I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Monday, April 24, 2017

In the Eye Of A Stalker

It is not uncommon to hear of celebrities that are stalked by some mentally unstable person. Their fame puts them on the spot line making them an easy target to the weak of spirit.
Nonetheless, the nuisance of a stalker is not reserved solely to the rich and famous. Occasionally, a regular person might spark the unrelenting dark interest in another person, usually one they no longer have ties with and one they do not care to have in their lives. It is precisely that indifference that fuels the fire of a stalker and drives their obsession deeper causing retaliation and revenge.
The victim is often unaware of the stalker and will carry on with their life until an indiscreet message or a careless trace left behind reminds them of the dark presence that lurks in the shadows. A stalker will use cyberstalking as their preferred way to spy the whereabouts of their chosen obsession who they will harass unrelentingly. They will review their twitter account daily, become their most unrelenting reader of their blog, and will employ tactics to discredit their victim whenever possible.  They will become masters at triangulation.
There is no reasoning with a stalker. If the stalker were able to reason there would be no stalking! It’s a battle not worth fighting other than the obligatory preventive measurements to ensure your safety. Stalkers are obsessive and their instability renders them capable of anything.
This obscure relationship is one way. The person being harassed doesn’t want them and often forgets the stalker exists and the only emotion their sightings evoke is pity. Pity for a person who chose to remain stuck in a web of negativity woven by their own insecurities and their unstable mind.
Most stalkers need attention and approval of other people. They will spy on their victim and do everything within their power to turn the attention given to that person towards themselves. They are usually unsuccessful as their negativity often turns others away thus accentuating their spite.
There is no known way to stop a stalker. Only the pass of time and their own awareness that the world they are creating around them will eventually crash them will stop their unrelenting desire to hurt someone they couldn’t have or couldn’t be like.

How do I know? Well, I have a stalker.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Starting Again

One of the reasons I love running is because it’s the only sport I have not sucked at. I was never athletic. Shy and uncoordinated was not a good combination growing up. I didn’t even play sidewalk games. Mostly, I think, I was afraid of failing and embarrassing myself, but then in my 30s I discovered running and it welcomed clumsy me with open arms. I felt accepted. For once, it did not matter if I was good at it or not. All I needed was my willingness and a pair of sneakers. The road and I became inseparable. I swore I would never let go.
Until now.
Ever been on a diet? I have. I had an intense romance, however briefly, with just about every diet ever published. I would be so committed to losing the several pounds that had attached themselves to my body. Oh, I would make progress, a lot of progress, until that slice of birthday cake in the office and the leftovers the next day and then…well, you know the drill. It would be a long time before I would find my way back to another diet. The longer I went, the more difficult it was to get back.
It’s kind of the same with running. For years, nothing would stand between me and my run. I would walk through knee-high snow -in my driveway, with sneakers in hand to reach the road and change into them, then run my miles. Rain, heat, nothing would stop me. There was always time -- I made the time to run. But then I started taking more rest days, and I mean days. Some were needed as injuries became more frequent. Others were, well…let’s just say an extension of that needed rest. I became good at justifying “my recovery days” with reasons like the climate-- “Today is too cold,” or “the wind is too strong so I’ll go tomorrow.” The more days that went by, the easier it was to find a reason not to lace up.
But during this apathy that at times festers, a little voice reminds me of my days on a diet (honestly, the taste of a celery stick still lingers) and how difficult it was each time to get back on track after falling off. Frankly, the thought of distancing myself from running scares me.
True, there have been many runs that have not been easy-- some have been very difficult-- but every one of them has given me an enormous sense of well-being and solidified my existence.
Unlike a diet that left me hungry and deprived, running fulfills me in so many ways. It is that time in my busy day when it’s just me and my thoughts, me and the road. So, I get past that sluggishness that settles in and go. Difficult at first, but after a few steps I’m there again, like welcoming good old friends.  Accepted, free, so alive.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

