Saturday, February 27, 2010

Depression and suicide

Depression is a very real illness. Often, the illness is treated with antidepressants - in teens, an unfortunate side effect is that they sometimes become suicidal.

I was saddened to hear last evening of the passing of Marie Osmond's 18 year old son. As a former Mormon, and even in my youth, I have followed the family of the Osmonds with curiosity and pride at their success and ability to remain grounded in times of trouble - indeed, Marie has been married twice and is now a single parent, raising a large family without a helpmeet.

Preliminary reports indicate that her son jumped/fell from the apartment in California where he was living. We may never know whether he fell or jumped. What we do know is that he had struggled with depression his entire life.

I encourage all of you - parents, aunts, uncles, godparents, grandparents and concerned friends - to please intervene when you see someone close to you in crisis - there are often warning signs with suicide - an individual might talk about a specific plan to harm themselves - they might give away belongings - they might become withdrawn and cease to work or attend school or other social functions - in this case, there might have been no signs, but we need to be diligent in looking for them in those around us.

Suicide is real, as is depression - Marie Osmond has seen much heartache in her life - this is likely the saddest and biggest challenge she will face - let us pray for her and her family that their grief might be lessened and that their family will gather together and sustain one another as they have done in times past.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MTA finally gets serious about cost cutting

I have lived in the New York area for just over two years.

In that time, I have seen my transit fares increased twice, with a third time now under consideration. It is time to look at cutting jobs and the MTA is going to cut administrative staffers as well as booth attendants - it is high time that the powers that be at MTA realize that the public is frustrated and is not going to take it anymore.

They would do well to take away the free lifetime transit passes given to staffers and board members alike (who are we kidding here - have any of those board members ever relied on MTA to get to work on a regular basis?) - do they fully comprehend the magnitude of yet another price increase? Are they cognizant of what the increase will do to those already burdened with lower wages, less hours at work and a fixed income

Can they not look at the compensation packets of their senior management? Can they cut back there? It would make sense and riders might be more likely to swallow the bitter pill of yet another fare increase.

I will hopefully get to the public hearing on this issue later in March and shall report on it on these pages - I hope to get some concrete and acceptable reasons for why they are increasing fares yet again - it is hard enough for the unemployed and underemployed to make ends meet, without burdening them with fare increases in these difficult times.

Mismanagement seems to be the order of the day at MTA - it is high time for it to stop.

Congress FINALLY does something bipartisan and good for the country

I have been watching, with disgust, how the Congress has been acting in recent months - from the healthcare debacle - read - congresspersons not wanting to vote for the measure lest they lose their hefty contributions - to their stymying of other efforts by the Obama administration to turn the country around.

Dick Cheney recently indicated that he felt Obama is going to be a one-term president - that is likely going to be the case, save for some miraculous, even herculean turnaround in the deficit, jobs creation and the economy.

It is good that these "public servants" - aka - congresspersons have come together to vote on a jobs bill - Michigan has some 15.9% unemployed, according to Governor Jennifer Granholm as she reported on MSNBC yesterday from the Governor's meeting. Job creation has to be the focus of the Congress, given the unprecedented number of people without jobs.

Governor Paterson of New York is still running - Please, Cuomo, step into the ring and give us something to believe in. Paterson has been marginal at best, sans leadership and vision - his personal foibles clouding his ability to lead the great state of New York out of this quagmire of deficits, unemployment and union stranglehold - we need to start over with our elected officials and remind them that we are outraged at their inability to see beyond their own special interests and needs.

I hope that Eliot Spitzer will reconsider running - I think he could potentially beat Cuomo, his personal foibles notwithstanding - he has he finesse, intellect and wisdom and great vision to turn this state around.

Let the games begin......

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods to break his silence

I have not written about the debacle surrounding the serious sex addiction and subsequent media frenzy that followed the great golfer earlier this year.

As someone who suffers from a brain disorder and has spent her share of time in and out of treatment facilities in order to be stable, I know what it is like to have the "public" and "friends" turn on you.

I break my silence today, because Tiger is going to finally speak about his addiction and possible return to golf. I find golf to be quite tedious and boring in general, but when Tiger plays, something happens to me - I feel transformed into another place and find myself rooting for him to make it to yet another championship.

Tiger has lost his center - I do not wish to speculate on how long he has struggled with addiction, but venture to say that had his father not passed away, he would not have found himself in quite the predicament. Earl had a grounding effect on his son - Tiger and he were very close - he would not have seen his son destroy his sponsorship deals, family and potentially his career - over a scandal such as this. He would have taken charge and seen to it that Tiger got the help he needed and likely sans the public spectacle that we have seen with women coming from all over to claim dalliances with the famous golfer.

I wish Tiger and his family well - I hope they make it - it is a good sign that he is still in treatment and will return after his public announcement today.

