Saturday, August 4, 2012

Page 98 Hospital Groupies Part Two

Please read Page 97 Part 1

This is an absolutely true story


Let me tell you as sweet and kind as Willie was, under the influence of narcotic drugs (and yes, she demanded and got a morphine pump) she was vile and mean. I would come from work, bring a change of clothes, suit, stockings, pumps, hair products, jewelry and patience. Many times I had blueprints with me to mark up. I slept on a leather chaise.

She would wake up at 3 am and put on the television. When I asked her to please let me get a couple of hours sleep she told me to “Shut the fuck up or leave, she didn’t care if I went or stayed.”

Of course I considered she was under the influence but illness was a way of life for her. She loved to stay in hospitals. She LOVED to stay in hospitals. She worked there. Yet, she LOVED TO STAY IN HOSPITALS. It was just like staying in a hotel with room service, which she LOVED even more…no, almost as much. The longer the hospital stay the better. Even though it was a hardship on the family. And she called everyone she knew to let them know she was going to be in serious condition and needed their prayers. Deep sigh….

Personally, I hate them. I get a weird feeling waking up in one. WHen the nurse comes in, it is creepy to think you are part of someone's workday.

She would ask her co-workers to come in. And because she was under the influence, I had to give her a play by play of their visit. Repeatedly. She wanted to know how they acted and if they went to the nurse’s desk, if they looked at her chart, if they were concerned, what look did they have on their faces. As opposed to me who, when in the hospital, I could easily climb off the recovery room bed and hail a taxi. I hated hospitals. Subsequently, when I ended up in them something would happen and I would have to stay longer.

The doctor begged her to stop smoking. Finally he said the only way it was going to heal was if she stayed off of it. For a year and a half this went on. She had to have several more surgeries.

Even though the commode was less than 10 feet away, she had to have a portable one that I had to empty at the end of the day. I am not good with those things and it made me very sick.

I supported the family, at the time working directly for HCA Columbia Hospital System under a gay man. So that part of my life was not in the playbook.

Every day I came home to a messy house, screaming teenagers and a full portapoddie. I would be exhausted, but still made dinner, cleaned dishes and kitchen, threw in some wash spent, then, whatever quality time I could with the children finally climbing into bed exhausted. It would be 10 pm or later. I needed sleep. But Willie wanted to watch TV and I never stopped her. I was too tired to, but there were times…

My dear sweet nephew Joshua, one of my sister’s sons, came to Houston for 6 weeks that summer. What a sweet boy he was. He waited on Willie hand and foot. And I truly thanked God, and my sister for his presence. Most boys this age would be predestined to avoid such a situation, but not Joshua. He was a gorgeous six foot tall blond and black haired boy with his hair two toned in the latest trend. He never met a stranger and my friends were immediately taken by his charm and tenacity. He had goals and anyone within hearing range would be subjected to the ins and outs of his latest hobbies and he had many. One of them was making motion pictures.

He had the time of his life just 15 years old with such promise ahead of him. He and his cousin, my daughter Devon were as tight as brother and sister. But Devon was away at debate camp, so Josh was the only child, except for the frequent visits from Brooke

brook who felt she had carte blanche to Devon’s bedroom.

Joshua was a wonderful young man with so much promise. And handsome with a weird little defect on one ear. This would one day be an issue. Not too noticeable, but to him, it was. He was going to be a director. He and I spent endless hours researching different favorites, one being M. Night Shyamalan. M. Night, had documented his film making from a young boy. Some of these films can be found at the end of his more famous endeavors, the Sixth Sense and Signs. When you watch the young M. Night, as serious as we would find him funny, you could see Joshua. Who, in fact, did not find the films funny at all, but as a guideline to what he was going to do with his life. He loved to make movies. And we were subjected to these films with all the raw humor a young boy can give. They were detective type stories, who dunnits.

During his stay we spoiled him. We got him a Nintendo for the TV, tons of fireworks for July 4th; Willie would sit outside in her wheelchair and watch him blow up everything in sight.

Joshua met a young blond girl who was a dead ringer for Brittany Spears, but also the personality and brainpower. Joshua liked the look but the mind made him crazy and eventually he let the girl down. He told her he had a love at home. He didn’t say much about her, but it was obvious she was someone special for him to turn this young woman’s advances away. After all he was a 15 year old boy with raging hormones. I always thought about his self-discipline.

Joshua earned everything we gave him. He emptied Willies potties, brought her food, and basically waited on her hand and foot. After all, He was just 15 years old, with all the spirit and drive one has at that age.

Willie took him out in truck with her leg in the cast and let him drive.

And he called home and asked to stay another 4 weeks. My sister Marnie gave the ok. It was a blessing for me because when I got home, I didn’t have to immediately start taking care of whatever Willie’s issues that needed attending.

That was the last summer he spent with us.

Every time we saw him in our visits to Kenosha, he would wrap his arms around us like a bear. He was a handsome, big boy.

2 years later he would be taken from us forever.

My mother called and left a message on my answering machine: Dianne you need to call home it’s Joshua. Please call as soon as you get this.






Page 97 Hospital Groupies Part One

This is an absolutely true story



”First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me.” - Steve Martin


For years Willie has worked at The Methodist hospital with an employee population larger than some successful cities. It even had its own zip code. She never met with owners or presidents and folks were given performance reviews with little fanfare. Having spent her years in the Coast Guard and then Methodist, she had no idea about the private sector.

She had set her sights on working at the V.A. Hospital (Veteran’s Administration) in Houston. Actually, she felt entitled. She had been in the Coast Guard for ten years, mostly with a good record until she was put out because “she didn’t represent the C.G. in a uniform well. Yes, they actually said and did that to her. Ten years of faithful service, and she gained a little weight and she was out. I found that reprehensible. She had many stories of her time in the C.G. and she loved it there. She just couldn’t let go and spent every day of her life looking back instead of forward. I felt if she did in fact get the position she craved, perhaps she could let some of it go.

Her other reason she felt entitled I didn’t quite agree on. She was from the deep South and try as she did, she couldn't shake her history. She lived in an atmosphere of bigotry growing up in Alabama She felt the V.A. hired an inordinate amount of minorities to meet their EOC, (Equal Opportunity Commision).. Maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t. I couldn’t’ actually say. I feel there is a minority of whites in Houston and so we will see that ratio in the work place. I do not think it is a hiring/racial thing, I just think it is availability. But every day I had to hear about it. When she was at Methodist, it was a big problem with her. She felt if she got hired by the V.A.she would be at a fair advantage. In the interim, she was going to work for a small organization. The irony of all of this is, I actually worked on the design of this particular V.A. and once it was finished and all the kinks worked out, I never thought I would enter those doors again.

She could never understand about my coming and going in business. I would work for a firm for 6 months to a year, mostly on contract, mostly repeat business engaged by my Engineering firm, Willie and I put together, MD Tech, it was a drafting/graphic’s art company. But there were occasions where I was “let go”. Though there were occasions they simply did not want to do business with me because WIllie would harangue them for payment, however, that is for another post. . I really for the most part, had and have a good business partnership with most firms, however,there were occasions that I was "let go" almost always for the same reason.

Discrimination. One of the very worst was Roy Harper and Associates. When I started working there, he was so happy, far beyond satisfied with my abilities. He was a friendly sort and would engage me in long conversations about family and the like. For my daughter’s high school graduation, he was going to come to my house and make crawfish for the family party. He was very excited about this and asked that I come to pick up his cooker the day before so he could just bring himself, and the food... He heard me speak of Willie, but apparently thought nothing of it. That changed quickly.

When Willie and I showed up at his house, he acted very strangely. Willie looks very butch with a flat top typical clothing of Polo shirt, jeans and tennis shoes or boots. He chose to pass judgement. He knew we had been living together for several years. But please, I was a valuable worker and a good person. You would have thought he was just told his house burned down. He took me aside and said he wouldn’t be able to make the party. My heart sank. I had folks from all over the globe coming. I immediately knew why of course, but felt certain that was the end of that behavior. When I came in to work the following Monday, he called me into his office.

“Dianne, please understand that what I have to say is no direct judgment of you as a person and employee”.

