Thursday, December 30, 2010


For anyone in my life whom I have hurt, I am sorry.  

It was not intentional, just thoughtless.  

My life is committed to being based on loving kindness.

Way back in 2006 I wanted to learn how to draw and a friend named Leslie encouraged me.

I am thankful she was in my life; I am better for it.

My final insight from the journey I took of self-exploration may sound trite: the meaning of my life is to become unconditional love.   

Unconditional love is so rare to feel and in fact scorned by many.

There is so much aggression and violence in the world sometimes it all just seems so hopeless. Unconditional love is based on humor and empathy; it is the only remedy I see to personal suffering.

I'm so thankful for the lesson of The Pink Lama, Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes, the character I created as an archetype of love: that on our journey, the final meditation is for each one of us to discover.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Fiction - all characters, names and events are fictional

A work of fiction; any similarity to names, events or places is unintended and coincidental.

I dedicate my life to achieving self-actualization;
I dedicate my life to helping others achieve self-actualization;

I dedicate my life to peaceful acts;
I dedicate my life to peaceful thoughts;

I meditate on emptiness;
I meditate on form;
I mediate on form as emptiness;

I release all attachments.
I release my self;
I let go.

Most people carry trauma in the lives.  For most people, I've observed that they bury their trauma.  The result is that it manifests itself in neurotic actions.  Every persons' traumatic experiences are unique to them.  Even if the same on its face, traumatic experience affects people according to their own individual make-up and circumstances.  Thus, it is critical to validate each survivor's unique experience.  

In my case, I experienced severe abuse and neglect as a child.  Like so many people, I finally confronted my past as an adult.  Also, like many people, I made the mistake of relying on people I thought were my friends.  I didn't understand that they, like most people, were emotionally stunted and self-absorbed.  In other words, they were not only completely incompetent but they made my trauma worse by responding in abusive and dismissive ways.  

Luckily, I found the DC Rape Crisis Center which had compassionate and knowledgable people who validated me and my experiences.  The rest of my recovery was largely self-learned through meditation.

There are multiple approaches to meditation.  My thought is that one should do what is practical; in other words, take what works in leading one towards a centered and peaceful mind.  

Below I collect forms of meditation that have worked for me.  I include some descriptive background for some meditations.  The names I use are fictional.  


The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation

Takeaway: To change myself, I meditate on a substitute view of myself

The traditional way to break an addiction is to create a substitute.  For instance, chew gum instead of smoking.  The power of religion is when it creates a substitute emotion.  That is why many broken people feel the transformative power of religion.  They often, of course, attribute that power, to God, and specifically to their God.  Thus is born fanaticism.  

Meditation is also transformative in that anything one does changes one's brain chemistry and wiring.  The Tibetan Book of Liberation offers the story of a prince Padma who gets married and thereafter goes through many tribulations.  The story contains many howlers for any thinking person and it is sexist and fantasist, ripe material for Ricky Gervais.  For instance, finally wining his bride, the Book notes Padma gets 500 virgins thrown into the deal because that is customary. He later deserts his wife, who he stole from another man, because he wants more from life than love, family and sex with 500 virgins.  The story makes no comment on what today would clearly be considered narcissistic and sociopathic behavior.  This made clear to me how religion is simply a product of culture and the times.  Specifically, religion is a reflection of power structures.  

Putting that aside, however, if taken as an allegory for a teaching on how to achieve wakefulness, or self-awareness, the story is instructive.

Self-awareness comes in bursts; seeking it is a continual path.  By changing his view of himself, Padua achieved wakefulness.  By achieving the discipline of meditating on the spirits around him and on the gurus, Padua changed the view of himself and achieved self-awareness.  Evil spirits are in essence, creations of unhealthy social relations.  I meditate.



The fallacy of religion is the underlying premise that everyone is the same and can reach a state of being "saved" or of transcendence.  

Takeaway: I meditate on achieving self-awareness and the realization that self-awareness in others is the exception.

Reading about personality disorders accentuates the practical limitations of human interactions.  The narcissistic personality is one of the most damaging because in many ways society rewards the narcissist, who may be a high achiever.  The victim is sucked in and then, when discarded for having tried to express his or her own feelings, left isolated.  Like so many people, I learned this the hard way through a prior relationship.  To avoid this in the future, I meditate on the attributes of the narcissistic personality and the reality that a narcissist will not change and can't be reasoned with or helped.  

I mediate.



The Tibetan Book of the Dead

Takeaway: I meditate on the evil spirits that will greet me when I am dying.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead explains what will happen when we are dying.  It encourages a person to understand that process now, and to meditate on it, so that when the actual time comes we will be prepared.  We will meet many evil spirits which are trying to confuse us and to distract us from being reincarnated at a higher level.  If we recognize those evil spirits, and understand they are all created by our mind, they cannot prevail.

