Infirmity….

Yeah….I got a few.   Although I cannot find the definition in the tiny Webster dictionary on my table, the Bible speaks of infirmity as a weakness, a blight on the character, which causes a person to stray from the blessed path of Christlikeness, but in that same regard, the grace of God in Christ Jesus is far greater than the weakness and sins of a believer, and there is forgiveness with God for various infirmities.  This  is not to say that the infirmity is an excuse for ungodly behavior, but just an observation of the human condition.

Here I am, at 3:21AM in the morning in my silent room in central Massachusetts.  I have the night off, and it is very cold outside.  I live in a rooming house.   A locked rooming house which you cannot enter unless you have a key to enter.  I have the portable heater on, because there is a chill in the air, and when I have stepped outside the room to go to the community bathroom which I share with the other tenants on my floor, I remember the chill I had before I put the heater on.

So what am I doing up this late on an early Thursday morning, when I should be sleeping?   Funny you should ask, or better yet, I should ask myself.  It is my night off, and if I was working tonite, I would be taking my half hour break, and eating a microwave meal and reading my book which I bring with me during this time.  It  is usually one of the better times to read, and a very welcome break from the molding machines  I have to attend to.  Unlike the others who take a break with me, I have my book, and they have their “stupid phones” (Iphones, as it were), and they spend their time chatting with whoever is up in their life outside or scrolling down the news of the morning.

I have already done this earlier, and my infirmity has chased me again and captured my soul, as it were, and I have found myself looking at  the most inappropriate videos online.  I am not proud of this fact.  But when I do the math, I am still ashamed at the total I arrive at.  I am divorced, have lost my family (both ex-wife and two twin daughters), and my children, which includes a grown adult son, and they have dutifully distanced themselves away from my family, which is one half of their birth family, and I found myself once again very upset about this earlier this evening.   Then there are the few women I talk to online.  Most of them speak of love, but it is just words, and  their focus is on why I have not sent them any money lately. But then, there is Mary Jo.

Ah yes…..the bag lady of the city.   We met each other at  the library earlier last evening and she wanted to know how we were going to spend the evening.   Not in the best of moods, I abruptly told her she would do her thing and I would do mine, and then left for about 20 minutes, thinking she would be gone by the t ime I returned to get back into my parked van in front of the city library, but I was wrong, as usual.   She was waiting for me patiently, and told me where she was going to be, and I assured her that I might not see her, but again, after the few errands I undertook this evening, I ended up at the grocery store where she was just “hanging out” at, and I swear she had been waiting for me.

We made  some small  talk, and some of it very provocative and leading, but she dismissed it.   After the 5 years of our casual acquaintance, which has led to an off again and on again friendship, we do really understand each other and can smile and joke with each other about the impossibilities of any further advancement in our relationship.

So I spent the last few hours just looking at  various sundry topics online and found myself guilty and ashamed for my lack of self-control (which is a matter for another posting).  I just trust that my profession of faith is not one of hypocrisy.  Like I told Mary Jo….”what you see is what you get” with me….and she understands and appreciates that about me.   She doesn’t expect anything more or less, which I find to be really refreshing.  Odd?  Yeah…that’s  me.   Outspoken?   Yeah…strike two.   Have very few people to talk with?  Strike three said the umpire and my team of one was retired for the night.   All I have left is my heavenly Father.   “Who do I have but you, Oh Lord, in heaven?”   Sure.   And what is wrong with me?  Idiot at large at times, and defender of intellectual honesty for what it’s worth, in my little corner of the world.

I don’t miss working tonite, but it would have been better than being seduced by the siren call of inappropriae fantasies and urgings.   Infirmities be damned.  God have mercy.  Amen.   And it is time to “hit the sack” as they say.   The room is now warm enough that I don’t need to keep my clothes on to sleep, as I usually do.   You would think that at $620 a month for rent, the rooms would be better heated, but it could be worse.   I could be living in box on the railroad tracks or just walking the streets, as some of my homeless friends do.   And the mayor is beside himself, not knowing the direction to take to solve this problem.   Again…probably another posting to come.

Be blessed, friends.   Chat with you later.   And beware of your infirmities.  Unless they find you out.

“There is now no condemnation….”

So…I have needed to write this and get my thoughts out for the last 24 hours.  I am saddened and melancholy, traits which my friends encourage me to set aside, however, they do not live the life which I own, or should I say “which I live.”   God owns my life, and my life is in His hands.  I do not know what the future holds, but He holds the future.  I have always believed that and will believe it until my time is finished on this earth.

First and foremost, I need to affirm that I am not defined by my past.  Yes, I have a checkered past, with my share of failures and misgivings, and my share of misunderstandings and assumptions, but God in His mercy has been gracious and forgiving of my infirmities and sins.  There is no doubt about it in my mind.  I live by faith and not by sight (at least I make an effort to).  But there are those in my life who see fit to remind me of my failures and my sins.  I believe there are others who understand my meaning about this.  There are just sometimes we can’t escape our past, no matter how hard we try to move on with life, and sure, I have memories of those who have treated me badly and unjustly, but by the grace of God, I want to extend mercy and forgiveness to them.