I gave him credit for the eye contact and the folded hands.

“You know we build many churches and we cannot afford to lose revenue for standing on principle” .

He continued with the yadayada, but truly, I actually understood where he was coming form. And this was not my first trip on a sinking ship. No, it happened at BDMI, (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and a few more companies that would take me to task for a certain hypocritical liability.

I actually stayed at Harpers through the week to complete an expansion on one of those churches. He trusted me enough to leave me there that Friday night. I finished up, turned on the alarm, locked the door and put the key under a rock where he told me. You would have thought this would have dissuaded Willie from getting a position where her boss was in her business every day, but she was determined. It was going to be different for her. So I created resumes and cover letter, faxing them to the several organizations she plotted. One of them was a dental firm, who actually hired her.

And then she got the opportunity to experience having to work with the owner of the company you are with,. It was full of gossip, cheating, stealing upstaging and aggrandizing and she seemed to thrive. She heard the tag line: Hate the sin not the sinner. She didn;'t seem to mind. Until she slipped in the laundry room on one of my negligee’s, one of the few times she was doing laundry, and busted her leg up pretty badly.

We spent hours in the E.R. at Houston Northwest Hospital. It was like the early days of Cook County in Chicago where there were no free rooms. They had to reset her leg and made things worse. It is called reducing. Yet, they never reduce anything and you can tell when a doctor is doing it. Everyone can tell, because in spite of the massive amounts of Demerol, there is some screaming going on. They did this several times. I got into it with the Doctor and begged her to call my orthopedic doctor who fixes everything pretty quickly and painlessly. But she refused. She was an intern and she was going to do it herself. I begged and begged.

Eventually someone must have called because over the P.A.:

“Dr. Know-it-all, Dr. Fitzgerald is on line 4 for you”. I pick four because that is how many times she “reduced” Willie’s leg.

Well Dr. Know-it-all was incensed “Did you call him!!! I told you not to call him!” (I guess doing what’s right is not as important as doing what’s profitable).

What…wait…WHAT!!! Is this China? Am I really not allowed to do this? I told her no I didn’t as she had done so much damage to Willie already I didn’t dare put Willie’s LIFE at risk. Her leg was already looking like a mangled extension of what it should be!

Thankfully Dr. Fitz told her to stop what she was doing. One reduction should have been enough. Two was already looking dangerous, three “WHAT THE HELL SCHOOL DID YOU GO TO ANYWAY???”

The nurse who called shirked sheepishly by and told me she made the call, then immediately begged me to not tell Dr. Know-it, and she said she used the term Doctor loosely.

After all, do you know what they call a doctor who graduates at the bottom of her class? “Doctor” . Even lawyers lose their ability to practice – well, to get a decent internship at a law firm if they don’t graduate at the top 5% of their class. And if you graduate at the bottom, you get a job as a “person with a law degree” I know this. I worked at an Engineering firm where one of the Mechanical Engineers quit his job all pompous and everything

"I'm going to Law School, I am going to move on up from all you loosers!"

…he returned. He graduated at the bottom of his class. Because he had a “law degree” they made him the Office manager. He did nothing but chew tobacco, spit in a cup and recite racist, bigoted and homophobic salutations. When I asked him where I could get a “Black’s Law Dictionary” for Devon, he gave me his. Still in the packaging.

So things settled down at Houston Northwest Hospital and Willie was allowed to leave with a temporary cast on her foot with an appointment to see Dr. Fitz the next day. And Dr. Know-it was put on probation. It seems that was her first day as the lead intern and what a bang-up job she did! Literally.

After seeing the Dr. Fitzgerald, she was slated for surgery the same day and she had to have several pins and a plate in her leg. This should have been a pretty standard conclusion, but we were not so lucky. When making the fusion, they needed to use donor bone. Which works very well in fact, if you don’t smoke? Willie was not going to quit, so an injury that should have rectified itself in 6 weeks dragged on for months. And then years. The little Dental firm she was working for could not oblige this and since they were not backed with the same employee morality issues as large firms, Willie was put out. She had worked her best, but the pain was too much.

The private sector job told her they couldn’t keep her. She was all “OH my God, I am gonna sue, they can’t do that etc. I simply smiled and said, yes they can, and yes they do. No need for I told you so."

“Fuck that, I am never going to work for any company smaller than ten thousand employees”. I.e. the government.

Willie had been out of work for some time. Her leg was too painful to even take her across the room. She truly enjoyed convalescence. She said It is the part that makes the illness worthwhile.

But she continued to smoke so the donor bone wouldn’t take. I told her I didn’t give a shit if she smoked, but secretly I hated it. Especially when we were in restaurants. My dad made a statement one time about smoking sections being like having a peeing section in a public pool. He was a lung transplant recipient and he always got a table at the demarcation line; i.e. the table next to him was a smoking table. Anyway…yes she continued to smoke. And being a cripple, I had to buy those cigarettes. So I was a little fucked myself. But I got her back, I never told her I bought them at the Indian Burial Ground convenience store down the street.

They finally re-operated, but that did not work either. After 8 months, and me being the primary bread winner, we finally found a renowned specialist in the medical center who operated yet again. The second operation they should have removed and replaced the hardware. They did not and yes, we tried to sue and no, nothing came of that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Page 96 Buddha Released

This is an absolutely true story



One must lose all, sacrifice, in order to gain anything, you must first lose everything. The 14th Dalai Lama



When I returned home Willie was already up and shopping EBay. I put my things down and headed directly to the kitchen. I wanted something decadently sweet. And Willie wanted her dinner. I battered and fried some chicken; butter fried canned corn and whipped mash potatoes with cream. You are saying "Shame on you Dianne", but if I didn't cook this stuff, she would buy it elsewhere and pay three times as much for the heart failure. Everything she loved. I told her if she kept up like this we were going to have to start thinning the population by making the killing humans legal hunting, otherwise some of us were going to starve to death.

I also made a peanut butter pie with tons of cream cheese, whipping cream and peanut butter. Now we can just watch our arteries explode in appreciation. I made the pie so I could bring some to Bootsie. I told Willie about mine and Bootsie’s conversation and that she needed surgery to “Fix things”.

What is that about?” I asked.

“I don’t know, maybe they need to cut away some dead or infected intestine”.

“Is that going to be difficult on her?” I asked “What exactly does that mean?”

“Nothing more. She is going to have some pain, but that’s normal after surgery” Willie explained as she handed her empty plate to me nodding toward the deadly dessert.

“You aren’t going there tomorrow?” Willie pleaded “Please Dianne, I can’t take this, please do not go without me.”

I promised her I wouldn’t, but something told me I should go anyhow. As it went, I did as I was told. I worked to distract myself. It is a strange feeling to draw in walls and ceilings to new buildings that may not be built for a couple of years, very possibly with no more Bootsie in the world. Life has an entirely different perception when looking at the yin and yang…or am I using the wrong verbiage? Just the idea of life going on, it seems like life is so cold and unrelenting never caring about the life and loses we experience? Nonetheless, it does and I need to commit to my end. Geez that sounds formidable.

I had to do a checklist and walk-through at 10am that should consume a few hours. I got to the site at high noon and my God it was hot. I had on a pantsuit and heels which I changed to sneakers, tennis shoes, trainers, whatever. The men were huddled in small masses around the property and I regretted at once showing up when they had time on their hands. I was 15 or so years younger than I am now and I attracted my share of attention. Add to the fact they saw few if any females throughout the day. On the positive side, they would be available when I needed attention to details. But today, I didn’t find any, because, frankly, I didn’t want to. But it didn’t stop the haranguing and it took me a bit longer to break loose. I knew it would be regrettable if there were problems and I prayed there weren’t but made a mental note to maybe take a second (or third) walk-through within the month.

Bootsie’s surgery would be at 11am and she promised me that someone would call me with the news. But by 3pm I heard nothing, so I called. Her voice sounded amazingly upbeat.

“Di, I came out of surgery with a colostomy bag…can you frickin believe it? I have to carry a bag of shit around with me!”

