Saturday, November 28, 2009

Where Are You Now?

"Kaylani Outside Our Motel Room", Tampa, Florida, 1994?

Dear Kaylani,

Where are you now? Remember we lived out of this cheap weekly pay motel in Tampa, Florida? I remember we used to have lot's of fun and you could make me laugh so much!

You dyed your hair golden, straightened it and then put it up in curlers. My hair was in a blonde flip. Our room was a mess and we left the "do not disturb" hanging on our door knob at all times. Finally, the motel cleaning service infiltrated are slobby den. I think we lived there for a month.

I walked down the highway and found a groovy thrift shop. I bought a great pair of men's swim shorts with rainbow stripes down the side.

I'm sorry we lost touch. I saw this picture of you tonight and had to post it. What year was it....I think it was 1994?

Get in touch if you can.

With Affection,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dr. Rosenthal, Please tell me It's Countertransference

"Self-Portrait in Minimal Motel"Austin, Texas. July 2002. Juliana Bealsey.
Mark and I shared this room. I hardly knew him.

In 1997,I flipped in India and not on my own accord. My parents died in 1997 and 1998, my mother first and then my father. Everything became too colorful and bright, too loud and I couldn't turn the volume down. I guess it already was. Very loud and very messy.

I wrote the following after a series of two psych hospitalizations at Gracie Square, one at Beth Isreal and finally Christ Hospital in New Jersey. Two in 2001 and two in 2002. This was the early part of the century...and my life had become empty and listless. Everything was fractured and time stopped for too long. I holed up in my apartment for days without leaving, ordering in Guayanese jerk chicken, eating out of aluminum trays.


My Beloved Dr. Rosenthal

You would have thought I lost all my dignity, right? Wrong. Here I was on the Upper East Side and I wasn’t shopping at Tiffany’s. I was sitting on a plastic mattress covered in over bleached sheets. I was at Gracie Square, on the third floor. I was in a psychiatric ward. It was my second hospitalization in two months. Three weeks earlier my psychiatrist, Dr. Rosenthal had suggested a three-week hospitalization to ease the transition from one medication to the other. I refused and once unmedicated got sick.

I was in love with Dr. Rosenthal. My friend Lia, a wisecracking ingĂ©nue stripper with a rough smoky voice said, “You’re on the ‘Loveboat’.” Except, Dr. Rosenthal never made it to the boat for departure. And I wasn’t even moored in the harbor. I was dry-docked and having my barnacles removed.

Let’s take a reality check for a moment. Dr. Rosenthal was no Burt Lancaster or my personal favorite Monty Cliff. He looked more like the cartoon dog Droopy with sad puppy eyes. He was sixty plus and had a little paunch. It didn’t matter to me. He was a perfect amalgamation of reservation, academia, and handful of irrestible eccentricities. Perhaps, it was his nervous posturing, crossing his arms and looking intently over his yellow legal pad and notes, trying to figure out the perfect pharmaceutical combination for me. Or maybe it was his steady monotone nasal voice that occasionally peaked in laughter—the tonal inflection and the softing of his eyes were so remarkable and unexpected that with every crescendo I felt like had earned an accolade of sincerity. It felt great to have the power to take him away from the clinical and make him laugh. “Dr. Rosenthal, you look like you’ve gotten a tan.” “Well, it’s not the glamorous kind,” he remarked off-handedly as he organized my file and jotted notes onto a yellow legal pad. He was dry and I was wet.

Dr. Rosenthal was nothing like the man I had dated for the last year, Caleb. First off, he was committed to my cause. He had a lot of qualities that I was looking for in a man even if he sat safely behind a desk and the conversations revolved around me. He was kind, smart, dedicated to helping his patients, meticulous, wore great suits, polite (he greeted at his office door and escorted me out), he was quirky, understated, shy (although, I imagined in the presence of his colleagues, he was a refined speaker), unpretentious, however a little snobby because he couldn’t help it because he was just incredibly “cultured”. Extra plus, he remarked that he had lesbian friends, knew something about photography, and lastly was an older man. And Jewish too.

I thought with all those qualifications he must be gay.

"5 Minutes Before Getting on the Path Train to the Gracie Square Psych Hospital", Jersey City, NJ, November 7, 2001. Self-Portrait, Juliana Beasley.

I was initially disappointed when the Trinidadian receptionist who admitted me to Gracie Square broke the news; “Dr. Rosenthal is such a gentleman,” she said, “and his wife is too. Did you know she is a therapist?” I was horrified and simultaneously pleased.

