside that building. U give in to their demands, but w the caveat of protection in said building, 4 yourself and your coming baby. U r woman, u will comply! That is the lesson of heinous Serena Joy, who is a perpetrator of injustice and horrors to June, in the past. But there is also hope, as June has escaped from Gilead, and is now reunited w her beloved husband in Toronto, Canada, which is a haven 4 them, and some escape from the hangings in Gilead. The women who were unwilling to comply w the regular rapes at the hands of the Commanders, and their infertile wives present at the forced intercourse, sitting between the legs of the Handmaids…as if they r the ones being inseminated…holding down the Handmaid’s arms…it is a ritual June and her fertile ilk have been reduced to, to bear children for a society that has an insufficient number, in this manner. They r indoctrinated that they r doing a good thing to subject themselves to this ritual, all through their lives, bearing as many children as possible, and giving up their children also, upon birth, to those same Commanders, and their wives, and they r never allowed to keep their offspring therefore. They r wombs 4 hire! They may not even see their offspring after the birth takes place, unless it serves a Commander’s interests. June has birthed 2 babies, both girls, in this life, and she wants vengeance upon those who put her in this position, w beatings, tortures, u name it…

But I digress, yet again, going off on my fascination w The Handmaid’s Tale, which was a book I read many years ago, by Margaret Atwood, a yet living but aged author and Canadian treasure, who is now a creator and producer for the show on Hulu network streaming. I have seen women at the San Diego Comic Con dressed as Handmaids, in white and blood red robes, w an interesting white cap that resembles a nun’s habit. Can u be reduced to your fertility, in a rigid patriarchy? Yes, and women r being subjugated yet again in the current society in this USA, because Roe vs Wade has been overturned this past June 2022, after a Supreme Court decision, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was handed down then, after 49 years of legality in the entire USA. Now the states have to decide for themselves which of them will permit the procedure, and which will not, and under what circumstances as well. It has far repercussions on the society, as even some birth control methods will be made illegal as well. We r in a rigid patriarchy yet again, and even tho I do not personally favor abortion, I recognize that my own opinion cannot be the end all and be all for all women in the USA. Abortion needs to be legal for them to determine, especially w regard to cases like rape, incest and the life/health of the mother. Doctors now r stymied to not perform the procedure for fear of losing their medical license, and also being imprisoned, and TV is taking up the cause, showing what will happen, to practitioners. We r becoming the society depicted in fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale! Soon we will be hanging from brick walls too, for everyone to see, for failure to comply w the dictates of the patriarchy! Submit or be hanged! Nolite te bastardes Carborundorum is a rallying cry of the Handmaids, and translates roughly to “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind u Down!” This was put on the wall when Commander Fred Waterford was killed.

Well, glad I have my freedom, even tho it comes at a cost too: I absorbed the lesson that I am lesser than, because I did not marry, and I did not bear children. Even if I wail and complain about this unjust teaching of my Jewish ancestors, who really believed it also. Fanny Brice in Funny Girl also absorbed the lesson, and did find herself a handsome gent, named Nick Arnstein, who accepted her, when she ran off to capture him as husband, a guy who had a gambling streak, and eventually met up w some particularly bad luck, and got desperate, and became a criminal embezzler in order to cover his losses…and went to jail, only 3 years. And lost a big chunk of Fannie’s money to boot. And they divorced, after fulfilling that life goal, having a daughter. So Fanny was older, wiser, and poorer, for her association w this man she took to marry. But she fulfilled her mandate: she married and had a kid. And that was the end all and be all for her. She was Jewish, as I was, in my being born to 2 Jewish parents, and also absorbed this hard life lesson.

U all know I became Catholic, right? I found Christ was my Savior, way back in my teen years. And converted at the age of 21 years old. But u can’t take away my culture, and I am satisfied overall, w my life, even tho it didn’t fulfill the upbringing lesson. I am not and have never been merely a womb to rent! I am a writer, teacher, nurse, photographer, traveler, an event planner, a stockbroker, a dancer, actor, real estate manager, a mentor, speak several languages, travel agent…and a kind friend, also a sister, honorary aunt, daughter, niece, granddaughter…many hats have I worn. And I refuse to be categorized too! We r all much more than a single role assigned to us. Don’t let the bastards grind u down! And I read also that the original book, The Handmaid’s Tale, is now banned in the USA! How about them apples?! The patriarchy doesn’t want us reading such material, as it spikes our resistance. It was published in 1985, and I have to look to see if I have a copy in my home these days. And yes, I do! I am resisting to the end!

