Yom HaShoah and my trip to Poland

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As the sun set over the trees, mountains and universes last night we commemorate as Jews, as humans, and as any type of beings those who perished, fought, and lived through the horrendous time we now call the Holocaust. Instead of writing about the tragedy or by championing the progress of Jews today, or even bemoaning how the treatment of Jews in Europe is akin to the climate in the turn of the 20th century, I want to present the photos of what was in Poland – a vibrant Jewish life and what came with the Nazi occupation and Polish complicity as well as the aftermath, which is up in smoke and the ether of reality.

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#NeverForget #Poland2008 #AishHaTorah #AishNY

 

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I Was a PhD Reject: Part 3

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Cue the Music: Harry Nilsson’s “One” with the incessant ring, ring, ring…

The cellphone next to my brother Matti and his soon-to-be-wife Alicia is ringing and shaking violently. It’s 1am and the cell keeps ringing and ringing and ringing, as Matti dreams. Matti is dreaming of drowning in a pile of phones, descending further and further into the sea of phones, frantically answering each one, “Hello, Hello, Hello!!!” he screams, and then he awakes. Wiping the corn out his eyes he realizes that this was no dream, but reality ringing next to his ear. He picks up the phone and I’m on the other end, gasping for any sense. “I need to crash at your place because it looks like the shit really hit the fan.” Let us take pause and rewind to a week earlier.

The moment she arrives I feel a medley of emotions both good and dread. She returns to DC bringing all her baggage back with her, along with the misery. The entire week I was split in two between trying to accommodate her every need while studying hard for my first comprehensive exam. The first few days were all right, but she still had this vacant feeling she was emitting. By the middle of the week she loosened up a bit, but it got very strange once we hit the sheets. That Wednesday night She was decked out in a nightgown, but much to my chagrin, she was wearing a rather large crucifix around her neck. She knew very well that it would make me feel weird, but that wasn’t the straw. During our session under the sheets she kept telling me to call her by my last girlfriend’s name. What the Fuck? She even knew her name, which killed it and brought all flags down to no mast. I kept telling her that what she did was messed up, but she neither cared nor felt that she was in the wrong. The next day she barely speaks to me and then that night as I try to converse with her about a serious issue, us, she freaks out, runs out of the place and after some time returns and remains in our living room praying over her prayer beads. For Shabbat I pretty much kept to myself and did my thing until it all came to a head on Sunday night. Since Thursday she also made it clear that she didn’t even want me to touch her, not even one finger. I guess this was her form of protection. We watched a movie, she went on a tirade about how terrible Jews are, and then she left to visit a friend. I’m pissed so I start drinking some beers, and getting up the courage to say, “enough is enough.” She returns, get’s ready for bed and wants to go to sleep. I say No. We have to talk, and I took the initiative by saying, “That’s it, we’re done.” This freaked her out to no limit. I was loud, but I stayed on my side of the room. I said we have to end this; this is insane and not working at all. She at first said, “Fine, I’m sleeping in the living room.” But a minute later I hear my roommate saying, “Diana, please don’t do it” as I was completely beside myself. She called 911 acting like I was attacking her, which I didn’t and I didn’t lay a finger on her. She then walks out of the apartment and waits in the lobby along with my roommate who is trying to talk some sense into her. Three jacked cops and one-woman cop show up and at first they surround me like I’m the terror who caused all the pain to any non-white minority. They all spoke to her in Spanish, but thankfully my roommate told them that nothing had transpired. Even though she was not on the lease I said that I’d leave and go to my brother’s place for the night. They said “good.” After packing my bags I stepped outside where the cops stood and casually asked if they could give me a ride. They said “no, we don’t cross into Virginia.” So, I grabbed a bag at 1am, crossed my street, bought a pack of Newport cigarettes, and hailed a cab as I headed out completely traumatized. I kept calling my brother Matti in order to let him know that I’m on the way, and this is where the saga continues. Hence the beginning of the end of our non-alignment pact…

Cue the music: Pere Ubu’s “Non-Alignment Pact,” figures right?

I show up at his place and am chain-smoking, nursing a whiskey drink and casually telling my brother about the shock I was living in at the moment. The night slowly faded and by 3ish in the morning I managed to fall back to the sleep. That Monday I was procrastinating at my brother’s place not knowing what to expect once I set foot back in the apartment. I gather up my physical strength and slowly make my way back to the sterile neighborhood of Foggy Bottom near George Washington University. I walk through the main doors and slowly place one foot over the other until I came face-to-face with the wooden front door to my apartment. I slowly unlock the door and stroll in, meekly saying “Hello!?” I hear nothing so I head towards my room in the one bedroom apartment I shared with my roomie. I walk in and all her stuff, clothing, make up, hair shit, anything remotely belonging to her was gone. That is when I let out a rather long sigh of relief. She’s gone, and finally my misery is over, or so I thought. Apparently I got the full story after my roomie came back home from work later that day. He told me that once I left, the police remained but then left shortly after she calmed down. Then like a whirlwind she desperately gathered up all her belonging. She did it in such rapid fire speed, I was told, that it was as if she was about to be targeted by the Stasi and take her away for good. No matter what I really thought that she would leave and I would hear from her later in life. That was not the case.