As If Fighing a War, Because You Are

The manager of the company where I worked came back after his treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I passed him in the hallway. He was pale and bald. I looked away not knowing what to say. In my peripheral vision I noticed he was staring at me. I mumbled hello and walked to my desk wondering what would it be like to come back after such a diagnosis. What would it be like to live the rest of my life with that threat in the back of my mind?
I didn’t have to wonder very long. Three months later I, too, was diagnosed with non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Then I knew, first hand, the uncertainty and fear, and also what it felt like to have people look away.
I was fairly young, and athletic and “healthy,” and the diagnosis felt like a slap in the face. The doctor who gave me the news advised me to get ready to fight a war. “Gather your allies, get your best ammunition, and learn about your enemy.”
I followed his advice. A firm believer in the power of prayer, I surrounded myself with people who would pray for me--my allies. My best ammunition came from one of the top hospitals for cancer treatment, Memorial Sloan Kettering, but learning about the enemy remained unchecked on my to-do list. When I visited the lymphoma website, my eyes focused on the life span given after diagnosis:  11 years.
I never looked at that site again.
What helped me was the people who came out of nowhere to tell me they knew someone who had successfully gone through the journey. Fathers, brothers, best friends, these personal stories filled me with hope and made me think that maybe, just maybe, I could be one of the survivors.
I like to believe that Celebrate Life Half Marathon does for others what those friends did for me. That when we give someone a check out of the proceeds of the race, it is with the hope, the smile, the hug that conveys the message that they, too, can make it. That one day they will celebrate life again.
CLHM has become more than a race. It is solidarity of spirit. When the gun goes off and everyone runs up the hill on Lake Louise Marie Road and passes the Motivational Mile-- a stretch of names of people who have faced cancer-- they are running not a race, they are running in unity and mutual support for those who are fighting and they are remembering those who left.
Another piece of advice the doctor gave me: “Don’t ever stop having that glass of wine, and never stop running. This enemy must be fought with passion. Without it, it will take over.” On March 12, volunteers, sponsors, and participants will bring that passion to Rock Hill, New York, for the 14th annual Celebrate Life Half Marathon.
Run on--and don’t forget the wine! Cheers!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Basic Etiquette. It's not that difficult

In the past few months I have sent presents to people by mail. In almost all occasions I’ve had to make the embarrassing call to find out if the gift was received.
Maybe I’ve noticed it because it appears to have happened with increased frequency, or, quite possibly, I’ve grown less tolerant as I’ve aged.
There are a few basic rules of etiquette I like to follow and, I admit, I expect.
When you receive a gift, thank the sender NOW. In an era of communication there is no excuse to delay an acknowledgment. My phone has automated “Thank you”, “Happy Birthday”, “Congratulations!” use one of them if you can’t think of a personal message.
When someone asks a question by text or email, perhaps inviting you or asking you if you can do something, please, for the love of God, reply! Let the sender know that you are unable to. Whether you don’t want to doesn’t have to be stated. Suffice to say you won’t be able to attend or do what is being asked of you.
When making plans try to, honestly, keep them or don’t make them at all, and if you must cancel do it upfront, preferably giving the other party ample notice. Do not just not show up or not call/answer the phone. Your time is a precious as theirs and busy people must put time aside to see you.
Acknowledging a person after they went out of their way to get you a gift is not only courtesy, it’s appreciation and, respect, and you and I have the right to expect that from others. Respect is the basic component of any relationship or transaction.
These basic etiquette rules are not difficult to observe and will make everyone involved feel better, and respected.
Maybe I’ve grown less tolerant. Maybe I’m less inclined to be disrespected. Maybe I've just aged.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Be Present

Between my full time job, my side jobs, family obligations and my community involvement, I am a very busy person with very limited time to do much more. If you want to get together with me you will have to...want to get together.
I will always make the time.
You see, time is a commodity we all possess and what we do with it and how we distribute it is our choice.
I have as much time as anyone else, no more, no less, exactly the same minutes in an hour and the same hours in a day as every person alive.
I know it gets tough. I’ve had those responsibilities often put forward when someone wants to find an excuse for not having time. I’ve had the demanding husband, the demanding job(s), the kids at home, life threatening health issues, surgeries. Add to the mix marathon training, race directing, newsletter editing, and you’ll find a woman eager to make time for you when you make time for her.
I’ve always found time to see a friend and technology has facilitated keeping in touch when being physically present is not possible.
I am not keen on the phrase that implies friendship can sustain long periods of absence and yet pick up where left off. Personally, I have friends I see only a few days every so many years, but for the love of God, we keep in touch! We don’t just pick up where we left off. We know about each other’s important moments. We remain in each other’s life in spite of the distance. We are present.
In an era of electronic communication, not keeping in touch with someone is no more than a choice.
Look at it from a business perspective, to have a successful relationship with your customers you want to make sure they don’t forget you and the only way to ensure that is to be present. Although distance can make the heart grow fonder, relationships cannot survive the pass of time with no interaction.
So be present. Let technology help if distance cannot be overcome, and every so often, do the unthinkable: make a phone call. Yes, smart phones also make phone calls. Never understate the power of the human interaction. The heart can only grow fonder when we choose to use time wisely, that same time we all have been granted.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Day Of

I made the appointment change and hang up hastily. I would make a second call once I realized the appointment date was wrong.