As humorous as that sounded, it was really her way of downplaying the awful truth. I asked her point blank what the diagnosis and treatment were. She said they removed the tumors along with huge lengths of intestine but she was in end stage cancer. I swerved in traffic almost hitting a car of teenagers. I thought it best that I veer off the highway and stop. I found a parking lot, pulled in and I got out of my car. There was a small building with several steps leading to the lobby. I perched there. I bent over, phone in hand, my hair covering my tears. I could see how alarming I looked in the people’s eyes leaving the building, trying to look away, but just falling short. Bootsie delivered this news like she was relaying weather conditions. I didn’t know what to say or do. I wanted her to cry so I could comfort her. Instead she comforted me. Soon she tired and I hung up with the promise of seeing her the next day, but she said she would be out and home. Modern medicine. How could they let her out so soon?

Bootsie never once said the words dead, or dying. It was as if those words didn’t exist .

Over the following weeks we would meet for lunch and talk about everything but her condition. She ate very little and was bloated. There were days she didn’t quite make sense. The meds. She always told me she loved me and she wanted me to be with her. At times she got angry about this. But she never cried. I asked her one day why. She told me she found nothing of a solution in crying and didn’t understand why people wasted their strength. I had to agree with her but it didn’t make emotional sense. I saw her with a bald head and an extra 100 pounds from the steroids.

“Can you fucking believe this” she tapped her cigarette and tried to eat her hamburger, but didn’t appear to enjoy anything.

“Booter..About the cigar...”

“Don’t even Di. Don’t you dare. Do you really think this is going to kill me?” which was ironic in retrospect.

“Anyhow, I am gaining weight…you would think that I at least could’ve gotten a svelte bod out of this, instead I look like a buddha”.

“Booter, you have plenty of time to lose weight, right now the additional weight could be a blessing” I was referring to her apparent lack of appetite.

She lost all of her hair and really looked cute in spite of her chipmunk cheeks, but her hair came in very curly.

“You’re gonna do something about that” Her mom Ginger asked?

“Mom, I have cancer. Curly hair is not such an issue.”

She had a love/hate relationship with her mom.

She told me how it came about.

She spent all her years as a girl very shy hiding behind her mom. She worshipped the woman and treasured every moment she had with her. Her mother felt the same thing for her. As she grew into a young woman, her mother was her greatest fan and accepted anything and everything Bootsie did. Her sexuality not the least of those issues. Bootsie said she would not have wanted to live without her mom.

One day while her mom was visiting her, they were sitting together chatting up their lives and events when blood burst from Ginger’s ears and she suddenly could not talk. An ambulance came straight away and she was whisked to hospital where she remained in the ICU in critical condition.

‘She experienced an aneurism in her brain. The doctors warned the family that she may not survive. If she did, she would never be the same. Bootsie was divided. She wanted her mother. But she wanted her intact.

Her mother recovered and had a long future of physical therapy in front of her.

Bootsie resented her mother after this. She couldn’t bear to be with her. The beautiful intelligent well-read woman was a walking vegetable.

But Ginger did recover. And no, she wasn’t the same. Many of her memories disappeared, sadly. And these were the things Bootsie could not get over.

Of the few things that Bootsie and I argued about, this was one. I could not fathom hating your mother for something out of her control. But Bootsie would get angry. She felt secure in her feelings that they were warranted and that I didn’t have the right to judge her…as she judged her mom.

But now, with her precious daughter in trouble, Ginger collected herself and made it her mission to save her child.

Days turned to months to a year and things felt like they were going to turn. She fought with every inch of her body and soul. Bootsie chose to do everything she could to live which in the end was a more painful form of death.

And then Bootsie heard that magical word.

Remission.

And Buddha was released



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Page 95 The Prognosis


This is an absolutely true story Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives. - William Dement


The tranquility and sweet safety of sleep.

I stared down on this sweet wonderful funny person. I could not fathom losing her. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. I count on that. She went to sleep with her life safely in front of her¸ she will soon awaken to an uncertain future. I hushed everyone that came and went, including nurses. I wanted her to have as much time dreaming, safely, that she could.

Willie sat reading her book, catching occasional glances. The irony that Willie would be the one delivering the sad news. Willie, her worst enemy. How unfair was that? I kept looking at the clock wishing her family would come. I didn’t want us to be associated with such a grim outcome. And my wish was fulfilled as Ginger, her mom came softly shuffling in with the news. The doctor had followed. Ginger’s face said it all. I didn’t need the doctor to discover this. We left without a word. What does one say to a mother whose child is faced with such an undetermined fate?

Willie and I left the hospital holding each other’s hand oblivious to those around us.

“How about lunch”

“Yes…sure, yes, lunch” what more could I do.

Lunch would be a welcome distraction. She drove to our favorite haunt Baba Yega’s where we were taken to our favorite seat. It doesn’t necessarily “cater” to the Gay establishment, even though it is nested in one of most popular night club hot spots for the "alternative lifestyle". It has been in the tony bedroom community of Montrose since 1975, long before I had even known a lesbian close up and personal.

My first visit was when I was employed at Curtain Call and the P.A.S.S. A coworker and close friend, Sammy Ramirez took me there. I loved it at once. The décor is Victorian sheek, much like the cafe's in Old Town Spring, or in Santa Cruz, California and is in a constant state of renovation with new eating areas and outside dining. Sammy has since died, but I still remember that first time at Baba Yega’s.

baba



Their menu is not extraordinary, but the names for the items are quite clever. There is a Sandwich called “The Fantasy”” with avocado and sprouts, that sort of thing. The waiter came to our table and asked for our choice. Sammy said “The Fantasy” I asked him “What is the fantasy?” and he proceeded to tell me his is every heart’s desire.

Baba Yega became a favorite spot for Bootsie and me. We would eat out on the front patio so she could monitor the coming and going of familiar faces. I loved to eat outside.

When I met Willie, she brought me to Baba Yega’s as well. I think every gay woman thinks she is the first one to take me there. Willie wasn’t one for eating outside; she picked a spot in the front window dead center, but very private. It became “Our Spot” and the staff knew every time we came in, where we were to be seated.

There were times Willie and I would be there, and Bootsie would watch from the bar. The second Willie went to the lady’s room; Bootsie would scurry over like a little mouse at play, put an Irish Coffee in front of me and leave just as quickly. Willie would return – scowl, because we didn’t drink. She never found it curious that there was no charge. Just grateful for not having to pay for liquor, I guess.

So going to Baba Yega’s with a combination of events from both Willie and Bootsie was agonizing and I didn’t enjoy it, nor did I think I was entitled to.

As usual we grabbed a few newspapers and leaflets to read while we waited for our lunch. Something we always enjoyed; being silently alone together. But I could bear the distraction.

After we ordered I wanted some answers. I asked Willie everything one would ask regarding such matters. And she gave me numbers and statistics. It was Colon cancer, but it had spread and trying to take the tumors out may proliferate more in other areas. If they are left “still” she may have a better chance, but as things stood not likely. She would have the requisite chemo therapy. She may be able to fight this. She was healthy.

Well of course she will be fine. I was certain. Bootsie cannot just disappear. I wasn’t having any of it.

Willie had issues of her own. Was I going to leave her? She knew as long as she stayed the supportive nurturing person, as much as she despised it, having well wishes for Bootsie was the only thing that would keep her in every one's good graces . And of course I wasn’t going to leave Willie. I loved her in so many different ways. I needed her in almost as many.

After leaving Baba Yaga’s we headed straight home where Willie scrambled to the bedroom for her daily nap.

I finished up the last of my drawings for my client and drove them over. It was rush hour and the nastiest behavior on the roads was happening.

I decided to call the hospital.

Bootsie actually answered, she sounded amazingly upbeat. One wouldn’t have known she just got out of surgery.

“Why did you leave?”

I explained that her family was what she needed and I didn’t feel comfortable staying. She was disappointed, but she understood.

She asked if we knew, even though she knew that we knew. She asked me how I felt.

Are you kidding? How I felt?

I was pissed, bewilderedat a loss as cliche' as that sounds.

I knew what she wanted. I apologized for not believing her, when she told me she was sick and I accused her of being manipulative. Which seemed so trite; I was embarrassed to even say it. But she didn’t seem to mind that. She and I danced around that conversation until she got to brass tacks.

