Wednesday, January 3, 2007

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What To Do...


My Dearest Princess CC,

I’m so glad PLDT finally figured out that you needed internet access to complete your studies and fixed the lines! I wonder how long they took to understand that.

Anyway, it was wonderful to see you live and in color on the cam. What a delightful beauty you are…

I hope things are going well for you, that your studies are completed easily that life in general is treating you well. I know that you work so hard right now at achieving all you can be.

You remind me of the story of Tandang Sora, the Filipina heroine, honored from the time of the revolution back in the 1800’s. The similarity is from her rising up from a simple background becoming famous through-out the land. When she realized she could be of service to others—soldiers, freedom fighters—she simply went to work. She may have been shy or quiet but, when her time came, she rose up and did what needed to be done.

In much the same way, you come from a simple background, are shy and quiet (ok, shy most of the time (lol)), yet understand how it is to work quietly in the service of others. You are studying accounting for a variety of reasons I’m sure, but in the end, it will be to serve others with the value of your education and skills. The rewards from that service we both know will be considerable: There will be money, of course, relaxation time, a nice home, a car--as a result of your studies and hard work. I admire you for fixing your eyes on the goal of becoming an accountant and never wavering. That takes a dedication and a commitment that few people have and I salute you for having them.

Which brings me to suggest something for your consideration: It’s always “okay” to look for ways to make your journey easier, even faster. There is a saying that goes, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.” What that means, in your case, is that going to school and relying only on Mom for school financial support means that both you and she (indeed, the whole family) will have this burden for the next two years. With that financial burden comes a mental one, as well. All of you are thinking about where the tuition will come from next month or next semester. Even now, you all are thinking about who—you or AA—will get to continue on in education. Or, you have to struggle with what kind of job you will have to take in order to help pay for school and other expenses. All that thinking about finances can wear a person down, I can tell you…

But, Dearest Princess CC, there may be an easier way to get through all this. At first glance this idea may seem a tremendous burden for a shy--(Shy? Who says you’re shy? Lol!)--woman like you or that it would divert you from your goal of becoming an accountant. You’ve been working hard in the same way for some time yet, maybe there is something you can do that may well be a good thing in terms of making things easier for you, Mom and AA.

If there was a way that you thought would assure you an easier path, ease the financial burden on the family and provide you with an opportunity for a secure future, would you consider it? I thought so…

Here it is: Accept the McDonald’s invitation and complete the application. Win their contest. Go on to Miss Ozamiz and win that.

I’m sure you can see that all it takes to go through this process of being honored by the community and ultimately rewarded (scholarships for school, future job offers) by that same community is one thing: Overcome your shyness. This is strictly your personal decision; only you can make it and live with it.

Along with this decision to go forward come more responsibilities and more decisions... But one thing is clear: The sooner you complete the application, the sooner the rewards will come, the sooner the financial concerns will ease. Ask yourself, “If I don’t take advantage of this opportunity, what will happen?” I can answer that for you: More of the same life you have right now. Then ask yourself: “What happens if I do?” You may win and reap the promised rewards. You may not win. You didn’t win the last pageant and yet you did, in a way. You attracted the attention of a lot of people. You’ve been approached by companies who want you to be a part of them. They see you as an asset; as a way of making them looking good and smart because you look good and you are smart.

In the end, only you can make this happen. We are all in support of you, no matter what you decide. We all love you without reservations, whatever you decide. Keep this in mind: You have an opportunity to be like Tandang Sora of Ozamiz City, rising from humble beginnings to be of service to others in ways you may not have thought of.

If you give it a try, you may be surprised at what will happen…

My love to you, Dearest CC…

My Princess CC


Hello, My Princess CC,

When your pictures from today started coming across my computer, I had to stop what I was doing to admire your work. I stopped breathing for a while, I think, as I drank in your beauty from your eyebrows to your toes. I was swept away for awhile, even permitting myself to dream of a life with you at my side. Everything I have been hoping for in love, beauty, intelligence, motivation, caring and warmth is in you.

I admit I have been silent about my feelings about you for a long time, perhaps as long as we have known each other. I know I have spoken with great admiration of your desires to reach specific goals. I have spent much time finding the right words to encourage you in anything you have wanted to do. I have researched stories—even those from the Philippines, as you know—to provide you a glimpse of what you can do when you act in the same manner as the heroes and heroines of those stories. I have tried to support you in many different ways, one of the most obvious in money, but more importantly to help you see yourself as a goal “accomplisher.” In other words, to not only dream but to achieve the goals you set for yourself. When you entered the beauty pageant I knew how the public would react to you if you just presented yourself as yourself—they fell in love with you, as I did.

I didn’t know this would happen although I suspected it would after I saw you for the first time almost two years ago. At first, I was stunned by your beauty alone. As time went on and you began to communicate with me, I was enthralled by the way you expressed yourself. You were clear and bright like the morning sun. I am really anticipating your upcoming poems and writings of your deepest thoughts and feelings as I am sure they will say much about you.

Perhaps it is in the kind and gentle way you responded to me during this time of my life that had me falling helplessly and hopelessly in love with you. Too, when you showed a trust in me by revealing what you think about, I felt your soul entering mine. You have captured my thoughts and feelings. When I breathe in, it is your perfume I imagine entering me. When my heart beats, it is at the same rate as yours. When my blood moves through me, it is at the same temperature as yours. You are thoroughly within me. I fear nothing with you alongside and inside me.

Princess CC, I love you.

Mr. Big Right

I'll Mention His Name No More, Forever


Today, at 7am, I went to KHVH radio to participate in Greg Dunn’s weekly show, “Dunn with Debt.” I role played an actual bankruptcy interview with him on the air, using my real name, using real examples from my upcoming Chapter 7 BK. We inflated the credit card figures to some $27,000 against my own of some $8,000 to match his typical BK clients. I decided to use my own name in order to plug my website in exchange for going on the show and revealing that I was real and actually going through BK. Too, by revealing my name and going through the interview, some people might come to Greg, overcoming their own reluctance to get out from their crushing debt loads and do business with him. In a larger sense, by sharing my experience publicly, I gave largely of myself to others with the expectation I receive largely from others, as Sam put it. When one gives, one receives, like breathing out and breathing in. As my belief in the power of the universe grows, so does the return from the universe grow. I took a chance on embarrassing myself by going public with what is usually a very private event: BK. What drove me, however, was the chance that I could help others and that I could start marketing myself and my ideas without having to pay a financial price, like paying for advertising. I’m not real sure what will come of this effort but great things are in store, I think.