Tuesday passed without incident. However, Wednesday was another story entirely. That morning as I was still fuzzy about reality and my life, there was an annoyingly loud knock on my door. I got up, put some pants on and ran to the door sensing its urgency. As I opened the door I was face-to-face with another muscle-bound officer who thrusted his hand holding court documents. Surprised by the visit I wasn’t sure what to make of it, until I opened the packet of information. It read that I was being accused by Diana of terrible crimes including sexual abuse, physical abuse, and she claimed that I did this while threatening her about her immigration status. It also included an order of protection as another hard slap to my face. I was fucking dumbfounded, and had no idea what just hit me or how she contorted reality by projecting herself to be the victim. This was also served to me almost two weeks before my big comprehensive exam, which she knew. At first I was in a fog, but then the sheer anger and rage came popping up and how I would love to throttle the shot out of this lying rich girl. Still, I needed to calm down and collect my thoughts, as well as evidence in order to build up my case. For the next two weeks I was getting advise from various lawyers, as well as writing down all my correspondences with her, and counting the many days she left me in DC, which was about a third of our time married, while studying furiously over my US history II notes for the behemoth exam on Friday. I had all the documents ready a week before the case so that I could study. I have to say that I would have tanked into oblivion if it wasn’t for my brother Matti, Alicia, my cousin Rachel and my buddies at school, Arie, Brian, Rebecca who hooked it up with the notes, and my main man Ben. As I was getting prepped the week before the court date I get a memo from Diana’s lawyer!?! Apparently she hired, or got assistance, from an organization advocating for women in abusive situations. Literally at the 11th hour she, who put the whole case in motion, needed help cause she knew I had plenty of facts to back me up, as well as truth to knock down all her lies.

Friday morning, and I’m standing outside the test taking center at American University. I can’t even describe how I felt because it was a duality of feelings. Part of me was so stressed that I felt like a mental patient before a complete breakdown. However, the other part was a fighter and I was ready to knock this shit out the park, and then go to court the following Monday and tell the truth. After four and a half hours of sitting in front of a computer screen, reaching into the furthest regions of my history loving mind, I went home and collapsed and remained that way for the entirety of Shabbat.

Cue the music: The Gravediggaz great courtroom drama track; “Diary of a Madman” as it captures the aura of court.

Monday morning courtroom fun, and as I wrote earlier that when you walk into the court room the air conditioner is set on super high getting into your body and soul as you shift and turn in your seat waiting to be called up. Thankfully I was not alone having my roommate, father and younger brother flanking me for moral support, and my roomie being a witness as well. As we’re sitting in a tense row outside the courtroom ready to call in the crowd, I see her showing up out of the corner of my eye. She walks in flanked by three women including her lawyer who was a short Indian lady with a belly full of child. I knew that the optics didn’t look good for me, but I was resolved to tell my story as it was. They called us all into the courtroom, along with many others whose cases were called for that specific time period. I vaguely remember the various case, but there was one that stuck out sharply like swallowing a tack. The case was between a Mexican couple who were each assisted by an interpreter. As the translation roll off their tongues the story kept getting worse and worse. The wife claimed that her husband came home drunk and beat her in front of their kids, and then he proceeded to rape her in front of their kids. The casualness of their demeanor was astounding, especially when the husband pleaded guilty, and it resonated. I was astounded to hear this account while my ex was using the court to her advantage to lie about something as heinous as this.

After a few more cases I hear my name called, as I approach the podium on my side. She then walks up flanked by her lawyers, having her chief lawyer (the pregnant one) plead on her behalf. The judge went over the charges, and the judge was a black woman so I felt that the house of cards was stacked firmly against me. All women’s eyes were on me, so I spoke using extreme caution. I told the judge and members of the court that every single allegation raised was a lie, and how I had both written proof as well as my roomie who was willing to testify on my behalf. After I pleaded my case I thought she would realize that we should argue instead of wasting more time. Her lawyer countered by asking for an extension in order to pick up the police report. I countered that I had a copy of the same report, which read that there was no basis to her claims. Unfortunately I was correct in my predictions and the judge allowed for an extension. I vehemently protested and when she asked me when would be the best time for me, I said “Never.” It was such bullshit, but I was railroaded by a system that favors women due to the atrocious ways men treated women throughout the centuries in the history of the world. Thanks guys!

The extension was a farce, and by the following date I was both emotionally and financially depleted. After much thinking, drinking, smoking and more drinking I decided that enough was enough. I worked out a deal with her lawyer, which stated that I would plead guilty with no contest meaning that I was not culpable for any of her accusations. I also stipulated that this would be the end of our sham of a marriage, although it took much longer than I would have enjoyed. In our nation’s capitol you have to be legally separated for a year before you proceed to sue for divorce. She showed up to the next hearing, but by the last she acted like she did during our marriage, absent and uncaring. The crazy thing is that we did meet after the divorce for a last conversation. She told me directly that she did it in order for me to fight for her love, what ever the fuck that means. However, when you deal with unstable minds you will never get any clear answer or glimmer of clarity. The even bigger clincher is the fact that she also kept my last name! I have no idea why she would do such an act, especially if she alleges that I was the cause of her suffering. Anyway, next time you see Diana Cipriani you will know that I gave you fair warning, Beware! Beware! Beware!

Cue music: Big Punisher’s end credits with the song “Beware.”

Stay Tuned for the next part as the saga continues,

 

Peace