“Dianne, please don’t let me go through this alone.”

“You won’t, Bootsie, you have your family…shit, you have an entire community...”

“No, Dianne, you know what I mean!”

And yes, I knew. But I made a commitment. I believed in the integrity of that vow and I could not break it.

“I, we, Willie and I will be part of this and we will be there.”

She sighed a defeated breath. She wasn’t happy with that outcome and truthfully neither was I.

She had to have another surgery the next day. She said “To fix things”

Fix things?



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Page 94 Cancer's Mockery


This is an absolutely true story


A belief in hell and the knowledge that every ambition is doomed to frustration at the hands of a skeleton have never prevented the majority of human beings from behaving as though death were no more than an unfounded rumor.

Aldous Huxley


The day started much as it had ended 12 hours earlier. The rain was abysmal, matching our spirits…well mine at least. Willie and I got up and performed our morning rituals, coffee, morning news, Willie checking her EBay bids, me reading the paper.

We dressed and I cleaned up any messes. We made our way to her black ford truck with the front bumper bashed in from Devon’s use.

We made small talk, but, ironically, said nothing of Bootsie.

Rush hour traffic was beginning to thin, so we made it to the hospital a lot faster than originally planned. We parked the truck and walked across the garage, our footsteps echoing, keys jingling, other visitors and patients alike talking in soft chatter. It felt like the halls were forever and our heels clicking on the parquet tile sounded ominous.

When we got to Bootsie’s room, she lit up at seeing me, but immediately came down upon Willie’s arrival. But it didn’t stop her from scooting over in her hospital bed to make room for me to sit. I ignored her gesture as she padded the mattress and sat in a chair instead, but she was not having it. Willie nodded to me her accordance and I went and sat with Bootsie.

Every word Bootsie said she looked at me and acted as if Willie was not even there. Willie ignored this childish behavior to get answers.

“Hello Bootsie, I hope you don’t mind that I came”.

And again Bootsie responded but wouldn’t look at her. “I understand, you don’t feel Dianne is safe with me”.

I just hung my head, shaking it back and forth with my hand on my brow.

“What time is your surgery” Willie asked.

Bootsie’s family was going to be there around 2 pm since her surgery was scheduled for 2:30. The doctor came in and asked us to leave, but Bootsie asked us to stay. I didn’t understand much anyhow, but, of course, Willie did. They were going to “go in” and do an exploratory to find out what they couldn’t in the “PetScan”. If it were possible to remove the tumors, they would be in the operating room for about three to four hours. If they find they couldn’t do anything, they would close and she would be back in the room in 30 minutes. That was the result we didn’t want. And the surgery was moved up by two hours. The doctor left and Bootsie for the first time looked at Willie…almost a triumphant sort of look. We were going to be her only family, as they took her immediately.

“Are you staying?” She asked Willie, “Is Dianne allowed to stay?”.

“Yes Bootsie we are staying. Dianne is allowed to do anything she wishes (that’s a lie) and if your family arrives, we may leave as a courtesy to them.”

“No” Bootsie demanded “You need to stay, they will understand.”

I don’t think Bootsie took this seriously. To her this was a pretty convenient ploy and she seemed to be willing to go through the motions and withstand a few cuts and stitches to have me stay with her as long as deemed necessary. We agreed to wait in her room for 45 minutes and if we didn’t hear anything, we would know she was in it for the long haul. We would go get something to eat and return.

Willie read, I crocheted a brightly colored blanket, with all the colors of the rainbow, for the upcoming Christmas Songfest Silent Auction. The colors jumped out against the putrid yellows and greens of the room, somehow out of place.

We watched the clock, I was breathing irregularly as Willie informed me. Every second ticked by loudly, ominously. I thought of Bootsie being everywhere I was. It’s curious how one’s thought pattern runs around like mercury – scattered thoughts like droplets then bump into each other and pool into one generalization. A man may be the controller of doubts before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom after. She was an important facet of the Gay community helping various charities attending all the significant events, the White party and The Dianas. She had a business, Three Dog Bakery, a healthy pet food pantry and Throw a Dog a Bone, a pet dog walking venture.

I thought about her sitting in the rotunda below my building when I didn’t think she knew where I worked. I thought of our first attempt at a life together in her apartment on the corner of Gray and Montrose, the “Worden” building, sadly gone now. I saw her sitting on my closet floor sorting through my shoes, holding them. I could hear the twinkling of the ice as she poured her Dewers. And of course, our first night alone together, making love until dawn.

I am certain Willie had her thoughts also, but they were probably veered toward “Thank God, this woman will be out of my life forever” I was hoping she wouldn’t be that crass, but I have to admit to myself, she definitely is.

After twenty minutes things slowed to almost a standstill and I prayed, Willie holding my hand. Then at 30 minutes I let out a sigh.

All’s well!!!

Bootsie’s surgery is continuing and so this means she has a chance!

I got up to use the bathroom and while washing my hands I heard voices and shuffling, I hurried out to greet Bootsie’s family and explain what had happened. But it wasn’t her family.

The nurses were shuffling about transferring a patient to the bed next to Bootsie’s and again I had that spike of fear, followed by a feeling of relief.

One of the nurses stopped. “Wrong bed…it’s bed B”.
How heartless was fate? And to put a person through this again and again. My hopes have been raised and dashed in a matter of minutes…I had hopelash.
There she was, asleep in her bed. I gasped and turned to Willie who pulled me as close as a person could without smothering them. We both knew what this meant. The doctor explained that she had been in recovery for the last 20 minutes. They had opened and closed in less than five. The news wasn’t good and it wasn’t going to get better any time soon.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently... Maya Angelou

So now it was that time…the time for courage, all other dimensions in my life were at a loss.



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Page 93 How Can No One FEEL This?


This is an absolutely true story

As I may or may not say to the Lord on Judgment Day, "You ask a lot of questions for someone who has so much explaining to do." ~Robert Brault,




The day had turned dark and a lusty wind was pushing cars around on the slick hot tar roadways of Houston. It was the middle of the day, but cars were already piling up. I glanced in the windows of these vessels making their way to their appointed rounds.

A young man with his seat so far back I couldn’t understand how he was maneuvering the fairways, his hand tap tap tapping on the steering wheel.

Another car – a mother, or caretaker glancing in her rearview mirror seemingly singing as she watched the toddler in the back smearing god knows what on the window.

I watched a trucker, high above us all trying to make his way tentatively thru the mass and I wondered…I wondered how everything could be so ok to them.

What are they thinking? Where are they going? Don’t they know? Don’t they see? Something terrible has entered our lives; it rode in seemingly on a breeze and dug its claws into a bright star, threatening to create a nova that would swallow us up like a black hole.

And like that black hole, we had no idea what was on that event horizon and if any of us would ever be the same.

No one cared. The cars drove by, cigarettes being flicked out of windows, young people reclining so low in their cars you could only see their knuckles banging music without a care. Cell phones to ears, McMuffins to mouths, passengers reading papers. Don’t they know? The world had come to a halt for me and now all that was left was to be extinguished or fall into space. Nothing else seemed possible. I wondered about the dreamers. So safe in thought… The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.

I had just left the hospital where Bootsie’s family met to offer support to her while she underwent invasive surgery to find out exactly what the issue was that made her so sick.

I had stopped to get something to eat, and then drop off a disc of drawings at A&E Reprographics. I was one of their best customers, so it was always personal with them. Pat Gremillion met me going up the stars to the cad department. He tried to engage me in conversation, but immediately recognized I was pre-occupied. He asked if there was anything he could do. I assured him, it was something outside his scope and finished my business and left. It had been 3 hours since I was at the hospital. I thought about calling, but didn’t get the chance.

My cellphone rang:

“Dianne, where are you, I have been trying to call."

Not unusual Willie did this daily from around 11am to 2pm. Not to worry, nothing up with her.

“I was at the hospital” I responded flatly!”

I didn’t have it in me to listen to her complain about her job and coworkers. All that crap seemed so inconsequential because…it is. She always relied on me to give a supportive ear. Well not today. They were all healthy and alive.

“At the hospital ...?” She didn’t sound too awfully concerned.