· Greg and I agreed that I should make this a series of appearances, in that I’ll come back just before my hearing date to go through the coaching he provides;

· I’ll be back after the hearing and review what happened;

· Then, we can pick up on the credit repair issues as they unfold; and,

· Finally, when that is done, report on the effects of that effort.

Each time, I can update my own history as I promote my business during each show, relating the BK, credit repair and such and their impact on my deal. I can talk about how BK freed me to pursue my interests by relieving me of having to pay off the cards. I can talk about how my credit report improved by having all the derogatory remarks were removed, permitting me to obtain credit, again, and how much more spending wise I had become. I can even see a paying speaking tour about my experiences unfolding: “How To Succeed In Spite Of Bankruptcy.”

Think of it: I will have filed twice (a mark of success by some measures) and built a thriving business despite that. I will find someone who loves me anyway and will be beside me as I succeed. I will live the life I’ve dreamed of and never again worry about financial situations. I can already feel a soft bathrobe around me and a hammock beneath me, slung on the wide lanai of my house. I can hear the gentle brook running through the house in a rock channel. I see the swaying palms and ferns in my garden and smell gardenias, mock orange and plumerias as their scents waft through every open window. I taste my fresh breakfast and sip my espresso coffee in the morning light. And, my view of the Pacific is astounding, unbroken by any other dwelling around, above or below me. My Paradise came to me, all because Greg invited me to reveal a part of myself and my doings that not even my close friends or family know about.

Yet, this is also tied in to my decision to begin marketing myself and my products on my own, rather than relying on anybody else. This weekend, when my shop owner made a fool of himself by hurling diatribes my way at the Building Industry Association (BIA) show, I realized that I could no longer be a part of his life. I woke up early Monday morning and decided on my plan:

· Collect what he owes me ($200 for the show and the hours spent on the assigned renovation);

· Advise him I will complete only the task ahead and collect for that;

· Accept no further work;

· Request he honor his offer to supply me with scrap glass for the gecko; and,

· Concentrate on marketing me.

The BIA show also told me that he had no intention of marketing Clear Shield there, as no demonstration equipment ever arrived, probably never being ordered. Additionally, no stained glass was ever on display, as he focused on incredibly expensive glass art for display and ran a slide show for people to look at. He also had me talking about cast glass and carved glass which I only learned about while at the show by listening to him and repeating what he said. I was thoroughly unprepared and embarrassed at my lack of knowledge. He said that he expected some $250,000 in Clear Shield bookings, for which I would receive $50,000 in commissions. Right… He hit my button—money—and lied to me. I was so easily taken in by my desperate situation. He never intended for me to sell anything because he never wanted me to. Oh, he said I would get 3% for any art piece sold and then, in the presence of Alan, said I would get $450 for selling Al’s $4500 funky piece (10% not 3%.) So, I said, “$450 for selling it? So, if I can get $500 for it, I still get the $450?” That did him into silence. He didn’t tell me I was to wear dress pants, didn’t tell me I was to be at the show early to handle the VIP’s, didn’t tell me much at all, except to complain that I wasn’t saying the right things about specific art pieces and had Alan lecture me. When I repeated to Alan what I had been saying to people, he agreed I was right all along, a fact I brought up to my shop owner immediately. The next day, he said I was doing really well. I asked him what he meant and he said I was explaining things well and had a real talent for talking to the public. Like I didn’t already know…

I will refuse his offer to learn about Nathan Allen Glass. He’ll want me to call on architects and contractors in the vain hope I can close a few deals far into the future. No thanks… I need to spread my wings. All he has done was allow me to use his shop to fabricate my erotic pieces, for which I paid him some $800 for supplies. He pointed out a newspaper clipping to contact a gallery for possible showing of my works in advance of my upcoming show, for which I made all the arrangements. From that clipping, I made the contact and later, through her, was invited to participate in “Gecko’s in Paradise,” submitting a design concept for a stained glass gecko as a fund raiser for Kapiolani Hospital. I set up and paid for my own web site and for listing it on all the major search engines. I did it all, including engaging the most prominent Hawaii artist, Duane Preble, to guide me, using my attendance in his 1967 UH class, Art 101, as a re-introduction to him. I’ve done it all by myself.

So, I move on. I’ve engaged Lei, his shop manager, to build my pieces when the orders come in. I have a framer ready. Packing and shipping are already set up. Payment methods are on the web site. The show is on for March 29th. My shirts are made. My copper sculptures are designed and one is in fabrication. All done by me…

I’ll mention him no more, forever.

Now, I will frame the show pieces, research the copper pipe and how to frame the fly swatter in it, build a better weaving loom, market my shirts and the various other arts I have so far produced.

Watch this space…

I Am In Love, At Last

I Am In Love, At Last


What smile is this, which creeps around the corners of my mouth, stretching from what seems to be ear to ear?

How is it I walk through crowds and see all eyes upon me, returning my smile with their own, seemingly understanding without words what I feel?

Why do some come up to me with knowing looks and wink at me, saying nothing yet saying everything about what I’m thinking?

Where do I plant myself so that no one escapes my giving up this secret that has me so obviously changed from what I was to what I am?

Can I speak with any less fervor now? Can I slow this delicious tremor within my soul that has me stuttering vocally?

Do I want to…?

Never will I let me talk myself out of this incredible feeling broadening from head to toe, from finger tip to finger tip.

I am budding and later flowering, spreading from mere existence to encompassing the entire universe however far apart the edges are.

I fly without wings, merely extending my arms and lifting myself from off my toes, I can see far beyond what was my horizon once upon a time on the ground.

The clouds coolly brush against me and far below I see the earth and all I own—trees, streams, plains, mountains, snow and oceans—I claim them all in personal ownership.

I gather the most precious of stones and metals while aloft, easily fashioning them into objects of beauty and desirability.

Alighting, I am a man in full, striding powerfully toward the article of my intense attention, holding my gifts in hand.

Kneeling, I quiver. Gazing, I smile, again. Listening, I comprehend, at last.

I am in love--deeply, utterly, passionately, unquestioningly, completely…

I am in love—freshly, newly, born-again, like never before…

I am in love, at last.

In My New Residence

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I am here in my new residence about ten days now, way out on the western end of the island where poverty is a way of life. I’m not entirely unhappy as I can shop at recognizable places, stop by the Post Office, get gasoline and listen to any music I like from CD’s I’ve kept. The guys that live here basically come home to sleep and bother me little. They’re okay and pose—so far—little trouble. I have a small refrigerator in my room which I stock with a few things like yoghurt, candy, sandwich fixings and the like. There isn’t much room so I don’t store a lot of stuff. I’ve used the microwave and my toaster oven to cook with so you can probably tell it isn’t artful what I prepare. My room is holding my stuff well. I still have a bunch to figure out just where it all should go and I need to put up a shelf in the so-called closet to give me some flat space for goods. I’ll probably do that today by going to Home Depot.