These were Lea Michele as Fanny Brice and Ramin Karimloo as Nick Arnstein, in Funny Girl, seen again on November 20, 2022 in the theater, on Broadway.

The Psychology of Diamonds

What kind of title is this?! There is no psych to buying diamonds! But in fact there is, as many men lack the knowledge of the symbolism of diamonds to the women in their lives. As 4 me, it’s particularly convoluted, my coveting them as much as I do: it goes back to a father who was stingy w family resources, and that included anything that was a want, not a need. Dad was loathe to buy even an oil seascape painting to decorate our living room bare walls…much less something costly like a diamond. So the more u couldn’t get something like that, the more u wanted it. U know that old life trope, wanting is more pleasing than having, right? But yet u seek that which is rare, beautiful, and indicative of strong love…as a child who had not enough love from dear old Dad, as he was unaffectionate…and withholding of many things…so the desire of diamonds grew as I grew up. An exception was dear old Mom’s engagement ring tho: Dad had his mother pick it out and pay for it too, and she understood how important a symbol it had to be, to show how her son, my Dad, was a man making good money, thus a good catch…and to cement the marriage to come. Who knew that this beautiful 2 carat ring w begets on the sides, was going to go for $2800 some 20 years later, or so, after the divorce? Mom’s mother took it to the Diamond District in Manhattan to sell it, as money was more necessary at that time than this beloved symbolic ring, of a marriage dissolved. Mom and I both cried at the losses, and the recriminations inherent in a bad divorce settlement. The engagement ring was just one more casualty. But while my parents had had the love of their marriage, it was a particularly beautiful thing to behold. And so rich looking, because Grandma Frieda knew of how it spoke volumes about how serious a man was, and how he was a catch also. And how it would seem to the woman receiving the gift as well. So it had to be big, as close to flawless as possible, round cut, nice clear color. I remember it, even now, so many years later.

But diamonds can be given in other forms than the quintessential engagement ring. And have been, in time immemorial…especially by my mother, to me, because she also understood the power of diamonds, to show love to someone, unconditionally, in gratitude for services given, or just for being a good daughter. Repeatedly, my mom bought me different jewels, over the years that she had some money, from an inheritance from dear Aunt Rae…of which I was the executrix of that estate, beginning November 1997, when she passed away. So many beautiful things including from Tiffany’s, earrings, rings containing clear diamonds of superior quality…which had the effect of flabbergasting me w their extraordinary beauty. But no engagement ring was acceptable, not from my mom, of course not…it had to be from a man who would come to love me, some day in the future…still hoping, and waiting on that one…but ok, I am still free to do as I please! No controlling behaviors of men in my life. I observed this this past weekend too: a man w his long time girlfriend, who lives w him, and he clearly controlled her behavior: he indicated when it was time to leave the restaurant, even tho she clearly wanted to go home, which was a long distance away. And it was getting late to go back to Massachusetts at 7:15pm…and he drives too fast also. Yup, to be controlled is not desirable. U r ignored as to your own desires, especially irritating because it has to do w safety. This girlfriend was wearing a diamond cocktail type ring w blue sapphires flanking the center diamond. I took pix of it, wondering if it was a cheap engagement ring, but I concluded it wasn’t. I didn’t think it appropriate to ask.