I have been married twice and divorced twice, and I have three children.  A grown son who lives in the South, and two twin daughters who live with their mother.   She has full custody of the children, who are now teenagers, and they all live together and eat together and think alike and it is like there are three ex-wives I have, and each one of them reminds me of my failures which led to the divorce.   All of my children have chosen not to have anything to do with my side of the family, even though they have my last name.  And how does that work, I wonder?  It is a mystery which I cannot unlock.

I have reached out to my twin daughters, who I have not seen in over 3 years because they do not think I have gotten help with the issues which led to the divorce, but which they originally told me they forgave me and wanted to see me, until 3 years ago.  Can’t figure it out, but I recently tried seeking the peace with them.  Sent them cards and gifts, but in response, their mother replied to me, as if my home-educated girls cannot speak for themselves or even write on a card and send it to me.   E-mail correspondence and texting, but no handwritten thank you.  And I did not raise them to be ungrateful or irresponsible towards others.  But that was another time and another place.  Memories.

I wasn’t Prince Charming to live with.  I know this.  I am moody, tempermental, melancholy, and given to serious reflection and often isolation from others when I am in a retrospective mood.  And living alone for the last 5 years has not helped me with this.   I have a few loyal friends who say they understand me and that “All is well,” and I love them, and I have my 5 sisters who support me and encourage me to move on with my life.  But this is hard when my ex-wife tells me that my daughters say thank you for the cards and gifts, but they do not want to see me, and they do not want to tell me what they do for excitement or what their activities are.  They want to keep their lives private and secret from me.  Imagine that, and me, spending over $20,000 a year for child support and I can’t even know what they do from day to day.

I refuse to cry in my beer, as if I even drink that stuff, but God has kept my tears in His bottle for many years.  And the issues which led to the divorce?   Sure.  They were legion.  Many issues, and they were focused on my ex-wife and myself.  Never my girls, but my daughters have now adopted those issues as ones which they take personally and all of them speak the same language.  It is a losing battle, and I choose not to wage war against them.   I love them too much for that.   The divorce agreement was very civil and my choices were restrained, as I could have forced them to sell the house and put them in public education, and have created a nightmare scenario which they never would have recovered from, but my love for them was stronger than the bitterness I felt.

I am not perfect, but a sinner saved by the grace of God and His grace through Christ, my Lord.  I am not ashamed of that.   But the future remains hidden to me, and I often wonder if I am too damaged to ever re-marry again.   I remember a friend I had who asked me if I would ever marry someone like her, and I told her many years ago that I would marry and love anyone….red, white, blue, black, green, turquoise…..if they would marry me and love me.   And I continue to believe the same.

I will not wage war against my ex-family.  I will continue to love them and pray for them and hope that they will find it in their hearts to see me before I end my sojourn on this earth.  God so loved me that He forgave me, and who am I to not forgive them.   And so it is written…and so it will be…..”There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”   Amen and amen….Will this story be continued?  Possibly, and I am glad to have put my heart on my sleeve here and shared that which has caused me so much sadness lately.  Be blessed.

Let it Snow….

So it has been snowing now for a couple of days….Wow…it is only the beginning of December, and the snow has piled up.  Probably more than a foot right now where I live in Central Massachusetts.   We are getting a head start on the winter, I imagine.  And like other years before this, I usually had a grumpier beginning to the winter, but alas, there are some things which are more profound than my own opinions.  As a Christian, I rejoice in the love and mercy and grace of God, and I have picked and chosen the kinds of joys I have praised God for.  Winter has not been one of them, unfortunately, and I submit….yes, I am convicted for my failure to praise God for the full seasons which He has created.

There is a verse in the Scriptures which asks this question…”Have you entered into the wealth of the snows?”   I am paraphrasing this, of course….but I believe the word used was not “wealth” but reflected the awesome and incredible beauty of the snow.  And then I remember my childhood and how my father used to say that every year, he hated the winter more and more.  I guess I adapted that to my own story, and now that Dad is not longer with us, I expect he is experiencing far more joy where he is than I am.  “To be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord.”   Yes, my hope is that is where he is, and as I shovelled the snow for the past two days, all I could think of was the beauty of this white stuff, and that again, I want this winter to be different than all the rest.  I want to rejoice in the winter and all that it brings.

The old favorite song of the season…”Let It Snow?”  Sure….but I don’t know for how long this winter the song will continue to fall upon us.  But given the fact that we don’t know the future, I can expect that the winter will have its share of snow storms…..or what they now call “snow events.”  Funny how an event becomes a “storm.”   And the old standard, The Farmer’s Almanac?  Sure.  Each winter the Almanac predicts nightmare scenarios for New England, and I have to remind people that New England encompasses Massachusetts all the way up to Maine, and Maine gets whacked with snow each year, but you know?  They really love the snow.  