What I really like about living here is the solitude and quiet. I can pursue my artistic expression continuously and uninterrupted except for the calls of a gecko living in my room with me. Since moving here—and getting my PC fixed—I’ve produced almost 60 pieces; about 6 or 7 a day. I find that each one offers challenges of its own. For instance, I can see in one that I have to place shadows of an arm on the skin of a chest or in another work the eyes such that the model appears to be daydreaming. In another, I must find the long lines of a blouse being removed by the model and provide a sense of the material gathering just before the garment is pulled over the model’s head and tossed aside. Here’s another where the coloring of my model’s bottom has to match that of a spanked one, since that is her interest of late. With that, perhaps I should relate just how I came to this art form: erotica.

Over 25 years ago, I stumbled into stained glass design studio intent on selling the owner a business course. When I entered his establishment, I saw several wooden work tables-8 feet by 4 foot-at which were several people bent over their works in progress. Various finished works hung from the ceiling and on a side wall, lit from behind, were many dozens of 2 inch by 3 inch stained glass samples. I heard the sound of silk tearing which was the sound of glass cutters passing over the stained glass being cut. Glass grinders screeched from time-to-time as different glass piece were trimmed to fit in place. My briefcase slipped to the floor as I looked about the store. All notions of what I’d come in for—to sell my program—fell away as I looked, wide-eyed around the place. Ron Eberhardt, owner and Master Craftsman, came out of his personal workspace and asked, “What can I do for you?” “You can show me how to do this,” I said, as I waved my hand around me. I thought that last stained glass ever made was in the middle ages; I had no idea that it was still being done in this day and age. I was immediately hooked like an addict “falling off the wagon.” I signed up on the spot for a four week class which began the following Tuesday. I was told I could buy all my tools and supplies at a discount since I was now a student and that I should pick out a design, a “cartoon,” to build. I selected a butterfly of Ron’s design.

I had a hard time sleeping those next few days. I was finally going to pursue a dream I’d had since I was a child—I was going to be an artist. I had buried that dream so many years ago when my parents forcibly convinced me that their dream for me was to become a doctor; the first one in the family. I was powerless to resist and so I had read all the anatomy books I could find, including Gray’s Anatomy (a Christmas present from them) paying particular attention to the discussions and illustrations of the female. In any case, no matter what they said to me, I kept drawing and indeed writing poetry and various essays, expressing myself artistically in some form or another. Now, I was going to learn how to “paint with glass” and maybe even design some things of my own.

Tuesday night came around and class started. I asked a lot of questions and amazingly, handled the tools and implements as if I had been born with them in my hands. By the end of the first two-hour class I was way ahead of the other class members. We were given the choice of leaving our works at the shop or taking them home; home she came with me. I worked on the piece by placing the plywood frame on top of the clothes washer in the basement and forged ahead. Before the end of the class, I was finished. I had spent some time at the shop during my off days from work and got to be around Ron, too. I must have impressed him with my curiosity and skills as with a week of the class finishing, he had offered me a job as an apprentice working for him. He was getting behind in his clients’ orders and needed someone to work on a project. I accepted and quit my job as a salesman. I didn’t even ask what the project was except to be assured it would be in glass.

Came the next morning and I was introduced to my apprenticeship. A woman Ron knew was importing stained glass windows from New Zealand for resale in America. These windows had been torn out of their homes so that people could have plain clear glass installed in order to modernize their homes. The glass panels were found under porches or stuck in the ground in gardens as wind breaks for growing plants. This woman had come back with a container-full of these panels—most of them almost 100 years old, but still in relatively good shape. All I had to do was repair the damaged ones and she would sell them. I tell you, it was interesting but dirty and filthy work. It was interesting to handle pieces of such age and design—all built in England and shipped to New Zealand. I was ugly in that I had to remove century-old cement and lead in order to replace and redo to damaged works. Meanwhile, Ron was happily designing and building artful pieces for his ever widening list of clients. After a few weeks of this grungy endeavor, I asked Ron what it would take to start working on some of his new stuff. He said all I had to do was find someone to replace me.

The next day, I introduced Ron to my replacement, coincidentally a New Zealander herself. She lasted about a week. Ron was cool and understood he would make more money by having me help him get more new stuff out than by just repairing the old and told the woman to find someone else. I had my then-wife sew me an apron out of sail cloth to celebrate my new position and went to work whistling.

Ron was not only a Master Craftsman but was an excellent teacher, as well. He had been bringing people like me along for many years, not only as a top engineering draftsman for one of America’s Top Three automakers but as an artist in his own right. His shop was the premier studio in the Islands at the time and many fine artists sat at his knee as he lectured them in the finer points of design and panel construction. I was very lucky to be counted among his anointed following perhaps because I was enthusiastic and eager to learn. I didn’t always do things his way as there was so much to remember but in the end, he paid me my meager wages which I considered a gift on top of what I was learning. As I grew, he trusted me more, even putting me in charge of the shop when and his wife took an all too-short vacation for the first time in years.

One day, one of Ron’s best clients asked him to design a sliding glass door for his new home’s shower stall. Ron was to do anything he liked with one proviso: a mermaid was included. Ron showed me the completed “cartoon” (design drawing) and there she was—a naked mermaid sitting on a rock. I was astounded. Ron even figured out how to make a nipple in the middle of her breast by drilling through the glass to allow its attachment. Again, his engineering expertise was brought to the fore as he brought the design to life.

When the piece was done and about to be delivered, I asked Ron if there was a call for sexy stained glass or rather, erotic glass works. He said most anything could be done if the clients desired it; the trick was finding those clients who did.

I left Ron after about a year of learning and growth. During that time I sold my first piece to a woman that visited the shop’s display at a home show. When she came to the store to pick up the packaged piece, she told me to autograph the invoice because, “…One day you’re going to be a famous artist and I want to have your signature as this is the first piece you’ve sold.” I was flabbergasted to say the least. That someone could have so much confidence in my future was beyond me. Also during that tenure, I entered a piece into a stained glass show and it was immediately accepted by the jury. I babysat the event during its first weekend and struck up a conversation with a guy with a check in his hand. He asked if the entry called, “Great Wave off Mount Fuji” was available. That was my piece! I was so nervous that I stalled and told him I’d check the sales book to see if it was. Nothing had sold during this first full week and here was a man waving a check at me saying he wanted the work. I told him I would be happy to sell it to him but it had to stay for the entire month of the show. He said he understood but that he wanted to give it to his law partner that night for a birthday present. I told him I was the artist and that I could autograph a show program and he could show him that as his gift. He agreed, gave me the check and left with the signed syllabus. I thought my future was pretty well set by now. To pieces released to the public—two pieces sold.