Lying on the thin foam mattress in my hospital room, I reduced the Rosenthals to the upper middle class doctor parents I had minus all the pathos, and addiction:

The Rosenthals had compartmentalized their lives perfectly. They talked about patients, lived uptown or maybe Long Island (although, later in a dream he told me that he lived in Kew Gardens)), they were “foodies”, they had two boys, they had a dog, a lab possibly named Barnaby, a cleaning woman since they didn’t have enough time to keep their minimally and tasteful home perfectly organized and clean, they woke up really early and drank coffee and read the times together. They even found the time to get to the gym and got up an hour and half earlier.

Their friends and neighbors adored them, “Achh, (Jewish whiny voice), the Rosenthals. They’re such a lovely and bright couple; did you know that he gives electroshock?” —“Oh, really, they still do that?”

They ran the lecture circuit, Dr. Rosenthal speaking about the values of electroshock treatments, Dr. Mrs. Rosenthal speaking about the treatment of anorexics. They found the time to submit papers to medical journals. And yes they could hold up under a lot of stress. But, they knew when to turn off pagers and cell phones during the weekends, had covering doctors, and drove off in their Mercedes SUV to their country home with Barnaby where they drank wine with great legs. They read all the right books, reviewed in the New York Book Review and then had long fascinating intellectual conversations in front of the fire.

I am looking for my home, my home. I found it on the side of the highway from Dallas to Texas. Mark was driving. I asked him to stop the car and pull over. I got out, walked across through the dewy high grass. Thousands of magical grasshoppers hopped up and down around me. I raised my hands above my head, looked back at Mark waiting in the car. I must be in heaven.

Even if sometimes, when they disagreed or felt irritable from a long day of work, they could talk about their feelings, “I feel…” Occasionally, they forgot about proper interpersonal behavior etiquette and were so damn angry at each other, plus being that they both worked in psychology and knew each other’s underpinnings so well, they would perform the deadliest of character assassinations.

After all, they weren’t robots. They knew about time outs. Dr. Mrs. Rosenthal took a walk with Barnaby, Dr. Rosenthal went to the T.V. room and watched some meaningless sitcom but soon they resolved the matter. They also knew that anger was a natural human response and still knew that they were a perfect match for each other. Dr.s and Dr.Mrs would then go back to work. They had been bred with good boundaries.

I had no boundaries. I wanted to show him how bad I really was. I imagined myself to be some iconoclastic Frances Farmer. I was ready to flirt and outsmart him, disorienting and creating holes of doubt in his Hippocratic oath.

I called my therapist Natasha on the pay phone in the hall. “Natasha, I have a terrible crush on Dr. Rosenthal. Should I tell him?” “Yes,” she told me. I was bored and had nothing better to do.

I had pre-visualized the scene: I would look him strongly and forthright in the eyes as I revealed my feelings about him. I would be serious, strong, forthright.

I sat lotus style on my bed, he on my roommates, “Dr. Rosenthal, I have a crush on you.” I bowed my head and gazed upon his hands. He was nervously fingering his flawlessly pressed sports coat that lay next to him.
I felt pathetic.

Was this purely a case of transference? Did I think he was my daddy? Was I just another cliché? Was this the predictable outcome of a therapeutic relationship?

“I thought you must have been gay,” I told him to lighten the situation. He laughed.

“Don’t you know that I’m only attracted to the unobtainable?” , I asked. He laughed and turned his head to the side.

“I hope this won’t get in the way of your treatment,” he said.

I was on a mission of self-deprecation and pure provocation. I wanted to make him more uncomfortable. “Let’s run off to Tuscany.”

“I think you’ve begun to trust me,” he said.

Oh, unrequited love.

Written in 2002.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Once Julie, Then Juliana

"Julie Beasey aka Juliana", Allegheny Mountains, PA, 1979. Photo, Barbara Beasley.

Before, I turned myself into Juliana, I was just little Julie Beasley. And I was Jul to my Mom, my sister, Eliza, Peter, and Josh. I think that's it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanks Amy Stein! You CAT CRAZY!

Yes, I took this from Amy's very important FACEBOOK posting. Yes, I am a thief too. And anything right now, silly, stupid could help my cascade into the hinterlands. Or the nausea side effects of my new medication.

BTW, as you well know I am a dog lover, hence, Moishe and Howard. But, if there was a cat out there half as bright as this one, I'd snatch him/her up immediately. We need more cat activists out there!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Rockaway Photographs from Summer 2009

"Pregnant Embrace?", Rockaway Park, NYC, August 2009.

"Hey, Juliana, come over". I finally got Bryan on his cell phone. I forgot the last two numbers from my phone book on my cell needed to be deleted. This didn't surprise me. Ever since, I started shooting in the Rockaways seven years ago, I had seen people come and go and then a couple of years later reappear. They always seem to migrate back to the peninsula.

