Archive for December, 2007

Excuse Me

A copy of Burpee’s 2008 seed, plants and supplies catalog arrived in the mail on Christmas Eve. Next to a Christmas card sent by the Taylor family of Pasedna, Maryland, there was neatly curled a beautiful paperback book that makes warm Spring days seem just weeks away.

It is time to start seeds indoors. Crops like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants can be sown in the Northeast as early as January. Never should one pay top dollar for seedlings that have been started from seeds in commercial greenhouses. A piece of Saran wrap draped securely over egg cartons makes for an ideal planter, offering a near perfect greenhouse effect.

By March, when the plants have outgrown their egg-shaped containers, roots can be carefully squeezed free from the Styrofoam and the plants repotted in larger containers such as paper coffee cups.

What makes growing plants from seeds purchased at Burpee’s so economical is the outrageous prices for fresh produce, now that Mexicans are being shipped back home. It may once again become economical in America to raise a personal vegetable garden in the backyards of deflated mortgage ridden homes. I plan to not only buy seeds from Burpee’s but also intend to buy a few shares in the corporation. The current cost of pastel colored green peppers, grown in the shades of purple, yellow and red is almost $4.99 per pound in New York City.

Unlike other seed companies, Burpee’s introduces new hybrid seeds ever year in their exclusive catalog. “Tangerine Mama Plumb Tomatoes” will produce fruits that are of the same shade as Florida oranges. The “Perfecto Radish” (which does not require early January germination in bright windows) reaches maturity in cool April soil in just 25 days. At $4.65 for a pack of 200 tiny seeds, the potential produce should not need planting!

There are over 30 new products inside the irresistible piece of garden literature.

Read Full Post »

My Berlin Walls

 It rained in Ansbach on Christmas Eve 1986. The climate enhanced my depression. It was my first Christmas away from home. I wished I had never joined the military and I found Germany dark, like its bitter beer. It didn’t feel like Christmas in my hometown of Three Springs. Most soldiers passed their time getting drunk. It still was the Cold War. The Berlin Wall had yet to come down and the rain should have been snow.

I could not relate to the party lifestyles of most soldiers. I chose not to hang out with them during off- duty hours. With the exception of a weekend trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp in mid December, rarely did I run off to explore the culture of West Germany. I wanted to be different and not lose my senses to the bottle. I tried hard to be righteous and I didn’t want to become an alcoholic like my father.

The weekend getaway to explore the Nazi Concentration Camp included an intoxicating night in a hotel room and a guided tour through what made World War II so ungodly and unfathomable. Just two female soldiers traveled in our group of about a dozen– Cheryl Masano and Lisa Payne. We stayed in three rooms in a tiny guesthouse in the town of Schwabhausen.I had never been so intoxicated. Tequila with salt and lime changed me. One of the guys, Brian McManus, cuddled up close to me as we shared a large German bed. It was made like a bird’s nest– one that was filled with tons of down feathers and covers to match. I permitted my hand to gently glide along the soft cotton briefs that he was wearing. Despite his snores, I sensed that he was enjoying what my intoxicated hand was doing to him in dream land.

Thankfully I didn’t permit my hidden lust to overtake me. I kept the gentle strokes as light as the feathers we were laying in. My body trembled with nervousness but there was nothing I could do to stop myself. During our tour of the Concentration Camp the next day, all I could think of was how McManus took my hand and held it in place even after the snoring had stopped. I should have pressed the matter a little further, but it was I who chickened out. He was holding hands with Cheryl the next day when we toured the ruins. I prayed for strength and wished I would have had just one more shot before going to bed the night before. 

I made friends with Baptist missionaries from Nebraska when I first arrived at my duty station. I spent most of my sober time with them. I was only eighteen and felt a need to remain involved in the church. They were American but not affiliated with the military. They had so much faith in their ‘mission’ of serving the troops. They had a small congregation that met in their living room. I took the couple to the PX and bought them groceries with my ration card as a Christmas present. They were so happy. They insisted that I stay at their place for the holiday weekend. I wanted to go back to the barracks and relax for a while and think about my trip to Dachau. I grew tired of the talk of God with the old man and his old wife. I thought there was a chance that McManus was still hanging around the barracks, but he, like almost everyone else, had gone away skiing in the Alps over the long holiday weekend.

