Friday, April 29, 2011

Burning Bridges

With the publication of Swiss Chocolate, and now the enormous popularity of my blog that tells so candidly my feelings about my disease, family and all that I endured as a child, I am afraid I have gone beyond the point of no return. My family really wants nothing more to do with me, and I have been shunned by all.

But as my good friend and editor said, Hemingway once wrote that it’s the writer’s job to tell the truth as he sees it, and that I am only a bi-product of what I went through growing up. So, as I sit here and bleed from all the veins I have opened, I ask myself was it worth sacrificing my family the way I did? I am also sure there are plenty of people in Rumson who scorn me for what I have written, but I simply wrote what I felt from my heart, and for that, I simply cannot apologize. I will just have to live with it, and so will they. This is the cross that any artist who is true to himself must bear.

Swiss Chocolate is a fictionalized memoir, but that doesn’t mean the passion and feelings that went into the story are not real. And although it is a work of fiction, it is largely based on truth. I will never forget how the Library Director at The Oceanic Free Library blew me off after reading Harmony House. I must have hit a nerve pretty damn close to home. When we first started corresponding she was so exuberant and excited about hosting my book launch party at the end of January. She was perfectly clear in her correspondence that the renovations would be finished at the beginning of January, and that the perfect time for a book event would be at the end of the month.

But then suddenly I got a very terse email from her telling me that she could not guarantee the event, and a host of other things she never mentioned before. Basically, she was backpedaling rather quickly from any involvement with me, and I sent her an email telling her what I thought of what she did. I never mince words, and I never heard back from her.

I made a grave error trying to setup a book event at The Oceanic Free Library. Basically I was rubbing salt in my father’s wounds. Hell, I don’t even know if he read the damn thing; he said he wouldn’t, and to please not market it in his area. But, then again, I grew up in that damn town and have every right to market my book wherever I please. Still, going to The Oceanic Free Library is out of the question. Rumson will never open their arms to me; I am forever a pariah—someone without shame or honor in their eyes.

I see it the other way around. I am the one with honor, and they are the ones who are filled with shame. Dirty, little secrets are not to be exposed, but hidden away from public view. People in Rumson are a rare breed; they live in a world of high society where everyone is king of their patch of the world. Go to Sea Bright Lawn Tennis & Cricket Club or Sea Bright Beach Club and you will see immediately what I am talking about. These are people who are very comfortable in their skins and have achieved great wealth and stature in their communities. Many of them are CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, or Wall Street gurus. Scandals are something they don’t like seeing; it makes them human and vulnerable, and it could happen to any of them.

So, I must rise above, be proud of my accomplishment, do not second guess myself, keep blogging what I feel, and write with honesty and passion when I have the muse. This is all that can be expected of a writer who has any aritistic integrity at all. Indeed, he must push the limits of what is acceptable.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Michael Douglass Says Catherine Zeta-Jones' Welsh Background Kept Her Quiet About Her Disease

Michael Douglas says that Catherine Zeta-Jones did not seek help for her bipolar disorder because of her Welsh upbringing and “stiff upper lip” mentality. Although there may be some truth in what he says, it hammers home an earlier post I made on Saturday, April 23, 2011 called “Men Who Suffer in Silence.”

I lived in England for about a year, and, yes, the British do have a tendency to keep their emotions in check. But American men are ostracized to the point of total isolation if they admit to having psychiatric problems. They are more apt to die earlier than women from problems related to serious depression. This is a well-documented fact, and has been written about in several magazines and scientific journals.

The drug companies and media would lead us to believe that women suffer more from depression than men, which, in of itself, is yet another stigma. The fact is millions of men suffer from depression and never get help. I invite you to read an enlightening article in “The Ladies Home Journal” called Why Men Suffer in Silence: Male Depression. I hope this will bring to light the enormous problem that men face in today’s society about the stigma of having to live with depression and other mental illnesses.

All my love,

James M. Weil

Horror Stories on

I recently reactivated my account with I have had the account for years, but some of the lunatics I went out on dates with made me shy away from there for a very long time. And this is coming from someone who knows he’s a lunatic!

I can’t tell you how many women have asked me to meet them in restaurants and then stick me with the bill, only to never hear from them again. And several women have recently complained to me that men constantly take ten years off their ages to get their foot in the door. There seems to be a bit of animosity on Many women I have corresponded with seem to think that most men are intrinsically dishonest. I think everyone has been burned to some degree because it is so easy to meet someone and be completely disappointed with what they see or find out about whom they are dating once they meet them in person.

Now, my profile is carefully worded. I do not come out and say I am bipolar, but I do talk about my passion for writing and editing. I am pretty honest about myself without going into too much detail. I also mention that my debut novel has just been published, and that if they like they can look me up on Amazon. There they will find my blog feed on my author page, where they can read all my posts I make about myself and how I feel about life. It doesn’t get any more honest from there, and if they can handle it, there is a possibility of some sort of connection.