Bryan came into my life and my story about 3 summers ago in 2006. He was a relative new comer to the area. He wasn't like many of the old timers I got to know over my time spent out there, he was much younger, unsettled.

I was at the Kerry Hill Pub on Rock Boulevard, sitting on a stool on a hot afternoon, shaded from the heat and sun in the dim and coolness of the bar. I was drinking a Jamenson straight in a rocks glass.

He walked into the bar, shirtless, his flesh the permanent tan of cowhide that never lightens or peels nor matter what time of year. His bronze skin marked him as a beach dweller and it most likely always would. He came in pushing a bike. The same bike he drove everywhere he bought off the streets in Rockaway Park, I imagined. And every so often, the bike would be stolen but he always got another one to take the place.

I would learn Bryan, his bare chest, shorts, and bike were none without the other. Nor, the long sweaty long blonde high lighted hair, he pushed repetitively behind his ears. Occasionally, he carried a polo shirt to cover up in the respectable places along the boulevard.

What was most remarkable was the strange curvature of his back. Beneath his scapulae, his back appeared to be a rag wrung out, two hands forcibly pulling from shoulder to hips, frozen permanently in this twisted form.

That first day, he sat down on the stool next to me bought rounds of beers for several patrons in he bar. He bought me a couple Jamenson's. He was trying to make the moves on me. I was pleased that he was paying for the high shelf drinks.

That first day, he informed me that he was not only a hair model for L'Oreal, but that he had one of the most severe cases of scoliosis documented in history. Most things that he uttered from that point on he exclaimed with bravado and superlatives. He was known and he wanted me to know this.

Reasons to Presently Move Away from the Computer:

Reason #1: I stopped here before finishing-- Got too tired to write must get to sleep so, I can make 5am wake-up call and work. It's 2 am.

Reason #2: Intellectually impaired and emotionally exhausted. Not feeling the words come together. Maybe this is an exaggeration?

"Bryan and Venetian Blinds", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2009.

"Her Corsette", Rockaway Park, NYC, 2009. Juliana Beasley

Fear of Ugly Nails Continues to To Save My Life

I can only have faith at this point that the new medications will work. Going to the gym, realizing I don't have to smile at everyone who crosses my path, accepting where I am at with the longing to get better.

Deadlines are upon me. I feel I have no time to dawdle....and heck this isn't dawdling. The fact is in a sane country,  I would have not only health insurance but proper health insurance. I would be in the hospital, a stable environment and not be kicked out after 9 days.  I could count on Oxford to feast on my life savings,  up until last year when the rates became, so, high that I realized it was impossible to continue and maybe that preventative visits with internists, mammograms, gyno and the whole nine yards wasn't worth it. 

That said, I could have put two down payments on homes in the tri-state area.  I call it robbery. 
There is no wonder impoverished people die at earlier ages because they don't get the preventative tests and check ups that could prevent the acceleration of life threatening diseases.

On the lighter side and walking away from anger, a killer unto itself.

I painted my nails again today and dared to type on my keyboard while the first and second top coat were drying.  Years of biting, picking and holding a camera in my hands have made them downright unattractive. I have conformed to the feminine boring ideal of having nice nails....I am enticed with the site of women sitting on the Path train and NYC subway system with pretty nails, not too short, not too long.  Nails that don't crack or peel off at 2 mm's of length. 

Nice nails means most likely nice feet. Last summer two of my male friends told me my feet were ugly. I laughed. I figured if I had one ugly part on my body, I could accept feet that were turning into elephant skin. But, I soon enough realized that I truly envied these women on the trains with pretty nails, exposing painted nails in the summer, with no heels that looked like they were becoming thicker with layers of dead flesh year after year.

I'm sitting on the side lines, still dressed like I did in high school, while all these office women read their NY Times, current fiction, and the New Yorker. They wear thin stylish coats in the winter, pointed shoes with thin heels and carry two bags in each arm. 

What I really envy is there lifestyle that has the comfort of a daily routine, a structure that allows them to go to work and come home and call it a day. Maybe they do house chores, one day out of the week, and then on the other day they get out and do something relaxing or fun or Kultcheral.

So, I  know how those nails and my life is still a precarious juggling act. I reap the benefits of my obsession to photograph even when the money isn't there. I find the time to work on this blog. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Could Superficiality Get Me Through? Day #4 Withdrawals.

Here is a super fab video from gorgeous Robbie Williams and my saviors, The Pet Shop Boys sing back ups for Robbie.

A perfect mix: Robbie plays the drag queen/sexy lounge singer and the satirical or not so, musicians, The Pet Shop Boys of great hits like, the monotonous memorable contemporary urban question,  "You Pay My Rent", provide the music. 

