Styes, Chalazions, and Cloves, Oh my! A Holistic Remedy For Your Swollen, Bumpy Eyelid

September 10th, 2019

I’m not going to get into definitions of styes and chalazions, but I suffered with a chalazion for about a week until my friend A insisted on whipping up a clove infusion, over my protests that I was handling it just fine. It wasn’t the first time I’d gotten one, and before it had gone away on it’s own. I’d been applying warm washcloths as compresses, but only succeeded in making the skin around my eye raw and sensitive like that worn spot that develops under your snotty nose in winter. At times it seemed to be getting worse.

My friend A was born and raised in Morocco, where she learned this home remedy from her mother. She gave me a single clove to chew on while she worked. She instructed me to soften the tip with my front teeth, and then dab it along my eyelid as I would with an eyeliner. It stung a bit. I don’t think this served any functional purpose except to warm me up for what was to come.

She presented me with a brown liquid in a cup – clove mashed into room-temperature water. She dabbed a bit with her finger and motioned around her entire eyelid and underneath. I did as she said: “Go all around, keep the eye closed.”

The sting crept up slowly and then hit with the force of a jalapeño, but a thousand times worse, because your mouth is used to that sort of thing and your eye ISN’T. I gasped and whined at how much it stung. She insisted I wait. I reached for the wet washcloth on the table in front of me, which elicited another “Please, please! Wait!” She didn’t stop my hand or move the washcloth out of reach. Just this quiet plea followed a promise that the sting would go away. My eye poured tears while we both fanned my face, and I wondered for a culpable moment if there was any reason this woman I’ve known for 6 years, that my daughter looks to like an auntie, would harbor the kind of ill-will that would prompt her to want to blind me. Oh yeah — if you try this at home, DON’T do it alone the first time, or you’re likely to call 911 to report that you may have accidentally blinded yourself. THAT is how much it hurts. Have a fan or AC closeby, the cool air will ease the burning feeling. Keep your eye closed.

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Disarming the Narcissist – Case Study 2: The Narcissist’s Asshole Attorney

May 29th, 2019

“I’ll take a reasonable lawyer with a crazy client over a crazy lawyer with a reasonable client any day.”

These words of wisdom were uttered over coffee one midtown afternoon by my friend C. She was relaying HER attorney’s advice, as I was pouring my heart out over the nonsensical, twilight zone custody case I was embroiled in with my Narcissist ex.

Newsflash: It’s NOT About the Kid

It took me a year and a half and $50K in legal fees, AFTER having agreed to waive child support and single-handedly pay for preschool, to figure this out. It’s actually about keeping YOU – his Narcissistic Supply. The crazy thing is, the Narc and I don’t actually disagree on a lot of parenting decisions, even in the course of settlement discussions. The difference between us and the other fighting parents is that when I agree to something, he quickly finds some way to change it in order to keep arguing. And whenever I evade his attempt to use the kid as a creepy excuse to hang around me, he needs to file a motion and howl at the judge about what a terrible person I am. Why? Well, he was raised in an Arabic Muslim household for one thing, and yes, women in this culture are considered chattel. He was physically abused by his stepmother, who was the housekeeper prior to marrying his father — a father who openly admits that he didn’t love the woman, but needed someone to take care of him after the divorce. Abusive men just LOVE taking the kids from mom upon divorce, only to dump them on a nanny or girlfriend, go figure. Voilà – Cluster B personality disorder (NPD). Narcissist’s don’t actually WANT agreement. They want a fight (aka Supply), and when you give in to the crazy demands he’s put together to spark a fight, they’ll find something else. I was his property, and once I left the house I was out of his control. So custody of our daughter was the way he was going to punish me for my disobedience. It’s a type of stalking, and the state of Tennessee passed a bill in 2018 annotating Title 29 to address this problem clogging up the court system.