I have found a practical way to approach this.   There are certain people who I have concluded are simply evil, who lack a conscience and who enjoy hurting others.  All normal people are aware that unfortunately there are sociopaths and narcissists in their lives.  When I encounter such persons I typically have gotten a knot in my stomach and felt anxiety because they trigger memories of my father and his deranged mistress, Ilse.  Now, if I run into my ex girlfriend or her girlfriends, or any of the numerous sociopaths bound to be encountered in life, my plan is simply to observe them as evil spirits; they are narcissistic and sociopathic material manifestations of evil spirits.  They now have a purpose in my life: I look forward to seeing them to practice calm in their presence, as practice for greeting those evil spirits described in The Tibetan Book of the dead.

I meditate.



Dear Patrick, by Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D.

Takeaway:  I meditate continuously on the question: 'Why am I doing this?' If the answer contains elements of greed, ill-will or ignorance, don't do it!"

At one of the most difficult times of my life, I was fortunate to have stumbled onto a one-day lecture by Jeffrey Schwartz at the Smithsonian. Schwartz is one of the foremost neuroscientists who developed the new paradigm of the plasticity of the mind. Besides introducing me to this new field, he also got me interested in meditation, which he is a big proponent of. I've been rereading his book Dear Patrick which is based on letters he wrote to a teenager who didn't have a father. There is a passage I find useful:

"Whenever you feel any doubt or hesitation about something you're about to do or say, stop and ask yourself: 'Why am I doing this?' If the answer contains elements of greed, ill-will or ignorance, don't do it!"

To some extent this seems to stop most action - because for me I feel in a constant state of ignorance. But, it is essential as a technique to avoid being simply reactive. Schwartz would explain that this actually has a neurological basis, as asking 'why?' allows activation of circuit breaker of the mind to cut off the amygdala from running out of control.

Psychologically, it is interesting to think of habits formed. My father was a person of total self-indulgence and completely lacking in empathy. While I can feel compassion for him, knowing his actions were caused by unloving and abusive parents, it is important for me to realize that this is the role model I had. Consciously I want to be nothing like him in that regard, so perhaps I need to be more aware of the unconscious patterns I absorbed from him and incorporated into my emotional memory, and thus must more often ask myself "why?"

Meditating on mindfulness is a useful tool also to develop this new habit.

I meditate.



The main story line below is inspired by true events: the reincarnation of Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes,  a shadow saint of the Vatican, fulfilling the prophecies in The Book of Revelation which will lead to the rise of a Third Rome.  

This story reflects the greatness of people I've known and the evil of people I've experienced. 

I have necessarily changed names and events for privacy and narrative continuity, so I call it fiction.   

And after all, until all of the prophecies are fulfilled, so will most others.

The meaning of life is to love one's self.

Takeaway: I meditate on the emotion of loving myself.

Where is hope? What is the best thing you ever did for anyone? Where is truth? Where is your truth? Political activism and religion do not translate into emotional empathy. Alienation didn't die with Camus. It is in every neighbor, friend, lover. I am excluded, a bother, an imposition of boundaries. And so are you. Trust me, at your lowest moment in life, you will be alone. Through me - and through you - they'd see themselves.

I remember him strangling me. 

I couldn't breath. 

And for years afterwards I held my breath, inside. 

And then I met her. 

And loved her. 

When I think about those rare moments of coincidence in life, events so random and fantastic that change the trajectory of existence, I wonder if they are, in fact, destiny.

Since being an infant I remember having been fascinated by the concept of art.  Yes, I clearly remember sitting in a playpen outside as Toronto maple leaves fell around me and squirrels were my only playmates wondering: "What is it?  How is it created?"

Of course, maybe it wasn't as clearly articulated as I remember now.   Maybe what I remember was a craving for acknowledgment and nurturing.  An inability to understand that need transformed into a search for empathy within objects of art.  The first of which were comics.

At the age of six I stood in a Toronto supermarket transfixed by colors of pages placed right within my line of vision (fabulous marketing!).  Captain America 100, "Big Premier Issue!"  My Mother leaned over and asked: "Do you want one?" "Which should I get?" I asked.  "Whichever one you want," she said.  A rare confluence in my life of attention, nurturing, choice and sensory stimulation (the last being Jack Kirby).  I chose Captain America and for years afterwards was perplexed by how a "premier" issue could start at #100.  Later I decided premier meant "best" not "first".

Thirty years later I met Leslie Geddes.  I realize now it was deja vu.  It was one of those experiences that made the universe seem whole and meaningful.  It was so random to create a dizzying sensation of destiny.

For nearly two years Leslie repeatedly told me how deeply she was in love with me. 

This was through the hundreds of emails she sent me, and over the months we lived together. 

And every time I saw her. 

I wanted to believe, but was occasionally given reason to ask "why?", such as when she told her friends at a party (during the time we lived together) that she wanted them to set her up with someone-else, "someone cute and rich"; or when she would stop in her tracks while walking with  me to simply stare at a strikingly attractive man, and then refuse to discuss it; or when I came over one morning to see that she had clearly spent the night with someone else, or when she'd literally turn her back on me and walk away when I foolishly tried to communicate my feelings or to ask her about hers.