Let us give him time and space and allow him the time he needs to reconnect with his wife, family, and most of all, himself.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A day in the city

I spent the day in the city yesterday - I work in the city every day but Wednesdays, so to spend a day to myself in the city is rare.

I started at the Guggenheim museum where I met a lovely couple from Paris - they exhorted me to visit their amazing city at some point in my life - Ironic that as much traveling as I have done, the city of Paris has yet eluded me. I plan to start traveling in Europe again this year, beginning with a trip to London for Christmas. I had a lovely conversation with a newly wed from Alabama - she had a charming Southern drawl and the most beautiful engagement/wedding ring that she had chosen for herself - she was thrilled to be in NYC and wants to come again.

I then stopped on the street outside the museum and picked up an amazing piece of art that depicted New York's museums - I met Sam, a street vendor - 25 years old and from the Ukraine - his father is a surgeon and for one year, he went to college in the Ukraine and worked alongside his father in the hospital. He then decided that medicine is not for him and came to NYC to be a student. He loved it so much, he stayed - it has been two years, his English is phenomenal. We talked about how much we both love this country, America, and most of all, NYC - our adopted "homes" - he lives in Brooklyn and you may recall that I live in Westchester - the city life is a little too frenetic for a person with Bipolar disorder - I cannot live at that pace constantly - certainly not in the areas that I could afford - perhaps if I were to live on the UES or UWS, that would be different - let's see if I become a famous writer and make it in NYC - then I would consider moving into the city. Sam reminded me of Ryan - my oldest son - he is a snowboarder and surfer - they have that in common - and he loves art and reading. He shared that he goes to a local Catholic church and borrows books from their lending collection and reads voraciously, just like Ryan - we exchanged contact information and he will meet Ryan when he comes to live in New York in the summer.

I met a man who was with the remarkable group "Ready, Willing and Able" - he was keeping the streets of New York clean and shared with me that he was moving to Orlando in March - having secured a job and an apartment - what a miracle and a result of hard work - I love when people create their own miracles!

Finally, I had lunch at Demarchellier - an amazing French restaurant and was fortunate to sit next to an amazing couple - Jim and Laurie - they are from Alaska and were visiting the city for the day while on a trip to New Jersey to stay with a cousin. Jim and Laurie are very much in love and the kind of couple that makes one want to be in a relationship - I wish Kevin had been there to meet them. Then again, we might not have had such an in depth conversation had he been there - we tend to talk to other people when out, but spend most of our time deep in conversation with one another.

I learned that not all Alaskans like Ms. Palin, and while Jim is a hunting guide, he is not an NRA fanatic, nor is he a Republican - he is pretty liberal. They have been together for 14 years or so and are clearly a great match. I could see it in the way they spoke and looked at one another - I felt almost like an intruder. We talked about divorce and relationships - all of us had experienced the ravages of being divorced and neither of us was particularly interested in remarrying - Jim and Laurie have the yin and yang that makes relationships work - he is busy with his business, Laurie works as a nurse - she might even be retired now - they spend time together as often as they can, which is rare, given his schedule. They love to travel and spend time..........

It was a wonderful day in the city - I feel happy whenever I have a day when I meet great people and yesterday was one of those days.

I took the train back up to Westchester and started in on my literature class at Concordia - there is lots of reading and writing to do, so my blog will likely take back seat this month - we shall see.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Michael Steele and Governor Patterson - some thoughts on Governors and the head of the Republican party

What do these two men have in common, besides being politicians and African American?

Michael Steele commented in a statement this week that for someone earning one million dollars, after taxes are taken out, there is not much left. Is this man so out of touch with reality that he fails to be aware of the fact that the average salary in the county is a mere 40 thousand dollars - why is he so oblivious to the realities that face Americans - yes, those of us who do the "working and paying, the living and dying" to quote George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life.

Governor Patterson actually had the audacity to pull the proverbial race card - and to add insult to injury - the disability card - this week when questioned about sexual impropriety in the New York Governor's mansion and his alleged numerous illicit affairs - and we thought we were done with that when Spitzer left office.

Frankly speaking I have no respect for either of these men - that they are black and embarass me as a fellow black person is just par for the course and rubs salt in the proverbial wound.

I have maintained on this blog previously, that Spitzer should run again and certainly if Cuomo decides not to run after all. Eliot Spitzer is a brilliant and dedicated man with weaknesses - if he can work it out with his wife - note how this is done, John Edwards - then I say let the man run again and let the people of the great state of New York decide whom they would choose to lead them out of this financial crisis - maybe Mayor Bloomberg will have to run......After all, we cannot have a Republican Governor in the bluest of blue states - that would not be good after all.

Speaking of Governors - while I am sad to see NJ Governor Corzine go, a fiscally responsible Christie is mandating balanced budgets, as well as refusing to give subsidies to the railroad, insisting instead that they become - yes - imagine this - self-sustaining. He is doing well in my book.