Every woman without exception talks about how upbeat they are, how much they love life and live it to the fullest, that they are satisfied with who and where they are but are looking for their soul-mate to complete them, that family means everything, and how many great friends they have. They talk about their interests and what they do, what they are looking for in a man, and how much they love to travel to exotic places. What strikes me the most is that every profile is almost exactly the same with the exception of a few minor details.

This is all about salesmanship. Women send out hooks in hopes of finding the perfect man, but online dating has made it all too easy for people to simply speed date. I have one hard and fast rule: If you want to meet me it must be in a coffee shop on a weekend afternoon—no exceptions. Coffee and conversation for an hour is more than enough time to figure out if I am interested in pursuing a relationship further. And I don’t a give a damn what any woman says about how fulfilled and happy she is on her profile. Most women my age have been through at least one horrific divorce and have some serious emotional scars and plenty of baggage to go with it. Life will do that to you.

I skim through profiles and read them carefully, knowing full well there is a lot to be read between the lines. I don’t wink; emails are far more personal and display my interest in finding more about a woman who has caught my eye. And I do not respond to women who do not post their pictures. A picture tells a thousand words. Oh, and one other thing, many women say they are successful entrepreneurs and are looking for a financially-secure man. That's like a five-alarm fire going off in my head.

So, I will try for a little while and see what happens. If nothing else, I will have some good material for future stories. By the way, as a literary agent who has worked for Chamein Canton Literary Agency for the past six years, I have read some hysterical proposals for nonfiction books written by women who have been put through the wringer in online dating forums. There are actually a lot of them out there, and some of these stories will make you laugh hysterically. We live in interesting times. And it keeps getting more and more interesting as time goes on.

All my love!

James M. Weil

Our Little Angel

This is the place where I made my best mistakes
This is the place even angels don't understand
I've seen the disappointment in her face
And the collection of engagement rings on her right hand
She sits alone apart from the crowd
In a white dress she wears like a question mark
Friends speak of her fondly
Enemies just think out loud
You think you're man enough to please her
And you're fool enough to start
You're not going to do a thing to our little angel
There's nothing you're thinking tonight that tomorrow won't change
Now the cabaret is frozen and the laughter comes in cans
And the lonely hearts club clientele don't know what to do with their hands
You think that you'll be sweet to her but everybody knows
That you're the marshmallow valentine that got stuck on her clothes
But you're not going to do a thing to our little angel
There's nothing you're thinking tonight that tomorrow won't change
So you mix your drinks and words
You make bad jokes you make bad time
The floors are there to walk over
The walls are there to climb
You swear that you'll never go back again once you're inside
You're never the bridegroom she's always the bride
And you're not going to do a thing to our little angel
There's nothing you're thinking tonight that tomorrow won't change
You'll come in a sweetheart and you'll go out a stranger
Well you try to love her but she's so contrary
Like a chainsaw running through a dictionary
So get your mind off the sweet behind of our little angel
You're not going to do a thing
You're not going to do a thing
You're not going to do a thing to our little angel

Our Little Angel - Elvis Costello
Released February 1986
Columbia Records

I have seen Elvis Costello in concert at least five times. He is a true intellectual and a genius who speaks to me on so many levels.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kenny Bayside

I have a wide assortment of loyal friends from all walks of life. One friend in particular I call Kenny Bayside, even though that’s not his real name. He is not the kind of guy you can call and have a two hour conversation about how life is treating you. But he and I do share a special relationship.

He is a wealthy man, and enjoys life on his own terms. He has no wife or girlfriend, loves his job, his brother, and during the summer he always takes Fridays off to go to the beach at the crack of dawn where he sits in the sun smoking a fine cigar until he gets hungry.

On occasion he will give me a call shortly before noon and tell me to meet him at Peter Luger in Great Neck. No questions asked, I jump in the shower, and drive down there and usually have to wait a few minutes because he is always late.

The manager and waiters know him well; he is a frequent customer. He takes me out just to find out what’s new in my life and how I am doing. He sees nothing but positive things in every aspect of my life, even when I feel differently. He is a bit of a lunatic of sorts, and put him in a crowd and he’ll come out with things completely off the wall. It’s quite a spectacle really. He has no tolerance for stupidity and people who are full of shit. I have seen him rip people to shreds when he sees through their bullshit. One guy we call Barney the Dinosaur tells nothing but lies about his apparent covert military background and highly successful hedge fund operation he ripped apart so effectively he finally left in tears.

Now, he is a puny little guy with a very loud mouth, but he gets away with murder because he’s so damn brilliant and thinks so fast on his feet nobody can touch him, and if anybody tried he has enough friends to back him. He gets respect, even if he is a raving lunatic. I guess that’s what I love most about him.

He read the first chapter of Swiss Chocolate before it was published and told me I had an instant winner.  I asked him if he wanted to read the rest of the book, and he told me he didn’t need to. The first chapter told him everything he needed to know about how well the book was going to do. I left it at that.