But life had other plans for me…

Shortly after all this, I married, started a family and turned away from the world of art to get real jobs doing stuff I could barely stand. For 20 years I did virtually nothing in art until the time my wife said she was moving out, ending the marriage. That hurt, I can tell you. But, recovery was quick as I converted my daughter’s bedroom into a drawing studio and started designed erotic stained glass panels. The memory of that mermaid never left me and I was convinced my erotic art would be appreciated like the first ones were. Now, all I had to do was convince others to appreciate it.

I came across a stained glass studio one day, one of the most prominent in Hawaii, and asked the owner to take a look at my drawings. He was impressed and invited me to start building them right away with an eye to getting them into a one-man show. The story of that venture covered some 17 months and is pretty thoroughly covered in another journal but I will say this: I got my art into the public eye and some of them bought. I was indeed happy; I could what I wanted with anybody I wanted and here I had accomplished a life-long goal—getting my ideas out into the community. Life was good, indeed.

Then, I got laid off from a full-time job that was supporting my artistic efforts. Actually, I got fired for being too distracted. In the previous seven months, I had an eye operation, went through personal bankruptcy (as a result of the divorce), lost my mother and lost my apartment through sale. I guess distracted was the watchword. The Unemployment people sympathized with me and gave me almost as much money from the state as I was getting from the company I worked for. I though about getting another job but, my heart wasn’t really into that. It was fun being around people in a workplace but, there was all the drama that came with them. I couldn’t get into their private lives so I was always an outsider. Nobody asked me to spend lunch with them. I was friendly to everyone and even funny at times yet, no one wanted me over to their house for weekend parties. Then, there was the job itself. Most times, I learned so quickly and applied the processes so easily that I was a star for a while. I got bored from the repetitiveness of it all after a while, and wanted out. I don’t know if my constant moving from one city to another while growing up was to blame for my attention span (Dad was military) or if I just didn’t like office work. At any rate, I lasted four years at this last one; a record for me.

So, I spent my time on Unemployment drawing, reading and actually calling for interviews at various places where I just knew I didn’t want to work—Burger King, Sani-King, King Street Cleaners. The checks kept coming in as I had earned them due to my past employment. Some encouraged me to volunteer at some organization to network for another job or maybe even sell my art.

Selling my art became the great wonder of my life. Just how does one go about marketing tasteful erotica? I had a web site, for sure. Nobody bought from it. I thought it was the visitor that was stupid and not seeing the richness of my art that was the reason for no sales. It couldn’t be me and the lack of web understanding. I thought the site beautiful and engaging. There were pictures from my one-man art show, “The 2004 Hawaii Couples’ Stained Glass Classic: Original Erotic Art” in there. There were lots of words about me. There were wordy descriptions of each piece. And the prices were appropriate, I thought, considering this was erotic art even using an ancient medium, stained glass. I was charging $250 a square foot and hardly any piece was less than 4 square feet. Of course, everything I thought was right was wrong.

The site is so far off being attractive and desirous to visitors that I weep. I don’t know how to do so many things to attract visitors that I’m overwhelmed. Sure, there are people out there that work the site until sales do start happening but, the cost is prohibitive. I have all I need to study desired changes and actually implement them but, that’s boring. The key is to understand the medium as an informational tool for prospective visitors not necessarily as a sales tool. From what I understand, everything needs to be presented as if the visitor is looking for information be it about ancient padlocks or my kind of erotic art. Getting them to just visit a site is certainly a major issue; it’s getting them to stay for more than the landing page that sets the scene for purchase.

(Now that I have what I asked for, retirement without many financial worries, I can decide if the site is worth working on and spending some money on.)

After my mother passed away, her house needed to be sold. My sister took charge of that and in a few months there was inheritance money in my bank account. I paid off my car loan and bought a thick steak to celebrate. I went around to a few investment advisors to see what I might do with the “found” money and their advice was give it all to them. In 20 or 30 years I’d have more than what I started with. I didn’t want to go to work again and I did have all this money. I reasoned that with it and the Unemployment money I could last maybe 2 or 3 years while I worked on my art and built it into a business to support me. And so, I did more of the same; ate, slept, watched TV, read books, played with my art, bought some nice things and frittered away my time and my money. I was my own financial advisor with myself as a client—a foolish combination at best.

I did go on a diet and lost about 80 pounds from it. I looked better and felt better than ever and even tried marketing the product for a while. I didn’t get very far. I think I signed up 3 people and then nobody seemed interested. Oh well, there was always the art to sustain me emotionally and physically.

And how I came to display my models in my art is a story in itself…

About February of 2005, I had tired of the single life yet wasn’t convinced of bar room trolling as a way to ease that fatigue. So I signed up for some dating programs on the web. Much to my surprise, I was immediately contacted by scores of ladies, of all shapes and sizes and nationalities. I heard from ladies in deepest China and even “darkest” Africa. I spent some time with some and even carried on conversations for several days with others. I was smitten by Asians—as I have been since I laid down my first marriage to a Caucasian—and so, signed up for various Asian sites. It wasn’t long before one attracted by attention simply because she was different somehow. The others wanted marriage right away or money to “…take care of a sick mother.” This one just wanted to chat and to find out what we might have in common.

It’s been almost 2 years now and we have maintained an affection and love for one another through all that time. We have exchanged Christmas presents and seen each other on the PC cam but, never spoken over the phone. We’ve laughed and cried with each other. We’ve celebrated and bathed each other in compliments for worthy performances. We’ve supported each other in a myriad of ways, through many triumphs and some set backs. We’ve written emails of some length to each other and when we could, used Yahoo! Instant Messaging as our primary means of seeing each other. We’re usually aware of our 12 hour time difference between where I am and where she and her family are. Sometimes, she forgets and tries to raise me at 8pm her time and its 2am my time; I’m not always awake.

We spent most of our early days and weeks together on Yahoo!, with her in an internet café and me at home. She would often repair to a private viewing room which was expensive and occasionally I would send some Western Union money to cover several hours of internet time for her. We spoke at length about many things and if we repeated ourselves neither one of us minded. We were a decade and a half apart in age; me being the older of the two. Her sensibility and verve and dedication to her children—then, 17 and 18 years old—were comforting to me as were her compliments, genuine and gentle. I was impressed by her willingness to chat with me and to reveal so much private information but, I returned that effort gladly. I looked forward to our chats and if a day went by without one somehow that day was missing something.