And finally - the amazing friend and associate of mine from Utah - Peter Corroon - has put his hat in the ring to run against Governor Herbert who ascended to the Governorship when Obama neutralized Governor Huntsman by appointing him to his cabinet as trade ambassador to China. Peter will go far in politics - not just because he is Howard Dean's cousin and it is in his blood, but because he is fiscally responsible, moderate and could be the first Democrat elected to the Governorship in Utah in some two decades - go Peter!

New York politics - something new every day.

Les Jeux Olympics - The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games

I was fortunate and incredibly blessed to be able to participate in the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.

Specifically, I was working in the Mayor's office in Salt Lake City, Utah at the time. My son, Tye attended the opening ceremonies and even got to carry the torch - I watched as John Stockton of the Utah Jazz basketball team carried the torch through the crowds to the City and County building.

Later on, I became a "benovole" - a volunteer on the 2010 Vancouver Games bid - we worked the phones, met athletes, attended soirees and generally contributed to the good name of Canada - what a time that was!

As I watched last evening's opening ceremonies, I was reminded of our amazing Child of Light portion of the ceremony. There were some definite similarities with that program and last evening's.

I mourn for the young Georgian who lost his life while desperately trying to maintain his balance and control during a luge run - I recall the one Olympic event I attended with my two sons who were living with me at the time. Ryan and Tye were thrilled to see the bobsled event, and even more - to see the Jamaican bobsled team whooshing past us as we stood in the crowd, hoping for a glimpse.

It was truly an extended party where Salt Lake welcomed the world, under the leadership of the remarkable and capable Mitt Romney, after the scandals and debacles that had plagued the games prior to his taking the helm. We partied well and mingled with the delightful Canadian ice dancing pair who were wronged in the medal competition - later also mired in its own scandal - we met dignitaries and leaders from many countries - it was one of the only times during my seven year tenure in Utah where I felt like I truly belonged to a part of something. I digress. I dutifully wore my buttons, indicating that I spoke both French and German and was only too happy to provide directions, explanations and help to visitors from countries speaking those languages.

Life takes ironic turns - I had been invited to Vancouver to volunteer or work at the Games this year as I had worked so hard on the bid, but my health did not allow me to work the hours required to pull off what I had done in Salt Lake City.

There is always London 2012.

God bless the athletes - may there be comraderie, friendships formed, and above all, no more illegal substance abuse and death or injury.

Happy Olympics everyone - coverage can be found all the time on NBC.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rahm Emmanuel must go!

Frankly I have had enough of him as have many Americans. His foul mouth, irreverent sense of humor and latest attack on liberals, using "f&%&#g retards" to describe this group of people with whom he does not agree.

Mr. Emmanuel, we do not expect you to agree with every political fringe group, but you are the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States - decorum is a must at all costs. You no longer have the luxury of uttering expletives in a fit of rage and certainly not when a minority and highly vulnerable group in the population is the target - i.e. mentally or physically challenged individuals. One has to wonder how he feels about the son of Ms. Sarah Palin who suffers from Downs Syndrome - has this innocent child and offspring of the White House's most vocal critic of late (see her performance at recent tea parties as reported in the NY Times) also been the brunt of Mr. Emmanuel's jokes?

There is no room for bigotry at any level in the Oval Office, and certainly not at your most senior of levels, particularly when your direct report happens to be African American and white as well. I wonder how the President feels when he hears you foaming at the mouth and shooting constantly from the hip as the mood strikes you.

Does he have the nerve to tell you to can it and even more to the point - does he have the nerve to fire you? You do serve, after all, at the pleasure and will of your friend, the President.

I am watching this one closely. More later as the story unfolds.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Don't ask, don't tell

I am thrilled to read of reports that indicate that the Pentagon is close to making some sweeping recommendations for change to this ridiculous policy.

My regular readers will know that for 15 years I was married to a gay man - for five of those years, he also served in the US Army and was deeply closeted for reasons only known to him, though I suspect that much of his conflict and secrecy was due to being married to me.

In order to put this issue into perspective, let's imagine for a moment that your partner/husband/wife/or significant other is serving in a combat zone. They are killed in the line of duty and the Pentagon does not know that you exist (due to Don't ask, Don't tell), and as a result, nor do they tell you of said partner's demise. This is a very real situation for all too many of our servicemembers who are currently in combat zones and living in closeted relationships.

If gays are openly accepted into the military, they can come out of the shadows and live sans fear of reprisals. They can openly love their partners, write letters and call home using real names, not pseudonyms as was reported in a recent 60 minutes story I watched with sorrow.

I am hoping and praying for a speedy and cohesive resolution to this Clinton-era debacle.

Let us all do the same if we consider ourselves to be fair-minded Americans.