My preference of seasons, I admit, is the summer.  I love the summer and the heat and even the humidity.   It is the best time of year for me, but I have been raised in New England all my life, and my memories of childhood include making snowmen, ice skating, and that old fashioned chore of shovelling snow.   I remember growing up without a paved driveway, and it was a very long driveway, and having my father give me a shovel and tell me that he expected the entire driveway to be shovelled out when he returned from work.  And guess what?  It got shovelled and I didn’t get a penny for my efforts.   What I did get was a roof over my head, three meals a day, and a warm bed to sleep in.  That was my reward, and I loved it.   

Let it snow…..let it snow….let it snow…..things could be worse.   We could be sitting in the middle of an earthquake or running from a tsunami…..God is to be praised in all seasons, for it is written, “In everything give thanks…”   Not that everything is worth thanking God for, but it is the gratitude of the heart….and He causes all things to work together for good for those who have been called in Christ Jesus.  I can only hope I can continue to praise Him when we have more than a foot or two of snow…..

 

 

 

Sleepless…

So it is Monday morning….3:50AM….I can’t sleep….been up for about 2 hours now, just browsing through Facebook and making passing comments and posting pictures to topics which interest me.   Maybe I should have gone to work last night, but the weather forecast depicted 10-14 inches of snow for the first of December.  Welcome winter…you are early.

I made the quality decision to be safe, since the roads were slick and somewhat icy, even given the fact that they had been treated, but this was around 6PM last night, and my shift began at 7PM.   So….yeah, I called in early.  Gave the reason about my car not being up to it, and not exactly being truthful.   I need an inspection sticker.  Probably not a good reason to skip work.  Have to go back to the dealer and get a replacement for the cracked tail light cover.   It was supposed to have come in Saturday, but there was a “glitch” I was told, whatever that was, but the order went through while I was there Saturday morning.   And I am a little anxious, I admit.  Just want to get this inspetion sticker taken care of for another year.  Was given a Reject sticker due to safety reasons, and I don’t  know how a cracked tail light cover which appears to be like a spider’s web over the light….how does that impinge on pubic safety?   I don’t know…but they make the rules, not me.

And I sit here, wondering.   Will I get a call about 8AM or so telling me the part has come in and to drive up the 25 minutes to the dealer?  How will the roads be?  I will have to shovel out my car which is parked in the back of the building.   Good cardio-vascular workout.  But then…do I want to drive all the way up there?  Have to ask them about the roads.   The city where the dealership is does not have a great track record of removing snow from the roads.  But I need the inspection sticker, and today is my regularly scheduled day off anyway, like tomorrow.

I stayed away from work, for another reason, because a friend of mine in Florida highly recommended it and wished I would be safe, and I had told her I had  wanted to talk to her online tonite, but she got busy and that didn’t occur.   And my other friend in Indiana…..well, she went to bed at  7PM, leaving me alone, and I questioned my decision again to remain in my dwelling while the rest of the night shift worked.  I miss work.  Could have saved my PTO (personal time off) for another night, but it’s not like I use a lot of time off.  I go nowhere.   Rarely take vacations.  And I can take the paid personal time off, and have a few hours left.   I only get about 13 hours personal time off every 6 weeks.   That is 4.6 hours every bi-weekly paycheck.  How stunning!!! (Not)  When I worked for the State, I remember having over 5 weeks paid vacation each year, but that was because I had invested over 20 years in the system, and sick time was not included in personal or vacation time, like it is with the private sector job  I have now.  Oh well….things obviously change…but not always to our liking.  

I am a Christian, and believe that “my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.”   That is the written Word, and I believe and trust it.  Rather trust God than the people who have let me down and have given me broken promises and scams for gifts.   But I’m no saint either, and I am sure there are those people out there who trust God more than me.  Fair game.   No problem.  I agree with them.

So at 4:07AM, the snow is lightly falling as I look out my window in the rooming house where I live.  Yeah, lightly falling snow, and the roads have been plowed, and the sidewalks taken care of so people can avoid walking in the road in the morning.  But the forecast calls for continuing snow for tomorrow into Tuesday morning, so we’ll see how that all works out.

Maybe I won’t go anywhere later today, and trust the public library will be open for business.  It was pretty deserted last night before they closed at 5PM, but I enjoyed the quiet it affords.  Always quiet…much like a morgue…Who knows…maybe I will take a ride up to the dealership and get the part for the car and finally get the inspection sticker.  It will make for an interesting day.

 

 

Thanksgiving, 2019

So here it is.   Another holiday spent alone.   This is the 6th year I will have spent Thanksgiving alone.  I do not cry about this any longer.  With the separation over and now the divorce in full swing, things need to be set aside and move forward.  Not as easy as it sounds though.  Memories are always with me.

This year was a little different, though.  My sister, Tina, invited me over to her home on Thanksgiving for a meal in the afternoon, and I was very pleased.  Usually there is no one in my family who even offers a meal to me, and I end up at the local McDonald’s for Thanksgiving instead of turkey “and all the trimmings.”  She was with her husband, daughter, and her daughter’s new boyfriend, and it was a very quaint and intimate gathering, and we “caught up” with each other for awhile.  