“Yes, I went to see Bootsie.” Before Willie could get a word in, “She wasn’t lying Willie, she is sick. I think she is very sick”

I explained about Bootsie’s family being there enmass and the operation she was going to undergo. Bootsie had an irregular colonoscopy. Possible colon cancer. Willie tried to impart any knowledge she had on the subject. But the mechanics of it all didn’t quite matter.

Willie wasn’t angry and promised to be home soon.

After I hung up from her, I called the hospital where Bootsie should be getting out of surgery. They forwarded the call directly to her room. She sounded very alert, and happy. Thank goodness. I could finally let out a breath.

“They cancelled my surgery.”

“What”

I was actually quite pleased, this sounded like good news. But alas it wasn’t.

They had postponed it for the following day. When I got home I didn’t much feel like working. I wanted to forget everything I just found out, but Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. I had been on a project that I could complete at home. I made my own hours. But Willie expected a lot from me. I was her wife and she expected me to act as such. She reveled in the fact that she could come home, her cloths washed, and the house clean and meals cooked. But I didn’t much feel like doing anything. I ordered Chinese.

When Willie got home I told her about the postponement. She decided to take the next day off and we would go to the hospital together. That was going to be quite an interesting endeavor.

Two of the cutest dykes in Houston, both lovers of mine, both haters of each other. And I was going to fix all of this.

I had to. It would only be with Willie’s blessing that I could continue being a part of Bootsie’s recovery. I actually felt as positive as a mother rabbit hoping that eagle is carrying her young out of harm’s way. Because I planned on being part of her recovery.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Page 92 The Dreaded "C" Word


This is an absolutely true story

" An illness is like a journey into a far country; it sifts all one's experience and removes it to a point so remote that it appears like a vision." Sholem Asch


"You aren’t going to believe who I heard from..."

Willie was on the other end at work. She worked the late afternoon; early evening shift and was due to return at around midnight. Which would be way past my bedtime to have serious discussions. She worked in the anesthesia department at The Methodist Hospital. She procured all the utensils and items need for the surgeon and anesthesiologists. She said she was a glorified maid. But she looked damn cute in her scrubs and lab jacket. I could hear packages being ripped open while, she went about her business stocking the doctor’s carts for surgery. I pictured her in her blue scrubs and surgical hat – phone cupped in her neck oblivious to the cares of the world as I was about to lay a bomb shell one her.

“Who babe?” Ahhh how carefree she sounded. And I was about to change all that.

“Bootsie” I heard the phone drop and a distant slew of cursing as the receiver knocked against disparate surfaces around the room”

Yikes, I re-thought, why didn’t I wait until she got home. Shit.

“What. Why…I’m coming home”

“Willie, no, that isn’t necessary. She’s not with me,” I continued “I just heard from her.”

“How” she asked.

I explained about the instant messaging when Bootsie was in Ixtapa. I then told her about Bootsie’s claim of a fatal illness. Thank goodness that confession was alarming enough for her to completely glass over how I got the news. I wanted to be honest with her and had she asked I would have been forced to tell. In retrospect it was a lie by omission and I will grant you that, but if you knew how volatile this woman was, you would understand my reluctance.

She agreed this was a ploy, but at the same time she understood, if it were true, she would be facing a situation where I might have to make a choice. And there was a chance I would feel morally drawn to go to Bootsie and help her through this darkness.

That wouldn’t happen and even though Willie was still in a state of skepticism about my loyalty in the wake of this disastrous news, she assured me that certain colon cancers, if caught early, are easily brought to remission. She also explained that if Bootsie were in the advanced stage, and she really felt there was little possibility of this, but if so, Bootsie would have a grueling road ahead of her. In my mind, I actually thought we could all do this together. Willie had a medical background that could at least be of some value with the psychobabble the doctors could potentially deliver. But I do not think there was a day where Bootsie and Willie even looked at each other. So me as lover to either, friend to both and diplomat to all, I felt maybe I could close the gap.

The days that followed Bootsie would come to our house during the day on Community drive in West University place, Houston, when Willie was working and follow me around the house like a pathetic puppy, purposefully dropping ashes from her cigarette and leaving little cat sprays all over the house. I would quickly follow up and sweep them away. And why did she continue to smoke if she were “sick”. She said she couldn’t use this time to stop as things were just too hard to deal with. Again I was skeptical. Bootsie would rumage through stuff grabbing little mementos.

" Can I have this?"

"Those would really look stupid on you" as I grabbed my silk panties from her hand.

"Which toothbrush is Willie's?"

I just guffawed at her, really, like I was going to tell her. She would probably close the bathroon door in an attempt to wash the toilet with it.

Then the day came where she wanted me to come to the hospital because she was going to be there for tests, skepticism turned to panic. I was floored. I DIDN’T TELL Willie. I didn’t want to deal with her irrational behavior as this was starting to look serious. I spent many hours looking up this disease, searching for answers, and again those damnable statistics. I thought of Bootsie as I have known her, every part of her was warm and fuzzy, like a teddy bear, a panda. She was an endearing sort, but she had the entire gay community of Houston bowled over by her stories. And she has them. She would tell one lover one story, another an entirely different one. She had different degrees and crazy scholarships. Jobs, girlfriends, family that were portrayed differently to everyone she met. At one time Willie and I went to eat at OnesAMeal and met three other lesbian couples. Each one of us knew an entirely different Bootsie. As fate would have it, she showed up. Hands in her pocket, button down white polo shirt, khaki's and penny loafers ...and that charming smile, walking in as if she owned the world. She spotted us at the table, but instead of coming over and greeting us, she turned and quickly beat feet to her car. We all laughed. You see only Bootsie could get away with that and no one would ever confront her. That would cause a rift and no one wanted to be at odds with her. Yes, she has that much power. She just was so damn cute! And sweet and full of shit. But eventually, I would bring it to her attention.

I made my decision. I was going to scope this out for myself and if push comes to shove, Willie will be involved. But no need to start a new row with them if it wasn’t necessary. I arrived at the hospital the next morning, luckily, it wasn’t Mel’s hospital. She was at M.D. Anderson, and that immediately provoked concern. M.D. Anderson is a cancer hospital and usually you are not slated for your medical needs until after all the tests were done and a doctor made a determination. As I walked the halls, I tried to keep my eyes forward and focused, but one could not ignore the pain and hopelessness on the faces. It was especially difficult because she was in a ward just past the teenagers. Looking at those children and thinking of my own was far too much. Wouldn't it be wonderful if no one ever had to worry about the random cruelty of fatal illness or the woes of old age attacking them or their loved ones? But I had to continue and be faced with it, or I would not be able to be there for Bootsie.

I finally found the waiting area on the floor where Bootsie was. It was filled with her folks. Grandmother, mother, sister - Diane, aunts, nieces. I saw this and realized I may have been mistaken in my skepticism. And then Bootsie came tearing down the hall in her grandmother’s scooter.

“This thing can do 20 mph easy” Bootsie smiled.

She jumped out of the seat and ran to me encasing my shoulders in her warm embrace.

Bootsie was not a small girl. She always had a weight problem, she was around 5’2 and weighed well over 200 pounds, but it really suited her. Part of her persona. And it certainly did not hinder her ability to meet and capture the “fem” crowd.

“You came! I didn’t think… Grandma, Grandpa, Ginger (as she called her mom), this is Dianne, you know the girl I told you.”

I was impressed. I had no idea I had been part of this extended family’s conversations. Diane of course looked at me a bit askew as we had our dealings in the past with Bootsie and her ability to transgress the truth. Bootsie sat down, and with all these witnesses, took my hands in hers and leaned forward in her seat which had changed from the scooter to those awful vinyl covered couches. You have seen them, from a distance they look like they are covered with fine upholstery, up front, they were actually vinyl. But it was a hospital, people throw up, and have other messes. It always causes me to inspect the creases and piping for possible hazmat issues.

“Dianne, they are going to operate on me in a couple of hours, please stay”

I told her the truth, that I hadn’t told Willie where I was and I really needed to go home. Of course, I thought this was just going to be a minor issue, the doctor would look at her colon on the screen (I was hoping Bootsie didn’t call the news offering the film for the 5:00 pm session, much like Katie Couric did. My mind wandered thinking of Bootsie’s colon in Times Square. She loved that kind of shit…excuse me, stuff.

