Tuesday, January 3, 2017

mending quite nicely

I'm on the brink of re-entering my life, which is a happy place and also a little scary. I'm starting physical therapy today and going back to work on Monday. And of course, I have to start getting ready to move.

The packing is not so onerous, but the throwing-away is. I am determined not to have clutter, I will certainly have boxes of cluttering stuff stowed away in my many closets (box of family photos, yarn, jewelry materials), but a lot needs to be thrown out on this end.

I arranged some time back for my good friend John to pick up all books, CDs, DVDs and clothing that we don't want, and that was done a couple of weeks before I fell. The clothing has been donated, and John will keep the rest for his occasional garage sales. John may be pressed into duty again, as the kitchen counter I've decided on is from Ikea, which will require a car and a cool head. I always hear that shopping at Ikea is a horror, but maybe going to buy one thing and one thing alone will make it easier.

A lot of essential things are already in place at the new apartment. I have two rugs (one still needs to be rolled out), my bed and mattress and dresser, and a dining table and chairs that still need to be assembled. Barry arranged for some larger items to be brought over there: my blender and microwave, TV, and my dishes, flatware, comforter, sheets and towels, and shower curtain. That's a lot of what I'll need to get started.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've bought some more things online, like a sink drainer, kitchen canisters, ice cube trays, a salad spinner and such, Shopping is so much easier than packing!

I have my laptop and have to go on Carbonite and get my files downloaded to it. It's my first-ever laptop, which is pretty exciting. My tech plan is to cut the cable, get wifi and stream everything to the TV; I did a little research and got a Sharp-Roku TV. Barry bought one for himself (he's renting a room, and wanted a new TV for it), which we set up here, so I've been able to get acquainted with it. I'm figuring on doing Sling TV, HBO and Showtime, and I already have Netflix and Hulu. At some point, I'll buy some speakers for playing music, which is almost entirely on my hard drive. (I'm looking forward to getting the music and photo files onto my laptop, and deleting all of Barry's stuff.)

Somewhere along the way, I bought a new phone, upgrading from a refurbished Galaxy S4 to a brand new Galaxy S7. It's my first-ever brand-new top-of-the-line smartphone. I got a pretty cheap price buying it from Samsung instead of from my carrier. I had been dithering about it for a couple of months, but began to realize that, since I had the money to do it, I ought to spend as much on my phone as I did on my laptop and my TV - I use the phone just as much as the other electronics, probably more. (I am a fierce online bargain shopper, and each of those items cost me a little over $500.)  I am in love with my phone - it's the first one I've fond to be really well-organized and intuitive. And it's so fast!

And speaking of dithering...I've had a really hard time pulling the trigger on any high-ticket items. The first one was my bed, which is why it didn't arrive until around three weeks after my original move date. The bed and the mattress were quite expensive, but I knew for sure that this was one place not to go cheap. (My dining set was really cheap.) The second pricey item that was killing me was a sofa. I've never bought one before.

Once I decided on a color scheme for the living room (earth tones), I started looking at mid-century-styled sofas. I was trying to keep it under $1,000, and was having a bitch of a time trying to find a style I liked in a color I liked in that price range. I decided to relax the minimum price a bit, and found some I liked more. I had fifty sofas on my Pinterest, and looked at them over and over. I even requested a fabric swatch for one, but it seemed too scratchy. I thought if I was going to buy online, I'd either need to buy velvet or chenille, or else get swatches. (When I was a little kid, we had a great sofa that was scratchy. It didn't make any sense to me to buy a brand-new sofa and then have to put a throw on it because the fabric was uncomfortable.)

Then yesterday, lo and behold, I went to the Gothic Cabinet website (which was where I bought my bed). They don't have a lot of upholstered furniture, but they did have a comfy-looking dark brown leather sofa reduced to $599. I ordered it almost immediately. It's not a mid-century style, but the apartment certainly will not me all mid-century modern, and this sofa will certainly never be too precious-looking. Like the bed, the sofa must be comfy and well-made. So I'll have my sofa in 5-6 weeks. Choosing chairs should be less traumatic.