My other sisters?  (I have 5 younger sisters)   Well…I sent them messages wishing them a happy holiday and enjoyable day, to which they replied favorably.  I also sent a text message to my ex-wife.   Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is trying to be the civil kind of guy and not the jerk I could be.  As it is written, “Love covers a multitude of sins,” and I have enough of them to fill a house.   So it was a way to wish another well.  My daughters, however….well, that is another story.  As January approaches, I will be entering the 4th year without them wanting to see me or talk to me, and that is another topic for a different posting.  For now, all I can say is that I sent them a card and wished them a happy holiday and sent each of them a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, and then made a comment about what would it take to see them again.  I mean, the divorce agreement requires I see them every month, but their mother told me a few years ago (and not them) that they wanted to take a break from seeing me, and I always believed it was important not to force them to see me.  There is enough bitterness and hate to go around in this world, without creating more.

So, it is Thanksgiving, 2019.  And today is Saturday, the day after what they call “Black Friday.”  I have been invited to my other sister’s home for the annual family gathering, but I am wondering how that will play out, as she has a small house.  I told her a few days ago I was not sure if I was coming and had not made a decision about it.  Last year it was very difficult for me.  Everyone had their children and grandchildren with them, and I sat  alone, without a word from most of them.  In any event, I will be present, and another Thanksgiving will have gone by, and then…..then I have to deal with Christmas, and all that entails.

I really don’t like this time of year.   Can’t wait for the beginning of the year, when this is all behind me.  Many people suffer due to loss and privation, and suicide is very common, and I have given it thought periodically.   But not today.  I have to get my car inspected so I can go to work tomorrow night.

Happy Thanksgiving.   Such is life.  What was the song again?  That Beatles one.  Oh yeah, “A Day in the Life.”   I can relate.  But I don’t think I will be blowing my mind out in a car.   Be blessed….

 

“I know all about you…”

Have you ever heard that phrase before.?  Sure.  I think we all have at one time or another.  I wrote an earlier blog concerning this, but for some reason, I hit the wrong key, and it did not save, but no problem.  Probably had to edit it anyway and say a few less things.  I have the tendency to keep writing, and one of these days, I will begin the book I have always wanted to write.

So I heard this statement this morning from my house manager who first asked me if he and I were okay with each other, and I admitted that there was no problem, but then he tore right into me and disciplined me verbally for putting my small bag of trash in the kitchen receptacle, which is far larger and supposedly only used for those tenants who use the laundry facility or the kitchen.  I know differently, but I chose to remain silent, but he continued with his comments and said he knew all about me and what happened on my job.  I wanted to tell him I did not get fired, and there were no charges ever filed, but I was only put on Administrative Leave, and eventually retired in good standing and now receive my state pension without any problem. But alas, I kept my peace.

I have been living at this rooming house in the city going on five years now, and the house manager and I have had our isolated moments of disagreement, as well as good moments, whereupon I have been thanked for being a good tenant and a good eye on those whom he could not always watch, where I live on the second floor.   But now, I am afraid, things have taken a different turn, and his words have brought back many wounds and memories I have wanted to forget, and it hurt me deeply to hear him speak the way he did.

I have only been known for my behavior, which most of the time is quiet.  I stay to myself, as most of us do in the house.  Most of us are like two ships in the night passing without much comment, but I know there are various stories of all those who live there.   We all have our baggage, and mine is not very pretty.   Separated from my wife.  Now divorced.  Daughters who choose to remain aloof from me and not want me in their life, and the house manager told me in the beginning that I would never be reunited with my wife, and my marriage was over.  I had different hopes.

So now, with all my prayers for forgiveness now, the past comes back to my mind with all my faults, but I know God is the one who really knows me.  He knows the thoughts and intents of my heart, and all the hurts which I have gone through, and to whom I have hurt as well, and He is a merciful God, forgiving, and compassionate.   The lack of any compassion and grace which I heard from my house manager this morning gives rise for concern on my part.  I am now defined by my behavior of the past, and what he knows….I don’t know what he knows, but it was not criminal.   I retired from state service in good standing and there has not been any issues with the State refusing to pay me a pension for criminal behavior.  The whole issue of five years ago stems from the bad marriage situation and it carried over into the workplace.  So sad, and choices have had unintended consequences, and I never thought my marital woes would have resulted in my losing my job and ending up working the late night shift in grueling manual labor.   

Some things I do know, however.   I know I am not defined by my behavior.   I am a Christian, and Christ has redeemed me.   I read from my holy book that “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Yeah.  That’s me.  I have faults, made mistakes, spoken out of turn, let my temperment get in the way of logic many times, but I am a Christian, and God loves me.   And God loves my house manager too,  and I pray for him almost daily that he will come to know the love of God in Christ.  God knows him like He knows me.   God knows all about him, and all of his moments of living, unlike the fact that I am only partly known by someone who does not live with me or speak with me or dine with me or even pray with me.  That is my consolation.   And the greater consolation I have is that God loves me irrespective of what others may think or say or do.   

My purpose is to “do good,” and I will abide by the trash commandments which have been spelled out to me, and I hope that will be the end of it.   “Abstain from all appearance of wrongdoing,” it is written, and so I will….and I hope the house manager finds it in his heart to forgive me, and not hold my past against me.  If he does, he will ultimately those who only see my life as one of failure and loss.   

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “Plans to help you and not harm you…to give you hope and a future.”   That is my consolation.   I don’t know what the future holds, but God holds the future.   My one and only friend in the world, and the woman I love would staunchly agree….

Trust…

So the bank manager told me the same thing the previous others had told me.  “Don’t trust anyone.  You cannot trust anybody.  Just look where trust has gotten you.”  Sure.  Great words.  Encouraging?  I doubt it.  I asked her how she trusted her boyfriend or parents or brothers or sisters, and she laughed.  “Gregory,” she said, “you just can’t trust anyone anymore.”  And that was the end of the conversation and she helped me get over the latest hump which restored my bank account.  It did nothing to encourage me that I would spend the rest of my life alone if I did not trust anyone, but that was another conversation we did not have.

Yeah.  Trust.  It is something you earn.  I get that.  But I believe it goes deeper than that.  Trusting someone not to hurt you or lie to you or to treat you with dignity.  Not believing the worst about someone or their motives.  Yeah.  That’s the ticket, it’s been said.  Some think it is the ticket to perdition to trust yourself with another.  But in my case, I believed their intents were virtuous and they cared for my welfare, and I did not believe I would be deceived and plotted against to take my hard-earned money for what essentially became another scam, and another situation where I would lose my bank account.

I had this “relationship” with Maria (a later post I’ll share soon), and it involved an alleged “marriage” between myself and her, and her “lawyer” finally decided he was going to send me the money to get things going, and I pleaded with him not to send me any money.  Sure.  I told Maria I was broke, and I guess she remembered my account numbers and decided to share it with her “lawyer.”   I had forgotten about that.   So I sent a text back to the lawyer and told him I did not want any money and certainly did not want him putting it into my account.  Too late, he said.   The Bank in London has already done it, and so like a good boy scout, I rushed to the bank and asked the bank manager how to stop the deposit, and she asked the million dollar question.  “Did you give him your account numbers or password?”  There was no password given, I told her, but he had the account numbers, just like my employer had my account numbers when I got an automatic deposit for working.  She didn’t buy it, and that is when the negotiations began.

She told me my account would be terminated, and she gave me 30 days to get my depositors notified of a new account.   I agreed and fulfilled the gentlemen’s agreement with her, and  the following day, I returned and told her I had notified a couple of accounts of the news, and then she found out one of her bank tellers “accepted” the deposit from the “bank in London,” which turned out to be a credit union on the West Coast, and was deposited in a woman’s account against her wishes, and to make a long story short, the whole transaction was an effort on the part of the “lawyer” to scam the bank out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The lawyer told me I had to send him the money which was deposited, and I told him it was a fake account, and he hemmed and hawed and threatened me, and the bank manager notified the local police and the credit union on the West Coast, and the lawyer silenced his texting.

The bank manager was pleased that I’d kept my word and notified my accounts of the new account number, because I had done it in short order, much quicker than the 30 days.  Then she told me again.  “You can’t trust anyone.”  Ok.   I heard her.   I had heard that before.  Yeah.  I had become victim to numerous financial entrapments.  False wire transfers, bogus checks, even counterfeit postal money orders.  This resulted in at least four or five lost bank accounts within a few years.  And could I then get a credit card or online bank approval?  Not by a long shot.   I trusted too many people who seemed genuine.  Financial trust was vital to me.  And the romance with the various “ladies” in my life took second place.  I could not afford to lose another account.  Too much depended on it.   My employer’s deposits, social security, pension, and other deposits.  Child support, ad nauseum.  I wished I had been wealthy, but even then, I paid my monthly rent check, only to have someone falsify that check and try to steal funds from the bank.  So I pay my rent in cash now.  Pure and simple.

Trust.  Sure.  “Don’t you trust me?” they ask when I refuse to give out my “bank details.”  And I go through the song and dance of my endless struggle for integrity with others and their motives.  “I trust no one,” I say and the faces fall and the conversation ends, and that becomes another nail in the virtual coffin of another possible relationship.  

I still believe the best in people.  And I still have the scars of having lost money to those who I assume are real, but the fakers have been identified finally, and I am not really secure with anyone any longer.  My friend in Colorado tells me to just stay with her.   There is a future with her, she told me.  I want to believe her, and so far it is encouraging.   She has not asked me for my bank details.  The first sign of her asking will be the last conversation.  And the band will play on, and I hope I have the resilience to want a relationship at all.  I can always hope, but hope gets dimmer and dimmer.  Fleeting is a better word.

Why all of these memories….

There are many reasons to recall the instances of my own foolishness when it has come to remembering the names of the women I have once known, if I can even call them “women.”  I would like to think they are women, but there is so much awareness today of what has been called “the scamming of the republic,” but suggesting that there are many men and women who are been deceived by people who work in little rooms with other people in those same rooms, and whose only purpose is to “pretend” they are the people you correspond with on Facebook and Hangout and other social media sites.   The reason, obviously is economics.  They can make a load of cash and become millionaires overnite.

Recent statistics put the “profiles” of those who are online to be about 50%, but  I was told about a year ago by my house manager that 85% of the profiles are bogus.  One of the official websites took me to task recently and corrected me.   And it has been also proven that not only are the people in those little rooms centered in Africa:  Ghana, Nigeria, and others….but the people are of both genders.   And they  pick and choose the pictures which are the most attractive and can bring in the most money.  Can you say “lucrative?”  So for the last few years of my being on social media, following my retirement as a public safety and criminal justice professional, was to experience being scammed on a regular basis by many who stole pictures from models and porn stars and one military individual and took me to the cleaners.  Yeah.  I take ownership for this.   I am a trusting guy (and I will address Trust in a future posting), and I fell for the hard luck stories which were created for others’ benefit.

The names go on and on.   I can remember about every one of them, beginning with the first young lady, Megan.   Then there was an alleged Facebook lottery coordinator, whose name which escapes me for the moment.   But there was Dorris, Pamela, Katie, Mallay, Lisa, Mary (two of them), Trish, Alicia, Jessica, Glenda, Rose, Angie, Amanda, Sussy, Diana, and a host of others with whom I had some kind of contact with, and whose only interest was in money.  Sure, there were suggestions that they would make all my dreams come true, and “age was only a number,” and I can’t remember how many times I was called “Sweetie,” to my utter disbelief.   I was never anyone’s Sweetie, not my sisters, mother, two ex-wives, or any of the other women I once knew.   Of course I was called “Precious” by a secretary in a military base when I finished Basic Training and landed in a duty station in Virginia, but I didn’t care for it, and was dutifully reprimanded for resisting her overtures by a non-commissed officer who had a “thing” for her anyway.  She was a beautiful Southern Belle, and I guess I was not man enough or mature enough to tell her as much back then.

I guess the only thing I could say about many of these women who scammed me was that I was kind to them and treated them with respect and courtesy, and they loved it, or at least said they did, or maybe they saw an Achilles Heel in my personallity and knew I was a sucker to take advantage of.  That’s one theory I have.  And there were even a few Russian women who found my email and wanted to establish a long term relationship with me, but when I refused to pay the hundreds of dollars for their “flight” to the states….ok….that was the end of that.  I never would have seen them at all, I believe, and I was told by a couple of really good friends I had from Africa to never give money to anyone who claims to be from Ghana or Nigeria.   Co-workers who had more sense than I did, and I spent a couple of years working with them, and I am ashamed to say I never followed their advice, so hungry was I for love and affection and the promise of intimacy and romance.   Haven’t had that for over five years now, ever since the separation and divorce.  (Again…subject matter for another future post.)

The “whys” of writing about this are important to me.   To remember, I was told, is to have the memory of never wanting to repeat my actions again, and to keep my money in my bank account or even in my ever empty wallet.   I have a friend in Colorado who insists I should forget about the past and just move on.   Sure.  Great advice, but it is important to remember.  I want to believe my “friend” in Colorado is real also, and she recently told me that our being together is no fallacy.  It is the real thing.  And oh, would I love to be with the real thing.  A real woman, sensitive and gentle, and devoted and loyal and faithful, and not one consumed with lust for money and deception.  

Memories are made of this, or at least that is what the song once said.  And Dean Martin sang it very well.   I would like to think that the song would keep me focused on not wanting to repeat the behavior which landed me in the mess I found myself.   

There is such a thing as “true love” I have been told.  I just haven’t found it yet, and don’t know anyone who has.   I’ll be the first to tell you when I do, however, but in the meantime, the memories keep coming.

I remember her as….

Sussy….

Out of all the women I have known in the last several years, or at least the pictures which have been sent to me which depict “all the women I have known,” the pictures of Sussy stand apart from the rest.   She was cute..pretty…sexy…childlike…adorable…so many words jump to my mind now, even after these couple of years have gone by.   And the memories are still very fresh and I think of her for sentimental reasons.

I think this girl won my heart, and I was a sucker for a hard luck story, and still am, I think.   She reached out to me on Facebook, of all places.  Yeah.   That’s where it all begins, usually.  She said she was in Nigeria.  Abandoned.  Met a Nigerian national and fell in love with him.  Then she fell asleep in his presence, and learned too late that he had drugged her and when she awoke, she discovered she’d been robbed of her valuables, and had no money to take a flight back to the states.   Sounds crazy, but typical, I am sure.   But this had been probably the second time I had heard this particular story, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.   I was fired up with the injustice of the whole thing.  She was taken advantage of, and who knows  what this perpetrator did to her while she was drugged.   She was young, beautiful, blonde and blue eyed and I was infatuated with the fact she took a liking to me.

I asked her why me.  I was older than she was.  “Age is just a number,” she replied, and if I could a dollar for every time I heard that reply, I would be a rich man, but nevertheless….I was “in love.”  Or so I thought.  I did everything I could to help her out.  Sent her money for food and other sundry things.  Even sent money to help her get out of the country, but none of it worked, and at the end of it all, I cried tears of regret that such a beautiful young woman would never become my wife.