Once, when I persisted and tried to ask about such things she gave me an icy stare of such deep hatred that I jumped, and as I did so I saw a glimmer of laughter in her eyes.  She had a way of turning her emotions on and off like a light-switch.

When I visited her at Princeton, Leslie told me with glee about a classmate whose boyfriend had broken up with her.  Leslie laughed as she recounted that the woman was in so much emotional pain that she was rolling on the ground in agony.  When I suggested to Leslie that maybe the woman needed a friend and that Leslie could be that friend, her response was one of total bafflement and incomprehension.  I sensed then that if I ever showed feelings or vulnerability to Leslie she would use it against me.

So, as a result I felt that I was constantly walking on eggshells around her.  In short, a relationship with Leslie felt like being in an insane asylum.

Logically one would then ask: "So if your intuition told you she was a gold-digger and con artist, why did you stay with her?"  The answer is that the first months were bliss and unfortunately I fell in love with her completely.  I was so much in love with her that I blocked the sense of warning and the fear I felt from her later controlling behavior.  

Unfortunately, my love was so deep that I was blinded and once it was out of my heart, I couldn't put it back.  

Also, I didn't know how to articulate the confusion I was feeling.  Walking on eggshells felt natural and comfortable in a dysfunctional way, since that's how I had grown up.

But mostly, by then I wanted to believe her daily declarations of love.

I wanted to believe I could be loved because my childhood made it difficult for me to believe I could be loved at all. 

After nearly two years, the stress of it all took it's toll.  "I want to be friends," I told her.  What I really meant was that I wanted to develop a relationship based on emotional intimacy.  But, having never expressed my feelings or even allowed myself to acknowledge them, I didn't know how to begin to communicate that.  

Leslie had moved out and, I learned later, had been seeing that "cute and rich" guy her friends had offered to hook her up with.  His money apparently resonated.  Her response to me was simply, "okay." 

A couple of months later after living in agonizing pain at having, in my mind, sabotaged a meaningful relationship, in an act of shocking naivete I decided to call her and to confide my painful childhood, the reasons for my distrust of her and others and to ask for her support in finally confronting the past and moving beyond it. 

I also told her I loved her, which I did very deeply. 

Leslie laughed.  
She told me to never contact her again.  
She hung up. 

That was the last time we spoke.  

I fell into a cycle of despair. 

Thinking there must be a misunderstanding, remembering that she had told me in hundreds of letters that she loved me, that she asked to move in with me, introduced me to her family and repeatedly told me she loved me, and remembering the good times, I decided to write explaining the situation. 

I wrote every few weeks the most insightful and sincere letter I could, believing in my ability to open my heart and that that was what Leslie wanted, because she had said she loved me.

It was a huge mistake, the biggest error of my life, to put my faith in Leslie's love.  I already knew from experience that she was capable of turning her emotions on and off on a dime.  But I felt I had a breakthrough in confronting my past and decided to believe in her, foolishly throwing caution to the wind.  

I also naively considered her two best friends my friends and so reached out to them for advice. 

Kirsten Feyling was my neighbor who I had spent a lot of time with. 

I knocked on her door and asked for her help and guidance. 

Kirsten opened her door and seeing me angrily yelled, "why do you keep bothering everybody?" before slamming her door in my face.   Later, I saw Kirsten Feyling again and she lunged towards me screaming, her face distorted with rage.  I ran.

Another day as I entered my building I ran into Leslie's other friend, Maggie.  As I reached for the large glass door entrance to my building Maggie Martel saw me and slammed open and smashed the door in my face.  As I reeled in shock, she snorted with laughter and walked off. 

Her friend Autumn Francois practically spit on me the times I passed her on the street.

It was very difficult to understand this onslaught of hostility from these people I had felt so close to. 

Of course now I know that my attempts to communicate with them were profoundly naive. 

I didn't understand the dynamics of relationships: because I hadn't loved myself I chose a relationship with a person alienated from their own emotional life.  Leslie was the last person who could offer empathy since she lacks it for herself. 

The common denominator among Leslie and her friends is that all of them have very difficult relationships with their fathers and in their romantic relationships.  

I theorize that once Leslie had no more use for me, they projected their unresolved anger towards their fathers onto me.

It was some sort of primal assertion of power which at the time I didn't understand.  They were the same as my childhood abusers in the enjoyment they gained from causing pain.  To me, in a perverse way, the abuse of Leslie and her friends felt familiar.

Just as the man strangling me and abusing me seemed to take great pleasure in doing so, I've found that what creates the lasting pain of abuse isn't the physical act but the memory of the joy reflected in the abuser's eyes at the moment of total control.  

This is what is the survivor remembers: the emotional pain.

I remember seeing it in the eyes Ilse, of my father's mistress, when I was locked in her apartment as a child desperately trying to get out. 

My father would leave me with her in some warped effort to get me to know her. 