My roommate James Starek was away for the holiday too. He didn’t bother making up his bunk. Beer cans were everywhere and cigarette butts overflowed from ashtrays constructed of empty chip dip containers. I should have gone along with the gang I went to Dauchau with, but I promised the Preacher and his wife that I would attend a Christmas bible study that Friday night.

It was the saddest Christmas ever. The rain only made it worse. I was alone on Christmas for the first time in my life and wanted to do more than just carol. I was so tired of pretending that I was not attracted to men. Those feelings were not going to go away.  

I decided that a nice hot shower would brighten my spirits, so I grabbed my boom box and headed down the hallway in my blue terrycloth robe. I was surprised to hear showers in the latrine. Someone else was in Barton Barracks on Christmas Eve. It was Taylor D., a generator mechanic whose name I knew well because there were three of us—Taylor D., Taylor C. and Taylor A. The company commander referred to us by our last names and first initials.   

“Wassup T?” He asked. 

“Nothing. Merry Christmas,” I said while plugging in the radio in an 220 volt outlet located in tiled changing room just outside of the showers.

We had to constantly push a button on the wall to keep the water flowing. Showers were not like they were in America. They were on timers of sorts and it was an inconvenience to constantly have to push a button to keep water flowing, especially when one got soap in his eyes.

Taylor D. said he was surprised at my music—Tina Turner—and told me to turn it up. “Break Every Rule” was the cassette. I remember dancing to the song ‘Typical Male’ before noticing Taylor D.’s erection. He didn’t try to hide it.

I stood in the steam and permitted him to watch me. I thought I was sinless because I didn’t touch him or take the matter further. He got what he needed by just looking at me. When he was done and he pushed his shower button for the last time, the husky Black soldier grabbed a shaving kit and left the showers as if nothing had happened. 

I decided at that moment never to let another one slip out of my hands.

Read Full Post »

The Jewish Bored

I thought I was late for a most important meeting. The train ride to Harlem took over an hour. The A moved like the mind of a schizophrenic on lithium. I didn’t have a watch on. I knew I was cutting it close. I tried reading the watch another passenger was wearing but his heavy winter coat blocked my view.

I had a hearing at the State Office Building. The Division of Human Rights decided to call a meeting regarding the recent claim I filed relating to discrimination in the workplace. I rushed through revolving doors, showed the security guards my driver’s license, placed my keys and lighter in a plastic container and quickly stepped through a metal detector. I saw one of the people from my job standing in the lobby. I figured she was waiting for everyone else. I was right. I was the first to check-in through a bullet proof glass on the fourth floor. I’ve always wondered what the inside of Harlem’s only skyscraper looks like. The Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building is much more charming on the outside.

There were seven representatives from my job representing the defense. I sat alone. Slowly they entered the silent quiet waiting room.

“Oh, is this Mr. Taylor,” a fat, balding attorney asked. I knew his name well— ‘Jacobson’. I read it numerous times in formal responses to my complaints that my employer had filed through the pricey Madison Avenue law firm run by Jacobson and other ambulance chasers. .

“Yes, I’m Mr. Taylor,” I said while shaking his sticky hand. “Bear is spelled ‘B-E-A-R, not B-A-E-R’ I quickly pointed out while pulling my hand from his as fast as humanly possible.

“We caught that typo and corrected it,” Jacobson assured.

“Not in my copy,” I said.

At that moment, the representative from the Division of Human Rights appeared and escorted us down the hallway to a conference room. I was prepared to give the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services a piece of my mentally ill mind…

(To be continued…)

Read Full Post »




 Click on the image below for a link to the publication–



Thanks to All who participated







It wouldnt be Christmas without A Charlie Taylorwriting contest at the Craigslist Literary and Writing Forum.

I’m giving away $50 on Sunday, December 23rd to my favorite elf writer.

(It could be you.)

There is no entry fee, so what do you have to lose?

