This time of year is my worst/best time. I’m about to have a birthday and that’s not the whole story however. The story is how my birthday hasn’t generally been the happiest of events but rather an opportunity to skewer me and not in the way that I like.
Axel did his level best to rewrite history for me. However, I suppose that four years wasn’t quite enough. The worst part is that he knew this which is why he obliquely refers to it in the letters of reference he wrote for me. (Sorry. These letters are for serious inquiries only.)
Axel told me that “the Han” had had 13 years of me and therefore Axel was committed to giving me at least 13 years to reverse what the Han had done to me.
By the way, by no means do I wish to disparage The Han as a people. This one glorious narcissist asshole had baggage which I can not possibly comprehend, to include The Rape of Nanking, for which, his mother was just barely spared. My sympathy for the downstream effects of the megalomaniacal delusions of my national (and probably some hereditary too) forebears was of no consequence however. He was determined to break me as revenge for what happened to him, which, in a nutshell, brought down a Los Angeles area hospital.
I was under the delusion that my own experiences of abuse meant that we had a commonality of experience which would transcend his bitterness. To make that notion slightly clearer I will say that we both felt that Norton Simon and John Dewey were the enemy, among others.
When the two of us went to the museum in Hong Kong of “The George Washington of China,” I was convinced that not only were our mutual theories correct but that this commonality would transcend his pain such as to finally, actually, start to trust me. I was under the impression that if I were to behave and otherwise demonstrate loyalty that eventually my reward would not only be trust, but well, things like sex, which was nearly completely absent from our marriage not for my lack of trying, would resume.
To be fair, the emergence of yet another player in our drama in the form of a genuinely evil Venezolana witch could not have been anticipated by him. I’ve had this discussion with Axel and other people who I have trusted numerous times and I am still entirely convinced that the two of them—the Han and the witch—were not in cahoots.
The removal of my watch on the streets of Caracas however could well have been orchestrated. Although the event itself was traumatic, I was relieved to be rid of the thing.
Rather, it was my femaleness and blondeness which infuriated both the Han and the witch separately but not collectively. That lack of collusion didn’t stop the Han from taking advantage of my weakened state thanks to her ministrations however. Those ministrations were not “magic” but rather actions below what “civilized” persons are capable of anticipating. I’m not sure what it says about me in that I not only “got” what she was doing well in advance of the Han, but it infuriated him that he hadn’t figured it out first.
To give an example, I had wondered why, upon visiting the property prior to our purchasing it, that there was no significant biting insect problem. I assumed that this was because frogs, birds, toads, and bats had handled the issue. However, shortly upon our arrival, the Han and I were beset by festering insect bites. I therefore, developed my own dual-purpose insect repellent/astringent which kept the issue under control. However, it was I, as usual who discovered what the witch had been doing. It went like this.
I heard the corrugated roof on the abandoned restaurant that we were living in, pending the completion of the house which the Han had been building and designing but never came even close to completing in six years, vibrate.
Suddenly, a whole lot of lizards ran toward a spot where the wall met the roof. It was quite the sight to see. Just then, I saw a black rubber tube insert itself and in came a plague of insects. Not magic at all really.
On another occasion, I happened to smell the “recipe” for attracting and breeding said insects. I’m not going to share it here. Suffice to say, that her single-amputee diabetic son lost his other leg in the process upon which she reportedly allowed him to die of thirst.
In other words, “stooping too low” was not in her lexicon. I truly do not wish to perpetuate her methods by publishing them. They were so beyond what a First-Worlder could ever grasp anyway that they’ll sound like fiction.
The fact that I was even able to anticipate and imagine what they were made the Han afraid of me! I think that I’ve just proven that my own traumatic life experiences had eclipsed his, being that as a member of a privileged class all his life he had been effectively sheltered from the vagaries of war and politics which had shaped his generation, whereas I had not. I therefore knew that there was no such thing as stooping too low.
When we had first met—the Han and I—I had assumed that he was just slumming. I didn’t for a moment expect that he was “serious” about me (“a Hollywood blonde”) until he greeted me at the airport from my return from a technical writing conference, in his Rolls Royce with a diamond and emerald Rolex. I assumed that this gift meant that he was “serious” even if I was a little bit afraid of this thing which was more like a handcuff than a pleasure to wear. But at least I then thought that he was “serious”.
When he asked me to move in with him shortly thereafter, I thought, well, OK, obviously he’s serious. I don’t fully understand him, and there was an 18 year age difference, but, such has never stopped me before (my maximum thus far for a serious relationship is 30), so, OKAY!
I moved in.
It was to be an evening out shortly thereafter, where I was making up my face (I was more into makeup in those days than I am today) and suddenly a vodka Martini appeared, in a beautiful glass, perfectly mixed. I looked up to see this man who was apparently really serious about me toasting me in the manner he had acquired from watching Dean Martin. I just loved Dean Martin.
Wow! I felt so glamorous and “grown up” which is a funny thing for a woman who is already professional successful and 37 years old to feel.
An hour or so earlier the Han had greeted my emergence from his Roman tub with a pearl necklace—no not that kind. However, it was the Martini which had really done it for me because the necklace was just stuff. The Martini however was communion.
I had been a vodka-on-the-rocks-with-olives girl before. The Han converted me to vodka Martinis. I still like them even now. I have also always been a beer girl, the good kind, that has history, depth, and craftsmanship attached to it. In fact, my affinity for beer was part of what inspired us to bank in Germany, particular in November, for the Urbock season. It was, for us, Porcini in Italy in October, White Truffles in Italy in early November, Urbock in Germany for my birthday in November, and other delights like German game, organ meats, wurst, and chestnuts.
However, just to make sure I didn’t enjoy myself too much, the Han would subject me to cat-and-mouse unfulfilled sexual seduction, waking me up in the middle of the night to interrogate me (as always), abandoning me in strange places like truck stops either deliberately maliciously or supposedly “absent-mindedly”, and otherwise making sure that even a vacation from the duality of The Garden of Eden/Depths of Hell which was our farm wasn’t too relaxing.
The reason why we were able to travel at all was because the witch didn’t dare go against the family of the farmhand, while the farmhand bunked at our farm, and so, while we were gone our animals were actually safer than they were while I was there. It was just me who the witch despised. To prove it, I took a couple of vacations alone never once being unfaithful even though in my nearly sexless marriage I could have felt “entitled” to something. I was far too consumed with pain to even consider it. Rather, I merely toured and observed, in my own peculiar way.
This didn’t stop men from approaching me however my sadness cooled their ardor. I remember a particular Frenchman attempting to engage me in conversation. He wanted to know whether I was travelling for business or pleasure, and I said, “neither”. His next guess was, “a funeral?” and I said, “yes, something like that.”
The next thing he said still haunts me. It was this:
“I think that you are older than me, yes? I think also that what you need is a rich man.”
I didn’t respond except to think to myself: ‘Yeah. Right. How does that compute? I can’t possibly afford another rich man.’ I was wondering at the time whether the Han would even pay my bills with my money when I returned or whether the plan was to not just abandon me but abandon me in debt as all the credit cards were in my name. It kind of put a damper on my tourism. However, this particular trip was necessary for the “set up” which was to occur later, such as to trick a banker into believing that I had consented to a particular transaction. I’m not going to reveal the con game here.
On the plus side, I discovered that French television had a host of exotic porn offerings after hours in my hotel, with my personal favorite genre being the Eastern European versions.
I also did a fair share of eating and drinking as usual, taking advantage of my own peculiar karma of stumbling on fantastic farmer’s markets throughout the world but especially Europe. I just love fine dairy products, cured meats, pickles, and wine. Engaging with someone who is either the producer or closely related to that producer makes the experience extra special for me.
Whereas Venezuela had a host of decent vodka offerings available, both imported and domestic, as well as olives and vermouth, good rich beer was not available in my experience. Therefore, upon my escape, one of the things I craved as compensation for the loss of all the creatures I loved, my life as I knew it, and my dreams, was good craft Pennsylvania and New York beer.
I probably overdid it a bit. Taking up smoking cigars helped this habit from getting too far out of hand because they do still serve as a fine distraction from other oral fixations.
Moving to Southwest Florida and watching the love of my life suffer and die (as did most of my animals in Venezuela) has strangely gotten me back to being more of a Martini person albeit I still do enjoy a good beer once in a while. In fact, Florida has some excellent microbrews. However, unlike beer, a Martini doesn’t “bloat” me and I want to appear more slim and appealing.
I wonder if I were corseted would I be able to enjoy beer without bloating? I’d like to find out. Meanwhile, I drink my Martinis and watch my waistline magically reappear while I weep for the wondrous vacations from horror and tragedy the Han and I enjoyed as my way of compensating for the loss of the love of my life who wanted nothing more than to help me transcend and move on past my PTSD.
I’m trying Axel. I’m trying. It’s just difficult when I am so defined by my pain.