Diane Schuler’s Ghost

Here we go again. The horrific story of the woman who, with five small children in her car, at 75 mph, drove a minivan the wrong way down a major New York expressway and smashed head on into an SUV, killing herself and four of the children in it as well as the three men in the SUV; the story of the woman who, according to two different investigations, had the equivalent of 10 shots of vodka and a significant amount of marijuana in her system; the story of the woman who, according to her husband,Daniel Schuler, was the perfect mother, worker, wife — simply put, the perfect EVERYTHING: this is the story that has come back to haunt yet again.

Will Diane Schuler’s ghost ever find peace? Will we ever be able to let go of this story, her ghost, that so consumes and haunts us? A recent HBO documentary produced by filmmaker Liz Garbus resurrected the story and made a valiant attempt to help Diane’s anguished spirit find its way home, and our psyches to understand the unthinkable. Did she succeed? Almost. Several years ago Steve Fishman wrote the piece I Dream of Diane for New York Magazine that told the story with a particular focus on her husband, Danny.

Let me recap some of what I saw of the highlights of these pieces. First — Diane was a mega-control freak. She took care of everyone and everything. She was type-A to the max. She honked her car horn, she went to the grocery store and came home with cars, and she mothered her husband. She would not go to doctors or dentists (the latter after a painful and unsuccessful root canal from which she jumped up from the dentist’s chair and simply would not return), she worked her way up from a low level job to a high level management position in a cable company. Speaking of which, she made three figures, almost triple her husband’s modest $43,000 annual salary. She also smoked marijuana on an alleged daily basis to help her unwind from this impossible retinue. As for Danny, he idolized his wife to where she could do no wrong. She was perfect, the marriage was perfect, they had no problems, they agreed on everything, blah, blah, blah and a generous portion of malarkey!!

As all great protagonists, it is clear that Diane was cursed with a fatal flaw. I humbly submit to you that hers was her overwhelming controlling nature. On that day, as is most generally known, she had a toothache from hell, no doubt the ongoing story of the unfinished root canal. It is also known that she stopped at a gas station store for analgesics. They had none. Liz’s documentary does a wonderful job of suggesting that because of Diane’s controlling nature, she wouldn’t admit to her pain and set about self-medicating. Perhaps, the film postures, she might have swigged the vodka without a clear sense of how much she was ingesting and before she could get back in control, it was too late. Yet, staying on that fatal controlling path, she would not let go, and with greatly compromised physical and mental capabilities, well — the rest is in the annals.  Do I think she was innocent? Oh my God, no. I do think she made poor choices and those choices were the result of her fatal flaw.

The accident is over, and the lives lost will be forever mourned. But a true demon, even worse than all the worst we can think of Diane, is in the way of her peace, and of ours. That demon is in the human form of Danny Schuler. Listen to Danny in the documentary. Read about Danny in Fishman’s piece. I haven’t yet decided if Danny is delusional, ignorant, or a liar. Perhaps he is a combination of all three. And what the heck is his brother’s sister doing taking a stage center role in all this? Let it go, for God’s sake, Danny. Tell the truth, or at least acknowledge ours. This woman, your wife, was not perfect, your marriage was not perfect, she was a drug addict, and most probably had a drinking “issue.” She did not have a stroke. She did not have a catastrophic medical crisis. Her system was loaded with drugs and alcohol that perhaps hit her extra hard because of the tooth infection. The fact is, Danny, until you admit to your stupidity, naivety, or lies, no one, not the Hances, (God bless them — I cannot fathom what they have been through), the families of the men in the SUV, the rest of your and Diane’s families, and the thousands of us out here who seek the closure you refuse for anyone to have.  Let it go, Danny, and allow your precious, perfect Diane the freedom to rest in peace at last.

Penmanship — Mourning Its Loss

Here’s yet another commentary. The Net is rife with them these days because the collective curricula of our nation’s schools      is relegating the art of penmanship to the dinosaurs. This is a tragedy of maximum dimension! I urge you to take a read of this op ed piece on the topic. Robert Errera not only laments the cultural and artistic ramifications of penmanship’s demise, but he also notes the most critical issue that without a grasp of the art, future generations may not be able to decipher our past — social, scientific, historic, government, and so on. Does the current to the past then fall and become iron? Or are we just being silly in resisting yet another change to cement our commitment to the world of blinking lights, clicking keyboards, and cacophonous phones.