The dresser was a whole other story. It was the first piece of furniture I bought. I spent a lot of time looking at the website chairish.com, which has a ton of actual vintage mid-century stuff. I spotted a Danish teak dresser, dead simple, and it kind of put me in a trance...I just jumped on it. Chairish, something like eBay or Etsy, has items sold by individuals, so you pair through Chairish but end up dealing with the individual seller as far as delivery and shipping. They have stuff all over the country so you can end up paying hundreds of dollars for shipping. But you can also sort it by city, so I was able to look only at NYC-area items. My dresser was in New Jersey, owned by an actual Danish person named Lars, and he couldn't have been nicer to deal with. When the dresser came, Lars had included some information about the piece, a bottle of oil and instructions about oiling the piece, and a tin of Danish butter cookies for good measure. This is where you can find Lars' Lovely Danish Modern furmiture: Lanoba

The dresser:
And here are some more pictures. This is the bedroom rug - the bedroom will feature blue.

It's a fake faded Oriental. The sheets and duvet cover are dark blue.

Living room rug:
Also new and not expensive.

The sofa:
Two crazy vintage chairs I'm considering for the living room:

These are both vintage and I'll probably get one or the other. I love the second one, though not the metal legs. The first one looks like it sits very low, so I'll have to double-check the measurements.

Dining table and chairs - the actual chairs I ordered are white, not blue:

For china, I'd had my heart set on vintage Iroquois Informal, Garland pattern, designed by Ben Seibel. I've actually owned four bread plates and the sugar and creamer for some years now. Here's Garland:

But the pattern was simply too hard to find. The dinner plates were impossible.

I was thinking of doing a mash-up of different Ben Seibel Iroquois Informal patterns, but then I discovered - Canonsberg Temporama! Still vintage, still mid-century modern, but way cheaper and more available. So I bought plates and shallow bowls and deep bowls:

It's hard to see the detail from this photo. Here's another:
Last picture is of bathroom towels. I decided to do the bathroom in green.
So things are starting to shape up.

I'm still trying to decide where a few things will go. I want a desk and file cabinet for my bedroom, and possibly also a reading chair. I'm hoping to finish the living room with two chairs, a coffee table and probably an end table or two, maybe an ottoman; some sort of credenza or cabinet for the TV (and to store DVDs etc.), and a bookcase (for books and also various vases and tchochkes). One of the chairs will certainly be a recliner.

There is a dinette right in front of the kitchen, but a table and chairs there may hinder access to the kitchen! So there's a chance that the dining area may be in a corner of the living room. Barry has offered a suggestion that I put the desk in the dinette, but I kind of hate that. Still, it may end up there, or in the living room (if the dining table lands in the dinette). I think I'd prefer to having the bedroom double as a den, with the desk and a chair with reading lamp. (A reading lamp sounds a little weird, considering that I do 95% of my reading on a tablet, but I like the idea anyway.)

I still need shades. I am dithering about shades. I think I want wood or faux-wood blinds for the living room, and lightish blue mini-blinds for the bedroom. I have not been able to find blue mini-blinds anywhere, even though I had them when I lived in Brighton Beach. And installing them seems a daunting task, although I guess that's a job for the super, or a friend with a drill.

And the kitchen - not enough counter space, needs an island. And I'm buying as much kitchenware in red as possible. I have a red microwave and blender and dishtowels and a dish rack and canisters. The kitchen will eventually have little red curtains and a hanging pot of herbs.

The reason I'm thinking about blinds is that I want to be able to have some privacy but also light for plants. I'm thinking hard about orchids for the bedroom (Robin suggested yellow, as an accent for the blue). Since I have good light, I may try cacti for the living room, and/or African violets.