Ilse would sit on the couch smoking, icily staring at me. 

Finally, the ritual would be I would freak out and want to leave, clawing at the locked door. 

She would laugh hysterically and refuse to unlock the door unless I kissed her, at which moment her eyes reflected triumph. 

This was my first taste of emotional and sexual abuse. 

I saw it in the eyes of Peter Barnett, my fourth grade teacher at the International School of Geneva who would hit my everyday and tell me I was stupid. 

Just at the moment of impact of his hand on my head a self-satisfied smirk would appear. 

And I saw it in the eyes of the teacher, John Fogarty, as he strangled me in a distant field. 

And in the eyes of Bruce Harlow, the headmaster of the school who realized my parents were incapable of protecting me, and so he was safe. 

And in the students who in ninth grade would viciously beat me up because I was kind and thoughtful. 

I saw that same look of hatred in the eyes of Leslie and her friends.

It was a long climb out of their brainwashing to realize that I have value, that I deserve to be happy, to care about myself and to love myself.  And that I don't need them for that validation.

It was the DC Rape Crisis Center that ultimately helped me to heal. 

I now understand that having grown up with abuse I learned to devalue myself and consequently chose friends who were controlling and manipulative to reinforce my lack of confidence and to perpetuate my emotional scars. 

But, I've also learned that for me, compassion towards those who were hurtful is the final stage of my healing. 

For years I found myself plagued with the despair of "why?": Why would a teacher tell me he loved me and take me to an isolated field to violently sexually assault me? 

Why did the headmaster cover up the assault when I reported it? 

Why did my father choose alcohol, drugs and a sociopathic mistress who would hurt his children over treating his family with love and compassion? 

Why did Leslie, who told me she deeply loved me over two years, turn her back on me at my most desperate moment, when for once I believed in trust and in emotional intimacy? 

Why did her friends respond with abuse to my reaching out in friendship?

I nearly drove myself crazy with this "why" until I realized that the "why" is ultimately unanswerable.

At a basic level abusers have unfathomable emotional immaturity and lack the capacity for empathy.

But, explanations and theories are mere speculation, as meaningless as parlor games. 

What saved my sanity from the need to constantly ask "why" is insight I received through attending the lectures of the Dalai Lama: the only goal I have to work for is a peaceful mind.  

A means of doing this is to extend compassion to others - and to myself - with the belief that this engages the power of my mind and creates a virtuous cycle of karma. 

This is what works for me and what gives me sanity when Leslie, my father, and those others I loved and trusted acted insane. 

For me, the answer to "why?" doesn't matter anymore.

They either chose a role to play or it is their karma to play it.  

I choose mine.

I choose to believe in God as a power found within.  

That is where I focus my mediation practice.  

That is my answer. 

From a practical perspective, through the DC Rape Crisis Center I found friends who are empathetic.  They gave me strength and I learned practical coping strategies, such as somatic therapy.

I also empowered myself by taking legal action against a childhood abuser.  

It was not easy and took years of persistence.  

I won. 

Most importantly, I learned that the only person who needs to love me is myself.

Finally, I also forgave my former friends who turned their backs on me at my lowest moment. 

I sat down and placed a chair opposite me and asked each of them (in spirit) to forgive me for having given them pain and distress by imposing on them my expectation that they were greater than who they are. 

I know now from experience that Leslie, Maggie, Kirsten, Autumn, and Alice are people of staggering and unfathomable emotional immaturity, seemingly incapable of empathy, completely lacking in self-awareness.and conscience.

In this, I feel, they are simply like most everyone else: phonies, banal, Ordinary People.

What they taught me is that people can be horrible human beings.  

My belief that Leslie and her friends were capable of more than that was a delusion resulting from my pain.

The pain resulted from desire at the lowest point of my life: a desire for their empathy, a desire for their compassion, a desire for their kindness, a desire for their friendship.

I meditate on releasing all desire.

I release the desire for them to be what they are not capable of being.

I thank them for the valuable lesson of the evil of human nature because it pushed me to have confidence in my capacity to love.  It is the adversity brought by enemies that allows my compassion, empathy, love and forgiveness to materialize as strength.

I wish them self-realization even while experiencing that they aren't capable of it.

I won't hold my breath anymore.

I won't believe in them.

I saw on Leslie's MySpace page a photo of her surrounded by numerous empty alcohol bottles.  She had two "favorite" quotes on her page: "I love the salty taste" and "I'll climb up the pipe, go over the wall, and through the window to kill him."  The first made me feel sorry for her but the second sent chills down my spine.

I fear her.

I did have two later indirect interactions with Leslie.  About two years after she hung up on me I received a disturbing call from the Princeton University police at  around 5:00 am while I was sleeping in a city hundreds of miles away.  Leslie, they said, had contacted them and said I was following her that morning.  They asked me where I was and to provide an alibi.

I went to my friend Elizabeth's apartment to do so, but was so upset and in such a state of shock that I was hyperventilating as I wondered, "What happened to this person I trusted so much?"