Buzzy’s Back: Tales of my Stalwart Little Steed

Buzzy’s back! Or rather, I am back to Buzzy. Buzzy is my steady and stalwart little Standardbred horse who I adopted some ten years ago, intercepting what was destined to be a trip to the dog food factory. When I got him he had just been gelded and it took a good two years for his testosterone levels to diminish. In the meantime, he developed a possessiveness over me that manifested in kicks and bites, of me no less, when “our” time was interrupted by me conversing with someone, or the approach of another horse. All of this faded over time, and he became my friend, pastor, teacher, as well as a wonderful little mount who I could take anywhere, ride anywhere, alone or with a cast of thousands, and he always took good care of me.

During the last four years, the economy hit us hard. So hard that I believed I was going to have to do something with Buzzy — sell him, give him away, or whatever. I got behind in my stable board and then I felt ashamed to go to the barn. My financially-induced funk kept me from the very thing I needed most in the world — my horse.

Buzzy and I are lucky because he resides in a barn owned by perhaps the most decent and caring human being I have ever met. She let me slide, with the caveat that I would indeed get back on track, which I did. After two years of being an absent owner, I finally began to re-acquaint myself with my horse. This summer has been heaven. Buzzy and I are doing our thing again. We have overcome some riding issues we had in the past — also under the tutelege of our caring barn owner — and we are on the trail again, ambling through empty fields of long grasses that sway in soft breezes, cooling off in the dark shadows of the woods, and fusing our bodies together as a single, spiritual entity.

WARNING: Walmart on the First of the Month

Yep — go to Walmart on the first of the month and your sanity will be at stake. I made the consummate mistake of going to Walmart yesterday on the first of July despite my profound disdain of the company and its practices. Why did I engage in such foolishness? I needed a few things and chose to avoid the massive construction project that blocked the way to my otherwise favorite and decidedly saner store. Here’s what I encountered:

 

  • One kid who screamed so loud and long that we all almost abandoned our carts and went screaming out of the store in chorus with the unyielding brat.
  • One majorly fat woman who yelled, yes YELLED at her grandkid who was down the other end of the aisle fingering fruit with dirty hands.
  • Traffic jams in the candy, beer, and fattening, salty snack aisle.
  • Women with overflowing carts in the “20 items or less” checkout lines — why doesn’t anyone tell these women to get out of these lines? Probably because they’re afraid of getting shot.
  • Surly, dour-faced employees who snap at customers who dare to ask them a question.

Okay — get the picture? I do rightly apologize for those fair and customer-minded employees — my checkout person was truly customer oriented. Likewise, I apologize to the customers who politely wheeled their carts, patiently waiting for traffic to clear, smiling kindly except for pain-provoked grimaces at the peak volume of screaming brat.

Moral of this story: avoid Walmart on the first of the month. CORRECTION — AVOID WALMART!!!!!

Men on Porch With Cell Phone

I went for my daily run this morning, and as usual, I saw a surprising number of men, outside their houses, on cell phones. I ran four miles — I saw four men. This equates to one man per mile. This equates to peculiar. This is pretty much standard for my morning weekend runs.

Okay, guys, so what’s up with this? Anthony Weiner is having his weenie publicly castrated as we speak, and you’re out on your front porch on your cell phone? Four of you? On a Sunday morning?

Don’t say your reception isn’t good in the house because we know that’s crap. Don’t say you’re talking to a customer, colleague, patient, boss because we suspect that’s also crap. Maybe you’re talking about getting together with the guys for an afternoon of putting and Pepsi (try Pabst). This is plausible. Or … dare we go THERE?? To talk about HER??

Gents, thanks to Bill, Anthony, Elliott, and Arnold, and of course to Tom, Dick, and Harry, do your best to avoid doing the cell phone on porch on Sunday morning thing or some jogger may come by and blow your cover.