“Yes, Mrs. Loor, I remember you. Did something come up?
My head asks “why does he remember me? Is there something in my file?”
“No. I just need the appointment changed to Wednesday.”
“Is Monday not okay then?”
I want to tell him it’s not okay because…because it cannot be on Monday. It must be on Wednesday.
“Let me see if the Doctor has something on Tuesday”
“Not Tuesday. Wednesday, please” – I’m fighting the tears.
I want to yell it must be on Wednesday. All good reports have been on Wednesday, but I won’t.
He won’t understand. No one would.
“One second, please”
I hold my breath and silently wish there are no appointments. It can wait until after Christmas. It has always been good after Christmas.
“All set Mrs. Loor”.
It’s show time. The day of.
Rene picks me up. “I’m warming up your car”
“My car? Why my car? It’s always your car. I’ll put gas, I’ll bring the EZ Pass…it’s always your car”
He knows. He has done this for many years.
Now we are there. My name is not on the chart. The appointment time is wrong. They agree to squeeze me in realizing their mistake, but it’s two hour later, so late now it’s time for my follow up doctor’s appointment.
I can make it to my appointment if I go directly, but I have not had my coffee. I must have my coffee. We rush for that cup of Dunkin Donuts that might turn the tables in my favor. I smile as we run back to the doctor’s office realizing the stupidity of my superstition.
Every nod, every smile, every look in that office will be judged by me trying to read my results before I get them.
It’s a regular day, a common day for most, but not for me. Today my life could change. My life stands still until the doctor enters the door with the results of my catscan in his hands.
I will breath in a deep sigh of relief when he tells me the results are good.
I will celebrate the same way I do. My doctor smiles as I head out the door. He knows the routine. I cannot disrupt it. 
I’ll make the same phone calls as I leave and I’ll thank God for this. Yes, I thank God for being able to be here, to do this, to have a chance denied to others. This chance has been given to me, and I embrace it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

I Cried, Then I Cried Again. The Aftermath Of An Election

I cried on elections night. Not out of defeat for a candidate. The tears were for disbelief for having elected a man to office whose campaign promoted everything I reject, the same things our society as a whole rejects: bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia. It was disbelief and disappointment in seeing the man who, for months, undermined so much of the values we hold dear win.
It was not fear of the enforcement of his promised policies. It was sadness for all of us who allowed a message of hate to gain acceptance.
The logical part of me rejected the outcome of the votes. The promises to fix what is wrong coming from a man who does much of what is wrong (doesn’t pay taxes, hires undocumented immigrants below minimum wage) is the equivalent of hiring an addiction counselor who is deep in heroin.
Regardless, I don’t fear the policies as I fear the impact his message and how it was assimilated would have on those who seemed targeted by it, whether that was his intent or not.
For that I cried.
I knew the message disseminated during the presidential campaign by the now president elect had spoken to the low feelings of many. Those emotions that were dormant and by no means new nor created by this man, had been locked away and restricted as our society moved away from racism and injustice. His message gave the okay, the green light to unleash what we have fought to avoid for years. His message opened the gate and allowed them to fly free.

I cried that night.
It is that feeling you get when something terrible has happened.
That feeling cannot be explained. It is one of those “must be there” to understand it. “Must feel it” to know it.
And I know it. I have felt it.
As an immigrant, I have never felt discriminated, but I am well acquainted with a lesser feeling, that of “classism”. I grew up in a developing Country where social and economic status equals importance. A person is treated – or was treated back when I grew up – according to the rank their family had in society. I live now in a county of the United States that, because of its prominent classism, reminds me of my birthland. I am used to being talked over in a meeting, being interrupted in the middle of my sentence. My ideas, as brilliant as they may be, require much more emphasis than my counterparts. At times, I require a high-profile person by my side to be taken seriously. I deal with it. It comes with the territory.  I don’t belong to the right social class to expect differently.
But I’ve never dealt with open prejudice until now.
In the land of the free, a land of immigrants, I’ve been told in recent months to “speak English. This is America” as I carry on a private conversation.
I cried the night of the elections for the all of that, and then I cried again a day later.
It was not when I saw the anticipated acts of harassment done on to minorities. Muslim women being removed of their hijab, cars driving through black neighborhoods screaming “cotton picker” and the “N” word. Immigrants waking up to signs on their windshield telling them deportation was their future. Kids told in school by classmates to go back to their country. Not even when I saw the graffiti proclaiming white supremacy. I didn’t cry then.
It was when, after posting a question on social media, an unrelated comment told me “maybe u should think about relocating” That message illustrated in black and white what I felt. It made it real. It drove it home.
Under the dark cloud that this nasty campaign left behind, and the message it conveyed, some people will be glad to let me know that my rights are not the same as anybody else’s. I am different. I am a minority. If I don’t agree, I should leave. My right to express my opinion has been taken away.
But I have that right. I have earned it and I claim it, and legally no one can take it away from me. Nonetheless, some, as the person in the comment will make every effort to remind those of us who dare disagree that we are different, different to what they are.

Before this election, I was glad my children were intelligent, good hearted, good human beings, and I was confident our society would appreciate them for those attributes. I am now glad my kids are Caucasian, they speak with no accent. I am happy for that now.