The Matchbook Diaries

Beginning when I was 3 years old I was raped and tortured nightly by my mother. I lived alone with my mother for ten years. The following ten years I lived in rich households dominated by emotional violence and alcohol addiction.  We experienced both suicide and insanity. The events of my life drove me into a lifelong study of redemption. My diaries will offer you one perspective on the use of faith as a way to harvest power, dignity, and peace. If you choose to read these diaries, know that I disguise nothing. There are horrors here. Those horrors were emphatic catalysts. My drive was to find real redemption, to find life that was in no way deformed or enslaved by what was done to me.

God has never once disappointed me. I bludgeon God with all of my intellectual and emotional might, and yet I have never left any encounter empty handed. God is certainly not petty, and so, whilst I am a Jewish Christian, I claim no monopoly on words for God. It’s monumentally absurd to think that if you call God up on the phone, God won’t answer unless you use the right name or pronoun. Jesus is the lens I use, but I will not use that name in these diaries as it is a stumbling block for millions. The name I use for God is God, without gender, without attachment to any faith. I’m an artist and I’m an evangelist. These are my twin callings. The faith I call you to is a liberating, empowering faith. Redemption does not look a certain way externally. Redemption is not service or lifestyle. Redemption is the power of the truth, the power of love. You’ll know instantly, upon opening this diary, if it is of any use to you. May God bless your life; may you know and believe that you are a child of God, beloved beyond price, and of infinite value.

#1 Witness and Partner and I, the Trinity of Faith

When I was a terrorized child I told myself, “No one knows. No one knows.” At the time this expression partly reassured me that I was unexposed.  My secret life of shame was not public. I comforted myself by acknowledging this fact.  There was a second, important message in my CONTINUE >

#2 Un-Average Joe  (Cayman Brac, July 2015)

My mother and father on Fire Island prior to their marriage.

We live overseas and have for decades.  My son, who is 13, has never lived in the United States.  Expats are fond of saying that we’re all running from something.

We’d been on a 3 week vacation in the CONTINUE >

#3 Hell and Heaven, the power of choice

My mother and I dressed alike.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about hell. Hell is the place God is not. In Hell, the luxury afforded here, the luxury of avoiding the real, is gone. Hell is eternity faced with oneself without mitigation.

My mother is there now. CONTINUE >

#4 Evangelism on the Fly

I ferreted out a fellow Jewish New Yorker in an airport once when I was leaving Miami for Dar.  I’d been alone, away from my family, to fetch supplies for a summer trek and a NY accent really gets my attention.  The time came for us to line up and CONTINUE >

#5 Initial Contact

These guys were hanging out in a swamp in Sri Lanka when we spent a summer there.

In Southampton, in my mom’s room, is gray haired old woman.  I say, “No, I’m looking for my mother.”  Then I realize it is my mother.  She turns and looks up CONTINUE >

#6 The Liberating Power of Grief

This is a very modest version of a Styrofoam-carrying cyclist in Guangzhou, China where we lived. You often saw people peddling with twice or 3 times this amount.

I have a lot of grieving to do.  The agony hits me night after night. Once in a while, I have CONTINUE >

#7 Be Still And Know That I Am God

Holy man in Bhaktapur, Nepal giving me his blessing.

Raped nightly at the age of 3, life was scary so I ran.  I sprinted into imaginary hyperspace.  My soul remained frozen in my mother’s bedroom, trembling in horror, self-talking in quiet triples: “Help, help, help.”  Every night until I CONTINUE >

#8 Voluntary Blindness

Me in upstate New York on our family farm. A few hours after this photo was taken I’ll be raped and tortured by my mother, again.

When the damage from the past is incomprehensible, the byproduct is that our own behavior becomes such. We can’t control our self-destructive CONTINUE >

#9 Meaningfulness

I’m roasting a marshmallow and sporting quite a sunburn.

In the US, particularly in high end retail environments, smiles are hard, eyes are fierce or averted, parking lots are war zones, and people dart around one another with a veneer of politeness that frequently tips into competition or flight.  CONTINUE >

#10 VIP’s

My son with a jewelry shop owner in the souq in Qatar

When we moved from the richest country in the world, Qatar, to one of the poorest, Tanzania, we cut part of our household income in half.  My husband really wanted to work for one of the top CONTINUE >

A few days after my boys leave for Qatar, I uncover why my mother is stuck and broke.  The long term, legal tenants on my mother’s Montauk estate, Joe, who found me, and Mark who helped me continually, tell me about Dusan.  Yes, that’s his real name.  I did not CONTINUE >

Rather than stay here in Nairobi, Kenya, we decided to pass and take their word for it.

I’ve watched The Gambler like 20 times (approximately). It’s about the fuck-you position, the position of being utterly unencumbered and un-mastered.

The philosopher-loan-shark in The Gambler says this, The wise man’s life is CONTINUE >

In adulthood I repeatedly dreamt I was in public without underpants on.   In childhood I was required to spread my legs widely every night, and then they were held down while my mother performed long sessions of oral sex on me.  I was not allowed to move or to speak.  CONTINUE >

Two years after my mother died, I felt compelled to buy and to watch several seasons of the old TV show NYPD Blue.  I do not watch TV, but the compulsion was strong to do this.  So while I did my design work, I vaguely watched the shows.  I wasn’t CONTINUE >

Because of what happened to me, anytime I feel close to someone or something ugly, I am terrorized.  Ugly is intolerable; it’s torture.  As a child I was connected to something ugly.  My mother once reprimanded me severely for asking her a question she disliked.  She picked me up from CONTINUE >

Summers in high school my father and I would fly New York from Texas so my father could race his sailboat at the Babylon Yacht Club on Long Island.  He won nearly every single race.  If you win the national championship, you get to have three chevrons on your mainsail.  CONTINUE >

I found her on the beach in Dar, and her little sister too. I love them both.

I was blurry when I was coughed up into adulthood.  I was a muddle, a sort of odd conglomerate of myself and many adopted mannerisms and behaviors that I’d attached to CONTINUE >


You can see the sign I’m talking about
there above our cabin sink.

In a shipping container on our own land I found a handmade sign that reads “I love you more”.  The letters had been crudely cut from plywood and then attached to a spare piece of lumber CONTINUE >

#19  The Beginning, the End, and the Re-Beginning

Going public about faith, I feel how it must feel for someone else who comes “out of the closet” about something they are.  I think this is how it must be to admit something you know will be judged, misinterpreted, flung back, or rejected.  Most public pronouncements of faith are CONTINUE >