I explained that I planned to tell Willie and that given the situation, and Willie, I believed we could handle this together. Concealing an illness is like keeping a beach ball under water. Bootsie’s contempt showed immediately, but she accepted this as an alternative to not seeing me at all.

I held back my tears. I couldn’t believe this bigger than life personality was going to be reduced to a statistic. My heart just sank. If this turned into something worse, I didn’t think I could handle it. I prayed I wouldn’t run. I prayed I wouldn’t destroy what I had with Willie out of compassion for Bootsie. If Bootsie had any idea of how I was thinking, she would have asked the doctor to cut her from stem to stern and leave the wound wide open for me to see. A person's illness is his or her private territory and, no matter how much she loves you and how close you are, you stay an outsider. You are healthy. In some ways this fit into Bootsies agenda in a strange way; One always has the idea of a stupid man as perfectly healthy and ordinary, and of illness as making one refined and clever and unusual.

The truth was, I had reached that crossroad, that fork in the road, the fork I was going to dig into my own heart. I can truthfully say, at that moment, in my mind, I was packing my stuff and getting ready for a drastic change. I couldn’t have told anyone my decision, because I had no idea what it would be.

But the energy that comprises Bootsie could not be diminished and I hung on to that promise. I believed this was just going to be a little tiny tumor and then it would be gone.

How wrong…how horribly wrong I would be…


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Page 91 The answers to you questions

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. Mark Twain


I have gotten a lot of mail asking the “ins and outs” of why I am not with Bootsie. What could have happened? Why do I not give her a chance? 

Here is the history I have detailed in ealier chapters



Bootsie was the archetypal “bon vivant”. After we spent our first night together (see page 44) the following day Bootsie was at my work promptly at 5pm…already waiting.

“How was work?” She had gone back to the house, to be expected, and had noticed things were different from the night before. Apparently in all our lust she just skimmed past the two doors immediately preceding the love den, in practical terms, the mistress bedroom. Upon returning she took inventory of who else may be living there.

“Di, there is no delicate way to put this. She started “You have children?” .

More a statement than a question.

“Yes, my daughter is still living at home, but, not to worry, she really is a 30 year old in a 10 year old’s body”.

Bootsie doesn’t do competition of any kind. She’ll go head to head with every dyke and man on the universe, but children are another thing altogether. The sad thing was, she had not even met the child. I made a point of adult proofing my children. I always warned that the first opinion would essentially be the ONLY opinion, and they should always be certain that when they left said house, they would be welcomed back. And I did this without physical damage. My daughter was especially cautious when it came to other's opinions. She had prohibitive self-esteem, but she yearned to be a few steps greater than the average child her age because she craved education. Life experiences were interesting to her even as a very young child. She was an innate listener, but had the shortfall of being argumentative when she absolutely knew she was correct. It was not often she was incorrect, when she was, she offered apologies. But woe to whomever offered opposition. That was a problem if it was anyone but family. Bootsie felt that children should not argue ANYTHING, no matter how Wikipedia the issue.

I explained this to Bootsie at length. I really cared for her, but, in ALL cases, my children made the final decision. I know there are many out there that have guffawed at that statement, but to have a harmonious household is conducive to good health. And children can be formidable. Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives. The sad thing is, Devon liked Bootsie. As opposed to most of the women I had been with to date, she had remarkable intellect. Devon craved this in people and had little patience for issues of no context. In spite of all of that, I still looked forward to their meeting and felt it would be a wonderful meeting of the minds.

We picked Devon up from daycare, and she was still the small adult in the making though only nine. She came running to the car ready to share the day’s events. She immediately liked Bootsie, but who wouldn’t. So, being introduced to new “meat” her life story began. And Bootsie did her best in Bootsie terms, to placate the child. But this fell apart over something as trivial as a pink liquid.

While eating dinner, I coughed, Bootsie clichéd “Must have gone down the wrong pipe” .

This sent the child scurrying to the medicine cabinet, bringing the bottle of Pepto Bismal with the detail of the human digestive system on the back, explaining how it would be impossible for it to “go down the wrong pipe”. Impressive argument, don’t you think? Bootsie felt children were never to argue with an adult. Even intellectually. She was raised in that fashion as were most baby boomers. There is an extreme in either discourse and I will admit, I favored Devon because, frankly, she was already light years ahead of the average human being intellectually. And being a baby boomer as well as the much unpopular middle child, I knew how not to raise a child. As it goes I didn’t get it right either way.

So day 3 of Bootsie and my relationship went something like this: .

3am.

Sheryl decides she wanted to move home...AGAIN. She argues this while Bootsie - for whatever reason - hides in the garage holding our cat Cloudy. To this day I have no idea what either of us were thinking. But Bootsie doesn’t do the fighting thing. It will mess her hair.

4am.

Sheryl leaves, Bootsie and I make an appointment to discuss this during daylight hours.

8am.

Either en route or at work. Uneventful until ...

10am.

Bootsie calls, seemingly upset. Her tires had been flattened. She was certain it was Sheryl. I was equally as uncertain it was Sheryl. Sheryl was at work in downtown Houston at the Law Firm opf Chamberlain and Hyrdlika, on the 50th floor, about 1200 feet from a parking garage or transportation. And truthfully - she wouldn’t have had the gumption much less the knowledge one would need to put together that scenario. But I gotta give it to Bootsie; to err is human, to blame it on somebody else shows management potential. Sheryl didn’t know her adversary’s name, not too difficult, but it can take a bit of time, then her address, where she would be when and what kind of car she had. So I offered to pay for new tires feeling this could fill in the gap. She demurred and was especially pathetic in demeanor. But, NO, I insisted.

“Just a minute Diane ” She says as she covers the phone allegedly talking to someone in the room. “My sister, Diane has already come here from work and taking me to get new ones, and she wants to pay for them”.

I have an almost surreal memory. Surreal in that I retain the most inane incidents but forget the important matters. I recalled Bootsie telling me about her family, her father’s steel company and her sister working for him. And of course she just gave me her sister’s name. Luckily Diane was the sister that worked at her father’s company or this case would never have been solved. After I hung up with Bootsie, I found the number to her father’s company and asked for Diane. Luckily she wasn’t on break or in the powder room. She picked up and I made some lame excuse about being mistaken to the wrong extension, something of that nature. Of course a call to Bootsie was in order. And she was home ... still. Not very quick thinking. No caller ID much less cell phones. Still, wouldn’t you think she could follow up that lie with equal action? .

“Bootsie, I just spoke to your sister... “

And she was off, like a friggin' tire fire. I let her take it away until she ran out of steam. Pretty much pissed off that I called her family. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong. Not even recognizing the lie she was just snagged in. As soon as I could get a word in, I told her I didn’t give a shit about one word she said, because it was offensive to think I could buy into that narrative. What was the REAL story here? My heart was breaking to think that this person I felt so treasured by, was not the person I celebrated. Fortunately she picked up on that immediately.

“It’s the kid” She sounded like she was reading a Robert Evan’s script “I just can’t take you having a child” .

So there it was, and considering my track record, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But that didn’t stop the sensitivity lobe from making the leap of faith. And she was speaking of my child. That not only closes the door, but it pretty much seals it, nails it, boards it, and cinder blocks it. Closed for good. But it didn’t necessarily close any windows. Well, ok, I'm being ambiguous. You will understand.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Page 90 False Diagnosis

This is an absolutely true story


Conscience is a sick bed and underneath it’s filthy sheets are our biggest fears The Ungodly

Yes, we met at a bar. The biggest nonviable situation in the dating handbook.
Love has its own value system. Its own criteria and who are we to set limits? We shouldn’t try it is futile. When and where are of no consequence. You can fall in love with the person across the aisle in church, in the stall next to you in the ladies room, in a store where you are being fitted for that perfect dress, or drive by you splashing mud , Why is it such a sin to say “we met in a bar”? What if you were in said bar at the same time as that future love connection, both of you left at the same time, and while making passage home, both of you stopped at the local corner grocer at the same time…and met? You would tell everyone “we met at a grocery store” even if both of you knew the other was in the same drinking establishment only an hour earlier. The bottom line, you met. And you fell in love. Location be damned.