So this is the state of home decor. Lots of ideas, many good purchases so far, still some head-scratching.

But first, I need to sort, throw away, and pack.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


I'm actually starting to feel like myself again, and like I'm inhabiting my own life.

It's hard to describe, or even to understand, how much energy the body takes to heal, including mental energy. For nearly four weeks, I've put aside the details of moving and work. Without consciously realizing it, I kept my life as stress- and worry-free as possible. No compulsive on-line furniture viewing. No worrying about who's going to be where to accept packages, or a move date, or anything about work (except for the friendly co-counselors whom I miss).

But in the last couple of days, my pain and discomfort have been really minimal, and I haven't had a shot of muscle relaxant since Monday. I may even be able to stop using the painkillers before the prescription runs out; I'm certainly no longer having noticeable pain as the dose wears off. The doctor said I can start physical therapy next week, and I think he's close to giving me a back-to-work date. I'll see him later today,for the first time since Monday.

To backtrack some days...soon after the injury, I was concerned about possible internal organ damage. I was less worried as time went on, but I still wanted a test to know for sure. So I had a sonogram. When the doctor got the results, he said there were two small masses on my left kidney. They could have been anything, even cancer, so I went for a CT scan. Fortunately, they were something called angiolipomas, which are entirely benign and nothing has to be done for them. All organs are fine.

Yesterday, I went ahead and ordered a dining table and chairs for the new apartment, which are pretty much the only essential pieces of furniture I hadn't ordered yet. I'd actually seen the ones I wanted some weeks back, and had pretty much decided on them, but I just couldn't wrap my head around actually placing the order. But now it's done.

While I was on a roll, I also bought a new phone, which I've been dithering about for weeks. My current phone isn't totally shot, but it has a couple of small cracks, so anew phone wasn't an absolute necessity. But then I started coming up against insufficient memory; it only has 8GB, so I found myself having to delete things when apps needed updating. Plus, I've actually never had a brand-new smartphone. I started with a used one, and since I have insurance through my carrier, all of my phones have been refurbished replacements, and never the newest model. So now I'll have the newest model.

I certainly didn't expect recovering from a serious injury to be the prologue to my new life, but maybe it's provided me with a cool-down period (as painful and frightening as it was).

Thursday, December 8, 2016

moving and falling, and maybe more

My husband and I are separating, in an entirely amicable manner. I had never really given it that much thought because it was entirely unaffordable, though I know that I craved to live alone. Once I inherited money from my aunt, the thoughts started to come to the surface, and I realized I no longer wanted to be married to my husband. We went to three counseling sessions. The most interesting thing that came out is that he was not willing to do the work to keep the marriage together. I guess it wasn't a surprise, but it was a surprise to hear him say it, to have it acknowledged.

So I found an apartment, which would have been impossible without having some money to put behind it, since my credit is only fair and my salary is low. I made a cash-based deal to rent a very lovely one-bedroom apartment near Kings Highway. Good neighborhood, very good building (including an elevator, laundry room, and super).

However, a few days before I was supposed to move, I was going through some cartons stacked outside the doorway of my old apartment, stepped back a little too far, and began to fall down the stairs backward.

As best I can reconstruct this, I fell down several stairs, grabbed the banister to try to stop, and the momentum flung me over the banister and I fell to the next floor, face down. I believe the banister caught me very hard on my left hip and groin. I had my hand in front of my face, so I only had a tiny bump on my head (did not lose consciousness), and a bit of a bloody nose. But I did not move in case I had a back injury. I yelled to Barry to call Hatzolah (a very good volunteer ambulance service), and went to Community Hospital, where I was examined and x-rayed. The x-ray showed I had fractured my first lumbar vertebra, L-1.