A man who was trying to claim me in 2010, was a nurse’s aide at a hospital, actually caring for my father at the time, in the Bronx, and he said he would take me to a jewelry store the next day, to go get an engagement ring…but I saw the light of him, and ran away, that same night, from a Yonkers hotel…as he was scheming, and I saw it for what it was. Good riddance! No ring, but better off without it and him. And then, over the years, I amassed quite a collection of jewelry, of many interesting things, eclectic, beautiful, from many parts of the world as well…as some dear friends have a jewelry store they manage in New Canaan, CT, a tony New England town, so pretty to look at in the holiday season…and I often find things to love there, and do buy. I am lucky to have some very rare pink diamonds from them, in a ring, several years ago bought at a great price! Other beauties as well. One day, my jewelry will be divvied up by my executrix, who will consult a listing which is incomplete, of jewelry that has been appraised, and who should get what, but at her discretion. And if she chooses, she can even sell the whole kit and kaboodle, to have cash on hand, to operate the condominium, and pay the monthly common charges due, before it gets sold off itself. It takes some time to empty an apartment of many belongings, sell off what isn’t wanted, and prepare the condo for sale, so it looks good to prospective buyers. I know of all this, as I have been an executrix repeatedly in my own life. It’s a lot of work! I served for 5 different relatives. None of these people owned their own apartments, or were in need of relinquishing real estate, at the time of passing. I merely became a landlady upon my father’s passing. Co-owner w uncle Sidney. One day, my cousin Glenn took over Sidney’s estate, and then we decided that we were going to sell off the considerable real estate holdings that the 3 of us owned, at that point. And Glenn’s son and daughter also had a piece of it too, to help w their college costs, a smaller percentage.

But back to diamonds. This desire is deep, to have the love of my life, who is but a figment…give me that love that is wanted above all things, because love is life after all….and the most important thing in life. Without love, the flower withers, and dies. The flower is my heart and soul, which hopes for the love of my life, and gives it hope to go on…as this desire is my way of going on, for time immemorial, unending, infinite love, like the babbling brook, ageless & evergreen. Like a diamond. There is no better thing that elicits tears of joy, to love and be loved, mutually. But in the meantime, there will always be diamonds, which r forever, as sung by Shirley Bassey, in a James Bond movie, “Diamonds Are Forever.” Or Carol Channing singing “Diamonds r a Girl’s Best Friend.” Yup. In loving memory of mom, who gave me so many of them, dainty and beautiful, kept till my dying breath, 4ever. These pictures show the young lady w the live in boyfriend, who was visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, and the butterfly diamond ring was bought this weekend from my good friends in New Canaan. Her diamond ring looks not quite blue sapphire at the sides now, see? What stones r they? Guess we won’t know. The babbling brook is near my house in Forest Hills.

Of Menses, of Being a Woman

I kissed a boy and I liked it! Both then, in the past, and now, far in the future. The kisses differed, but were reminiscent, and heartfelt this time. Back then, probably just horny teens. Way far back, under a song like “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” I had many troubles as a youth, even thinking myself pregnant as a teenager, and never actually finding out if I was. I was however in crisis then, and contemplated suicide, because it was just impossible, the guy I was with then, being unsuitable for matrimony, and myself being merely 16 years old at the time. I had a playbook ahead of me, and having a baby then clearly did not fit.

So I guess myself somewhat lucky that a stranger I called in the Bronx, randomly dialing an exchange in Co-Op City, I told this stranger my story, and why it was good for me to die right then and there, because of the violence in my home, the alcoholism, the poverty, the struggles, the mold, bad housing, regular leaks flooding, ceilings falling down, posing risks to life and limb, and I might have been pregnant w a guy who was two-timing me, at the time. A neighborhood guy w no prospects either. It was getting to be a ghetto already, back in 1980. The kind stranger convinced me not to commit suicide. A few days later, my period did arrive, but it was unlike any period I had ever had, w hemorrhaging going on, and I was scared. To this day, I think that was my gift from God: a miscarriage. But again, it is not provable, because I did not seek medical care at the time. I think I was however pregnant maybe 3-4 weeks along, because of nausea, and increased pain in my body, increased appetite…things that signal pregnancy. And then, that big bleed that came, and lasted for 8 days long. My periods as a young woman were hellish tho, so u can’t really know. They were in fact irregular, coming not every month, and some were awfully heavy. I suffered a lot in being a woman in this life. All 4 naught: I never bore a child, not then, not ever. I had my period of fertility from April 1976 until May 2012, and menopause is counted officially one year later, w no more periods, done at age 49. It was all as well 4 me, as I said I had suffered a lot, during those years. I had even once fainted from blood loss, and was regularly anemic as well. I had tried to give blood often, but as often as not, I was too anemic to donate.