So there I was, preening in front of the window in a $25,000 Kimono. Something I had no business touching much less wearing. But as I caught her eye I could see that little quirky grin she is so famous for. Just like Matt Damon, kind of out of the side of her mouth. Her arms folded, her head shaking and then she left. And for a minute…I thought I just imagined her. She was, after all, in Ixtapa. But that was five days earlier and Mexico is only a four hour drive. Still…where did she go?

I went into the conference room and gradually undid the ties and folds, laying the museum piece meticulously in the Japanese coffer lined in velvet with various inscriptions on the cover, then sealed it back up, gingerly placing it back on a very high shelf. I was standing on the conference table when I heard a light shuffling. I stood perfectly still, for, if it were my boss, my contract would be cancelled. At the very least.

“Put it back on…

” I jumped and started a slow descent to the floor, already picturing myself in the Emergency Room getting one or both of my legs casted. The Kimono following, causing even more distress, for, a broken leg or two were nothing in comparison to trying to hide, fix and deceive my boss about the treasure’s condition. Luckily, I was intercepted. And the gown was at last safe from my imprudent action.

I thought Bootsie was just a figment of my imagination sitting on the fountain below my office window, because when I glanced back she was gone. I was wrong.

Leaning against the door of the conference room “Put it back on, but do it right. Geisha’s wear nothing underneath.”

Now how does she even know that?

“Where did you come from? That was you down there!”

“Put it back on” she repeated. “

“No. I can’t, I shouldn’t have put it on to begin with.” As I carefully folded the garment, placing the obi on top and the footwear, very tiny shoes called geta and split-toe socks. This style of kimono called furisode,wit h almost floor-length sleeves, had been folded “just so” and it was like working a puzzle. I explained the project, how these Kimonos were a felony to even touch and that they were to find their final resting place hermetically sealed in cases I designed.

She picked my shoes up off the floor, one of her fetishes. She loved my shoes. Another story entirely. I sat down on the table and she took my feet, one at a time and dotingly placed them back on my feet. She put a hand under each of my shoulders and lifted me off the table. As she put me safely on the ground she pulled me to her, but I pushed her back.

”You know better”

“What? You really gonna tell me it is so great with that troll?”

One of the many flattering descriptions she had for Willie. This was to be expected from Bootsie. Bootsie was the patron saint of damaged relationships. She loathed Willie, even before we got together. Now it was a way of life with her. She spent her days trying to foil our relationship. But it was impossible and I promise, I meant it and I lived it. I was not going to let anyone destroy what I had with Willie.

“I have an idea of what to get that lesion for her birthday this year. A Guantanamo Bay Play set.” She snipped “Or a pair of shoelaces”

She was alluding to Willie whispering in her ear one night at a club “I can kill you with your own shoelaces.”

“One night when I was in the ladies lieu (Bootsie loved HRH speak),” she continued, “I heard her scream Oh my god it’s hideous thing made of skin! And she was looking in the mirror”

“When I carded her at the door" she padded behind me not missing a beat, "I had to charge her extra charge for the aliens inside her head”

“Bootsie, just stop!"

I ignored that and asked for an explanation as to why she was there; you have to understand why I thought it was a pathetic ruse to get my attention.

“I have cancer.”

I walked past her to my desk, grabbed my jacket and briefcase, keys and headed to the door.

“How did you get in here?”

She produced a scraped credit card, waved it in my face.

“I should’ve known."

I grabbed my briefcase and suit coat, brushed by her, then pulled her along for fear she would be hiding under my desk the next morning.

"That could put you in jail.”

“You would’ve gotten me out, after all I ruined a perfectly good credit card” then her face turned grave, “Didn’t you hear me?”

“Yes, I heard you. Didn’t you tell me something like this when I got together with Risa?”

She chose to disregard that. Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable…

“Dianne, I have colon cancer”

“Booter, if you continue to do this, you are going to fuck up your Karma and really actually get sick!”

“Well…I guess that has already happened, because I am not lying.”

I studied her face for any sign of deception, but this was her forte’ as you will come to realize. I was dubious. When someone gives you such a fateful decree, the human conscience, at the very least most folks want to be polite and accept this at face value. But she did this when we broke up in 1991, and this was 1998. She then told me she had stomach cancer. Yet she continued to look healthy, she always had a pleasant demeanor, really her signature, and ultimately, nothing else came of it. This felt different. And I could very well be exposing my typical skepticism. After all I do not find anything profound in Vincent’s sunflower painting.

“I’ll be in the parking garage since you are already on the cross.”

I found my way to my car, Bootsie following closely behind pleading her case. I turned on my heel

“Bootsie, please, I am not going to leave Willie. I think you know that. If you are really sick, you know, I will be there for you, but it will have to be me and Willie. We will both be there for you.”

Bootsie shrugged her shoulders, put her hands in her pockets and turned her penny loafers to her own future.

"You are going to keep running away and hiding behind that witch. But you can believe in me." She looked defeated.

"How long do you think I am going to do this Dianne?" she turned back to me, "Time waits for no-one, not even you, not even me."

And I suddenly felt very sad as I watched her walk away, her head bowed, kicking up stones in frustration, she turned a corner and as fast as she was there…she was gone.

I finally made it to my car and there on the windshield an envelope attached to one flower, of course an unusual flower, she always told me to never expect roses from her. Yet, it was a rose. A sterling silver rose. And before you go “aweee how sweet”, it was probably stolen.

The card read “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. “

Damn her!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Page 89 My Geisha Moment

This is an absolutely true story

The roads of life are strewn with the wreckage of run-down and half-finished loves...Ralph W. Sockman


Sitting at my newest contract position minding my own business, getting the drawings done as fast as the engineers could torture me with changes, a sudden beep beep and a dialog box
Hello love… .

WHAT THE… .

I responded back...” I think you think I am someone else”

No.

It was Bootsie. booter She was in IXTAPA with her then lover Dallas. And she was desperate to talk to me. I told her to call my cell. But it was expensive roaming then. She made plans to see me when she returned. And true to her word, one week later, she showed up at my job on Chelsea.

I was in my office which oversaw a beautiful but badly in need of work, courtyard. She was sitting on the cement curbing around a fountain just staring up at me. She was very good at that. I have no idea how she even knew where my company was much less my office. Willie hadn’t even been there. But Bootsie knew.

It was late; I was working on a special project. I was making airtight encasements for Kimono’s for an upscale Asian restaurant. They were going to hang the glass framed beauties. I was very excited to be working on it, but even more fun, I had tried on one of the Kimonos and in the evening light, the sun was setting and shining directly in the window. There was no mirror so I turned off the lights so I could see my reflection in the window. And there she was. It was a picture without words. The window reflected me in the kimono, at the same time Bootsie could be seen looking up. The two Juxtaposed together.

Ok. I admit, I love this sort of pursuit.

It is said fanatics are picturesque, mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons. When Debra and I were together, and even after we broke up, I loved the idea that she could be out there somewhere, stalking me. Watching me. Sick. But flattering in a very restraining order sort of way. Debra loved to leave roses on my vehicles. One time I had been 120 miles from home working in League City. It was fall, getting late early and as I left the building I saw the ribbons tied around the stems floating on the breeze and twirling around my antennae. With the sun setting, they looked like a surreal silhouette. And my heart leapt. Most women would be apprehensive in the weak light. Only women know how to be romantic like this. I miss that so much. Just once I would love to walk out my door and spot someone in the distance looking up at my door.

And that is exactly what Bootsie was doing. I have written of Bootsie often, so you should be familiar, but just in case, I will bring you up to snuff, as my grandfather would say.

I met Bootsie at Kindred Spirits, a gay bar on Richmond Avenue and 610 in Houston. I was straight; Debra and Anna brought me there when my husband was out of town. Bootsie worked there. Sometimes as a bouncer taking ID’s and sometimes waiting tables for the bar. And she was a personal attendant that first night I ventured on the wild side. I thought she was cute, but made it clear I was off limits.