So Barry and L-1 and I went home in a car service, and the next day, went to my doctor, who is thankful only a block away. I was in a lot of pain and couldn't walk more than a shuffle. He immediately put me on Cipro (some of the color and raised quality of the bruising indicated an infection) and a strong ibuprofen. The following day, I told him that the ibuprofen was doing nothing, and he put me on oxycontin instead. My left butt cheek turned almost entirely purple, as well as my groin, and part of my mons.

I went, and continue to go, to the doctor every day, where I was getting daily shots of an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxant. Had an MRI of my lumbar area and two of my hip/pelvis (one with contrast and one without), and another x-ray, which showed my T-12 vertebra was also fractured and the fractures were causing the discs below to bulge.

I missed Thanksgiving with my family.

My hip really hurt more than my back, and I spent a lot of time sleeping/resting on my right side. Slowly, the pain began to abate, and the bruise started to vanish, The doctor stopped the shots, I finished the course of Cipro, and got a back brace.

By a few days ago, I was having a lot less hip pain, but I asked the doctor to have a test done to make sure there had been no damage to my organs. So I had a sonogram done a few days ago.

The sonogram showed two masses on my left kidney, which may or may not be related to the fall; it may be residual blood clots from the internal bleeding. It may also be cancer. I am supposed to have a CT scan today for a better look.

So this took place over the past week and a half. Barry has been a champion. He took the first week off from work, and has accompanied to every doctor visit and test, while taking care of all household things and all shopping. He arranged to have whatever was already packed moved to my new apartment. (My move was scheduled for three days after my accident.) He has been amazing.

I have updated friends and family daily, as well as notifying my job. My best work friends, Charles and Jonathan, have texted pretty much every day, This apartment is too small and grungy to have visitors. I've also been publishing updates on Facebook daily. I have a lot of good support.

After I got the sonogram results, I told everyone the sonogram was "inconclusive" and that I had to have a CT scan. No reason to worry my 86-year-old father until there was actually something to worry about. I did tell the true story to my brother and to my bestie, Robin.

So I am mostly out of pain and thoroughly panicked. The doctor said that if it is cancer, it is easily treatable. And I do have a second kidney.

This has been, to say the least, an ordeal. My walking improved pretty quickly. My appetite was really poor, and although we initially ordered a lot of take-out, we've been relying pretty heavily on the new gourmet shop attached to the excellent greengrocer right next to the doctor. I needed food that would tempt me, so I've been eating a lot of goat cheese and crackers, fresh-press juices, and gelato. Barry brings lattes a couple of times a day. I recently discovered the shop's pre-packed salads, which are fancy and excellent. He also buys chocolates for the office staff at the doctor's; the "girls," as the doctor calls them, are endlessly hardworking and pleasant. They have performed admirably in wrestling with my insurance company to get my tests approved and scheduled.

I have basically paid nearly nothing this whole time. I paid a $20 co-pay this first time I saw the doctor, and everything else has been a follow-up at no charge. We've paid co-pays for my meds, and for car services to and from the labs. But that's about it. My insurance has proved to be very good. I have weekly Skype sessions with my therapist.

I'm going on disability from my job, and the move is on hold. In my new apartment, I have one rug laid and the other is there but not yet laid. I have my mattress (the bed will arrive December 17), all my linens, a microwave, a TV, a blender, dishes, flatware, and a vintage Danish teak dresser. (I did give Barry a bunch of money, and he's landed a share at a friend of a friend's). I haven't been able to think much about the move and furnishings; I have nothing yet for the living room and no dining table and no kitchen island (the kitchen is low on counter space, which is basically the only flaw in the apartment), and no shades. I have chosen styles and colors for the various rooms. The bedroom is blue, the living room is various warm colors, the bathroom is green, and the kitchen will be highlighted in bright red. For some sense of my design ideas, you can visit my rather large Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/jennlevy1). I spent a chokingly large amount of money on my bed and mattress.

Furnishing from scratch is exciting and scary. I'm mixing real and faux mid-century modern pieces. Buying the small stuff was easy; buying the big/expensive pieces is scary (except for the dresser, which was so enchanting that I bought it immediately).