Fortunately, Elizabeth is a massage therapist so helped me return back to normal breathing and then I called back the police with her number.  I never heard anything more about it but I later received a fedex at my door from Leslie with  a multi page nonsensical letter full of threats.  I tore it up.  A therapist I spoke to surmised that Leslie had had a psychotic break and couldn't seperate reality from fantasy.

So I feel compassion and although I wish I didn't, unfortunately I still love her.

But now, I also acknowledge my fear.

When the scorpion asked the frog for a ride across the pond, the frog said: "but you will sting me!"  The scorpion answered he would not as they would then both drown.  So, the frog gave the scorpion a lift but halfway across the pond the scorpion stung the frog.  "Why did you sting me?"  the frog cried, "For now we will both die!"  The scorpion answered, "Because it is my nature to sting, no matter what the consequences."

I forgive all my childhood abusers because it allows me to reclaim power from them.

I meditate on forgiveness.

And I forgive myself for my past naiveté.  

I have dedicated my life to helping abuse survivors and standing up to abusers.  

I learned to draw and to write to explore ideas, thoughts and emotions.

I meditate to no longer need the validation from others, a desperate search for kindness.  

It doesn't exist, really.  

What does exist is evil.  

Evil is mostly recognized in our society as a caricature.  For instance, it appears cartoonish in movies about serial killers and super-villans and in tabloid titillation over the horrors that people inflict on others.  On the other extreme are somber academic tomes about the pathology of evil, the banality of evil, the sociology of evil, and such.

My recognition of the existence of absolute evil came when I saw the eyes of its victim, Krystyna Trzesniewska.  

Krystyna was a young girl captured by the Nazis.  Wilhelm Brasse was assigned by the Nazis to photograph all concentration camp victims; his photo of her captures a haunting desperation and pain. 

When I saw that photo I lost all faith in humanity.  Krystyna's suffering was caused by an indifferent humanity.  Her pain exists today as a commodified artifact.  And it is this indifferent commodification that distinguishes conventional evil (the infliction of pain) from pure evil (the indifferent viewing of suffering).

I realize that it is easy for me to project onto Krystyna because the counterpoint to her suffering is the indifferent pleasure I saw in my childhood abusers.  So, I empathize with Krystyna and want to protect her from the insanity of the adults around her just as I  wish someone had protected me, and as I wish I could have protected Leslie. 

The strongest memory I have of Leslie are her eyes telling me, "I wish you were dead".  She gave me this look twice and in itself it was terrifying.   But behind Leslie's eyes resonated the insanity of multiple adults I had experienced as a child, so my fear was amplified.

In Krystyna's eyes I see the lost innocence and suffering of Leslie as a child, her true self before she built a protective wall of anger and rage.  

That is the Leslie for whom I have compassion and still love.  It is that Leslie for whom I weep.  

I realize that her need to hurt me began eons ago through cause and effect.  As long as I am in a place of safety I can put aside panic and cultivate compassion with the hope that it will positively effect her future lives while knowing that it is unrealistic to believe that meditating compassion will change anybody in this lifetime.  I am sure that all of my childhood abusers died self satisfied and stuck in their narcissistic worlds and I am sure that Leslie and her friends will be no different.

Popular culture says that love redeems.  Yet, the abuse I experienced by Leslie and others is what pushed me to redouble my efforts to cultivate compassion.  The meditation on compassion, cause and effect and emptiness is ultimately, I've found, for my benefit.  It wasn't their love that saved me but their hatred.

Through understanding emptiness, I have become what I sought all along: whole.

The hands of that teacher around my neck are released.

I see within me, and I breath again.

I'm no longer a victim.

I meditate.



If I were to die today, 

three days from today 

my receptionist would ask:

"Where is that guy anyway, today?"

The police would arrive and say,

"Looks like another body today."

The EMS would say, 

"He stinks his rotting away."

The morgue would ask,

"Who's his next of kin, by-the-way?"

My Mom would say,

"I'd hoped to sleep in today."

My Dad would say,

"I'll greet him at the Pearly Gates today."

His mistress would say,

"Sweet revenge came my way."

My Grandad would say,

"I never much liked him, okay?"

My GrandPops would say,

"Let's do an accounting before we pray."

My sister would say,

"This really isn't convenient today."

My other one would say,

"He was an okay guy, anyway."

Leslie Geddes would say,

"Break out the Champagne, today."

Alice Riener would say,

"Hip Hip Hooray!"

Kirsten Feyling would say,

"Let's party today."

Autumn Francois would say,

"Let's grab some swag today."

My boss would say,

"Who's next for a window office, today?"

My colleague would say,

"I'd like his chair, anyway."

My broker would say,

"Someone's got a nice payday, today."

My HR would say,

"He's saved Uncle Sam money, anyway."

My abuser would say,

"Lucifer set him up that day."

Jodorowsky would say,

"Life is just emptiness, anyway."

