Four Years of My Life I Can’t Get Back (but there is hope)

It’s been a week since Joe Biden became president of the United States. For four years, ten weeks, and four days I was in a shitty mood. Granted, it got a bit better after November 7, 2019, when Biden’s win became official but still, having Trump in office and spreading malice cast a shadow on every day until January 19, when I could finally say, in 24 hours Biden and the Democrats would be in control of two branches of the government.

Neither Biden nor Harris was in my top three during the primary season. However, once the votes were cast and Joe selected Kamala as his running mate, I put my reservations aside and wholeheartedly supported them. So far, I’m pleased with the direction they’re taking the country. Beyond treating COVID seriously, Biden’s moves signal a grasp on the realities facing the third decade of this century. No doubt, our new president and his team will do things I don’t like, but I think he is a well-intentioned person who cares about the good of the many, not the White, wealthy few. Perhaps I’m deluding myself, but after the last administration, I so want to believe that there are decent people who go into government service.

When I reflect on the trauma that set in on November 8, 2016, I am disturbed because I feel like I lost four years of my life. Every day I woke up wondering what screwed-up thing Trump did while I was still asleep. The constant barrage of hate wore me down. The rhetoric, the racism, the anti-LGBTQ policies, war on the environment and other species, additional destruction of public education…I can go on, and I know a lot of you are well aware of what I’m saying as you experienced the feeling of constant doom and gloom yourselves. Trump and the GOP’s behavior gave people license to be their worst selves. I witnessed bullying, lying, and misogyny (on the part of both men and women) among wine professionals that I never saw before in my 30-year career. He brought out the base instincts in so many. Even if you don’t know these people personally, to think that we live in a country where a significant minority is ok with fascism is frightening. The attack on the Capitol, the contrast in the way law enforcement handled it compared to the BLM protests over the summer, and the fact that Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are still allowed to make policy for our country boggles the rational mind.

That’s not to say there weren’t good things to happen or happy occasions. Entering a graduate program was one of the best decisions I ever made. It brought a lot of things I was grappling with into focus and helped put my life on track after years of depression. I met some great folks, both teachers and other students, who taught me so much more than anything I can read in a book. At the same time, taking a deep dive into Butler, Foucault, hooks, and other theorists satisfied an intellectual thirst that’s been dry for decades. While my 50thbirthday (13 days after Trump won in 2016) sucked, Cami’s the following year was one of the best parties we’ve ever had. A few weeks later, we went to Vermont for a fantastic wedding. I’ve seen my nephews turn into wonderful young men. I got back in touch with an old friend from when I studied in London more than 30 years ago, and we’ve become closer than ever. Moving in 2019 gave us a home that we love and an incredible community with our neighbors. I did some traveling, started a non-profit organization, and got to see the Warriors win two championships.

At the same time, there was always this underlying feeling of not being able to take a deep breath. I don’t say that lightly; I had severe asthma before I moved to San Francisco. Not being able to breathe is scary as fuck. Like so many others, my mental health was affected daily. Now that Biden is President, I realize even more how the period between 11/8/16 – 1/19/21 was one of constant trauma. Granted, Black and Indigenous people in this country have probably always felt this way. White people will never know what it is like to be Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or of Middle Eastern descent in the US, but we now have an idea of what it feels like to have our values and humanity attacked. When I talk to older people, they say that they felt more threatened by Trumpism than any other political movement in their lifetimes. That includes McCarthyism and Nixon. This makes me feel very sad for people, such as my dad, who is 86. Like me, he lost a lot of sleep over the last four years. We cannot get this time back, and when you know that most of your life is already behind you, the present is ever more precious.

So how do we make sense of it? There were silver linings, of course. The Democratic party is now more progressive, thanks to women of color. More White people woke up to their privilege. Youth activism is driving discussions about equity and justice. Yet it still feels like a temporary reprieve, and that scares the shit out of me. Alt-right Christian nationalism is not going anywhere any time soon. The crazy train of Q-Anon and Marjorie Taylor Greene left the station. While I feel better about the federal government, there are still plenty of right-wing nutjobs wielding power. We can’t change the past, but we can use it to guide our futures. The four-plus years of Trumpism and trauma are over, and I’m cautiously hopeful that better days lie ahead for my family, friends, and the country. We can right the ship with Biden and Harris and show the world that imperfect as the US is, it is reckoning with its past and earnestly working towards a more equitable future.