And the cramps! OMG. I was on industrial strength meds, and no Pamprin or Motrin would do 4 me. I was always way beyond the normal level of discomfort. At some point they put me on a drug that received a black box warning as dangerous to health, because of side effects: Bextra/ Valdecoxib. It was removed from the market voluntarily because of death effects of this drug, in 2005. So I escaped yet again, from a bad fate. I credit God watching me for saving me over and over again. But I did have very bad cramps, incapacitating pain, such that it might be impossible to go to work even. And drugs were the only way to make me function.

And so, my GYN history was checkered too: an ovarian cyst, that required surgery to remove, age 18; the uterine fibroid embolization, age 42; and another one, out of the blue: June 2020, uterine polyp removal under general anesthesia, outpatient at least, age 56. What more will hit me? Still a woman, always a woman to me…remembering Billy Joel’s song in concert, that one. This is the extent of my life’s surgeries to date, and even tho an embolization isn’t exactly surgery, it does kill the blood supply feeding an unwanted fibroid growth in the uterus. And fibroids make periods very heavy too, so there’s that connection too. Good riddance, I say! When u have periods like mine, u want them to die too, or mercifully stop. So if u look at it, I am somewhat fortunate how it played out. Don’t pity me my childlessness. It is far better that I dote on my friends’ kids, as the loving aunt figure, and have none of the responsibility of child rearing. I am free! I can spend time as I wish, photographing sunsets around the world, seeing shows, concerts, movies, taking a swim, a walk, a beach w the rolling waves…and give thanks for having made it this far, w a group of loving friends that both take and give in free measure, love and love, we all.

And there’s always another homemade lasagna waiting to serve my peeps. Thanksgiving is this coming week, and I always give thanks to my dear friends, who r my de facto family. I even explained the holiday in Spanish to our cab driver on the way to the airport in Puerto Vallarta, just yesterday. What it means to us, and what we give thanks for. We have much to be grateful for, and on the top of that list, is love given and returned, by some dear people I call friends as family. Love y’all! And do take care of yourselves too, so we can have some more years ahead. I am hankering for Aruba again and that lovely holiday season w u all.

The Grand European Tour: By Rivers

I have been never so busy w travel as this year, 2022! It started in my perennial favorite Atlantic City, NJ, in the beginning of May, and I go there usually twice annually. I have to maintain my Gold status at my favorite hotel, in order to use their Amphora Lounge, which gives u all u can eat and drink, alcoholic beverages too, for a mere $12.50 per person, but only 2 person limit per party. And that $12.50 is payable by your compensatory dollar balance from gaming, so it’s just a bonus to eat and drink like that: the food is really good, and occasionally, I like to get an Amaretto Sour. But I also go annually to the Star Trek Cruise, which runs from late February to early March, usually. So that one preceded, and every year, we get new ports of call on that voyage. This year, we went to Nassau, the Bahamas, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands & Philipsburg, St Maarten via the Orlando FL area, by Cape Canaveral. I always go ahead of the cruise as well, in order to escape NY winter more, and just relax.

This year however has been quite unprecedented, as the pandemic changes were coming due: some reimbursements and deals were expiring this year, or else u forfeit the value offered. So I was loathe to lose my prior on call monies in London, Royal Caribbean, and other trips postponed, one of them since 2018 even! The result was I was only at home for short stretches of time, sometimes as little as 1 week between trips. I went to a panoply of nations, several never before seen, others just favorites of the past. Here it went, both solo and also w other dear friends:

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland: 2 hotels, on land only, a week there; June 2022. Solo.
  2. Edinburgh, Scotland: on land, The Glasshouse Hotel; June to July, w Vandy/Brad. Demanding excursions.
  3. Oslo, Norway to Stockholm, Sweden, w 5 countries in total, on trip, Cruise w Viking Star; w Susan, Max & Marna. We covered 3 weeks total, partly on land also, w pre- and post-cruise extensions. July into August. Countries: also Denmark, Poland & Germany. And we stopped at London Heathrow Airport on both ways, to transfer flights. Some demanding excursions, again.
  4. London, United Kingdom, England, on land only, w Vandy & Brad, a theater trip principally. Aug.
  5. Atlantic City, NJ: 6 days, same hotel, solo, beginning of Sept.
  6. Royal Caribbean Cruise to New England and 2 maritime provinces of Canada, solo. Went to St John, New Brunswick, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Boston, Portland & Bar Harbor, Maine. Mid to late Sept.
  7. Fishkill & Wappingers Falls, NY: visiting Susan & Max w Marna too, a weekend get together, Sept.
  8. Viking Aegir River Cruise from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to ending Budapest, Hungary, w post-cruise extension in Budapest. Solo. All 17 days in October. Other countries: Germany & Austria. They call it The Grand European Tour, and it was. Again, some demanding excursions, for me, who isn’t in fit condition.

