Oh, the people we meet when are traveling....


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October 17th 2008
Published: January 4th 2009
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..Just so we're all on the same page, I left Thailand on the 5th of October and popped in to California for a week on my way to Haiti, in the Western Caribbean. I visited with family and friends, many whom I have not seen since I started off on my venture two years ago, almost to the day. The week flew by with hardly a moment to breathe. All in all, it was a fantastic stopover and now I am here in Haiti ready to get my hands dirty, my legs muddy and clothes trashed, helping Hands On Disaster Response clean up the neighborhoods of hard-hit hurricane-ravaged neighborhoods in Gonaives (Gone -ah-eve-s). The deployment will be a three month one, and at this point I am not making long-term plans. I don't know how long I will stay. I have been staying in Petionville, on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince for the past three days, and will be taking the HODR-approved shuttle tomorrow for the 5-hour journey northwards. Today is the 16th of October and I head to Gonaives in the morning.

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I met an interesting woman in the LA airport on my stopover from San Francisco to Port au Prince, Haiti. Susan is from LA originally but now lives in NYC. She is what some might call a "walking nightmare," an accident waiting to happen, one that all the bad things happen to. She has lived quite a life, I tell ya.

I was sitting in a comfy chair writing some notes off line on my computer when a woman came up and used the wall outlet next to the one currently in use by my laptop plug. She sat down in the seat next to me and within a few minutes I started a slight sneezing fit. She offered me a tissue, which was a segue for her to start flapping her lips. A one-sided conversation ensued. I think she was looking for a sounding board, a therapist if you will, albeit a free one. I just happened to be near her when she needed to sound off. I was a willing participant. Or a sucker.

This woman is writing her memoir. She went to LA to look for a publisher. She has led an interesting life but one I can't relate to personally cause nothing she has done I have ever experienced in my life. Only our names are the same. I'm guessing she was 53; after doing some simple arithmetic and piecing together some pertinent information I came up with this age. She was beautiful, though I doubt she knew it, with long, thick dark black hair mixed with a healthy dose of grays making for a salt and peppery-type look. A pointy nose, thin lips, lovely complexion and intense eyes. She drew me in.

This woman married a con man. It didn't take her long before she realized this fact but it took some time to get out of the situation. In one year she met, married and divorced this bastard. He drained her of finances and self esteem. She has a therapist (one she pays) and is acutely aware she needs to go on meds. She was terribly abused emotionally as well as physically as a child by her father and has never gotten over it. She says she can't control her rage and anger when she hears about fathers who have special bonds with their daughters. I opted not to comment, as my father and I are extremely close, and I just left him and my mom after a teary farewell at San Francisco airport less than 3 hours before.

She no sooner told me she always cries when she thinks about her 14-year old son she does NOT have custody of and their physical distance (they live on opposite coasts) that tears started to stream down her face. My turn to offer her a tissue! She asks him repeatedly if she is a good mother, if he loves her and if she did a good job raising him. She beamed and got a far-off look in her eye when she remembered his answers were "yes" to all three, even though, as she told me time and time again, she couldn't say the same thing about HER mother while she was growing up.

Her mom cleaned out her bank account to "protect her" and keep the con man from getting her money and then took off with her cash. This woman is now down to her "last few thousands."

She told me she is suicidal but she doesn't want to end her life, even though she "thinks about it all the time." She is not the "murdering type" but attempted to kill her husband three times; one time she tried to strangle him, one time she poisoned his food and I don't remember what the third attempt was all about.

Susan needs constant reassurance which was quite evident in our one-hour mostly one-sided conversation. Me, me, me.....I, I, I.... She needed to offload onto someone and I had the time between flights. Unfortunately there was nothing I could offer her except a shoulder, a tissue and an ear.

Her task ahead is going to be a challenging one. After spiraling to the bottom of the barrel these past few years, she now realizes she has a long upward battle to conquer. By writing this memoir she is revealing intimate, embarrassing details of her life and exposing herself to family, friends and everyone who reads her book. The positive in all this is hopefully she will be able to help those in need, mainly the women in our society that are abused as children, as adults. The women who are blinded by love or what they think is love, and too often get duped in the process. She is hoping to save women the heartache and emotional drain of falling into the same predicament she did. I can only say I wish her well and hope she survives. First, she needs to find a publisher.

When I left Susan to head to my gate and board the plane to Miami, I started to think this might make for some interesting reading material and wanted to write it all down once I got on the plane. I borrowed a pen from the man sitting next to me and started to jot some notes. Before long I had nearly filled a full page, and during a pause, he looked over at me and asked politely for his pen back. It was an expensive Waterford pen and there wasn't much ink left in it, or so he felt compelled to tell me. He thought I just needed it for a quick moment and made no qualms about telling me had he knew how much I was going to write he would have offered me a BIC! Whoops? He asked if I was a writer and I didn't really know what to say. Perhaps I should have said "yes!" and maybe I could have continued using his nice pen? The lady next to him dug in her bag, produced a BIC pen, happily passed it over and told me to keep it. The man promptly fell asleep and started snoring.

Susan occupied much of my mind for the beginning of this next leg of my journey. She made me realize embarrassing situations can be shared for a laugh, amusement for others but also to show people "you are not alone," and think "this couldn't possibly happen to other people" as others have no doubt gone through similar or the same situations. Well....here is something that has no doubt happened to others but you never want it to happen to you!

Everybody who has ever flown before knows where the lock is on the lavatory door to keep the bathroom goers inside and the rest of the passengers outside. Not all passengers think to lock the door. Yup. You guessed it. Bare-ass facing the door, bending over to flush, the door opens. A man nearly walks in on.............me. Emarrassing? It could have been, but what the hey? I'll never see these people again. All three men in line got a free show. I should have charged admission before walking back to my seat.

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