But, as for our own mental health and how Trump and then COVID impacted it, it’s going to take way more than executive orders, promising cabinet posts, and stimulus checks. The United States does not take mental health seriously. We pay lip service to it but good luck finding a therapist who takes insurance. Insurance companies that cover mental health have massive restrictions, and their customers are limited to a list of therapists in their network. If you’ve been seeing a therapist for several years and your insurance changes, you may no longer be covered. Therapists are not interchangeable, and disruptions can have dire consequences. Mental health insurance often has a cutoff of so many sessions per calendar year. This determination is sometimes based on the insurers’ assessment of our mental health, not what the therapist thinks. Instead, psychiatrists push anti-depressants on people, and while many have positive responses to medication, they do not help everyone. Also, there are other forms of treatment with fewer side effects. Millions of people do not have any health insurance, let alone mental health coverage. The stigma that surrounds mental health problems prevents a lot of people from getting help. The Biden administration needs to address this and fast as we’re looking at widescale PTSD from COVID and Trump’s four years. It’s real.

If you feel like a war just ended and that you’re processing four years of anguish, you are not alone. I certainly am, as are many people I know. One of the dumbest things I’ve heard is that politics is not personal. It is entirely personal. We vote for leaders who we hope will perpetuate our values. Some are solely concerned with how government makes their lives better, while others prioritize the well-being of the many. Either way and anywhere in between, our personal interests drive our political positions. There might be a sizable minority on board with Trump’s malice, corruption, incompetence, and, to repeat, fascism, but I believe that the majority was horrified and that for years to come, we will continue to be affected by the hatred he engendered. We cannot get those four years back, but we can try to have peace going forward. I don’t want to hear about Donald Trump any longer. I hope but doubt he’ll get convicted in the Senate impeachment trial. I suspect that between his smoke and mirror finances, tax fraud charges, and whatever else Leticia James and Cyrus Vance have against him, he’ll pay some price, though probably not enough. If Cruz, Hawley, and Greene are allowed to keep their jobs in the Senate and Congress, I hope the good works of their benevolent colleagues drown out their petty, hateful voices. The best way to expunge Trumpism is to use government to make people’s lives better. No doubt, the collective trauma brought on by Trump pushed the Democrats and the country to the left on many issues. But there was a steep price to pay, one that we are only just beginning to comprehend.

The Cork Menorah

I don’t know how I ended up with this cork menorah. I don’t think I bought it…pretty sure someone gave it to me during the CAV years but embarrassingly, I can’t remember whom. Had it not been for this silly yet useful wine enclosure, I probably would never bother celebrating Hannukah. No one in my immediate family is observant, and most of us are non-believers. My sister and I share our lives with people who grew up Catholic and celebrate Christmas. Yet Cami, my partner, took all of the menorah photos posted on The Vinguard Instagram account and she’s been way more cooperative than Seamus, our cat/mascot/child who is into when he feels like, or if there’s a spinning dreidel for him to kill. But, like most kids, he often just wants to jump the fence and play outside.

Despite my atheism and not being a Zionist, I strongly identify as Jewish, but Hannukah is the only holiday I celebrate. The others are depressing. I’m down with the idea of reflecting on our past mistakes that we’re supposed to do on Rosh Hashanah but trying to be a better person should be a 365 days a year practice. I used to fast on Yom Kippur out of habit but, after spending one Yom Kippur eve at Martunis, drinking three martinis, and woke up the next morning with the hangover from hell, I said fuck it, I can’t wait to break the fast, I need an H&H bagel now. Sadly, H&H is no longer in business. If it were not for my mother calling to wish me a happy new year, the high holidays would be completely lost on me.

This year, Hannukah was a bit more fun. I said to Cami on the first night that we should try to have a good holiday season. I lost a dear friend over the summer, and others who are close to me recently lost loved ones. I’m at an age when I need to start getting used to death, and that in itself is hard to face. It’s been an incredibly shitty ten months for the world at large. I say this with a proverbial asterisk because even though so many people died from COVID and racial injustice hit a boiling point, inadequate and inequitable health care, and anti-Blackness have long plagued our planet. Fucked up as it was before, we’re really in the shitter now. I’m not super excited by Biden but at least it’s a pause in the destruction Trumpism wreaked on the country. I hope future generations get their priorities right and figure out how to take care of the planet and all of its inhabitants. However, we live in the here and now and as much as we can, let’s try to enjoy this moment. Though fleeting, joy is the best antidote to depression. For me, opening a different bottle of wine every night made by people I like and respect, and imbibing in the celebration of light, is a much-needed respite. It is a way of honoring some of those whose tireless efforts make our lives more delicious. They work so hard not because there is a financial windfall waiting somewhere in the future but because of their love for the juice, and sharing it with others.

I’ll leave it here. I hope that everyone has as best a holiday season as possible. It’s not about religion but taking the time to slow down and relish the precious time we have with those we love.

Peace – Pamela


For Marguerite, and all my friends…

A while back, my partner and I were talking about our fear of friends dying. We are at the age when it starts to become more likely. We’ve already lost some, but perhaps because they were a little bit older than us, the idea of peer mortality seemed less real. When I received the message my friend Marguerite passed away last month, I was flattened.

As the years go by, our friends – those with whom we share a deep connection – become, as my friend, Rebecca said, “part of our bones.” They often know us better than our family members, and bring out our best selves, in different ways. When we feel close to people, there are bound to be disagreements and qualities in one another that drives us nuts. That comes with letting down your guard, and revealing who you are, warts and all. We learn to accept some things and make adjustments. These annoyances are nothing if you can count on someone to be in your corner, make you feel loved, and laugh.

When Marguerite, aka Spanky, moved to LA, we saw each other maybe every couple of years, the last time in July 2018, but it was as if no time had passed. We sat outside on a warm summer night, laughing, catching up, and talking about life, past and present, and our hopes and aspirations for the future. Sometimes we can pick up where we left off, sometimes not. Our lives change with spouses, children, work, and the path of discovering who we are. Some friendships, even those that felt close at one point, run their course and become estranged. The death of a friendship carries its own set of grief, but we get through it, comforted by the love we share with other people and knowing that maybe one day, that relationship will rebloom and that if it doesn’t we did what we could to keep it alive. The death of a friend is final. We carry their energy with us, but it is one-sided…we are the only beneficiary. There is no longer anything we can give to them to show how much they matter to us in return.

Spanky was one of my first friends in San Francisco. We met at Café Claude, where her girlfriend, Elizabeth, was the chef, a few days after I moved here. Within a few minutes, we realized how much we had in common – she was 19 days older than me, both Scorpios, from New York and hella weird. We had an instant connection. I was – strange as this may sound – sort of dating a guy who worked with Elizabeth, and in disbelief that I was “straight,” they invited me to a lesbian club with them that night. A few months later, she was the second person I came out to. She was just like, “Look at you. You’re wearing aviators, a black leather jacket and ride a motorcycle, of course, you’re a dyke.”

Spanky had her demons – who doesn’t – yet, I think she found a way to turn her struggles into strengths. She was a great listener, and I appreciated that she never passed judgment, not on me, not on others. She had empathy, not just sympathy because she understood that life can really suck, and you never know what’s going with people no matter how well they seem to be doing on the outside. She was hysterical; even now, I laugh about some of the things she did and said decades ago. As our mutual friend Leslie reminded me recently, “her laughter was infectious.” She was brilliantly creative. More than anything, Marguerite was warm and kind, and we all could use more of that in our lives, especially now. Over 28 years, with numerous girlfriends/partners, jobs, businesses, struggles, and triumphs, she was always the person I met in January 1992, who got who I was right away, made me feel welcome in San Francisco, and helped me become who I am today. I feel privileged to have had such a dear friend.

I want to believe that Marguerite knew that she was loved by so many. I hope she knew how important she was to me, but I can’t be sure. So I’ve been thinking about the other friends in my life who I dearly cherish and am reminded that I need to make efforts to show, not just tell them, that they matter to me. We can’t go around thinking that we need to always be at our best with people because we might lose them one day; we are humans with our own moods, and timing is a tricky thing. Yet we can try to be better, be more sensitive and considerate, and realize that sometimes we’re going to fail. Failures become a success when we take responsibility and learn. Saying sorry is an act of great strength. It is also a gift because it lets people know that they matter to you.

So, don’t forget to remind those you love how much they matter because love is the best feeling, whether you are on the giving or receiving end. It makes this fucked up world a much more bearable place to inhabit. Losing someone does not make that love go away; enduring love gives comfort. Even if you haven’t talked to friends for a while, knowing that they are still roaming the planet is reassuring. To think that they’re gone, or will be one day, makes the world seem like a lesser place. But we can still keep our love for those lost alive by remembering how they made us better people and that even if they are gone, they are still part of our bones.











Rollings Blackouts

Inspired by Enron and the other utility company corruption that produced rolling blackouts throughout California in 2001, I made this film starring my partner in cinematic crime, Jean Mazzei. Here we are 18 years later, dealing with PG&E’s bullshit, yet again. The rallying cry stays the same, #supportmunicipalpower. Click below to view

Rolling Blackouts


Blizzard 1947, Central Park

My father’s uncle Irving (who also took the Spanish Civil War photos) snapped these shots after the Christmas Blizzard of 1947 when more than two feet of snow blanketed Central Park. Maybe because it’s been so unseasonably hot in SF,  I’ve been drawn to them over the last few days. It is hard to believe no one saw them until 2005 when they were developed for the first time. They capture a moment in time yet are timeless.

Israel, I’m Out

Many Jews of my generation were inundated with the message that Israel could do no wrong. With the Holocaust still fresh in the collective memory, our families, rabbis, Hebrew school teachers, and friends told us that Israel would always be our home. They said that the Palestinians left voluntarily, encouraged by other Arabs and that the only ones who engaged in terrorist acts were the Palestinians and their allies. It was very black and white, Arabs and Palestinians bad, Israel good.

I visited Israel twice. As a teenager, I went on a teen tour, a common rite of passage for upper and middle-class Jewish kids, that was lead by religious zealots who took us to Israeli settlements and made comments about the filthy Arabs. The second time, when I was in my early 20’s,  I spent five months living on a kibbutz. There, I heard a lot of the same propaganda pushed on me as a child.

Over the years, as I became more aware of the Palestinians’ plight, my views started to shift. Still, it used to upset me when people said Zionism is racism. In lieu of centuries of persecution, I felt that it was important for there to be a haven for Jewish people. I used to dismiss claims that Israel was an apartheid state. Comparing it to South Africa seemed like a false equivalency. Singling Israel out for boycotts when other countries perpetrate human rights abuses on a grander scale bothered me. I no longer feel this way.

As is true of the US, religious extremists in Israel have disproportionate power, leading to the oppression of other groups: Arabs, LGBTQ+, immigrants, anyone who is not fully Jewish in their myopic eyes. It’s easy to put a lot of the blame on Netanyahu and his corrupt cadre for Israel’s atrocious policies, but I’ve come to realize Israel planted the seeds of apartheid a long time ago. Zionism is a form of nationalism. White supremacist, Richard Spencer, is a firm supporter of Israel and its policies because he correctly realizes that having a white Jewish nation and a white Christian nation are two sides of the same coin. For me, it is intellectually and morally dishonest to oppose nationalism and support Israel as a Jewish state.

The capitulation today to Trump’s demand to ban Ilhan Omar and Rachid Tlaid demonstrate that Israel is, and let’s face it, for decades has been, a puppet of the American religious rightwing. They share the same goal: theocratic white supremacy. We know that Trump is a would-be dictator who governs as if he is a mafia don, using the power of the presidency to punish those who challenge his stupidity and call him out on his racism and corruption. While I’m still horrified daily, I’m no longer surprised. That the Israeli government would get wrapped up in his petty grievances should not come as a surprise either, but today’s news was a breaking point for me.

Israel, I’m out. I might be Jewish, but I’m a human being first and foremost and am as concerned about Palestinians lives as I am about Jewish lives. By the sheer accident of birth, I was born into geographic and socioeconomic privilege, as is true of most white Americans, and as such, see it as my responsibility to raise those who, by the accident of their birth, have less power. As such, I’m on board with BDS. Other countries suck when it comes to human rights too, but that doesn’t let you off the hook.