Yet to come:

  1. DFW Airport Hotel 1 nt, then Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 7 nts, w John & Jerry, in November. Will be my 1st time in that city in Mexico. On land.
  2. Fishkill & Wappingers Falls, NY for annual Christmas gathering w Susan & Max, family & friends. Dec.
  3. South Salem, NY & New Canaan, CT: gathering w Vandy & Brad, for Thanksgiving. Nov.
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada: w Marna, for New Years; Dec. into Jan. On land.
  5. Star Trek the Cruise 6, plus Los Angeles area trip, mid-Feb into early March 2023. Solo, but I have CA friends on board the ship whom I socialize with. Also, Long Beach, CA + Beverly Hills, CA preceding cruise, on land, 2 hotels. Ports of call r Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan & Puerto Vallarta, all in Mexico.
  6. Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Cruise, Feb, w Susan, to Orlando, Miami, Nassau, the Bahamas & Perfect Day at Coco Cay, via Cape Liberty, in Bayonne, NJ port. Feb 2023. 8 days.
  7. Viking Sky Cruise solo, April to May, Italian Sojourn, w ports in Italy & also Croatia. Going to parts never visited in person on this one, including the city of Venice, Sicily, Messina, Bari, Crotone, Sibenik, Lake Maggiore, Como, Milan Airport also. 11 days total.

Yeah, I am living my best life thus, as I want to do as much as I am able, while I can. I am aware that your endurance and strength, health all change over time, especially when u aren’t in fit condition. But I do well, considering my limitations. I come back frankly exhilarated from most of these trips, amazed at what I accomplished. It’s remarkable, and much appreciated. Come look at some of the Grand European Tour pictures here. I have literally 1000’s of pictures, on both cell and on my trusty Canon camera.

So there r literally too many pictures on the Canon, some 1944 of them! Just from this trip, in datings from 10/6 to 10/18. I get disappointed about little things, like a video that didn’t upload to Facebook, from this musical scene at Marienplatz in Munich, Germany…because it would have been nice to share that. The bells ringing was quite fascinating to watch over the 10 minutes it did that, that day. We saw many parts of Germany never before seen also, although there was some duplication of ports, in the beginning: Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, both the Netherlands, and also Cologne, Koblenz, Germany. That was on the Rhine River, but then we diverged, to the Main River, then going to Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg port stop, on to Munich, Passau…and then to Austria, Scharding, Melk & Krems, Vienna, then on to Budapest, including some countryside, Szentendre, an open air museum called Skanzen, w animals on site as well…and a special ending folklore dinner in Budakeszi, which took a while to get to, on the night before we left on a red eye flight, into London, at 7:10am. I was so excited that I couldn’t even sleep that night, after getting back to the hotel. From the Main River w its many locks, we then entered the famous Danube River. Yup, it’s a good life overall, even w some limitations.

I know this is a privileged life, and am very grateful to both God and my beloved ancestors whose hard work made it possible. At least someone lived to enjoy it. I am also following my ancestors on these trips, as many of these countries r in my own genetic heritage, as enumerated by 23andme 1st, then ancestry.com. I feel the spirits of my ancestors sometimes too, on these voyages. And I give thanks always, but all honor and praise be to my Lord, from whom all these blessings flow. Amen.

The Fish Bowl of Royal Life

With the advent of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022, the world has been mourning collectively, as the Sovereign gave herself willingly in service, from a young age, sitting on the Throne of the United Kingdom for the longest time in history: some 70 years, from 1952-2022. As I, an American onlooker, but also of English ancestry, knowing exactly from whence came my maternal great grandmother Fannie Krieger Bergner was raised: in Piccadilly, London. I have even had a vision of this great grandmum while visiting the area! But I am prone to such after life spiritual, but pleasant visitations of my ancestors. I regard the visions as a gift therefore.