Hundreds of herbal remedies now outlawed across Europe

Hundreds of herbal remedies now outlawed across Europe

via Hundreds of herbal remedies now outlawed across Europe.

The Rudeness of Texting

My partner came home the other day from dropping his son off at his ex’s. He came in ranting about her constant texting while he was trying to carry on a conversation about their son. She is a text-aholic, but when it comes to interfering with the care of her son, we’re talking a major and disgusted WOW!

Anyway, the next day I came across this article: “Ahem, Are You Talking to Me” and I simply cannot resist passing it on to you!

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Strollers and Supermarket Kiddie Tanks

I have gritted my teeth about this topic for a long time, and frankly refrained from writing about it for fear of being pelted by half-full babybottles and tippy-cups full of apple juice. But I can stay silent no more! Here is the crux of it: I am tired of mac-trucks disguised as baby-strollers, and sherman tanks dressed up as supermarket carts with kiddie-car plastic things on the front that extend in total to half an aisle.

Here’s what kicked my ass into gear to write about this at long last. Today I was out of apples, and believe me, this is crisis material. Instead of paying a fortune for 3 or 4 apples of not even my favorite varietal at the supermarket, I decided to take advantage of the market’s midweek hours to get my apples. I have a favorite vendor for apples, and so of course, I got into my march forth mode and headed to their booth. There they were — all the shiny, juciy, and robust apples you could ever want! Surrounding them were bright oranges and green grapes the size of superballs.

The market was not particularly crowded, but right in front of those apples, positioned like an army battalion, were three very young and fresh-looking “Mommies” with their very little, and un-fresh-looking children, who were firmly planted in three of those huge strollers — one a tandom affair. Not only were they entrenched in front of my apples, they appeared to rival the Rock of Gibralter in their immobility. Thus I was relegated to reaching over some combination of child-Mommy-stroller to get my four very-heavy bags of fruit, while fumbling helplessly to deal with the financial matters of this transactions. In the meantime, Mommy-dearests all stood around looking very beatific while I surely exhibited a veneer of frantic frustration.

Okay — so much for today. Now what about these Sherman tanks? I am convinced that one day someone is going to get seriously hurt by being run over by one of these things> And get this: my local supermarket has brilliantly redesigned their traffic patterns so now there are aisles intersecting east-west/north-south, halfway down. Add this configuration to the Mommies who schlep their kids into these simply outrageous cart affairs that belong on merry-go-rounds and absolutely no where else in the universe, least of all the supermarket aisle!

Deep Water Graves or Above Water Answers

The crash of Air Fance flight 447 on May 11, 2009 has haunted me now for two years. Over and over I have pored over the same articles, looking for a missed clue or detail. something to indicate what caused that mighty plane to plummet to its sea-bed grave. Likewise, I have gone over and over in my head what those final moments were like in that plane as it tried to make its way through a violent thunderstorm. As one who white-knuckles it with nary a tail ripple, I can’t even imagine what was going through the minds of the people on that plane.

In the relative scheme of the things, not much of that plane was found, and several subsequent searches yielded nothing. It was feared that neither the wreck, nor its black boxes, may never be found, perhaps swallowed into the savage underwater mountain range filled with miles deep valleys and crevices.

But efforts to find the thing became frantic as both aviation experts and flyers — fearful or not — were stymied over what makes a big, beautiful Airbus just drop out of the sky and disappear? Not to mention the fact that manslaughter charges are pending against both Air France and Airbus — charges that could perhaps be mitigated or dropped based on evidence about what really happened.

And so now, it has been found, and with its large, intact section of fuselage are the bodies of souls, still strapped in their seats, in a grave 2 miles underwater. Now the question arises: do we preserve the entire scene, allowing it to remain ensconced on the ocean floor as a measure of paying respect to its victims, or do we bring it up and analyze both the bodies and the wreckage to help solve the mystery of why Air France 447 just dropped off the radar screen — permanently?

Fukushima is now the radioactive Deepwater Horizon of the Pacific

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Nick DiChario

Reader, writer, life-long mistake-maker

Judith Shenouda

Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications

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