But this all seems very far away now. My real life seems very far away. I will be doing a lot of physical therapy for my back, and of course there may or may not be extensive treatments for my poor kidney.

I thought this was all drawing to an end once the pain was pretty much gone. Once the pelvic/hip pain abated and I got the back brace, I've felt a lot better, though I'm still taking oxy and resting a lot. I only found out about the kidney yesterday, and I've done a good deal of crying since then. This has perhaps been the scariest part of the whole ordeal: scarier than the ER, the fractured back, the ceaseless pain in my hip and groin. Last night, I wanted my mother like nobody's business. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

can't do it

I'm staying home from work today because I can't stop crying.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

the long honeymoon

I saw Elvis Costello last night, and when he played this:

tears ran down my face. It happens to be a very sad song, and one of my favorites from "Imperial Bedroom," but I guess what got to me was the topic of a broken relationship. Since mine is.

It was my decision to separate, but instead of my saying so, we went to three sessions of marriage counseling, at my suggestion. I guess maybe I wanted someone neutral present. The first two sessions with one counselor were hopeless; he was not a very good counselor. The next counselor really helped us nail it down.

So I'm moving out at the end of this month. I have a lovely one-bedroom apartment which I can't afford on my salary. And never would have gotten given my salary and my credit report. I used a portion of my inheritance from my aunt, and I am also banking on earning more within two years.

My husband and I are very good friends. We've both cried a lot over this. But we agreed that certain things are not what they should be, and I think we've both known that I am better-suited to living alone.

I am furnishing my apartment from scratch, which I've never done before, and it's costly and scary. My therapist reminds me that nothing is permanent. If I hate the rug once it's on the floor, I can always get another rug (but sell the other, natch).

I'm sure I'm dealing with my fear and anxiety by obsessing over details of my new home. I actually set up a page on Pinterest and have been obsessively "pinning" rugs, sofas, beds, chairs, duvet covers, vases, china, flatware, mugs, glasses, kitchen islands, throw pillows, ottomans...pretty crazy. But, however, it has permitted me to think about what I want my apartment to look like, and I've already chosen the living room and bedroom rugs, I've picked a mattress and I'm very close to picking a bed (platform or captain's). Oh, and I bought a laptop.

I have the keys now, but my target move date is November 30. But first I have to put in at least the rugs and the bed.

I find myself starting to write obsessively about the apartment stuff.

Instead, I will say, I'm separating about 19 years together, married almost 16, and it's scary and exciting, a very new and different life.

Oh, and there's a horrible election today. Or rather, the end of a really horrible campaign. In just a matter of months, I have more bad things to say than I have to say about Walmart (and don't get me started on Walmart, because I've been at that for years). I'm astonished by the classlessness at this level of political race. That scary orange guy has a wild imagination and absolutely no filter. He's dragged down the dignity of a presidential campaign. And people support this guy, despite his proven lack of character, bigotry, untruthfulness, and ugly tactics. Saying "crooked Hillary," apparently, is enough to turn a lot of people against her. Someone told me today that they were voting for Trump, "because Hillary is crooked." I'm pretty sure he doesn't exactly know what "crooked" means, or what "crooked" acts he's being accused of - but he's a Trump guy.

Also, I love that the topic of one of Hillary's emails to Huma Abadin, was, "What was the name of that older Indian actor we met a few years ago?" If forgetting Amitabh Bachchan's name is a crime, I guess she is crooked.

Monday, October 3, 2016

who decides?