But there is an aspect of British Royal life that Americans r not privy to knowing: that u don’t have the freedoms of being an ordinary person, as in u cannot go to stores by yourself, and buy whatever it is u want. Or visit your former friends anymore, and u cannot bring them to the Royal residences, unless it is an official function, and then u wouldn’t be invited to, either. So for example, if u r Princess of Wales Catherine, who suffers from extended morning sickness, aka hyperemesis gravidarum, which occurred on all 3 of her prior pregnancies, and u felt like this is enough already! Three heirs to the throne is more than enough…so then u declare to your husband, now the New Prince of Wales, William, that u aren’t bearing any more children, and it is then unseemly to ask someone in the Royal houses that they inhabit, to go get some birth control options…because u cannot go out and get such things yourself…then the only option is to become celibate thereafter, depriving the Prince of his right to sex. And again, it is due to the Fish Bowl life u call home, and its many privations, and denials of freedom.

Over time, as u see in official functions outside Palace walls, u will see a distance between spouses who no longer cohabit happily. And u r enforced into that impenetrable silence that Royal life exacts upon u, and all your children born into that life. No wonder Prince Harry & Meghan Markle left it! They were even unable to get Meghan much needed psychological help/support, counseling, as she drifted down the Rabbit Hole of depression, anxiety, lack of freedom, and knowing that u r merely a vessel to bear children to one of the closer Heirs to the Throne. Because the Royal House must go on, therefore u need a proper marriage and then submit to bearing those children. It is expected of u.

No, Meghan did not know in full what was expected of her. If she did, she would not have married Prince Harry. Who would knowingly give up their freedom and personhood, just to be a baby machine?? And only serve the worthy charitable causes of the Royal Family? OK, that’s probably fine, but the things u give up r way too much…especially for an American woman. No American woman would bear it over her lifetime, being in such circumstances, cut off from emotional sustenance.

Would u willingly give up sex 4 your entire life, after the children r born? And what would that do to your marriage also? Can it survive? Remember, usually the Crown does not grant divorces either, and frowns on them. But in fact 3 of the 4 children of Queen Elizabeth II in fact divorced, and it is no wonder, due to the very shallow Fish Bowl they live in, w the water draining out like life blood…

I wish the Royal Family well, going forward, in the wake of their immense loss. God Save the Queen, and she was worthy of that. I even have a gorgeous emerald ring that I named Queen Elizabeth, because it was lovely, beautiful, and also regal looking. I will have it named thus, even after the Queen has died. May she forever RIP w the Angels, and be at rest w her beloved Prince Phillip.

Not all that glitters is gold, or worth the price Royal life exacts on its inhabitants. Ask Meghan and Harry.

Meeting Rock Stars!

Marsha w The Scorpions, live in Atlantic City, NJ #ScorpionsVIP

So I decided to do a VIP package, as I was going to be in Atlantic City anyway, from 9/1-9/6/2022, and The Scorpions r a heavy metal (mostly) band, while I was on site. And they do rock! Rock Me Like a Hurricane, in fact! Great song that, plus some others too…I studied their catalogue before the show, and found some stuff to like, besides that song. They r from Germany, and others in the VIP Lounge were die hard fans, not like me, a casual onlooker, really, trying them on for size…And we got 2 pictures w the group too, as part of the VIP experience. And hors d’oeuvres, 2 drinks included, plus some VIP swag, not much, but something. And being in the 1st row center was pretty neat too, close up w them, seeing them right in front of your face, albeit in front of an amplifier also, and they r plenty loud! I knew I needed ear plugs, but found no drug stores on my route between Tropicana Hotel and the Borgata that day. A kind security guard gave me a pair of foam plugs, but too late in the concert to make much difference…I did have tinnitus after the show, although only temporary.