Then, one week went by and I did not hear from her. I grew concerned and then worried at this space in our to-and-fro. I had no way of contacting her by calling up her PC because she had none. I could write a letter though mail was weeks in transition, as I later experienced. At long last, while at my desk, she contacted me. I was ebullient! She was back from some unknown pressing need and wanted to chat. My loneliness was assuaged and I glad fully accepted her invitation to view her on a cam.

She was in distress I could tell. She tried to smile but spent her time wiping her eyes with a handkerchief. I asked what the matter was and she said, “I’m so shamed.” I could think of nothing this stalwart, strong and thoughtful woman could possibly be involved in that would have her in such a state. I urged her to talk and she said her 18 year old daughter was in hospital with dengue fever, a potentially lethal virus borne by mosquitoes in some tropical Asian countries. The child had been in a coma for three days. She herself had spent those days at the girl’s bedside not leaving even to eat something. I was in tears as she outlined all that had happened. I then asked what her “shame” was all about with something so serious in her life. She explained that although I was kind enough to send a little money from time to time so she could pay the internet café and she was thankful for that, she now had to come to me to ask for help of a different kind. She said she was ashamed that she didn’t have enough money to pay for her daughter’s medical bills including what medicine countered dengue fever and there wasn’t much that did. She had to ask for my help if there was anything I could do. I asked her much she needed and found it to be a paltry sum by my standards. The amount she asked for was about as much as what paid for four hours in a US hospital. She needed just enough to get her daughter back home; where she could recuperate.

I rushed to Western Union and sent what she needed plus a little more for food. When I returned, I told her to take care of the situation and contact me when the daughter was well.

I looked up the virus on the internet and came away with much dread—there was no cure. Young children and elderly people went quickest. There was no treatment except rest and lot’s of water. How comforting that was. I was so afraid that I calculated travel expenses to and from her home just in case a funeral was in the works.

Imagine my surprise when an emailed letter came from the daughter expressing her thanks and describing what happened when she awoke. She said her room was full of food that her mother purchased through the kindness of “…an American living in Hawaii.” It was the first time my name was mentioned between the two of them yet, the daughter talked about how happy her mother had been over the last several months because “…of someone she met on the internet.” The daughter’s written English was almost perfect and that was expected based on descriptions provided by her mother. She wrote that after returning home the daily newspaper interviewed her due to her survival from the fever. They asked her how she “made it” and she gave credit to her doctors, her mother but, most of all, to her “Big Daddy Dick,” who lived in Hawaii and helped out with the medical expenses.

From this letter on, our first communication of any kind, I was moved by the daughter’s written words, by descriptions of her adventures from her mother and by the occasional glimpse of her in the cam from time to time. I wrote to her in my most Daddy-like fashion, urging her onward, filling cups of courage for her, helping her to understand herself a little better. She had been without a father since she was small; raised by her mother all that time. As I came into the picture, she began referring to me as her “Real Dad” since I acted like the father she always wanted. I spoke to her celebrations and her tribulations with equal measure. I was better at verbal encouragement and support of other kinds than anything else. I didn’t commiserate so much as I wrote about what was good in any travail. I looked at her as a strong, intelligent and beautiful girl and I suppose I must also admit I was smitten. I was falling in love with someone whom I had never met; yet, someone I knew so much about. I felt a kinship and spiritual bonding to a girl younger than my own daughter. This wasn’t supposed to be; her mother and I had the deepest connections with each other. We had spent many hours talking and exchanging ideas and even words of love. We had spoken often of what life would be like if only we were together. We admired each other for our individual fortitude, courage, talents and abilities and let each other know often about that. Although I often sat quietly to examine my feelings toward her, I was a tad dismayed that those feelings weren’t warmer. After all, I thought I had expressed myself well about my feelings toward her. Why did I feel hardly anything? I did feel gladness when she broke my normal day with her arrival on my instant messenger and we could chat. It was about this time as I was questioning myself that the daughter and I began corresponding by email.

Here was an adventure I hadn’t expected. She was young, impressionable yet able to discuss various subjects in more than passable English. We always sent email to one another rather than IM’ing on Yahoo! She would write something about her studies or about people we both knew in her country. (Yes, I had looked in on a variety of girls and women and coincidentally some were in the same town and my goodness, were even related to one her!) I would respond in a gleeful yet sober manner to her issues the moment her message arrived. I wrote in a motivational, “Go Get ‘Em, Tiger” approach, always reassuring, always confident that I laid out a path permitting her the victory or understanding she sought.

She would not write back for many weeks. I always told the mother when I responded to the daughter’s notes, not necessarily what the written conversation was about. I might say that I encouraged her to do this or that but not automatically the “how.” Slowly, as our posts increased in number, I would tell the mother that I had sent the daughter an email, sort of “out of the blue,” not a response but an original one; something I might have been thinking about her. I would ask about her more often, about her studies, about school field trips, about leadership positions she had accepted. I was genuinely interested in the daughter’s welfare including her psychological makeup and gently asked about those areas. After all, saving her life was attributed to my intervention and I embraced that and now felt responsible for her, as the Japanese would have it.

But, there was more to this. I began feeling my heart leap when my inbox showed a post from her. I would do my duties within the computer and home in order to have undisturbed time with her words. I would quickly scan the lines and then go back over them slowly, savoring every word. Sometimes, I needed to read slowly because the grammar might be misplaced and I had to figure out her statements. Mostly, I read slowly while imagining her sweet voice reading to me. She always thanked me for being available to her. She always praised me for my responses to her and for the original writings I passed on to her of my own various adventures in life. I wrote an article about a fateful boat-trip and sent it to her. I had a journal regarding my one-man art show I staged some time ago and emailed that to her. My purpose in sharing these missives was not only to show her that my adversities were overcome by diligence and nerve and that she could apply what I did to her situations. I was wooing her, as well. I knew if I wrote to her about myself, she would be swayed toward me. She would read good prose and about a strong, gentle, kind and talented man. She would look to me as someone to count on, who would always be there for her. She might even think of me as a companion in her future much as I was beginning to think of her.

There is more to this, of course, and it involves my art and her…

About this time, her mother and I knew enough about each that we developed affection for--and trust in--one another. We demonstrated that by going into business together. We tried several ventures: growing seaweed in the bay outside her town; making small loans to small businesses; reselling cell phone calling cards; and starting a small grocery right from the now-enclosed front porch of her home. I sent the money to do these things and she kept me informed about the ventures through reports I devised. She was also a full-time cosmetics sales person. It was only with the advent of my money that she was able to raise her standard of living. Don’t get me wrong, she spent wisely and frugally and for nothing that benefited her directly. I often encouraged her to spend some of the money she earned on herself like, chocolates.