My God would say,

"Now justify how you lost your way, today."


I haven't died yet.....


I meditate.

I've got another day, today.



The fog was rolling into San Francisco Bay.I looked into Leslie Geddes' brown eyes."I want to live life without illusions," I told Leslie."Without hope, there's heartbreak," she said."All my friends are getting divorced," I said."The women wised up," she said."What are you feeling?" I asked.Her mouth moved but I heard seagulls mocking me as the lighthouse on Alcatraz Island winked.

After she left me two years ago I started sleeping on the couch in my living room, 
leaving the television on.

She told me that she was going to teach art history at Columbia University.

But, I heard through the grapevine that Leslie and her girlfriend, Alice,  found themselves screaming in a short-lived headbanging punk band called The Stool Pigeons.  

Every so often, the phone rings and the number reads "restricted" or "unknown".  I never answer to maintain the illusion that its Leslie calling.  She hasn't left a message yet.

Her art books and dvds are still in a plastic container in my closet. 

Her low brow Pinky Violence dvd collection nuzzles her high brow Katherine Hepburn blue-ray box set.

I've held off on selling her oversize monograph on Leonardo da Vinci's Windsor Castle Water Drawings.

And I still have her Japanese Araki photo books in my closet. 

Her signed complete Richard Wilbur poetry first edition collection is boxed under my winter clothes.

Since she's left I've gone back to eating ravioli out of a can.  I left her photo up in my kitchen, but behind the cereal boxes.  I wonder if someday she'll knock on my door? I imagine I'd casually open the door and ask, "hey, what's new?"

I know it will never happen.

When her girlfriends now pass me on the street they glare daggers at me and spit ice.

I see the Leonardo da Vinci monograph sells for upward of $1,978 on Amazon.   

I could use the cash.

But, maybe one day she'll knock.

Her smile is still worth more.


Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake (ages forty and thirty-five)You left before I met you but I know I knew Your spies;In Venice you feltThemWatching you Cruise and Beck and The CIA But in truthIt wasThe Nation of UlyssesThat sunk you, Jeremy And took sweet Theresa Away Jeremy I read your vanity I also felt your distress Since I tooThought she was My love My life But She was so much Less

TheresaI knew your pain Since Leslie Geddes Had it too - A life spent Swimming upstream Cramped with loneliness Leaving too much Left to do I thought we’d be John and Abigail And Jeremy, I know You thought so too But A negative force Defeated us When they both left Without a clue Saint Mark gave Theresa Final communion Diphenhydromine, as wafer Rum, the blood of Christ And after you, Jeremy Alone Found her clammy corpse Comrade Svenonius whispered "conspiracy!" To the Nation of Ulysses' delight

Beelzebub’s dischord A minor threat A false positive belief In desperation, Jeremy You swam away Away from them all Alone Away From Rockaway Beach

Life’s a moving picture We’re all Mrs. Winchester Deep down inside Waiting for our Closest friends to betray us And Swimming upstream


Without a guide


The National Gallery of Art. 

That's where Jodorowsky sent me.

I was getting a PhD in political economy (or at least was in the program) and worked during the day down by the National Mall.

Most lunch hours I'd walk across the street to the National Gallery and wander aimlessly; I loved art but knew nothing about it and had no way to put into context what I was seeing.

Anyway, one lunchhour I was standing in front of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Ginevra de'Benci" having no clue about what I was looking at when I saw her - my Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes. 

She had brown hair sternly pulled back, pointy-rimmed glasses, wide hips and a wider smile.

She exuded freshness and innocence and a need to be loved. 

But, a maturity beyond her years also reflected from her eyes.

I'm in my thirties, balding and gangly, not ugly but not cute.

We both turned and looked at each other in front to Leonardo's Ginevra, and she smiled. 

I knew from her eyes that she recognized me from class. 

I was surprised at how friendly she was. "Ciao," she said. 

"This is better than class, no?" She was making more of a statement than a question.

I agreed and asked her what she thought of Ginevra.

"I see myself in her," she sighed.

I knew she was right - a wistfulness, a longing, a radiance was in both of them. 

She abruptly turned and I found myself following her as we wandered through the galleries. 

I asked her about herself.

She had gotten her undergraduate degree in art history at Columbia University and was working on a Phd at Princeton University but was now just auditing classes in Washington DC to pass time (until what I was never sure).

She gave me a tour of the entire gallery and spoke at length about both the history of many artists and their particular techniques. 

She especially loved showing me Dali's The Last Supper, which used to hang in the stair well of the entrance that connected the East and West wings.

She had written her dissertation on Baroque maps and also shared her lengthy thesis on why Pollack's drip paintings were derivative of them.

After that initial encounter, we ended up spending almost everyday together for the next year-and-a-half, or at least when she was in town.

As I got to know her she told me that her mother had been a model from Scotland (so that's where she got the cheekbones) and her father was a diplomat from Brazil. 

At first I was never sure if her stories were true, but then she gave enough glimpses of her life that I never questioned her.