The Scorpions have some lovely ballads too, and other rock songs that I had known previously…and I took 3 videos of the show on my new cell phone. Gotta get my copy of their set list also, for my scrapbook. I record all shows, concerts, trips, significant life events all, since my own age 12! I have been scrapbooking since then, maybe actually age 11 when it began. So being 58 now, I have a lot of scrapbooks! In general, I look at my home, and recognize that I own a lot of stuff, over the years…and am fortunate to not have to share space w anyone, as it is a lot! I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condominium apartment in New York City, in a nice residential area of this city. Quiet it is, usually. I can sleep like a baby here, and usually do, much unlike my former existence in the Bronx.

Tho it isn’t as I get very worked up at seeing The Boss, or even wonderful Billy Joel, the Scorpions were a good experience overall 4 me, and tho I won’t go again, I am glad I did it this one time. Rock on, my peeps! It was a great day also for Atlantic City as well! I had hit a big jackpot in the casino, and decided not to play anymore, deciding to take the money and run home w it, the next day. Smart move, as it is isn’t worth giving back such a win as that, just to maintain the Gold status on the MGM Rewards card. The Rewards r good tho: I got a Fiore suite for 5 nights at the hotel, plus some fancy eats all comped, AND also a 100 minute Signature massage too, and free access to both indoor and outdoor pools, both used…and my hotel bill is only $30 for that 6 day trip, plus tolls, and gasoline. Not bad for what I got, the 2nd time this year. I went in early May also. And the casinos also gifted me beaucoup slot dollars, freeplay, repeatedly…at Borg and also at Tropicana Hotels. It feels good to be living this life. See me happy?

Marsha w The Scorpions, on 9/5/2022, in A.C.

Pent Up Yearning?

Have u ever seen someone so deprived of something that they very tangibly need? Imagine someone w a plastic bag being held over their heads, starving for oxygen, as the killer tightens the bag around your throat?! Well, very visceral image, that…but not that. Instead, they love someone so desperately, a rock star, not seen in person for over 25 years, whom u revere, who is now getting somewhat older, as u are…and u know that life is finite, and u NEED to see them, up close, singing your favorite hits, but it’s impossible, as your real life doesn’t permit u the freedom of going out to see this rock star, and the kids will be jealous, and lonely in your absence…and u have constraints on that which u may spend $, for necessities, not so much luxury items like platinum seats at a rock concert…very close to the stage, but elevated, so u have an unobstructed view.

Even I who go see Billy Joel at least once annually, sometimes twice, depending on my mood, do not spring for such seats, not usually, as I take people w me, and multiple seats cost substantial dollars, especially these days of on demand pricing, which means the ticket price varies every second, according to fan demand. Recently, I was on the Ticketmaster web site, on a cruise ship in Norway no less, w iffy wifi to see Bruce Springsteen w the E Street Band, next April 2023…and the prices were all over the place, w fees, just 1 ticket mind u, running to $2300…but it was snatched away, and I was successful, at a hard price of $1206 w all fees, in Brooklyn…but I am a die hard fan, and have spent more than this, before, w his run on Broadway, Springsteen on Broadway, in 2017, sitting w celebrities all around us, just before Christmas that year, 2nd row, on the aisle, and he looked at me, repeatedly!!! Priceless. And I got pictures of my meeting him, talking w him, even a chaste cheek kiss, holding hands…all captured! And enlarged in pictures around my lair, my realm of Bruce, my shrine.

But that’s not to say that I don’t also love Billy Joel, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Diana Ross, oodles of performers over the years…who move me, inordinately. So I digress. When u need something really badly, and u get it, it is a sight to behold! The joy is tangible, and communicated effortlessly…u see it in their eyes, and their dancing, their gesticulations! The expressions of rapt joy, of giving something which is really unable to be had, but in one moment, is given, freely! Ahhhh! So this is what love is: to revel in the joy u give 2 another person, who can scarcely believe this has transpired. But it’s only a damned rock concert, ok?!

U thought I meant something else which cannot be had in this life, huh? Oh well. There is an Aerosmith song too: Dream On. Dreams r free after all, and take what u can get. Billy WAS fantastic at MSG on September 24, 2022, and we waited from May 2, 2020 to see him live at this concert, so it was in fact quite pent up. I have been friends w this particular rapt fan, since I was 9 years old! And I am 58 yrs old now. So it’s a lifetime of memories together, although also apart, as we went our separate life ways also. We will always be friends however. And that is sweet also.

COVID Really Kicks Your Ass!

So the day came, as of a minor sore throat, on Tuesday, 17 May, 2022, that felt like a little nothing, really, just slightly off, and I went the next day to go get my COVID booster shot too, my 2nd one, still feeling pretty good. But then night falls, and it’s like The Devil comes in the Night, like a Vampire, and the coughing starts up, a little bit of chills, no real fever to speak of, not even hitting 99 degrees…and I feel tired, really really tired…

And I wait till Thursday morning to allow the incubation of the germ, and juice up my cell phone w the Navica app, scan the QR code, get a live proctor to walk me through the steps of getting an at home COVID antigen rapid test, and lo and behold, close the cover, and start to see almost immediately the 2 lines in the window, indicating POSITIVE TEST!! Sure enough, it is confirmed at the local City MD Urgent Care Center, w a kindly nurse and MD attending me, and my asking for an antiviral med that I have read needs to begin within 5 days of 1st symptoms. And bless the City of NY, they r getting it delivered to me, at no cost even, that night, from a special clearinghouse, straight to my door. 5 days worth of Molnupiravir. It’s amazing what NYC has done for its population in regard to this pandemic, from monoclonal antibodies, to antiviral pills, no cost, free at home testing kits, at several intervals, and even fast PCR testing turnaround time at Laguardia Airport, in case u need testing to travel. And the Test and Trace Corps too, making sure u notify everyone who has been in contact…I started phoning people right away, in order to apprise them, especially my friends who came w me to see Billy Joel in concert on the past Saturday night, which is almost certainly where I caught my disease, at Madison Square Garden, a 20,000 person indoor arena. We were cavalier in our attendance at said event, dancing and singing joyously, without masks on, and lo and behold…So I now need to suffer 4 my choice of blessed freedom. Sigh.

Even tho I have been generally careful throughout the pandemic, u do get fed up w its privations and enforced loneliness, and lack of get togethers w friends and families, and the pervasive fear, economic disruptions, runaway inflation, key good shortages, it is all to do w the pandemic backdrop. From this hellhole springs other pits of tar and pitch to paint u in! Everyone is going mad, and in the USA, they take it out on minorities disproportionately, w guns and hatred, not Guns & Roses. Every single year, epidemic of gun violence, w a fever pitch in the hot summer months particularly, and then the drug addictions, still illegal, w fentanyl mixed in w heroin, and then young people lined up as corpses in the streets of America. What has my country become?! It is moving right, towards Fascism, as Germany did in the 1930’s, but too few remember how it turned out, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. They look at Germany today as another powerhouse nation, prosperous and hardworking, a leader, not in the ashes of WW II…it took a lot to rebuild Germany, Italy and Japan post that war. What is ahead? And the Allies too, took a beating, so much loss. As it goes, I just know I will beat COVID, as I am now quadruple vaxxed, even if I am also a high risk person w some predisposing medical conditions that make me particularly vulnerable.

I am not ready to go yet! Still too much living to do, just after my 58th birthday. Harrumphhh! Update as of 5/21: my 1st good night of sleep last night, because I am using even more drugs now, including Zithromax, Prednisone, Emergen-C over the counter vitamins, in addition to my normal regimen and the Molnupiravir. I am beating this rap! Even as I quarantine w some wonderful chicken noodle soup sent by my friends in a package yesterday, w rolls, cookies, even a soup ladle! The love feels really great too!

Every day stronger too! I put it at 75% now that I can attend a dear niece’s graduation party on Friday night, provided that I am asymptomatic by then, as in no cough, and good oxygenation numbers on my handy pulse oximeter here. Got new N-95 masks delivered too, to protect everyone else from me, when I do venture out of my apartment, say to the mailbox downstairs. I do not expose anyone to this disease, because believe me, it sucks! I breathe in through my N-95 or equivalent KN-95 of today’s ilk…and do not contaminate anyone. I will also thoroughly decontaminate my car and home before I let anyone inside either of them. My 1st concern is 4 the rest of u, not even myself. God save the World! I also got rid of expired medicines here and replaced that which was important to replace. Cleaning house. I have much more energy! The Devil won’t take me! Nope, not having that, ever! There is no Klingon Fekhlar (“Devil”) in my hereafter!