We than started a business that changed many things; especially how I saw the daughter.

I had surfed the ‘net enough to know about how sex is sold on the web. I frequently visited various sites particularly those that represented my “fondnesses,” like Asian women. I had been especially interested in how they came to be coaxed into disrobing; was it money or fame? Too, at this point, the mother had taken to disrobing for me in the solitude of private rooms in internet cafes for viewing by ‘cam. We had some fun together enjoying “cybersex.” I understood that many women went to these private rooms and undressed in front of the cam for their boy-friends or husbands who might be overseas. I asked the mother if these girls and ladies ever sent photos of themselves in scanty clothing. She said many wanted to but were fearful of the local photo studios as they were mostly managed by men. Most women were prim and proper and didn’t want to expose themselves to other men. I asked her what if the photos were taken by women, would they feel better about that.

The next step was registering the business—“Sweet Shots.” The full title was “Sweet Shots of Sweet Ladies by Sweet Ladies.” We set up a back bedroom studio in her house and bought a digital camera. I even provided money for a PC so that she could take the pictures and produce them for the client on paper, CD or send them immediately by email to the boyfriend/husband—sometimes the same picture to two different addresses--all in complete privacy. We weren’t actually besieged with clients but we did have paying customers.

I suggested these pictures be copied to me so I could help with camera-use instructions like lighting, focus, etc. It was fun to see various women in different poses all of whom were paying us. This was so much more personal as I knew their names and even some history about each. At the same time, I was collecting pictures I could use to create my erotic art. There was a learning curve here, too, that I suggested we deal with in an original manner: use the daughter and the live-in cousin as practice models.

The idea was to learn how to quickly pose the clients and swiftly take the shots because we had practiced with the girls. Of course, those pictures also came my way so that I could coach the mother to better performance. If were self-assured, we could book more clients on any day because we could manage time. I figured if we were confident in front of the client we would also gain a reputation in providing a desired service and we could easily get that through practice. The business lasted for a while until it was criticized by neighbors as just a way to get pictures of local women to sell on the internet. “So, where’s the money that supposed to go to these women after their pictures are sold?” they asked. “Not that we think you’re trying to go into prostitution, but all the same, nude women is nude women,” they said. That scared away what few potential clients we had and we stopped marketing the idea. The strangest part of all this was that the most vicious commentary and gossip came from Mom’s other family members.

Mom had a PC—in her own house! She had a new motorbike. She had several businesses going, any one of which her neighbors and family members would need to visit to conduct some, well, business. Mom sold milk, eggs, beer, soda, toilet paper—the needful things—at “7-11” prices. Then there was the money lending operation and the cell-phone cards and even AVON. She was always smiling. She was so motivated. She was a big profile in the community. “…The mayor himself came to her house and even Hizzoner’s wife called on the daughter, no less. This all started when she met that guy from Hawaii on the internet and he started sending her money, you know. He was interested in my daughter for a while and even sent her some money,” they mumbled on. The home borough was like a small co-operative; the one thing central to this group of houses was the public well.

Everybody went to the well for all the myriad uses of water. Unless the water was used for cooking it was always earth cold. Bathing was from a bucket. Some washing machines still worked. Toilets flushed with a bucketful. Some people might even drink this water but, my “adopted family” sensibly used reputable bottled water. But the well was Meeting Central for all those without jobs or underemployed; mostly the women of the village. They exchanged pleasantries and sometimes snacks purchased at—surprise!—Mom’s 7-11. Then they started tearing into us while buckets dropped in and were hauled out of the well. They sat on planks and some old church pews under some spreading trees. (It was never cool next to the well except during the rainy season and then there could be no meetings.) The jealousy that echoed with their condemnations was devastating emotionally, mentally and psychologically. The family’s fears heightened to a degree that living in another city was seriously planned. We were powerless in the onslaught of this venomous tongue-lashing for enjoying a modicum of success. Mom became a nervous wreck with a migraine. The cousin’s older brother came by demanding to know why his sister’s picture was on the net. (Actually, someone saw one of my pieces entitled with the cousin’s name and went crazy with gossip.) Then, someone came to the family’s house during a religious celebration and stole a bra and panties photo of the daughter, demanding a ransom for its return.

I spent a lot of time on the internet sending emails of support. I was available for Yahoo! Instant Messaging almost 24/7 during the ten days of this crisis. I found myself cooking food in my own kitchen so I wouldn’t leave their sides and am there for them if only on the ‘net. I took quick showers and ventured out rarely. Part of this was exciting in that I was involved in some action even if it was several time zones away. A major part was just learning how to communicate across the distance and across the cultures. Here in the US, starting a business is normal and if success comes some people will grumble but most will be happy for it. There, in the midst of poverty and subsistence living, success was a threat to normalcy and must be thwarted. There were rich people in the town proper and nobody begrudged them. They made their money by starting something small and building it up. But, that was far away and a long time ago. This success was happening now, right in front of them and needed attention.

Suffice to say, “Sweet Shots” took a licking and stopped ticking. The family stayed in their ancestral home and village. All calmed down after a time and we tried other things which worked. Some things changed slightly and yet, one thing remained the same: pictures kept coming.

I needed the model pictures as material for my art. I could have gone to the web and downloaded any pose I wanted. I chose their pictures so that I could say when success arrived that I only used professional models. I’m sure I wanted the experience of being able to chat with either model or exchange emails—getting to know them deeper than just pictures. It was like having close friends pose and enjoying dinner together after. I thought payment was appropriate so I made a deal with Mom: I’ll pay a monthly fee, you send as many pictorials as you can. I’ll convert the photos into art. They came in droves. I couldn’t believe the number and of the increasing quality, too. She learned the basics in photography and then applied a natural talent for arranging things in an attractive manner. The poses for each model were different and of those, very few were repeated. Mom worked with each model’s personality and created a style for each. From Cousin, I learned to expect open poses which revealed more. From Daughter, I watched her grow from quiet, shy poses to surpassing anything cousin did. I helped that growth, I think, by my emails to Daughter in that I encouraged her to use her confidence and courage not only in her studies and social life but in posing, as well. Spread more, open more and show more were my advisories. I sent examples of poses I wanted constantly, sending so many that I’m sure I overwhelmed them. Occasionally, a pose would make it back to me and I was relieved to see my work rewarded. There was much fun in surfing the net looking for examples and then collating them. I also waited with breathless anticipation the arrival of the bi-weekly pictorials.