Yes, good superficial desires are pulling me back in or as they say these days, GROUNDING ME . Don't get me wrong, things are still throwing me in around in a spastic habitrail, or rather, I feel like I'm standing on the side lines, bouncing around and out of rhythm.

I treated myself to Sally Hansen nail strengthener, cut them cuticles and soaked my fingers in a bath of anti-bacterial suds. I am on the way to real lady fingers... something that might make my life better. I have to give it a chance.

The inner and brain zaps, depersonalization, other words, my arch nemesis "the existentialist solitary confinement". 

Thanks Jean-Paul Sartre for the breaking through to the other side. Or rather inside. Damn' you, I love you.

They are still there. And the ever annoying to others, 'repetitive thinking' which manifested in days of  incessant crying and self-loathing. Some of the others seem of the lighter malfunctions: headaches, and nervousness, paranoia, etc. 

There have been so many epic nightmares crossing continents and centuries, violence and apocalyptic brouhaha that could have gained me several screenplay Oscars if I had found the time to detangle their senselessness.  

My doctor says write them down. They always say that don't they. They want you to believe you are the next Ann Sexton or Francis Farmer.... crazy and fucked up but with some intellectual redemption. Or maybe they just want to teach you how to pass your time instead of eating yourself alive.

But, let's get back to superficiality. In the worst of times, shopping and the Pet Shop boys has gravitated me back to ground floor.  What ever it takes. You might have your own secret superficial endeavors. I call them joie de vivre... so, why do I deny myself "The Love Boat" episodes on a regular basis to keep my head above ground? 

I suppose too much of it would turn me 180 degrees back to depressive thinking. I esteem those who walk through life with little irritation for the most banal of activities. Everyone, needs something to believe in and for some it just might be that SUV with tinted windows.

So, for your listening and visual pleasure, the super sexy and super genius of Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant have satirically pulled me through the worst of times when there seemed to be no one around. And yes, before Facebook when you might get a heads up and notic e.

Here is a super fab video from gorgeous Robbie Williams and my saviors who flatly sing in a memorable contemporary question: "You Pay My Rent". The next is hot, hot, hot.

For a great look at an interview with Tennant and Lowe:

Time to walk Moishe and Howard and then a revisit to any errors in this draft. 

For those of you who want to look at the longer version of an interview with Robbie Williams in drag and hairy chest check out the following:

With cheezy whizzy interview!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Cowboy Way Might Be the Only Way

Catch up with me in a month or less, I hope. I still have stories to tell. And who knows things might get better fast.

I have worked hard against a vicious disease for years... nothing on the outside could bring be the happiness except a constant sense of inner bliss. Photography has kept me going and I am thankful that I found it despite the obvious downfalls.

This is much and not all of what I am experiencing right now. Not all. Hospitalization which is the normal course is not a possibility. Like many, I can't afford it. So, I am hiding out in my apartment and trying to slowly get things done, day to day.

I thought to myself...should I divulge such private information to cyberspace and then I realized, perhaps, it might help someone. If I can show the difficulties and humanity of others, does it make my work any better or any worse?

Nardil, my drug of choice or rather the precious gods of pharmaceuticals that toy and play with meds because they just don't know.

NARDIL Withdrawal Symptoms May Include:

aggression, anxiety, balance issues , blurred vision , brain zaps, concentration impairment, constipation, crying spells, depersonalization, diarrhea, dizziness. electric shock sensations, fatigue, flatulence, flu-like symptoms, hallucinations, hostility, highly emotional, indigestion, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpy nerves, lack of coordination, lethargy, migraine headaches / increased headaches, nausea, nervousness, over-reacting to situations, paranoia, repetitive thoughts or songs, sensory & sleep disturbances, severe internal restlessness (akathasia), stomach cramps, tremors, tinnitus (ear ringing or buzzing), tingling sensations, troubling thoughts, visual hallucinations / illusions, vivid dreams, speech visual changes, worsened depression

Because MAOI’s affect numerous bodily functions, stopping NARDIL incorrectly can adversely affect many areas simultaneously. Gradual dose reduction (also known as tapering), combined with specific nutritional support is recommended to support the body and brain during the withdrawal process.

They haven't left a think out.

What isn't on these lists? Last chance charlie.

Is this for real? Yes, much of it certainly is except for the unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.

Thanks to dear friends who have been by my side. There never was a good time for this.

"If you are an MAOI than you cannot take this medication", it monotony is blaring from every pharmaceutical commercial. I've been on Nardil for eight years and after the first year, it never really worked much. But, I kept moving somehow. I love photography. The most glamorous thing I can say about Nardil is that the only other person, I know of that was on it was Marilyn Monroe.