Yes, he is a total piece of work. But his attorney was far, far worse. Because this guy had a license to practice law, the ability to translate my ex’s clingy requests into plausible-sounding parenting demands, and no skin in the game – except that he could make more money, the more he stirred up our conflict. I discovered a parallel between the business of being an attorney the business of being a web developer: the newbies will attempt to sell the client on a lot of BS they don’t need so they can inflate the billable hours, and those of us that know what we’re doing and get more work offers than we can handle — we’re just trying to get you and your project out of our hair with ample scalability and backwards compatibility to minimize ongoing maintenance (aka, “keep it simple, stupid”). You get what you pay for. The $200-300/hr lawyer will make scrivener’s errors, stir up conflict, and drive your case to trial. The $500-700/hr lawyer will get documents right in 1-2 drafts, push you towards a deal and save you thousands in misery. The catch is, you don’t get to choose both lawyers in this sticky foursome. I had the high-priced, googleable attorney who took the high road and looked for mechanisms to manage conflict, while he had a younger, more aggressive attorney that seemed desperate to prove something. An attorney whose ill-fitting suits never matched, whose office was at WeWork, and whose personal assistant was (wait for it…) his MOTHER. When push came to shove my attorney did pull some very good moves, and her advice was filled with insightful observations about human nature and conflict. But in many ways I felt like yet another proof of the old adage that nice guys finish last, and she too would at times be blindsided by the sudden 180 the other side would do after we’d made positive headway in negotiations. You need an attorney that has enough clientele that she’s not interested in billing you up the wazoo (which means she IS the sort that negotiates to keep you OUT of court — these are highly sought after), AND who can spot the kind of opposition that wants to prolong the fight. And when she does see it, she must ruthlessly push for the exposure and high costs of a trial.

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What It’s Like When Armed FDA Agents Raid Your Place While You’re Getting the Kids Ready for School

February 11th, 2019


I think there were 8 or 10 of them. Most of them wore beige, bulletproof vests. Some vests said FDA. They had guns, but left them in the holsters. I hadn’t actually noticed until my roommate said her son later told her they had guns.

My roommate had answered the door. I was downstairs with my daughter, helping her select a different dress when I heard a man’s voice. I got up and walked through the kids’ room to see a beige and black clad man with a crewcut coming down the stairs. He asked for me by name. He asked if anyone else was down there besides us, emphatically and repeatedly. I said no. I followed him upstairs.

In the kitchen he informed me that they had a Search and Seizure Warrant related to the distribution of pharmaceuticals without a prescription over the internet. I don’t remember if I nodded or perhaps I said “ok.” In the movies, people scream at the monsters, but in real life, we get quiet in the face of terror.

My daughter was still in her underwear. One of the men asked if we could put some clothes on her. The the beige and black agent – let’s call him Agent P, was the apparent mouthpiece for the group of men milling about my apartment. He explained that they would conduct a search the entire premises. Wait — they weren’t all men. In the stream of puffy crewcut, midwestern faces, there was a black woman, S. She had an interesting name and demeanor that I liked.

I don’t remember the next 40 minutes clearly. In my head it plays out like a jumble of disconnected vignettes. Agent P asking my roommate, if she could get the two kids to school so I could stay. Another agent asking if that was what I was wearing to work, adding that if I needed to change, then Agent S (the token female) would accompany me to my room — and if I needed to use the bathroom she would accompany me there too. They wanted to ask me some things, someplace private. I remember explaining to them that I had work meetings I had to get to in the morning but otherwise could take the rest of the day off. Agent P told my roommate that she had signed for some of the packages. She nodded with a confused frown. I felt terrible. I interrupted to tell him she didn’t know about any of this stuff. They found both my phones, personal and work, and asked if there were any more in the apartment. I said no. A notification came up on my personal phone. The agent holding it showed it to Agent P without a word and they exchanged looks. Later on, Agent P would explain the evidence-gathering and forensics that they would perform on my computer and hard drives for evidence like the message that came up on the phone. Another agent asked me about my storage space. He wanted to know where it was, and if I could take them there. I showed them on google maps. They moved back and forth through the building hallway, holding the apartment and building doors open to create a passage between the innards of my apartment and their cars parked at the curb. I lamented outloud about what my neighbors would think. They said that they had told them they were there to investigate a rat infestation. Right. Armed FDA agents investigating a rat infestation. The next day a friend in Boston called me to tell me that a friend of his from the neighborhood called him to exclaim I’d been arrested by the Feds.