Cousin sent more pictures than Daughter as her school schedule was punishing. I sent back many more works of art featuring her than of Daughter. For a time, Cousin and I conversed almost daily by chat line. She had an internet boyfriend she talked to me about. I did my best to advise her. I think I even fell in love with her for a while, writing poetry about her and confessing my feelings. Cousin was a strong and rather than falling for me she reminded me that I was in this family because of my professed feelings toward Mom. Cousin had been very instrumental in bringing Mom and I closer together by chatting at length about the various trials and tribulations Mom was going through and about how Mom felt about me. Gradually, she made the Mom/me case stick and I relented in my expressions of love toward Cousin.

But, it was Daughter’s pictures that enthralled me. Her eyes were direct and attention-grabbing. Her poses were not necessarily as potent as Cousin’s but that was a matter of degree. She revealed an outward shyness but the way she looked into the camera was devastating. She spoke to me quietly through her poses of how she felt toward me, bringing her written words to life. She had a model’s body—slim, long-legged and a strong posture. She smiled broadly or demurely. She also portrayed a model’s boredom from time to time. I could tell her mood from the pictorials and whatever she had written to me. I wanted to touch her. Her poses either invited me alongside or advised me to stay the distance. Although she confessed her feelings for me many times, they were respectful feelings of a daughter toward a father, I thought. Her poses combined with our communications were deadly—I was falling in love with a beautiful, intelligent, warm and thoughtful young woman.

I wrote to her constantly, encouraging her in school and other areas. I searched historical figures in her country and related their stories to show her what courage could do. I impressed her; she told me that. I cared for her like I hadn’t for anyone I’d ever been with. I loved her across the miles and wanted to be with her. I priced a trip there and found it affordable. I could almost feel her hand in mine; hear her soft voice in my ears. I imagined being her first lover. In my dreams, we walked and talked and had lunch between her classes. I thought of her as my wife, even though there was a forty year difference in our ages; it didn’t matter, Love conquers all, right?

There was only the small matter of Mom and our relationship with which to deal.

To be continued…

A Week In Hell


I spent a week in hell these last seven days. The pain was excruciating and all-encompassing. I dragged from minute to minute during the day and slept less each night than the night before. I could not smile. Tears flowed continuously as I sat in front of my computer, trying to compose literary efforts. My art did not suffer from this down time in fact, got better. What a dichotomy I went through: pain within and joy at my artistic output. Yet, I cried every time I wrote a pleading for release from this suffering. I wept so much that my keyboard is cleaner now than ever from being wiped down almost hourly. My shoulders fell each time I checked my email looking for a message, any message positively telling me penance service was over but nothing was there.

What had I done? Was this misery a result of my doing? Did I offend somehow, unknowingly, unwittingly, naively? Had the wisdom of my accumulated years suddenly changed into arrogance and I was unconcerned about the effect of my actions? Could I even pinpoint the moment, the act, the words that brought this crashing down on me?

Through the cloud of uncertainty I searched looking for that one thing that had me suffering so but, nothing clanged through the fog like a warning buoy close offshore. I played back everything I said. I searched through emails, letters even instant messenger playbacks seeking the words I uttered in print that thrust me in front of that oncoming truck and into traction. I went back over my art to see where I might have gone too far, taken a few too many liberties, exposed so much that I was obviously “over the line” and offensive. I wrote apology letters begging forgiveness for whatever I did, promising retraction and a future free of errors and misjudgments. I even sent one by airmail driving miles away to mail it at an open post office and while there, trying to decide whether to send it regular or express which was 19 times more expensive yet three times faster. I sent it regular mails figuring it might well get there in a week or so not much longer than the five days “express” offered. Tears filled my eyes as I paid for the post and left the office. All I wanted was a reason why I felt so bad and to be released by that.

I just wanted to know how this desperation overwhelmed me so. I just wanted to know what I had done that brought this on. I couldn’t believe that I done something so draconian to deserve this agonizing punishment of fear and pain from silence. It was the silence that caused all this. I was weighed down by no words, no messages—nothing. I checked hourly for emails and daily for postal deliveries—nothing. I sent emails that went unanswered. I left instant messages that were unacknowledged. I called long-distance and couldn’t get through because my cell phone couldn’t call international. All I needed was a release by a few words of absolution or a service of penance of whatever length or depth. I would flail myself in public if that was what it took. I would walk on my knees until my skin fell off in exchange for release from this suffering. All it would take was a word or a nod or a pointed finger and I would gladly comply. I even stopped my artist efforts and suffered further as I shut down my creativity. Just say the word, I thought, and all this ends.

I spoke to my best friend in Canada for several hours over several days not about my suffering but about his joy in a deepening relationship with a woman he met some months ago. He regaled me with stories of their times physically together and of their telephonic hours together neither of which I had any hope of enjoying presently or seemingly in the future. Eerily, his relationship was so much like the one I had. His love was a mirror for his thoughts and emotions and so was mine. She added to his every breathing moment and so did mine. Their hearts beat as one--as the saying went--and I knew what that was, too. They had promised each other a lifetime together and I ached to be able to do the same.

He and I had gone through many of the same things in our lives—divorce, child rearing, spiritual searches and even cancer. While I was the artist and he the engineer we both shared a sense of creativity in most of what we did. He taught me much about the design and display of the human nude from an engineering point of view. In exchange, I taught him some things about verbal expression in print and my mouth. He acknowledged my abilities and my attempts at understanding things spiritual. He introduced me to “chakras” and the power of prayer. He accepted my ideas about the universe’s power over everything and simplified those thoughts so that I could even better understand them. He showed me how to be “successful” in all I did, starting with simple, cogent beliefs about the present and its effect on the future. He helped me understand how everything now was a result of thoughts held in the past. He showed me how clarifying my prayers to the universe would result in almost instantaneous results. I followed his advice from time and was astonished at what happened. If I asked for a meeting with someone else, it happened. If I asked for better results in my art, it showed up. If I asked for financial results (and I was specific) I enjoyed the results. He sent me CD’s of positive information, teachings, instructions and DVD’s of great meetings and discussions to propel me forward. He forwarded websites and downloads for me to view as a way to help me move toward my goals. He was more than a brother; he was my best friend.