She needed someone to talk to and I've always been good at listening (even if not trusting).

For instance, she told me that her father ran Brazil's intelligence operations in the U.S.

That sounded completely far-fetched (why would she even tell me that?) until one day she said she needed to go by the embassy to see her father and that I could come along.

We took a taxi there and were let in through a back entrance; the security guards all obviously knew her and let her right in. 

They photocopied my ID but otherwise eerily already seemed to know me and my background.

She told me to wait in a reception area while she went to see her father.

After about one-half hour he came out and said hello, that he liked to meet his daughter's friends. He asked me what I was interested in, and of course I said "art."

It turned out that his wife - her mother - had died when my Saint Leslie Ann was quite young. 

Her mother had been an avid art collector. 

"Let me show you my favorite drawing, then," he said, and pointed to a framed drawing of a line hanging on the wall over his secretary's desk.

He shared the story of how he and his wife met Oscar Niemeyer(a famous Brazilian artist) at a party and his wife had asked if he would make a drawing specifically for her.

Later Niemeyer presented her with that framed drawing of a line. 

"But its just a line," she said. 

"Ah, but its taken me a lifetime to know how to draw it," Niemeyer answered.

At the time I didn't understand the story, but later it became clear.

From time to time my Saint Leslie Ann would disappear for a week or two. 

I knew that she was extremely wealthy and hated living in Washington DC, but her father wanted her close-by.

When she could take it no longer she would leave for a week at a time, usually to London, sometimes Florence, where her father owned flats.

She confided that she was having an affair with some aging pop-star, but the name meant nothing to me at the time as I consciously avoided mainstream pop music and celebrity news.

I only followed punk groups at that time, so when she talked about him I was relatively ignorant of what it signified - that she travelled in elite circles and I was the exception to her letting me into her life.

The singer kept telling her that he was deeply in love with her, but he was in a "committed" relationship.

I only figured it out in bits and pieces, as she would start talking then abruptly change the subject, until one day she showed me a photo of them together in London.

They had started dating when she was fifteen and he was thirty-five.

I objected but she insisted that it was pure love and, using a phrase that had become her mantra, said she longed to live in "an ordinary world."

Much, much later I heard a song on the radio and then I knew where it came from.

After thirteen months and about the thirteenth time of meeting her at Reagan National Airport to greet her, I had it all planned out.

She saw me as she exited the arrival gate and was beaming.

"Darling!" she exclaimed in her typically exaggerated manner. 

Her arms opened up and she strode right into my embrace, kissing me on the cheek and holding me.

"I missed you so much," she said.

I began to let go but she held on to me for a full thirty seconds before letting go.

And, that's when I made the biggest mistake of my life.

"I love you," I said.

A confused look came across her face, but then turned to laughter, as if I had made a joke that took her by surprise.

"I love you," I said again.

And, then, I knew; she scowled and fell into silence.

I drove her back to her apartment.

We both sat in silence.

I was terrified of saying the wrong thing.

But, when we arrived at her apartment and I parked, I looked at her.

She was crying.

"Why did you have to ruin everything?" she asked, through tears.

When she got out of the car I hesitantly got out too but had the legs of a man marching to his execution.

Our ritual had been that after each trip we would sit on the couch of her apartment overlooking the National Mall and she would entertain me with stories of her adventures.

I handed her her bag and moved to hug her.

"No," she said.

She turned and walked away.

I called and emailed afterwards, but she never responded.

Then I received a letter in the mail.

In it was a photocopy of a sheet on which she had written:

"Tom, I love you more than you know."

Up to that point I had never drank (my father was an alcoholic so I religiously avoided alcohol) but for the week after getting that letter I went out and became plastered.

When I woke up in the gutter in Dupont Circle, and avoided jail for pubic intoxication thanks only to the kindness of one of the MPDC's finest ("Sir, I have two choices to book you or to kick your ass, and today is your lucky day") I accepted that destroying myself with alcohol wouldn't bring her back.

I withdrew from people and into my drawing and spent weekends on sixteen hour binge meditation and fasting sessions in Malcolm X Park.

What I didn't understand at the time was that she was having a breakdown.

Her life was such a mix of secrecy and the mundane with glamour that reality lost all context.

But apparently it ran in her family too.

Almost a year passed of not hearing from her. 

I called again to find her number disconnected and I never saw her around school.

It somehow wasn't surprising to me, given the nature of our relationship. 

It hurt and I mourned.

I went for marathon walks in the District, but always managed to avoid the National Gallery.

And then out of nowhere I received a call from the Washington DC police.

An police officer named Kirsten Feyling told me that Leslie had been found wandering in Anacostia with just a bathrobe on, totally incoherent.

But bizarrely she had a piece of paper with my phone number and name on it, so the police  called me.

I don't flatter myself that Leslie had my number; one late night I had stayed at her apartment over the Newseum - on the couch - but I had just gotten a new phone number so I wrote it down for her.