We had such a wonderful relationship, I thought.   She sent me her pictures.  I loved them, and she loved them, or at least I believed it was “she.”  Her pictures were so cute and she dressed so adorably, but there were other pictures which highlighted her nudity, and she loved to have her picture taken in the nude.  Many poses.  Prvocative. Sexy.  Explicit. All of them designed to hook my passions to her firmly and loyally, and I admit.  I was hooked.

She cried when I told her I did not have any more money, and I suggested she talk to her lawyer in the states, because she claimed to have an inheritance, and he could help her out by sending her the needed funds to leave.  No, she said.  He was a crook, and did not like Africans, and said he’d been scammed before.  I pleaded with her to beg him, and she claimed she did, but all she wanted me to know is that we would be the world’s greatest couple….and we would have the greatest love life on the planet, and the pictures kept coming to keep my appetite strong for her.  And then there was her money.  The “inheritance.”  Yes.  We would live happily ever after and all my debts and bills would be gone.  Free.   We would be free to love and live like royalty.  Dreams.  I loved it.   But I did not have any more funds.   And she cried and cried, or at least that is what she told me.

I blocked her off from me because I could not deal with this apparent reality.  The injustice of again not having the woman I “loved” be abandoned forever in a foreign land because I could not afford to save her and bring her home.   And I had my mind set on our homecoming.  I had the hotel picked out and our activities planned.  I would quit my job and we would go to her home in Louisiana, or one of those states she claims she was from.  Georgia?  Alabama?  It didn’t matter.  She was going to be mine forever.  Or so I thought.

So the memories faded from my mind for awhile.  And the months went by, and I got a message from her about a year later.   She was in Pennsylvania and wanted to come see me.  Could I send her money and she would take a flight to New Hampshire?   Sure, I said, but I did not have any money, and then she began to rail against me for leaving her, and the band played on and I tried again to explain what  happened.   And then she sent the pictures to me again.  Provocative.  Explicit.   Wow.  I loved her, but I was broke.

I had no money, and she broke off the communication this time.  And another year went by and then….would you believe it?  I saw her again.  Of all places, don’t you know, on a website designed to showcase pictures of former models and porn stars who had them stolen from them with the intention of deceiving the unsuspecting.  Yeah…that’s me.   Me again.  But this time I learned that the pictures were not her.   Say it wasn’t so.  That was not Sussy.   That was “Dawson.”   

Dawson was her real name.  And allegedly, she was “retired,” but more importantly, she had been a teenager who loved to do nudes and videos.  Yes indeed.  No surprise.  I checked the website and saw her.   Fully clothed in her cute outfits, and fully unclothed in the explicit state I remember her by.  But with the added attraction of seeing her video and hearing her voice and mannerisms.  We had talked about taking a shower together, but I saw her video of her shower, and my memory jogged into full gear.

Sussy….why?   You deceived me into thinking this had been you, and I spent all that money on a fantasy.  A dream.  A lust-filled hope of extravagant loving and living.  Then I remembered a couple a few months ago, when she sent me an email from North Carolina.  She was with her aunt, she said.  And she wanted to come see me, but she needed money.  Sure.  Wish I had known about “Dawson” back then.   I would have broke the news to her, but I am sure she already knew.  I once asked her who took pictures of her in her Nigerian hotel room, and she said the maid who she trusted, and I warned her against the woman stealing the photos, but it was a lie.  All of it.  There had been a Russian woman who contacted me a couple of years ago with the same pictures.  Sure.   “Dawson” was really popular, and other women were cashing in on her pictures fooling men like me into believing they were real.

What can I say?  Lots, I am sure.  What a fool am I, comes to mind, but at the same time, I remember the tears I shed when I discovered I did not have the funds to bring her home.  But in another spiritual dimension, God had been protecting me.  I now know I never would have brought Sussy back home.  “She” was someone I would never meet.  Pictures were stolen and the scam lives on.   But my memories and the pictures confirm my outrageous foolishness in believing that dreams do come true.   

W.C. Fields would have laughed and uttered with his sarcastic wit….”A sucker is born every minute….”   Suckers are us.   Me, myself, and I.

And her name was….

Dorris…..yes, and in another vignette, I want to share a slice of life which I experienced with one of the first women I met online.

She was actually the second woman I met after Megan, and Megan’s story will be forthcoming soon.   But Dorris….wow….well, it all started harmless enough.  I had just got myself invested in Facebook after a few months of things being quiet, when she sent me a friend request and we began chatting.

In the very beginning, I remember sending out numerous “friend requests” to every lady I saw, and I was hoping to have a global village of friends, and friends only.  No sex, drugs or rock n’ roll for me.   Not back then.  I was not in the best financial shape, but had just retired from the state after many years in a professional capacity, and I still had some retirement savings, and because I had not been divorced yet, there was no actual divorce decree whereupon I had to give so much money each week to my ex-wife.   She essentially just gave me the monthly allowance from my pension check and I had to deal with that, plus the temporary job I had secured helped with the bills.  But this was no surprise for me.  After almost 20 years of marriage, I cannot remember one moment or even one paycheck where I got a dime for an allowance for personal spending, and I usually had to explain every dime I spent, unless it was for the “family.”