He is proud of me for persevering and following my dream of becoming a published writer, and told me 90% of the American population doesn’t have what it takes to get where I am. He may be exaggerating, but he also loves the fact that I am doing well in my job, and that now that my divorce is over I can really move on with my life. He sees nothing but good in me.

When I have money (which is rare) I sometimes give him a call and invite him out to dinner. Tomorrow night we are going to Uncle Jack’s on Bell Boulevard in Bayside. It rivals Luger as far as quality, but the atmosphere is much nicer. One hundred dollars per head, including appetizers, but the food and service are impeccable. Looking forward to seeing one of my good buddies and enjoying a truly delicious meal.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Promoting Your Book is Where the Real Work Begins

When I talked to one of the partners at River Road Books to schedule my book event, I told her she could order my book through any of her distributors. She asked me for my ISBN, which I gave her, and she looked up my book on Baker & Taylor and Ingram, the two main distributors she uses.

I was a little shocked when she told me that Ingram only had eight books in stock, and that Baker & Taylor had none, with none on order. I called my publisher in a panic and asked him what the hell was going on. He told me to relax. First off, he was shocked that Ingram kept eight books in stock at all, because that meant they expected to sell them, and would probably be ordering more. And the fact that Baker & Taylor had no books was a good sign, because they had preordered quite a few, and given this is the season where distributors start making their returns, Swiss Chocolate was doing pretty well in that department. My publisher said to tell her to order the books through Ingram and Midpoint would ship the copies within a couple of weeks.

I still have no idea how many books I have actually sold, but my publisher told me to relax and keep promoting as much as I could. Writing the book was not easy, getting published was a matter of persistence and luck, but promoting the book once it came out is where the real work began.

I am a nobody. People know me on Facebook and other social networking sites, but who in America knows that I wrote a book? Quite frankly I am shocked that my blog gets so many hits, but I have yet to figure out how many of those equate into book sales. And despite the number of hits I get on my blog,, gets hardly any hits at all. This surprises me because there is a lot of content on my site with plenty of samples of some of my best writing.

Persistence pays off. I will keep hammering away at promoting my book. There are a lot of ideas my publisher gave me, and I am going to try a few of them and see what happens.

Wish me luck, and love to all!

James M. Weil

River Road Books Event

River Road Books in Fair Haven, New Jersey will be hosting a book signing for Swiss Chocolate on Saturday, May 14, from noon until 2:00 pm. They are located on 759 River Road and can be reached at 732.747.9455.

I am very excited about this and hope I have a good turnout. I still have many friends who live in the area, and hope they show up just to say hi and have a good time for a couple of hours.

Hope to see you all there!

All my love!

James M. Weil

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Beauty of a Small Publisher

Dailey Swan Publishing is a small house that is growing rather quickly. There are benefits to signing with a small house, in that your book will get a lot more attention because most small publishers are in it for the love of books. Although getting signed with a big house will pack a big punch, typically they leave the promotion up to the author, and if your book does not do well in a rather short window, you will be back-listed rather quickly to make room for newer titles.
Small publishers, on the other hand, will keep your book alive for years as long as it turns a profit. Even if it is not a bestseller, the revenue generated is essential because cash flow is a huge problem in the publishing industry, especially for smaller houses.

The biggest problem I had with my publisher was all the false starts getting the book to press. It was delayed several times, but he finally got it out. The other big problem was with the copy editing. Even though I saw the final proof in PDF format, I missed a ton of errors because in my mind I see words that are not there, and miss my own mistakes. All told there were more than 90 typos, spelling errors, grammatical flaws and missing words in sentences. The majority of these should have been caught by my publisher’s editor before the manuscript came to me, but, ultimately it was my responsibility to make sure the manuscript was clean.

What I should have done was given it to a good copy editor to go over it with a fine-tooth comb, but I trusted my own editing skills, only to realize I cannot edit my own work very well. I am a damn good editor when it comes to working with other people—just ask any of my clients. It’s just that my mind doesn’t catch my own mistakes, and I really got burned on my first print run, which, thankfully, was only a thousand copies.

I took a three-day weekend and went through my manuscript word-for-word twice, marked up the page numbers, the line numbers, the errors, the corrections and an explanation on an Excel spreadsheet. Then I highlighted the mistakes in a copy of my book. When I was done, I gave my work to a friend to go over it again. She found a few more errors, and those got marked up as well.

As I ride the train home from the city, I sometimes thumb through my book, just to see what I might have done better or differently. And would you believe that I spelled Ernest Hemingway’s name Hemmingway twice on the same page? I called my publisher and he told me to email the correction.

A facebook buddy who grew up in my area pointed out that I spelled Navesink wrong, which is the name for both a town and a river that goes through part of Monmouth County. I used Naversink, which he said irked him a bit. That will be corrected as well.  All these errors are a bit of an embarrassment, but there is nothing I can do about them until the next print run comes out.

It’s never ending!

You can buy the book directly from

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Monday, April 25, 2011

Introspection is Healthy

My therapist read several of my blog posts, and we had an interesting discussion about it. He wondered if it was such a good idea to be so forthcoming about my disease and what I feel, and whether there may be some negative ramifications as a result of putting so much of myself out there for public consumption.

I told him I really don’t give a damn, as long as I enlightened people about what it is like to suffer with bipolar disorder, an uncontrollable rage that threatened all my relationships, an abusive childhood that nearly destroyed my spirit and ripped me of my self-esteem at a very tender, young age, and on top of it all, the complete alienation from my family.

Everybody has an epiphany in life—that moment when they realize something so completely honest and true that it forever changes them. That moment came to me when I just turned thirty, was living in San Diego, my career as a tile setter was ending because my back and my knees couldn’t take it anymore, and I was standing at the bar of The Old Ocean Beach CafĂ© next to two women having a conversation about men.

One woman said to the other, “If a man doesn’t have his shit together by the time he is thirty, it’s never going to happen.” Those words were like a slap in the face and a very rude wakeup call. Within a month I sold all my tools, my truck, gave up my apartment, moved to Philadelphia and enrolled in Temple University’s School of Journalism.

There was no way in hell I was going to go through four years of college, so I got special permission from the Dean to average 21 credits per semester. I made the Dean’s List almost every semester, and graduated Cum Laude in two years, but I had to take classes through the summers, and I hardly ever slept. I was also able to transfer credits from several classes I had taken at Mesa Community College in San Diego.

Temple University’s School of Journalism is topnotch, and it brought my writing to a whole new level. I am glad I did it; without it I would not be where I am today. I remember once I was dating a woman who broke up with me because she told me that I had been broken and that I could never be fixed. Perhaps she was right. I am broken. In some areas I am completely shattered. But isn’t that what makes me unique and special?

I am forever working on self-improvement through honest introspection and therapy. My writing is an endless journey of self-exploration and the examination of human nature in its rawest form. Some find it offensive; others find it fascinating. I just try to be honest in everything I endeavor.

Love to you all!

James M. Weil

Easter Dinner

Today is a good day. I feel hopeful and rested. I worked hard this weekend on my blog and a few other writing projects. Although I did not get to see my babies this Easter, I did talk to them yesterday morning.

Last night an old friend called out of the blue. We haven’t spoken in ages. He has it rough in that he is a temporary employee with the New York City Police Department. He is a police photographer, and although he passed his civil service exam and is number thirteen on the hiring list, he probably won’t get hired fulltime.

Beyond that he has no family and few friends, so last night I offered to take him out to dinner. We went to a nice Italian restaurant in Port Washington and ate well. That was our Easter celebration. A nice meal between old friends.

He owns a house he can’t afford, and although he has an apartment on the second floor, his last tenants screwed him and didn’t pay the rent for an entire year. Adding insult to injury they completely trashed the place before he finally got them out. He doesn’t have the money to fix the place up and put it back up for rent, so I suggested he just sell the damn place and get the hell out of dodge.

New York is killing him because it is so damn expensive, and police photographers make next to nothing. He says he would like to move out West and enjoy the wide-open country. I say go for it. He has more than $400,000.00 in equity—more than enough to get some place really nice in an area where the cost of living is cheap.

His dream is to teach photography and build his portfolio. Follow your dreams is what I told him. Now is the time, because he is getting close to retirement age, and he has several good years ahead of him to make his dreams come true.

He is a kind, gentle soul who just needs to be nudged to flee the trap he is snared in New York City. Moving out West would be good for him, and I know if he got out from under all this pressure that is stifling his happiness, he would follow through with his dreams and find peace and tranquility. He deserves it, and I hope he gets what he wants with all my heart.

All my love!

James M. Weil

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Men Who Suffer in Silence

Recently I met a woman online who said she was looking for a relationship with a man who was not bipolar. Curiosity got the better of me, and I asked her what she meant by that. Apparently, she was married to a man for sixteen years who was bipolar but refused to get treatment. I can only imagine the hell she went through living with him, but her pain was nothing compared to his.

I have to ask myself, why would anyone want to live with this disease without getting treatment? Without the right medication you are on a constant emotional rollercoaster ride, and depending on the severity of your disease, you can easily tear yourself and those around you to pieces.

The answer is it’s a cultural thing with men of my generation. We are taught to suffer in silence, and that admitting that you have emotional or psychological problems is a sign of great weakness. This is tragic on so many levels, because many men suffer from depression and never get help. Although they may not be bipolar, which is far more severe, depression can be pretty damn debilitating and can destroy your outlook on life.

There are many emotional and psychological disorders that go untreated by men who refuse to admit they have a problem. Have you ever noticed that all the commercials for antidepressants focus on women? I have yet to see a single one where a man is sitting in a chair looking despondent and depressed. Yes, this is most certainly a cultural thing. Depression among women is much more acceptable, but a man must suck it up and keep going, no matter how bad he feels.

I am going to keep pounding this issue until people start listening. It’s okay for men to admit they are depressed or suffer from mental diseases. The HR Department and my boss work closely with me when I start a major mood swing, and understand completely when I have to take an afternoon off to go see my doctor. I stay on top of my disease like white on rice, and I never wait for things to get out of hand. That’s the biggest reason I have never been hospitalized and function so well at my job.

There have been a few times when I have gone completely off the rails, but that hasn’t happened in ages, and is pretty rare by now. I have found the right medication, I am getting individual therapy, and I am in a support group for people with bipolar disorder. I am doing all the right things to keep myself stable.

I wish more men in my age group would do the same. I feel bad for that woman’s husband. He may never seek help for his bipolar disorder, and now that his marriage has failed, who knows how that may affect him. I know she doesn’t care; after living through hell with this poor guy for sixteen years, the only thing she wanted was to be free of all the drama. She made that perfectly clear in her correspondence.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Friday, April 22, 2011

When the Little Boy Stands Up and Becomes A Man

Every session with my therapist is another opportunity for a breakthrough in self-awareness. It is not my past that needs to be explored, but how I react to others in abusive situations, and how I let myself be put in these situations in the first place. There is actually a good rationale for this because going back into my past could trigger stressors that may send me into mania or into a deep depression.

In an earlier post I made the observation that abused children internalize what they went through and seek out abusive people because that’s what they know and their self-esteem has been ripped away from them. The point is to not act out like a hurt child when you feel you have been wronged, or simply swallow your emotions when someone has put you down.

On the other hand, lashing out in anger is not healthy either, as I have made perfectly clear in more posts than I think people need to read at this juncture. This is when the little boy in me has to stand up and become a man. Instead of swallowing back my pain from being hurt or abused, or worse, lashing out in a blind rage, causing more damage than good, the healthy choice is to simply not allow the abuser power over your emotions and simply walk away or gently make them aware that their behavior is unacceptable. It all depends on what you want out of the relationship.

For a healthy person, all this makes perfect sense. But for a victim of child abuse, it is actually a long, hard lesson to be learned and requires lots of practice. My relationship with my father’s abusive wife is a perfect example. She cannot hurt me anymore unless I allow her. But I have already made the choice I would not go down there again after what she did to my daughter.

So, here it is, folks! The grand epiphany! Life is about choices. You choose who you want to be and who you want to surround yourself with. You choose to allow people to walk all over you if you want. You choose to stand up to those who would put you down. Or you simply choose to walk away from abusive situations, just as you choose to react in anger because of what you felt as a young boy.

My therapist gave me a worksheet to fill out whenever I get angry or have these moments of “darkness.” What we are trying to do is establish a pattern, and with that, we can find effective ways of dealing with my anger. I will need to build an Excel spreadsheet because I get angry a lot, and the sheet he gave me is not nearly long enough, and this is going to take some time.

I see progress in my future.

Love to you all!

James M. Weil

Swiss Chocolate Continues to be Painful

I think Giovanni Gelati said it most elegantly in his review of Swiss Chocolate that he posted on Amazon and Goodreads—“His novel is a mirror reflection of himself: raw, uncensored, and brutally honest. That is the reason for the five stars: total and complete honesty of self. I don't believe I have read it to this degree before.”

Swiss Chocolate is a fictionalized memoir, but I drew upon my deepest feelings and emotions from the bottom of my soul. I was suffering as I was writing it, and that only enhanced my ability to tap into the pain that is so deeply embedded in my psyche.

Most of what I wrote about my family is true, although I did take a few creative liberties when it came to the sequence of events and the way certain things happened. Writing Swiss Chocolate was extremely cathartic, and I truly believed that publishing it would bring me freedom and redemption. How wrong I was.

The publication of Swiss Chocolate has proven to be a double-edged sword. Although I wrote a captivating story that many have truly enjoyed, I have opened up a whole new can of worms. I find myself suffering from mild depression over the publication of my book, and although my story is now out in the open, and thought I would find vindication for all that I endured as a child into adulthood, really what I have done is bring out a whole new set of anger issues that need to be explored.

Much of this has to do with the fact that the town of Rumson, New Jersey never accepted me, and I was considered an outcast by many. This was especially true in high school, but more so as an adult by my father’s contemporaries. My contemporaries from my high school years at Rumson-Fair Haven have grown up and many are now my friends, and have read the book and loved it for the most part. But the Library Director of The Oceanic Free Library in Rumson wanted nothing to do with me or a book event. The same holds true for most independent bookstores in the area. Even though I accomplished publishing my debut novel, they still refuse to acknowledge me.

Alexandra Cavalletti is based upon a real woman—a siren who led me astray and pretty much ripped my guts out. Regardless, she helped me write major portions of the book, and was very supportive in the beginning—until things became a little uncomfortable for her. Now, every single person I went to school with at Ecole des Roches in Switzerland wants nothing to do with me, and I have been blocked on all alumni sites and forbidden from ever attending another class reunion, which they hold every year at a different location.

They just don’t seem to get that this is a work of fiction told from the heart. It was never my intention to sully her reputation, but to tell an honest, forthright story about first love and the tragic fates of two people who were cast out of the lifestyles they grew up with and had come to expect out of life. This is utter stupidity on their parts; they are simply too narrow-minded to see what I have accomplished and take it for what it is.

No worries. Swiss Chocolate will find its place among contemporary mainstream literature, and eventually all these people simply won't matter anymore.

You can buy the book directly from

Love to you all!

James M. Weil

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catherine Zeta-Jones is Diagnosed with Bipolar II

There is nothing courageous about Catherine Zeta-Jones admitting she suffers from bipolar II, considering how many millions of people suffer from the same disease. I am, however, glad she made her disease public, just to raise awareness of bipolar disorder to so many people who have stigmatized this disease with crazy people. Nothing further from the truth could be told.

It is unfortunate that she was diagnosed so late in life, just as I was, because who knows how many years she suffered in silence. She should be thankful she is not bipolar I, because then she would be doing battle with manic episodes that could potentially tear her apart. Instead, she suffered from deep depression and probably small bouts with hypo-mania, a mild high, which is a common manifestation for people with bipolar II.

Now that she has been properly diagnosed, she can be properly treated and not suffer so much from the mood swings that are so prevalent with this disease. Her condition does not surprise me in the least; many very creative people with high IQ’s suffer from bipolar disorder to varying degrees, some more high-functioning than others.

I have enormous respect for Catherine as an actress, woman and role model. Beyond everything else she is a devoted wife and mother of two. And the fact that she did battle with her disease for so long and maintained her composure is a true testament to her strength and character. Let’s hope that she does more to make others aware of this debilitating disease.

Jeanne Claude Van Damme, the martial artist and movie star from Brussels, was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder late in life, but not until it nearly destroyed his career and personal life. Van Damme once said that he used martial arts as a way to quell the rage and wild mood swings that are so prevalent with people who suffer from bipolar I. I can empathize completely; I did the same through 25 years of serious study of the martial arts, until I herniated two discs in my lower back, thus ending any athletic career besides yoga and meditation.

So there you have it, folks! Superstars with bipolar disorder who are not raving lunatics, but talented, productive people who have left their mark on the world in all that they do. Van Damm is doing much better now that he has found treatment, and his personal and professional lives are getting back on track. I hope Catherine Zeta-Jones also finds relief from her depression, and that she and Michael Douglas enjoy each other for years to come. I know they are very happy together—a very rare occurrence in Hollywood romances.

Love to you all!

Five Keys To Understanding Men

Five Keys To Understanding Men: A Woman’s Guide by Susan Mary Malone and Gary L. Malone, MD.

Susan Mary Malone approached me a few weeks ago about making a witty post about Five Keys on her facebook page without reading the book. Of course, I was glad to help, but told her I would rather buy the book, read it and then tell people what I really think of the book.

I was immediately drawn into the depth and brilliant psychoanalytical profile of the male psyche that was so clearly explained through the combined efforts of Gary’s enormous professional knowledge and Susan’s amazing gift to make the obtuse explainable to just about anyone.

The book takes you on a journey explaining the male psyche from infancy into manhood, told from a clinical prospective, with lots of case studies to illustrate what happens to men when they subconsciously respond to the overpowering, instinctive forces that drive them.

For many, the psychological growth of men remains a well-hidden secret, understood only by professionals, but in Five Keys, these secrets are revealed and explained, giving the reader a clear, concise picture of the underlying, powerful impulses that make men who they are.

Yes, the consequences of different upbringings and attachments to parents are explored, and there are many examples shown of what to look for in a healthy individual, as well as what to look for in one who may be emotionally damaged.

But, beyond that, there are lots of advice given to help women cope with what men are going through as they respond to important life changes and other stressors that affect the deepest regions of their psyches.

This book is a must read for men as well. I have gained enormous insight into myself as a result of reading Five Keys, and I am forever changed by this powerful book. I urge all men to read Five Keys. Men will appreciate the depth of the book, and will gain invaluable knowledge to help them with their coping skills as they plunder through life (like most men do) and will help them better understand the underlying psychological forces that drive them.

The book is easy to read, but don’t be mistaken by its readability; there is an awful lot of brilliant information packed into this wonderful book, and once read, you will be forever enlightened by the enigma of what drives men, and that although men are most certainly different from women, Five Keys definitively proves that men can be understood, despite what has driven so many women out of their minds for years and years.

I give Five Keys five stars. *****

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Recent Reviews of Swiss Chocolate


“Drew Smith didn’t have a choice about boarding school in the Swiss Alps, but once there, he falls in love with the beauty not only the area, but of Alexandra as well. Of course, the path to true love never did run true, and such is the case for the young lovers. Caught in the act, Drew is sent home to the same family who rejected him to begin with, and the results sentence him to a life of longing for all that he lost.

James Weil has written a funny, poignant, and often heart-wrenching story of the passions of youth, and of what happens when those are stolen from us. A beautiful tale. A must read.”

Susan Mary Malone
Author of: By The Book; Fourth and Long: the Kent Waldrep Story; Five Keys for Understanding Men; BodySculpting
See Malone’s short stories on Amazon Shorts!

“James Weil has written a fun, sexy story about a boy coming of age. Drew is a character we can all relate to on his travels into manhood. Great writing and a wonderful story that will make you laugh and cry.”

Joann Hamann Buchanan
Host of “Around the Coffee Pot” on Blog Talk Radio
Cofounder of “Slaves to the Muse” with Tami Snow
Coauthor of “Shadows of This World” due out in 2011

“Swiss Chocolate is a wonderfully written tale about the blush of first love between Drew and Alexandra, two young people from different worlds. Though as time passes they go on to lead separate lives, however, they never forget the love they felt in the past, which turns out to be both a blessing and a curse. You will thoroughly love reading it.”

Chamein Canton
Chamein Canton Literary Agency
Bestselling author of ten romance novels


Swiss Chocolate by James Weil, March 24, 2011
Swiss Chocolate is the type of American novel that is difficult to put down. Once you start, you are in for a deeply moving adventure of love and coming of age.

James Weil is a master of character development and human relations. Drew Smith, a troubled though gifted and sincere lad from a semi-functional, suburban NJ upper-middle class home--tennis club, private schools, alcoholic mom and philandering engineer-businessman father. There is "old money" in this family. Alexandra is an Italian aristocratic beauty: graceful, independent and determined to maintain what is rightfully hers. Weil's depiction of their family lives, environments and social class is extraordinarily well done. Weil has a sociological gift. I especially enjoyed Drew's Aunt Tess, an artist and cosmopolitan. We all should have an Aunt Tess in our lives.

The action takes place in the Swiss Alps, suburban New Jersey, London, Oxford, Rome, Greece, Spain and Padua. Weil makes these locations come alive.

I identified with Drew's struggle to become a man and a writer, notwithstanding the betrayal of his callous father and the despair of his helpless mom. Alexandra deals with her loving father's early death and the resulting insanity and self-destructiveness of her mother. Her brother, at her mother's insistence, assumes all the power and wealth in the family. Alexandra is determined to make a new life, defying the social mores of her class and society. She will not be undercut by fate. The powerful interaction between Drew and his first love, Alexandra, makes the book riveting. A must read.

A Powerful Fictional Memoir, March 12, 2011
'Swiss Chocolate' is a great book.....among the best I've read in awhile. Honest, straight-forward, exciting and tragic. The Author has a simple, yet elegant style. He is very open about Drew's life in a dysfunctional family and his love of Alexandra, that spans decades. He has a gift for expressing intricate details of the beautiful places he travels. You feel like you're right there with him on his journey. I highly recommend it.

Powerful Stuff, March 2, 2011
A brutally honest fictional memoir about a young man's coming-of-age and, years later, the same man in middle age coming to terms with his past. Compelling, exhilarating, tragic. Dealing with first loves, childhood, marriage and life's dreams, this is a book for everyone. I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend.

Gelati's Scoop, March 2, 2011
The name of the novel has nothing to do with how to make or even eat chocolate. Was I bummed? No I was shocked. But being lucky enough to know the author, James Weil as a Facebook buddy, I should have expected it. Be forewarned, this is some intense and in your face material. What is between the covers of this novel- to the synopsis:
"Drew Smith, a teenager from a wealthy family in New Jersey, is sent to a Swiss Boarding School and falls in love with Alexandra Cavalletti, a beautiful, aristocratic girl from Rome. The innocence of their love affair turns disastrous when they are expelled after being caught in the middle of their young passion. Drew returns home to his dysfunctional family and Alexandra's life is affected when her mother goes insane and sells off the family fortune for a song. Despite their travails, Drew and Alexandra remain in contact and cross paths over the years. Drew never really let's go of her, even though she moves on."
During the summer I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of James' writing when he shot me over a short story he had written, so I had an inkling as to what was to come. His writing is intense, heartfelt and brutally honest, laying it out there for all to see .For some that is hard to read let alone to write. I am going to say this is a daring move, exposing such deep feelings to so many people. The thing is, if you get to know the guy, you will see that he does that on a daily basis, he wears it all on his sleeve, good or bad, for everyone to consume, kudos. His novel is a mirror reflection of himself: raw, uncensored, and brutally honest. That is the reason for the five stars: total and complete honesty of self. I don't believe I have read it to this degree before. To believe what I've written, go to his Facebook page, become his friend, experience James Weil and then decide if I am not point on here. I am just trying to be honest.