I remembered her sticking that scrap of paper into her bathrobe pocket.

"She's being held at St. Elizabeth's," officer Feyling said.  "Can you come down and identify her?"

It was 2 AM but I immediately called a cab to pick me up in Adam's Morgan to take me to Saint Elizabeth's in South East.

When I arrived, officer Kirsten Feyling was waiting for me at the intake counter.  

"Is she your girlfriend?" officer Feyling asked.  

She scowled suspiciously.  

"No, just my best friend."

That seemed to loosen officer Feyling up.

She showed me a photo.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I'm told it was a psychotic break, but you'll have to talk to the doctor.  Can you tell us who her family is?"

I identified her and of course called the embassy to reach her father.

Getting in contact was a total nightmare. 

Because of his work he was on travel in Asia.

The embassy called me back.

Yes, he would be there in a week, and meanwhile they'd send an attache over to manage her care.

I collapsed on the couch and sunk into a comatose sleep, waiting until I could see her 
at 8 AM.

"You can see her now," an orderly said, poking at me.

I had rolled onto my glasses breaking off an ear piece and rose unsteadily.

Then I saw her looking through the glass door.

Leslie stood in a medical gown, starring vacantly.

She appeared to be a shell of her former self.

But when she saw me she managed a smile.

I opened the glass door and hugged her.

"I love you more than you know," I whispered.

"I know," she said.

I stood there hugging her until the orderly poked me.

"You'll have to come back tomorrow, she still is under observation."

As I walked out I asked if I could speak to her doctor.

"Are you family?" the orderly asked.


"Patient confidentiality, we can't release any information."

As I left I turned to look at her, and thought I saw her give me a crooked smile.

But, I'm not sure.

I couldn't come back until the weekend, three days later.

"I'm here to see a Ms. Leslie Geddes."

"Yes, I recognize you.  She's no longer her, she's been transferred to a private facility.  No we can't tell you where.  Patient confidentiality."

I called the embassy and left messages but no one called back for two weeks.

I went by her apartment at the Newseum and was told it had been cleared out.

Then, just as I was getting ready to go to the Brazilian embassy, this time it was her father who called me.

"Tomas," I could hear him crying.  

He had never liked "Faust" and used my middle name; "Tomas..." his voice trailed off.

Suicide in London.

Leslie Geddes had jumped from the roof of the London National Gallery.

He flew me over by private jet to attend her funeral.

We were the only two people there besides the Deputy Minister, the chauffeur and two people I assumed were bodyguards.

As it turned out, Leslie's brother had also killed himself when he was a teenager.

Her father told me that over dinner as he reminisced.

Leslie had never even told me that she had a brother.

The secrets we keep is the pain that needs most to be released.

I flew home, promising to stay in touch with him, but somehow never brought myself to write or call.

Nor did he.

Time passed.

The whole experience was so painful that I kept all the photos of Leslie in a box pushed under my bookcase.

Then, on Christmas Day, 2013, I learned that Leslie's father died.

It was reported in an obscure news-report that I saw by chance when glancing through the foreign news magazines in the news shop off of the K Street, Farragut North Metro Station.

According to the article, his wealth was based on illicit arms dealing and a massive ponzi scheme.

The politics of Brazil turned against him.

He died mentally and financially broken.

With his death, I finally pulled out the photos of my Saint Leslie Ann of Geddes.

As I meditated on them, she became simply, my Leslie Geddes, and I remembered that I had loved, once.



To distract my mind….
from my lost love….I went to Idle Time Books….to have some looks….
Poetry is relaxing….
let’s see, looking….browsing….soothing….Oh, Richard Wilbur….
Things of This World….
Leslie's favorite….she could quote it and ….Hmmm...Louise Erdrich….
Baptism of Desire….
until, Michael Dorris, a bag over his head….
she crushed his heart until he was dead.... 
no I'll pass...Marianne Moore….Tell Me, Tell Me….Poems of New York….
oh, Leslie loves 
New York too…. well, maybe, then...Barbra Guest….Moscow Mansions….
wait, isn't she of the New York School?….New York times two...pass….
I’ll switch to art….
let’s see, Picasso, Cocteau, Marsh….Leslie Geddes is an art scholar….
baroque maps and such, she was too smart...pass….Er, ah, psychology?...
there’s the ticket… I might learn a thing or two….Freud on Eros…. 
Adler on love and power..., pass on them memories, damn it, and excuse me, let me 
Head for the exit…. give a pass on Blink….
pass Homer (classics, her favorite) and his Iliad, I think....
pass Dumas (I'm The Count of Monte Cristo) and 'cause she loved 
Hugo too....
pass them all and run though the thicket 
of memories and glue....

And, forget….forget….forget….I wonder what she’s reading now?

Pour another double…. blur the vision….blur the past….

blur the pain….

And write, to remember not to forget.




the ignorant, 
the hypocrite,
the bully,
the liar,
the evil maker;
the insane.

I Forgive:

I Forgive them.

it is 

I meditate.