As with last year
s Christmas writing contest (which later was converted to a Cat Oars book—”A Charlie Taylor Christmas), writers are asked to submit an entry within just one single post2,400 charactersnot words, characters— the entire story must fit into one single post in the Craigslist Literary Form. The two contests will be combined into one book.

As readers and writers may recall, last Christmas we wrote what really happed on the night of Jesus’ birth. S
o many questions I had regarding the virgin birth were answered in that contest and little book.

In July, scribes constructed the missing tales of Jesusadolescent years. Submissions to Another Charlie Taylor Christmaswere recently added to the Cat Oars paperback book.

Theres still a piece of the story missing and I need the help of all bloggers

How did Mary get pregnant in the first place?

Post in this forum under the title—”Immaculate Conception” on December 23rd

Ill select a winner on Christmas Eve and announce the winner of this writing competition right here in this blog on Christmas Day.

Someone is going to win $50!

Remember: only one page posts will be considered for the prize money and entries are limited one per handle!

All submissions must be made in the forum on December 23rd.

Good luck and joyous writing! GCT






Read Full Post »

The devil rode me in my sleep.

I was stuck in a heavy slumber. My mind was in a trance, unable to control body movements, nor could I tell myself how to open my eyes.

So desperately I wanted to wake up, yet my body felt as though it was being forcefully held down upon the bed. Unable to scream I waited, wondering if ever I would awake again. Living alone was not like I had imagined. It was my second night in my new apartment on 4th Avenue in Sunset Park. The French Doors that separated my bedroom from the remainder of the apartment seemed charming when I first crawled under my bedspread and read two chapters of an Anne Rice Mayfair witch novel under the soft glow of a tulip shaped stained glass night light. If only I could wake up and turn on the light. But I was stuck in a place somewhere between consciousness and delusion.

What if I were to remain stuck in this sleeping coma for all of eternity? I just laid there. I had no choice. I reassured myself in my state of paralysis, remembering the same thing happened to me as a child. I tried yelling for Mom but couldn’t. Even my mouth seemed zipped shut.

I told Mom about it the next day. She said it was the devil riding me and the same thing happened to her on occasion. She made it seem like that type of dreaming was no big deal and it happens all the time. It was morning. I was eating cereal and was happy that I was awake again. I just laid there all alone, reminiscing of childhood when the devil rode me in my sleep.

Finally I was able to open my eyes just a bit, enough to see the darkness in the room that seemed to hold me captive.

“Get behind me, Satan!” I tried to scream with all my might, but nothing came out.

The room was dark and empty. I wished I had shut the windows before going to bed. It was obvious, a dark sinister force was consuming me. Just let go, Charles, just let it take you, there is nothing you can do.

Morning came. The devil was gone. The sun struck my face but I knew that the devil had ridden me in my sleep.

Read Full Post »

An individual with schizophrenia should not have to request “reasonable accommodation” from their employer three times, especially when the employer is a state funded mental health organization. The State of New York has responded favorably to the complaint I filed against my current employer– the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Inc. (JBFCS)


Problems began when my boss, Joan Adams, LCSW, fired her administrative assistant in late 2004. Joan wanted me to be not only the office manager for the Youth Counseling League (YCL), a program of JBFCS, but also to serve as her secretary and take on the duties formerly the responsibility of her secretary, Maryjo Tipaldo.

“I have no choice, we are facing budget cuts. I must let her go and it is now your responsibility to serve as the liaison to the YCL Divisional Board. And look at the bright side, I’m giving you a $3,000 pay increase.”

Joan adored my writing skills. She would do anything not to have to re-write the minutes that Maryjo took at monthly board meetings. She found salvation in me.

My annual salary skyrocketed to $45,000, but there was a problem. I started feeling funny in my head again. The symptoms associated with my mental disorder– schizophrenia– started to return. Chief Financial Officer Alan Schoor started to complain about my office manager abilities because revenues started to decrease at YCL soon after I started doing Mary Jo’s job. I didn’t have time to follow up on denied insurance claims.

“Look, we gave you a raise, can’t you work late?” Was their suggestion.