“I’m straight”.

“Sure you are” Bootsie countered.

Five years later, after Sheryl Chevalier and I split, I drove to another women’s club, The Ranch, where Bootsie worked. I had just left work. Wearing a teal blue business suit, calf length skirt with a slit to just above the knees, black pumps and my “West U” bob, I made my way to the bar and there she was. I ordered a drink and as she handed it to me I pulled her by her necktie so I could whisper in her ear.

“Do you want to talk to me here or at my house?”

Thinking she would shrug me off as another gay groupie. After all, she was a popular fixture in the gay community. She whipped her apron off and threw it and her towel over her shoulder and jumped the bar taking me by my elbow as we exited the door.

We had been on and off for many years. So what was to happen next would be a blow.

An inconceivable distress.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Page 88 International Super Highway

This is an absolutely true story


jai guru deva om
No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had money as well. Margaret Thatcher .



In spite of pain, I never missed a step when it came to my career. I couldn’t afford to.
Willie had the hypothetical champagne taste (yet she actually hated champagne). And I didn’t have the heart to deny her. We made road trips to her family, her parents, her sister, her aunts her uncles. Willie never missed a funeral. I believed she actually registered for these much the way a new bride registers for her wedding. And we seemed to lose at least one person a year. Quite frightening when I think back.

During one of these visits, her dad and I got into a discussion about the internet. He agreed with me that it would be our generation’s undoing, but, at the same time, it was a necessary evil. I made a fateful decision, one I would eventually regret.

At one point we actually were the last people to have the internet. Willie and I both felt strongly that the internet was the ruination of many relationships.

My best friend, Nanook, was the kind of friend who instead of bailing me out of jail, would be the one sitting next me saying ‘boy was that fun.’” Now she is the kind of person who would say I am such a good friend that if we were on a sinking ship together and there was only one life jacket… she'd "miss you heaps and think of you often".

She had married a man she had been so in love with. They lived quite nicely because he worked overseas in third world countries. I am not certain exactly what he did, but it had something to do with oil (go figure). In any event, she had discovered the ability to chat with people worldwide, much as I did when I met “New Girl”. This was in the late 80’s early 90’s. My correspondence with New Girl was local, free of charge. Nanook, was communicating across an expensive airway, the Internet was not as it is today. When I spoke with her about this, I found she was spending anywhere from $700 to $1000 a month on-line talking with a New York Sheriff’s department officer! Not only did she have two small children, but if her ex-husband were to read this and figure out who I am speaking of, I have no doubt all kinds of NEW hell would break loose as he investigates long gone phone charges. I talked to her about this because, though I really did not care for her husband, I thought this was a shitty way to go about expunging him. Here he is working his ass off and she is spending his money almost faster than he can make it.

However, as Nietzsche said "A friend should be a master at guessing and keeping still: you must not want to see everything. "

I finally tired of trying to get my point across and she and I parted ways until just recently. Happiness is a hard master, particularly other people's happiness. The predictable ending to this saga, she left her husband and joined the local sheriff’s dept. and became a deputy. When she met her on-line lover, it wasn’t as she hoped and they parted ways. She had no husband, no lover and she eventually became homeless at one point.

So, when we returned from the trip where I spoke to Willie's father of this, for whatever reason, we decided it was time. If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. And Devon jumped on it.

Before the end of the returning day, we were on-line and ready to become part of the international super highway.

And EBAY .

Willie loved EBAY and would get on-line the minute she got home. She shopped and bought anything and everything either Coast Guard or SCUBA diving. She would peruse on line every dog breeder, looking for the most exclusive kind of pets. She loved a brand of clothing called “Big Dog” and purchased quite a few things from their site. She emailed everybody and we had hoards of chain letters, jokes and emotional requisitions for prayer or looking for lost loved ones and animals. And on...and on...and on... And of course the "User Agreements" concerned me. Nothing in fine print is ever good news.

Me…I hated the net. I hate the phone as I have said before, and this was just one more way I was being forced to “keep in touch”. But I learned how to trouble shoot it because, well, after all, that is what I was known for so why stop now.

But I hated it.

We made an agreement early on, no internet hooking up.

At that time all we had was IM, AOL’s instant messenger. Does AOL even exist anymore? Then, they were the only word in messaging and internet search engines.

I was at a contract job that had IM automatically installed as a crude inter-office communication device. While working, a message suddenly came up.

From across the universe

"Hello love… ."

WHAT THE… .

Something's gonna change my world.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Page 87 Rich Man's World

This is an absolutely true story

Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. Ayn Rand


Willie and I were living the dream. Albeit, a little more broke than it should have been. Oscar Wilde said When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is. I agree.
I worked contract jobs at anywhere from $50 to $75 an hour. But we were ALWAYS broke.

Worse, Willie was missing truck payments.

When we first set up housekeeping together, Willie took care of the bills, I gave her my paycheck and she took it from there. I know Devon costs a tidy sum, but we were also getting $800 dollars a month from her Devon’s dad.

When Devon" finally arrived home safe and sound from Hawaii, she was bitter and wrote a very "legalese" letter to her father demanding her child support.

Jackie and I had not been together since Devon was four. So he owed a tidy sum. I didn’t ask much of him in the divorce papers, only $100 a month. I didn’t want him to fight me for custody. Being gay in Texas was a sure fire way for this to happen. As a rule the contentious parent sues for custody thinking they can do a better job parenting for cheaper. I also really preferred he not have visitation and he was the sort that would not mind if it saved him money.

Devon also helped with information to Supportkids and they got an award of $800 a month after their fee of an additional 33%. It's a wonderful organization that goes whereever the unpaying parent is and takes them to court We are in Texas. He was in Hawaii. There is no way we could have otherwise done this.

So…Willie not making her payments on her truck was very disconcerting. As I have stated, I didn’t like argument or dissention, so I did what I could to keep the peace and solve this puzzle.

I got up at 3 or 4am made it to my sites by 5 and working until 7 or 8, maybe later at night. Willie worked from 3pm to 11pm at The Methodist Hospital, so she never knew when I arrived home. She did notice though, that I was getting home at weird hours and she actually accused me of cheating. Of course.

During one of confrontations, not only was I working tiring hours to make extra cash, but I had also been shopping at several malls and shopping centers for the materials needed to matt and frame all of her awards from the Coast Guard. It included photos I had enlarged. We didn’t have printing availabilities we have now and I would need to use a reprographics firm to get the final product. I was going to give these to her for X-mas.

“I know you are cheating”, I ended up showing her what I was doing to shut her up.

But I didn’t disclose the extra work hours.

I was also having a problem with her haranguing my clients for money. All my contracts had a turnaround of 45 days, but I found she was contacting them sometimes only after a week of my working for someone. It costs me projects and I had to confront her about it. She got quite upset with me, but she let up for those few weeks and I was able to get my money first hand instead of having her pick it up. No, I didn’t know she was getting the money early, I thought she was getting the checks in the mail. Turns out she was picking them up directly from my clients.

I picked up the most current check, and deposited in our account the amount she expected. I took the remainder, $5000, paid her late truck notes including astronomical fees, paying three months to Ford Motor Credit in advance. I also paid her insurance three months in advance. I didn’t want her to know, but soon she figured it out, and it wasn’t long before it happened again…and again I did the same thing. Essentially, she was not only spending the money she was supposed to be targeting these bills with, but she was spending the money I was paying in advance. An endless loop.

I was so frustrated by this turn of events. I started to get horrific migraines. Probably from lack of sleep, too much coffee, too many hours staring at a computer, too many contentious property and project managers, visiting project sights and lack of sleep.

Willie got very concerned and was certain it was my neck. She had the same symptoms when her neck needed surgery years past and she was convinced I needed the same.

One of these attacked piqued suddenly. On the way to a party at the Rheingold’s, a party we absolutely had to make, my neck was so bad I couldn’t turn my head. On the way there she stopped at a hospital in Houston where a friend worked in the pharmacy and she asked him for SOMA. We picked up the muscle relaxer and I took one on the way there.

Oh….My…God…..

They are like Quaaludes. If you are a child of the 60’s you understand.

Needless to say, I could get used to this.

And I did.