Dorris claimed she was abandoned in Nigeria.   That was her original story.  She said she met a Nigerian national when she was in Paris, France, and they were lovers. and had a relationship and he was going to take her to Nigeria to meet his family, but when they arrived in Nigeria, she said he assaulted her, stole all her money and jewelry, and her cellphone with all her pictures on it, including videos she may have made.   Things which would later come back to haunt the both of us.  She said she was dropped of at a Nigerian hotel and was in dire need of someone to help her get out of there.  So guess what…..bingo….I was the man of the hour.

I could have not responded  to her friend request, and I learned too late about how this all worked, because as things went, I got caught up in the drama of the moment, and felt really bad for her.   Being a former criminal justice professional and having dealt with offenders who assaulted women and robbed them…well….I wanted to run interference with this and try to get her out of Nigeria as soon as I could, but I didn’t realize what kind of cost that would involve.  So we began to text on our cellphones, and on Facebook…but much of it was on the phone, and we had text conversations for weeks and months and began to learn so much about each other.  And then things changed when she called me her “true husband,” and I was flattered, but this meant a few other things, like taking on the commitment of paying for her internet bills, feeding costs, and hotel costs each month, and while I didn’t mind it at first, it began to become a real burden.   Then we planned on getting her to come to the states, and I spent hundreds of dollars in this effort.

Like all the ones I knew after Dorris, she said she had an inheritance in Nigeria from her father working the oil fields. He was no longer alive, but the will said that she had to have a husband who was willing to pay for the cost of the government fee in order to claim the inheritance, and this figured in the $500-$600 area, but she had her lawyer try to reduce it for me.   It  never got reduced, and she eventually went through a number of lawyers with each one of them having a different viewpoint about the cost of the government fee.   I used up my moneygram and western union privileges after sending her hundreds if not thousands of dollars over a year’s time.   And there was a few false starts with getting her on the airplane to come home.

I was duly excited to have her be with me a few years ago…..she was the first woman who said she truly loved me, but the first time around, she was at the airport, and then was arrested because there was an African woman who noticed she was trying to leave the country and Dorris owed her money, so she went to jail and I had to bail her out.  Yeah, chock up another $400 for the police report, and then the flight could not be saved, and I got angry with her, and this began a long standing issue with us.   The second time around, the same thing occurred….and then the third time, she was on her way to the airport, and the taxi had an accident, and she ended up in the hospital and wanted me to pay her bills.  Yeah….this was getting crazy, and even crazier when she told me the doctor there wanted to strike a deal with her and forget the money for her treatment if he could only have sex with her.   Yeah….she was a beautiful woman, and the African doctor was a horn dog.  She reported him eventually and he was arrested and she did not have to pay her bills.

Throughout all these ordeals, I became more jaded and sarcastic with her….especially when I had to bail her out of jail twice for stealing, and then she accused me of having other women, and not being faithful to her and being a cheater.   Well….I had met a few other women online, but I was not married to Dorris, and she soaked me out of almost $10,000, for sundry items.  And her hotel manager, Mike…yeah…he was sometbing else…after moneygram and western union said goodbye and good luck to me, I had to do Itunes  to give her money, but sometimes the cards were no good, or at least that is what “Mike” said, but it was a scam.  Always a scam., and I discovered too late that there were numerous women called Dorris online and on Facebook.  She said her ex-boyfriend used her photos from stealing her cellphone to create another persona, and I got sucked into it as well, but never sent the other Dorris any money.

Dorris has periodically sent me texts and accused me of forgetting her.   And I have blocked her and unblocked her on both Facebook and Hangout more times than i can remember, and she even went and pretended to be another woman and claimed to be a relative and asked me all kinds of questions to find out my real intentions, but I knew it was her and blocked the fictitious woman, and even yesterday, there was her picture again with a different name sending me a message with the “Hello handsome” greeting they all use, but I knew it was her and never replied.  I later found out, it was removed.

I expect  to hear from her again soon.   We have fought like cats and dogs and whenever we get back together, it is lovey-dovey time until the accusations start to fly again.   We got too close to each other for comfort….and learned too much about each other and she always said ” I hope we can make this happen,” because she said she always loved and wanted me in her life.   Wow….I heard that from her for so many weeks and months….even spans of months when we didn’t hear from each other.

There is probably so much more I could add, but the truth of the matter is….I believe she scammed me, and my niece once described her as “catfish” to me….you know, baiting me with her looks.  Well….I got hooked, and will never let her hook me again. I would love to get my money back, though.  Shame on me for letting her play on my sympathies.   My other friend, Mallay…well….she had her “uncle” get the FBI to look for her, and it was said she was apprehended and I was going to get my money back.  Sure….another scam….but she was never apprehended and kept on writing to me.   They never go away, do they.

Like a bad penny, Dorris returns every once in awhile, but unlike a bad penny, she is a very beautiful coin…..