“Joan, I have something to tell you. I was hospitalized for schizophrenia in 2002 and the new job duties are going to send me back to the mental ward. I can no longer do both jobs…”

That’s when the trouble began.

Joan ignored me, so I called a meeting with her direct supervisor, Susan Bear and I told Susan that I was a certified nut case.

Susan Bear, the psychotherapist ignored me, so I requested a private meeting with Kathleen McGlade, Corporate Compliance officer of the Jewish Board. She too is a certified social worker.

Kathleen obviously thought I was fibbing too. What does one with Schizophrenia say to someone else to request ‘reasonable accommodations’ which are afforded to me under state and federal laws?

All I asked was that I no longer have to do MaryJo’s old job. I even told Joan she could fire me and replace me and find someone who could do both jobs.

In their response to the state of New York, the Jewish Board claimed that I was just bluffing and was being lazy and that I acted inappropriately by calling members of the YCL Divisional Board a bunch of “Bitches” and “Money Grubbing Whores” and that I said, “You should just fire me…”

It’s amazing how words can be misquoted when not written down, as in board meeting minutes.

Months slowly passed. I was treated like a step-child at work after filing my formal complaint. The state of New York took no immediate action on the matter but they did not close out the case.

Joan was promoted. They got someone new in her job– Janet Johnson. Janet’s first order of business was to notify me that I would have to start taking minutes at staff meetings and minutes from monthly Continued Program Improvement meetings.

“What’s with all the minute taking? What about my office manager job?” I asked my supervisor. “Look, they took back my $3,000 pay increase after I reported my disability and I was relieved from taking minutes at board meetings. Why now are you making me write something else? I can’t do everything for you!”

They ignored me again.

So after filing a second complaint with the State of New York, I got a call.

It appears a hearing is in order…

I’ll keep you posted….

Read Full Post »


I walked to the Three Springs postoffice in an insulated pair of snowmobile boots with black leather straps fastened tightly in place where shoestrings ought to be. Six inches of snow covered the small town and nearly all the tiny houses had black smoke pouring from their chimneys. The smell of burning wood stoves often makes my mind wonder. It was a long walk to the postoffice and I had lots to think about. Christmas was just weeks away.

Obviously, I was the first person in town to brave the elements that morning. Mine were the only footprints in town. How desperately I wanted to make angels in the front lawns of all my neighbors by throwing myself upon the fluffy base and doing the bald eagle. They would never get it. People get angry in little towns when little boys do silly things like making angels in the snow, even if it is in the spirit of the holidays. I kept walking ignoring my urge to spread holiday cheer.

Fierce winds rustled tall pine trees on Peg Hoffman’s property as the chilling air gathered fallen snow collected among the needles of her trees and whipped it about like feathers. The blowing evergreen pines reminded me of squirrel tails. Peg was in her front window as usual. I saw the white curtains in her big bay window move slightly to the side. I put my head down, pretending not to nice her and continued my stroll in the harsh elements.

Mom traded Christmas Cards with relatives and friends. The correspondence was pouring in already. Mom wanted me to walk in the snow to get the mail. She knows how much I love being out in the snow. There was still time for her to mail out Christmas cards. If she happened to get one from someone who was not on her mailing list, she could easily pull a card from the box of glittery bootleg Hallmarks and get it in the mail in time for delivery. They must get there before Christmas Day.

“Go get the mail for me, Charlie.”

“Can I have a quarter?”

“Get your ass in gear before I crack it with my wooden spoon.”

The small mailboxes at the post office had combinations. Letters were used on the dial, not numbers and I can still remember forgetting ours as I stood inside the warm cozy postoffice. Small glass covering the tiny mailbox door indicated that it was a heavy holiday mail day. Mom was going to be so happy. I tried different combinations, trying to get a small metal cylinder to turn open.


“Can I get our mail?” I asked the mailman, looking like an angel in a snowmobile suit.

“Sure, Charlie,” Mr. Scott said. He handed me a stack of cards with a letter from his wife and family on the top. They used fancy thirteen cent stamps with Christmas trees on them. Ours had the star of Bethlehem.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »