standing on the river
“Over time, you get used to anything. No matter how difficult, uncomfortable or oppressive life is, you create a routine to deal with it.”
The headline was the same in every newspaper in the country: THE END OF CRIME IN AMERICA with a picture of Dr. Steven Samuels in his lab at Sampson Pharmaceuticals. Ever since he was a child, Samuels dreamed of doing something that would make the world a better place and as he grew up, he never lost sight of his dream and worked toward it. He was number one in his class through high school and college and got a doctorate in neuro-pharmacology at twenty-five. Sampson Phamaceuticals recruited him with an offer of a lab and freedom to create whatever he desired. In only a few years, his lab became the most advanced pharmaceutical laboratory in the world, developing drugs for several neurological conditions including bipolar disorders and parkinsonism. Bavotrin would be his shining achievement - the epitome of his dream to make the world a better place. It would make it impossible to commit a crime. Prisons would be closed, the death penalty would be irrelevant and people could live in peace and freedom without locked doors or guns in bedside drawers. But things often don’t follow even your most well-conceived plan.
Although Margaret McDurant was the head of one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world and had a long track record of extraordinary success, she could never let down. She had to operate at her highest level and could never drop her facade of invincibility in front of anyone because, being a woman, they would default to dismissing her abilities. She had to earn respect. It was never simply given. Her feelings were always under wraps as was every part of her. An exposed collarbone would emphasize her sexuality and reduce her gravitas. Even women might dismiss her. But Dorothy was different. She was a trusted insider, almost her equal when it came to getting things done and a sister at arms in a world of testosterone. McDurant had a dream. She was going to run the most profitable company in history - Samuels' drug was going to help her do that - and no one was going to stop her.
Just a few things about me.
I grew up a sheltered child on the north side of Chicago in a lower middle-class family. Except to visit relatives in the suburbs, we never went outside the city. I never saw a mountain that wasn’t in a picture or on a screen, never saw a wild animal outside a zoo, never walked in the wilderness, never had a dog or cat.
After college, I was determined to lead a life utterly different than what I knew. I hitchhiked across the country, smoked marijuana, took hard drugs, lived in run-down houses with interesting people and lived on a commune in Tennessee.
At twenty-seven, my life changed again, though slowly evolving – first, a wife; then a family, then a business, then a big house with a view of Puget Sound. I went from living like a Kerouac character to living the rags to riches American Dream and felt pretty good about it. Then I became bipolar and wasn't medicated for ten years. The chaos was extraordinary. Medication saved me but a disastrous personal event caused borderline issues to overwhelm me. My family buckled under the stress. My business crumbled. I lived in depression for twenty years, emotionally alone and lonely. Fortunately, I had art and immersed my life in it.
I made wood wall sculptures with a technique I developed. sold three hundred pieces, some in hospitals, offices and homes around the country. One is in the Mayo Clinic. Even with that success, life was filled with misery. The drugs I took either left some symptoms or had difficult side effects. When I found one that worked and left me whole, I started working on my Borderline Personality Disorder with a wonderful, caring counselor. I reestablished strong connections to my children and began enjoying life again.
Although I've done a good amount of writing over the years, I never wrote a book. Then, I wrote two about the techniques I use in my art. In April, 2018, I started writing this book and the story started pouring out. It took two years to complete. I loved every minute of it and missed being with my characters when I was done.
I met Nataan Mizrachi briefly the day his family picked him up at the prison. A lot of bad things happened because of me but this wasn't one of them. He was about as naive as they come, fell in with the wrong guys and almost lost his future. But it's tough to avoid a dead end if you can't read the sign and Nataan definitely couldn't read the sign.I was lucky to grow up in a comfortable part of the city with parents who surrounded me with books and a love of learning. Opportunity was like breakfast in the morning, so I expected to do something important someday. But things didn't go exactly as planned and I found myself sitting in a Senate hearing explaining how the project I thought would do a lot of good turned out so terribly bad.This is my story, but I start with Nataan's because our lives had several parallels including parents who loved and cared for us. But his childhood collapsed on him and he reacted like any normal person would, by finding a way to cope with it. In that sense, we weren't much different.