Last night, I watched this documentary, about political correctness (particularly on college campuses) vs. free speech, as pertains to stand-up comedy. I found it very thought-provoking. I come down pretty hard on the side of free speech. I've listened to some pretty extreme stand-up, and even if something rubbed me the wrong way, I never felt it didn't have the right to be spoken or broadcasted (and that I always had the right to turn the channel, walk out of the club, etc.). Lenny Bruce, after all, died for our sins,

Then I read this in the New York Times, about hate speech on Twitter, which was even more thought-provoking. I have to ask the question, who gets to decide what constitutes "hate speech"? This is a pretty tricky one, especially since Twitter presents itself as a free-speech medium. But Twitter also does not permit what it calls "abusive behavior" (see guidelines here). Should verbal/written abuse be set apart from "free speech"? And who gets to decide what constitutes "abusive"? If someone on Twitter attacks a person or race or viewpoint, and some number of people think it's correct or OK, and others are offended, is it permissible or not under these guidelines? And how extreme does the "attack" have to be? 

From the Times article: Just take a gander at @Bridget62945958, who published a series of anti-Semitic posts against my colleague Binyamin Appelbaum. One message showed a series of lampshades. Its caption read: “This is your family when Trump wins. Get your Israeli passport ready.”

Do I like this? Nope. Would I be upset if it were directed at me? Sure. Are there Twitter users who think it's OK? I'm sure there are, just as there are readers who think it's horrible. But should it be censored from a "free speech" medium?

And what we're talking about is censorship. One of the free speech advocates in the documentary I watched said that it is absolutely necessary to permit speech that offends any number of people in order to begin a meaningful dialogue and understanding about the issue. I can get behind this, I'm pretty sure. And I'm not certain that there's not all that much difference between a stand-up comic on a college campus or a racist demagogue on Twitter (if Twitter is indeed "free speech"). I can hate it, I can change the channel, I can walk out, I can block the poster or quit Twitter. I've unfriended quite a few people on Facebook who have repeatedly expressed views that I disagreed with or found offensive; now they can post what they want, and I don't have to read it. (I don't really use Twitter much these days, so I haven't come up against that kind of situation in that venue.)

Lenny Bruce got thrown in jail for saying "cocksucker" in a nightclub. Let me repeat that: Lenny Bruce got thrown in jail for saying "cocksucker" in a nightclub. Some people were offended by that word. Maybe some still are. Does anyone think it was OK for him to be jailed for saying it? It was considered an illegal act at that time. Do we consider it illegal now? He was convicted in 1964. He died before his conviction was overturned, in 1966. New York State pardoned him in 2003. No one since has ever been arrested for anything said in a nightclub. 

I am not OK with censorship. I am not OK with "hate speech" (as it is commonly understood, such as the above example), I am not OK with prejudice, I am not OK with soliciting terrorist activity...but those are things that offend me personally. I can change the channel. Maybe I'm being naive, but I think censorship is scarier than any words can be.

That being said...let me share my own experience of being attacked online and being accused of censorship.

Many years ago, I started a "listserv," which was an email discussion group, that eventually became an online chat group. The group was founded to bring together fans of an incredibly minor musical genre (basically defined as three specific musicians and their cohorts). It started with six people I found in a newsgroup (rec.music.folk), back in the 90s, and grew, over about ten years, to (as best I can remember) around 500. I was the founder and the moderator. 

There started to be instances where members assumed that if the others shared their musical tastes, they were sure to share other interests; what I remember specifically was a bunch of posts about astrology. I gently reminded people what the group was about, and asked them to stay on topic. Wasn't a big deal.

Then a guy joined the group - let's call him "Gene." Gene seemed to have a very short fuse and would go off on people for seemingly no reason and in very extreme way. Most of the group members were more or less love-and-peace hippies, and Gene's behavior was jarring to a lot of people. And he was scaring off newcomers, which bothered me a lot. For instance, a newcomer might post something like, "Hi, I'm new to this group. Has so-and-so played in the Chicago area recently?" And Gene would reply along these lines: "IF YOU SHUT UP AND READ THE POSTS BEFORE ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS MAYBE I WOULDN'T HAVE TO TELL YOU TO SHUT YOUR IGNORANT IDIOT MOUTH!!!" So, the newcomer would quit the group. This didn't sit too well with me. I tried asking Gene to try to play nicely with others. No dice.

I should also disclose that Gene went after me, a lot. Example: I had read a book where one of the characters was a fictionalized version of one of our topic musicians, and I said something along the lines of "I thought the female characters were too simplistic and trivialized." The part of Gene's ensuing rant that I remember best was that he called me a "LESBIAN NAZI." (PS, Gene and I were, and are, both Jews.) 

Some of the people in the group liked Gene. (Amazingly, to me, one even married him.) Some found him offensive. Some brushed it off. Some left the group. Some thought he was funny. (Gene did have a credential relevant to the group: he owned a record label that had released one album by one of the artists.) Needless to say, I didn't care for the guy, didn't like his tone, and didn't like his presence in the group. And no one else behaved like him. 

Here's the difference: it wasn't a free speech forum. It was my wheelhouse, my playpen, my topic. The gentle nudges-back-to-topic that worked on astrology did not work on Gene. Here's what I did, which I hated having to do: I wrote guidelines. (Just like Twitter, which does represent itself as free speech.) They were pretty simple: keep on topic, don't attack other people. I was the moderator; I got to judge what "attack" meant. Among our twinkly little music fans, it wasn't hard to distinguish "Is anyone going to so-and-so's show next week?" from "UGLY LITTLE WORMS LIKE YOU SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO BREATHE THE SAME AIR AS THE REST OF US!!!" 

The guidelines further said that the first and second times I judged someone's posting inappropriate based on the above, I would email them privately. After a third time, their posts would be subject to moderation, which meant I would change a setting to read and approve their posts before forwarding them to the group.

It killed me that I had to do this, or felt I had to. It killed me that anything like this became an issue. I had never imagined such a thing would happen, that someone like Gene would join and participate in the group. I was trying to grow and enhance the group, and people were leaving because of Gene. This was not OK in my group. 

This started a lot of yelling about censorship. This started a lot of chaotic behavior within the group. This started a lot of attacks on me. This led to more and more people being moderated. I do not exaggerate when I say that I lost sleep. I do not exaggerate when I say that my husband begged me to quit the group. Although he blessedly lived in another city, Gene did show up to a club show in New York, where he waved a finger in my face and yelled, "I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND I'LL DEAL WITH YOU LATER!!!" 

It ended very badly. I eventually banned Gene from the group, and he started his own "rival" group (with a very slight spelling difference from mine), in which people were allowed to post anything they wanted. Gene's pals who belonged both groups started reposting his nasty rants in his group to my group. His group had about 30 members and mine was in the hundreds (and mine eventually included two of the musicians who had become sufficiently internet-savvy), but after ten years, I gave up. I turned the moderation and ownership over to someone who maybe had a more even temperament or cooler head or thicker skin than mine. 

For unrelated reasons, I broke off my friendship with one of the musicians and lost my interest in the mini-genre, lost touch with most of the group members, took my life in another direction. The lost group and friendship felt like losing a family, felt like a divorce. I have no doubt that it was the right thing to do. But I'm still scratching my head over the business of directing/limiting/controlling the discussion in the group. Was I trying to keep the group as I had created it and intended it to be, or was I just a no-good censor?

I think the group still exists, though I have no interest in looking into it. I'm still Facebook friends with a couple of the early members. One of them recently referred to me on FB by the affectionate name a lot of the members used, "Our Jen," and I was touched and happy and sad. It was nice to be "Our Jen" for a while. Bringing the scattered fans together was a good thing. It actually raised the profile of our musicians and led to real-life connections and more gigs for them. We had a member in Ireland and one in Denmark and one in Aruba; the man in Aruba met Barry and me at the airport when we traveled there for our honeymoon, and drove us to our hotel. It was actually pretty amazing. 

Did Gene wreck it, or did I?