Instead of using the worst mass genocide in history to build a better way forward, you perpetuated the racist views of our murderers. Cozying up to anti-Semitic autocrats shows how morally bankrupt you have become. Eventually, your rule will end, but there will be more bloodshed, on both sides, and you, the American government who enables and uses you as well as American defense companies are to blame for every drop. I will do whatever I can and use whatever influence I have to call you out on your racist rhetoric and support boycotts of Israeli goods, especially Israeli wines and encourage people to buy wine made on the West Bank. I feel for my Israeli friends because while they don’t support many of your positions, leaving is not an easy option. Lucky for them they are Jewish, but your policies might lead to a brutal backlash putting everyone, no matter how much they disagree with you, at risk. Increasingly, Jewish Americans feel the way I do, including those who once swallowed the propaganda that you were “the promised land.” Now we know the truth. You are not our protector nor a friend, and most definitely, you are not the promised land.

Check out the Cremisan Cellars, an organic winery based in the West Bank. Fig & Thistle Market in SF sometimes carries the wines. Terra Sancta Trading Company is the US importer.


My Uncle’s Photographs from the Spanish Civil War

My father’s uncle, Dr. Irving Busch, was a surgeon in NYC. He was also an amateur photographer and a volunteer in the Republican Medical Services of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.

Irving died in 1960 without any heirs. The family cleared out his upper west side apartment, and my father took some of his cameras, which resurfaced in 2005 when my dad was going through old boxes. He had the film developed, and 45 photographs came back including images from his time in Spain in the ’30s as well as Central Park after the blizzard of ’47.

The images of the women and children on donkeys and men at cafés during a time of turmoil asks more questions than they answer. We might not be embroiled in a violent civil war yet we are we heading down a path that draws parallels to Spain and Germany in the late ’20s and early ’30s. It’s no longer unthinkable to imagine the US having a civil war or plunging into a dystopian nightmare in the near future. We are a nation divided, and a sizable minority seems to be on board with authoritarianism and is apathetic if not supportive of cruelty. Lest we forget, Spain lived under fascist rule for nearly half a century. Yet even in the worst of times, life in some ways goes on. People in the resistance still stop for a coffee and to chat with their friends.

These photographs are not as dramatic or iconic as Robert Capa’s but they are a reminder of the heroic acts of individuals such as my uncle, who left lives and jobs in the United States to fight a noble cause in a foreign land. While they didn’t succeed, they fought the good fight serving as inspiration and a lesson to us all. I’ll post the Central Park photos separately in a few days; these should stand on their own.

If you are interested in reading more about the Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War, check out Adam Hochschild’s Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War,1936 – 1939. 

Tuesday Night with the Bee Gees

Thanks to Spotify, we can ransack through the musical history of many bands and often discover some gems such as The Doors Full Circle, which was made without Jim Morrison who was already six feet deep in Père Lachaise. It may not be LA Woman but its more than respectable. For some reason, I had the Bee Gees in my head, probably because I flipped on the disco ball in the office when I came home. After a few songs from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, I decided it was time to explore their ‘deeper cuts’ and made the discovery that “You Should be Dancin’” is about as good as it gets.  

I’m sitting in a room illuminated by a desk lamp and the disco ball, drinking sparkling water, waiting for Cami to come home. She is more than 24 hours delayed, currently in the purgatory of the Phoenix airport on her way back from Texas. Seamus is nowhere to be found. That’s fine, Barry Gibb is keeping me company. “And it’s me you need to show, How deep is your love…” I bought a bottle of wine earlier because it’s been raining nonstop – every cloud has a silver lining, my hair looks great – but realized I actually don’t feel like drinking and considering how much work I have to do between now and June 2020, have opted for a sober evening. 

So, I’m writing a paper, and I get a text message from my friend Greg in NY about David Brooks column in today’s Times. My response…he’s an establishment hack though not as bad a Ross Douthat who is an outright caveman. In truth, as far as centrists go, David Brooks is tolerable, I’m just poking. I really want to keep chatting with him – so much basketball to discuss and baseball too – but this paper is due in two days, a presentation as well, and I have forty pages of Paolo Freire to get through before calling it a night. But alas, I just keep writing this nonsense…. OK, I’m going to take a break and get back to my paper. Wait, this is the break, from my paper…break over…

I wish I could figure out why the highlight tool isn’t working in this PDF I’m reading. I need a Millennial.  Cami is still in Phoenix, but she’s boarding soon. By the time she gets home, I should be done with Freire. Do I give myself permission to skip Kool & The Gang’s “Open Sesame”? This song is terrible…it sounds like the theme music from a 70’s cop show. Fuck it, I’m moving on to “Jive Talkin.’” Back to Freire. 

Greg and I were friends in college. We spent a lot of time together during the summer of 1987, with a group of mutual friends from Penn and my sister, who is a couple of years younger than me. We reconnected several years ago…I won’t go into that…but getting back in touch has been a treat. Other than our mutual, tragic love of the Mets, we often – sometimes – don’t agree at least when it comes to politics, but I enjoy sparing with him. And, he’s become a good friend. I don’t say that lightly. We’re actually closer now than we were years ago when clubbing until 5 a.m. was the basis of the friendship. Every friendship has its own history and this one has a happy ending…ending is not the right word…I hope we’re in one another’s lives for a long time. 

The Washington Post just sent me a notification that Michael Cohen is going to describe Trump as a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.” Since we know what he’s going to say why bother having the hearing? The real question is why did the WaPo need to interrupt Pedagogy of the Oppressedand “Disco Inferno” to let me know what Michael Cohen is going to say tomorrow when they already told us yesterday? 

New notification, an iceberg is about to break apart in the artic. And now the PBS News Hour is also letting me know that Michael Cohen has some big things to say tomorrow. Thanks. Bars are opening early in DC so that people can get loaded and watch the testimony. Should I set my alarm so that C-Span can put me back to sleep? Can someone please send me a notification and let me know when Cami is going to be home?

Death and French Fries/Missed Opportunities

Do people use death as an excuse to do stupid shit? OK, eating French fries is not exactly the dumbest thing anyone has ever done but during the period from the end of May through the end of July, I put more canola oil in my body than I probably had during the entire previous decade of my life.

Watching other people experience the death of someone very close hardly registers on the sorrow scale, at least not compared to what your loved one is going through. Yet, over the course of eight weeks my partner lost her father, my aunt died, and one of my best friend’s mother passed away, and it took a toll on me. I felt sad all of the time and started to see everything in a pointless time capsule. People ask me how I’m doing and even if I haven’t seen them in a while, “better” is all I can think to say. Bad things may come in threes but let’s face it, I’m staring at 50 and as the years go on death is going to be a bigger presence in my life than it has been over the last half-century.

Knowing this, do I just throw my lot in with fried food? Outside of French fries and the occasional fried oyster, I really don’t dig greasy grub, so that is not the answer. Every day I wake up and think about what I’m going to do. But life gets in the way. There is a last minute deadline or Seamus pukes so I might miss the train and MUNI being MUNI is always fucking delayed, so I get to the gym 45 minutes later than planned, forcing a reorganization of my afternoon. Or, I get a text from my sister telling me to call her, it’s important. And then I find out that my aunt, who I was just starting to get to know as an adult, didn’t wake up. I can barely wash myself in the shower. I think about how Cami felt the first time she tried to clean up after her father drew his last breath, or how my cousin felt that morning. Did she even bother bathing that day? All the French fries in the world will not bring them back and taking a shower won’t feel the same again any time soon. 


Missed Opportunities

I wrote Death and French Fries during the summer of 2016, about a month after my Aunt Ilene passed away. It’s actually part of a series of other writings I was working on at the time.

One of the things that made me sad then, and still does now, is the feeling of a missed opportunity. A few years before she died my aunt and I started to speak more frequently and I really liked the person I was getting to know. The cause of death was never determined; she just didn’t wake up one morning. Today, 72 seems kind of young, at least in my family where people tend to live well into their 90’s. People say it is a blessing to go in your sleep. I don’t know. A friend of our’s passed away in December, just two weeks after finding out she had stage four breast cancer. Is that better? To find out the end is near, say your good-byes and then have a quick and painless death?

Aunt Ilene

Since my aunt’s death, I’ve gotten closer to her daughter, Cousin Robin. We’re just four months apart and when we were much younger spent a lot of time together. Actually, she is the first and only person I’ve ever married, sort of. When we were four or five, we had a marriage ceremony on the stairs of my house, with Aunt Ilene performing the nuptials, and then honeymooned in the backyard, on the swing set. Thinking back on this ‘major life event,’ I appreciate my aunt even more because as I was getting all of these negative messages about who I was, she, I guess, didn’t really see anything wrong with me wanting to be the groom or at least indulging my innocent fantasy. I wish I had a chance to thank her because it probably meant a lot more to me then than I can remember now. 

With Cousin Robin in Central Park, Sept. 2018

Which brings me to the sweet message I got the other day from Cousin Robin – maybe because it was Valentine’s Day and after all, we never officially got divorced – that made me smile and realize how much I appreciate her thoughtfulness. People say you never really get over losing a loved one, but maybe we can fill some of the emptiness by rediscovering those who are still with us and not letting missed opportunities slip through our fingers. 

The Therapy Chair

Last weekend we had back to back dinner parties, the second one competing with an 18-year birthday party right above us. Before our guests arrived Cami came into the kitchen and said to me, “I smell pot,” which made me wonder what teenagers in Texas did in the ’80s. Anyway, at one point, just to show our level of maturity, we turned up Who’s Next to drown out the teenage cackling emanating from above.

Later on, I found a couple of our friends, J and S, in the office/disco and S said to me, “Pamela, all of your friends need to get together and find a base for the courvossier,” as pictured. Cami is not a big fan of it either which is why it’s not in the living room. Many years ago, I found this thing at the Alameda flea market and paid I think $50, not knowing what a courvossier was or that it was missing a crucial part of its design. J and I looked at one another, both thinking the same thing…

Pride weekend of, 2007 or ‘08, I left CAV a little bit early on Saturday night and met Cami at 2223. Granted, this was a place where a lot of people ended up after the Dyke March, so we knew we weren’t in for a romantic evening, but the last thing we wanted was to deal with anyone’s drama, and in those days, a lot was floating around. We sat through dinner with only one interruption from a friend who was shrooming and doing coke; tweaked out and seeing things that weren’t there. She mentioned a party a block away…yeah, we knew about it and decided to pass opting instead to go home and have an early night. That was the intention, anyway.

Around 11:30 I got a call from H, “Bushie, you up?” “Sort of…” “We’re coming over.” I had a feeling something was up. Cami let me know that under no uncertain terms, she was going to sleep and closed the bedroom door. A little while later, H, J and a couple of other friends showed up and one of them, let’s call her, “T,” was quite upset. I got a run-down of the events that we missed at said party…basically, one of the three, a former cop, had to wrestle someone I shall refer to as “F” to the ground in an elevator. F and T had something going which I think ended by then, but the drama lingered…and lingered, and lingered. 

J sat in a low Danish chair next to T, who was on the courvossier, and the others, who were three sheets to the wind, eventually fell asleep on the red couch. I sprawled out on the rug and listened while J, who is my kindred crazy Jew spirit, spent the next 50 minutes…a full therapy hour… analyzing and advising T regarding the situation with F. It was really pretty amazing to witness…If J was not my close friend and without a psychiatry license, I might have even let her have a crack at me. Shortly thereafter that whole situation straightened itself out, very possibly because of J’s help, and from that night on the baseless courvossier became known as The Therapy Chair.

As for the rest of last weekend’s dueling parties, I ended up dealing with a 17-year-old who had too much to drink…a serious buzz kill on my end but one of the boys paid me the ultimate compliment, “I hope that when I’m your age I can handle a situation like this as well as you.” Thanks, dude.  That incident led to this enthralling conversation on Tuesday night.

Cami: You’re like Angelina Jolie.

Me: How am I like Angelina Jolie?

Cami: You think the kids should be allowed to run around wild. That’s why Seamus is so bad. I’m the disciplinarian like Brad and I can’t deal with it so I need to drink.

Sometimes I feel like parents should face the reality that their kids are likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs and give them some pointers, so they don’t end up in bad situations. Maybe it should be part of high school health classes. Drink water, eat something, pace yourself, don’t mix. Granted, getting super sick from drinking too much is a worthwhile lesson, almost a rite of passage.

Anyway, after back to back nights of entertaining and then dealing with super drunk young adults, I want Cami to remind me that if I ever threaten to open a wine bar again, she has permission to strap me to The Therapy Chair and administer electric shock.