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The (Massage Parlor) Interview

October 15th, 2018
It was during one of my freelance lulls one summer when I was 26, that a Craig’s list ad seeking erotic masseuses caught my eye. $80 an hour was a lot more than I was making doing design work, and the tone of the job description suggested an unassuming bashfulness that inspired me to respond.

I arrived a few minutes late at the address in Hell’s Kitchen. It was hot out and I was sweating. The lobby was modern and spacious, and without a doorman, so I was buzzed in. I pressed PH in the elevator. Penthouse.

The elevator let me out into a long corridor in blue and grey tones under fluorescents. It was bland but well-kept. I found the door and rang the buzzer. Soft steps padded up to the door. I always look away when I know I’m being observed through a peephole or camera, as if it’s impolite, or perhaps suspicious to admit you know you’re being observed. The door opened partially and a curly redhead peered around it’s edge. She looked both ways down the hallway before inviting me in, which I found curious.

It was a comfortable suite inside, carpeted and furnished with a large red brocade sofa in front of big windows looking out onto the city. The redhead, let’s call her A, asked me if I wanted any water and offered me a seat on the sofa before she sat down at the adjacent computer. She said J would be there shortly to conduct the interview but she was happy to answer any questions I had.

I wanted to know if she did massage. She did. I wanted to know if she’d ever had an unpleasant customer, and if so, how did they handle these things. She motioned to a spreadsheet on the computer screen and explained that sometimes people get blacklisted, but for the most part clients were respectful of boundaries.

Another girl, black and lanky, arrived. She’d also responded to the ad. She sat on the sofa next to me. We chatted with A, the redhead. I asked if she’d ever done anything like this before. She said no, and we giggled.

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Disarming the Narcissist – Case Study 1: The Birthday Party

June 12th, 2018
Narcissus by John William Waterhouse width= Balloons Zena Warrior Princess

Like many Narcs, the one with whom I share a daughter, likes to use the kid as a creepy excuse to impose his presence on me and pick fights. When I wriggle out of it, he takes me to Court. As you can imagine, this is a cripplingly expensive situation for yours truly. But Family Court is a joke, just like the rest of the so-called American Justice System, and the lawyers and judges all make way too much money off it being ineffective to bother changing anything. So most of the time, you must take matters into your own hands, and do so with the precision of a surgeon so as not to damage the kids or your reputation before the Court.

When it was time for my daughter’s 4th birthday, and subsequently her first REAL birthday party with her whole preschool class, the Narc of course wanted to co-host a party. Because I don’t party with people that are incessantly suing me, I declined, which is when his Narc lawyer got involved and the fun began. Kids’ birthday parties are like the caviar of Narcissistic Supply for an NPD dad. Especially if they can get an organized schmuck like me to plan, prep and pay for everything. Ha.

I’m including actual emails, with identifying information removed and names replaced. Here’s a key:

[Yours truly] …………………………. That’s me
[A**hole] ……………………………… My asshole ex
[our daughter]/[dear daughter] …. Our daughter

The Narcissist baits you, but don’t give in

Ever since I left him, the Narc has become superdad, and in true superdad fashion, emailed me a month before the kid’s birthday to see what “our” plans were. Luckily, I had not yet planned anything, so the stakes were flexible.

My firm, detailed and unemotional response citing past visitation patterns and the custody agreement we’d been drafting for the prior year:

The Narc’s Slimy Lawyer

Whenever the Narc knew I wasn’t backing down I’d hear from his attorney. His attorney, whose suits never matched and who’s “office” was at WeWork.com (one of those office-sharing places). And who would look at me like he wanted to fuck me during settlement discussions. He once had to gaul to invite me to do a “settlement talk” without his client present – just him and me. Sheah.

What follows is the long-winded, contradictory email from this slimeball to MY lawyer, suggesting that I’d better spend time with his client if I want to see my kid at ALL on her birthday, or they’ll file a motion:

Shakespeare was totally right when he said “First, we must kill all the lawyers”. They will lie and threaten even when they know their client is the asshole in the situation. Cuz they’re getting paid to. So I had a predicament.

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