Yet, we had never met in person up to now. All our meetings were over the phone or by email. Until recently, we didn’t even know what each other really looked like except for some grainy photograph exchanges. It didn’t matter; our conversations and email exchanges were sufficient to keep us connected and developing a firm relationship. We shared similar beliefs about women. We swapped ideas regarding all manner of things from the design of a bolt to those obviously esoteric like, what were the most powerful forces in the universe. We could tease each other unmercifully without any pain delivered or received. We discussed people we both knew or events we both witnessed. He showed me much about the spiritual side of high finance; much of which escaped me. He invited me to learn more about myself and my actions and thoughts. I worked at it as much as I could, to make occasional breakthroughs in the adventure of my life examined. I trusted the paths he opened for me and found results each time. It’s just that I tired easily and reverted to previous, familiar behavior.

I did make progress from time to time, exchanging old, ineffectual ideas for these new ones—new to me, at least. I was surprised at my perception of “newness” these thoughts brought since I had been aware of them for years. I just thought they didn’t apply to me, that I was unworthy of the saving power of them due to what I found was simply a matter of low self-esteem. This lack of self-confidence, in spite of a slew of successes in art, business, volunteerism and personal relationships (okay, two divorces were in here, too) haunted me and made me discount these achievements as less my involvement and more to luck or others. I remember winning a new assignment or taking on a new project with much enthusiasm and then slowly, inexorably I would start making mistakes and spending more time correcting them than moving forward. While I could trace this low self-image back to my younger days when my parents’ “pooh-poohed” my dreams and aspirations unless these matched their own for me, I could not understand why I continued to drag this issue into adulthood.

My friend went through this same youthful programming and overcame it using the techniques he was espousing for me. He showed me how simple change could be and that it only cost time and release of old ideas. He talked endlessly of what my life could be by following the steps he followed. He carefully outlined what I should do in the next 24 hours, the next week and month to achieve this life of freedom and wealth in less time than he took. He turned me over to a spiritualist who conferred with me on the phone, identifying various positive personality attributes of mine as well as some things holding me back, all in a first meeting with me. He introduced me to “…the ‘Master Key’ given to the world as a means of tapping the great cosmic intelligence and attracting from it that which corresponds to the ambitions, and aspirations of each reader.” And, he did all of this because I wanted to change in order to achieve more than I was currently.

In time, he slowly backed away, saying he had given me all the tools required to achieve what I said I wanted. All I had to do now was use them. He told me he had cursed me and held me in praise although keeping the negatives to himself. For a time, instead of hearing from him daily, I spoke weekly and then monthly. The emails slowed to nothing. I missed him but couldn’t contact him for fear of his asking me what had I done in the spiritual realm and my answering with “…nothing.” He knew that already, I’m sure and possibly didn’t want to embarrass either one of us by raising the question.

Now, with the silence I was enduring from the woman I loved, I asked him how I should ask her the burning question, “Will you marry me?” He said to phrase it in such a way that I was inviting her to live in America. Then, if she said she wanted to, ask her if she wanted to share that life with me. He said not to scare her or overwhelm her with expressions of love right now. I had already done that earlier, in fact, on Christmas Eve the last time we spoke. Once again, I did what I thought was right and maybe foiled my chances with her. Maybe this was why she didn’t respond to my emails or to my instant messenger pleas. Maybe I had frightened her with my espousals of deepest love. Perhaps, she wasn’t ready to accept me as a lover or more than a friend and confidant. It could be that this silence was caused by my moving too fast, even though we had spent the greater part of the last two years getting to know each other deeply and intimately. What if I had blown my chances with her to share what remained of my life simply because I was frank and direct? If she was thinking over a response to me, could she not at least let me know? The torment I was enduring was possibly the worst pain ever and surely it was my entire fault. I wept constantly in guilt. I wrote her, I tried calling without success. I was so afraid that something might have happened to her and there was nobody I could contact to find out for sure. I was up hourly checking my email for posts. I turned up my PC volume so that should she try to contact me on Yahoo! I would be awakened if I wasn’t already. I could not have been more wistful.

And then, Yahoo! Instant Messenger lit up and she was back… All I could say in greeting was, “Happy, happy, joy, joy! I’ve missed you SO much” as she wrote, “im [sic] so excited to see and talk to you…”

The silent treatment was over! I am forgiven! I am accepted back into her loving arms! I must not be the rat I made myself out to be! I am okay and good to live on exuberantly! I am new, again!

“What’s that about your internet service provider? They say your modem has been inoperative for a week now, and that’s prevented you from contacting me or reading my emails? What is a modem, you ask?”

I was beside myself in relief. I told her the tears falling from my eyes were tears of joy at seeing her again. She said, “…oh, never cry... you just deserve to be happy always remember that, and im [sic] just here for you…”

It was a malfunctioning modem that caused all this distress? She wasn’t all that computer literate and didn’t know what was wrong until the day before she came online and then it was raining too hard to get to an internet café on her motorbike.

A bad modem caused the silence? I wasn’t to blame after all? All that I put myself through was for naught? I had done nothing improper or disturbing after all?

Well, that being the case, I figured it was time for me to “pop” the question. I had rehearsed it over and over again. I had a feeling what the answer would be yet, I was fearful she might ask to delay her answer or might say no, outright. I didn’t practice anything for a negative answer; I was convinced she would say yes—surely.

And so, I asked if it was okay for me to ask a question but that I wasn’t sure how to phrase it. She urged me to ask anyway.

I asked if she would like to live in America and she said that was a dream of hers as soon as she finished her college studies. That went well, I sighed. Then I asked her if she would like to live in America and share my life with me. The seconds ticked by. My hands went to my mouth which was dry fearing a “no.” Yahoo! IM indicated she was typing a message back to me. My heart beat a staccato in my chest as I waited for her to finish and press “enter.” She had chosen a red italic font for her responses and on the screen I read, “hmmmnnn... that would be a great idea, but its [sic] impossible…impossible in the sense that its [sic] difficult for me to get there...” She didn’t say no, she just said she didn’t know how it would be done. I fired back with, “If you say yes, the rest will be done...paperwork, my visit [there] to get things going, arranging for the formalities...all will be done at the right time, Li'l Love... those are just procedures…” And then she said “…yes, thank you for making me happy today and always. I love you.”

And so it goes thanks to a faulty modem. I went to the bottom and came out on top thanks to it. I found out a lot about how much I cared about her. I realized what a life would be like with her at my side. I’d fallen deeply in love for the first time in many decades. I couldn’t keep this to myself for long. The first person to hear, “She said yes!” was the Western Union clerk who processed the money I sent to my love for a wedding savings account. Then, I called my man in Canada and we spoke for an hour as we compared notes about our “gals” finding that our relationships were almost exactly the same: the same thoughts, feelings and with the exception of his being able to be with his love frequently, the same behavior.

All was well in the world. The heavens showered goodness all around. The universe had answered my prayer of asking that she love me enough to say yes. I believed once again in that power and so I asked for more…

More about that, later…