Swiss Chocolate, March 1, 2011
This book kept me up all night to finish. It made me so sad at times but I truly enjoyed it and find myself thinking about some of the characters in the novel. For anyone who grew up with a drunken parent, many of the experiences will ring true and regretfully seem normal. I loved reading about the adventures in Europe and felt like I was there with him. Very compelling. I highly recommend it.

Beautifully Written, March 1, 2011
I tore through this contemporary mainstream novel which tells of a romance spanning nearly 40 years between a young, aristocratic girl from Rome, and an upper-class American from Rumson, New Jersey. Set against the backdrop of political and economic turmoil that so strongly affected ideals and lives from the early 1970's through the turn of the millennium, this book spans six countries telling an emotionally-poignant tale of the human struggle to find happiness and one's natural place amongst all the change. James Weil tells a story that reminds us of the fragility of beauty in life, and the importance of protecting perfection when we find it, and how so often, perfection is there, but our eyes and minds are too narrow to see.

New Talent Is My Passion

I am by no means a prolific writer, but I do keep my hands in the business of writing. I work very closely with my agent, Chamein Canton. Aside from being a bestselling romance writer who has ten books published, she also runs her agency fulltime.

I spend a lot of time reading queries and manuscripts for her. She has authorized me to offer contracts to writers I really fall in love with. Mostly I look for unpublished writers with great potential. A few months ago, I befriended Joann Buchanan on facebook, and I went to her blog and read the first chapter of I AM WOLF. I fell in love with her writing, and asked her if she was finished. She said she still had a ways to go.

Shortly after that the Fiction Editor of Book Reviews for the L.A. Times read her first chapter as well, and sent her a message asking when the book would be out because he wanted to read it. Joann contacted me in a panic and asked me what she should do. I told her to tell him that she just found representation by an established agent, and that her manuscript was in the process of editing.

Somewhat shocked by what I told her, I asked her to check her email. I had just sent her an author-agent agreement and wrote that she needed to print two copies, sign them and send them off to Chamien. I then told her I would personally edit her manuscript at no charge, because Joann is a struggling mother of four, and couldn't afford to pay my rates. Chamein flipped when I told her what I had done, and said she would drive to my house and kill me if she didn't like the manuscript. I had no doubts about Joann's ability. Her story was so compelling and her writing is beautiful.

She finished the manuscript and sent me the bones. There was a lot to work with, and I knew right away what a completly unique story she wrote. We spent a month working together to pull the manuscript into shape. Joann was an enormous pleasure to work with; she knew right away what I wanted and why when I asked for changes, and continually blew me away with how brilliantly she executed exactly what I was looking for. She was always right on the money.

At the end of it, I submitted the manuscript to Chamein, and she liked the story a lot. She especially liked the multi-cultural aspects of the book, and the fact that this was no ordinary werewolf story.

In Joann's own words I submit to you her teaser that she wrote for Chamein:

"We all take the form we are meant to take. Angel. Devil. Monster. Hero. We are all the same in our fates. Based on our choices, we become what we really are. I AM WOLF is a coming of age story centering around Jonah, city kid forced to live on a Native American Reservation with his grandparents, because he is coming into his own natural abilities- he’s becoming a wolf.

Natural versus unnatural, Jonah must learn to control his own abilities in order to kill a werewolf he accidentally created. Together with the love of his life, and his newfound youngling pack, Jonah races head on into manhood and finds his destiny."

Joann has just finished her sequel, and she has been invited to write short stories for two separate anthologies. She also cowrote a book with three other writers called SHADOWS OF THIS WORLD, with the proviso that all proceeds go to a town in Italy that was devastated by an earthquake. The book got picked up by XOXO Publishing, and is due out next year sometime.

Currently, I AM WOLF is at seven major publishing houses, and Joann is going out of her mind waiting for answers. That alone is phenominal for a first-time novelist, and really demonstrates the uniqueness of the story.

But rather than sit around and wait for answers, Joann is busy making a name for herself through her blog talk radio show, "The Eclectic Artist Cave," which is now airing five days a week, and is about to become nationally syndicated. She interviews writers, musicians, actors and comedians, and the response to her show is overwhelming.

Joann is a prolific writer who experiments in all genres. I have no doubts about her future success as a sparkling new voice in the literary world.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Family Is Everything

Family is everything. I have heard so many say that on so many occasions I have no idea how to respond. Family for me is something to be avoided and kept at arm’s length. Although my mother is no longer with us, she was a very toxic element in my life, and I kept as far away from her as I could.

My father was abusive and mean when we were growing up. A few years ago he came to me and said, “When my father died I didn’t give a damn, and I don’t want you to feel the same about me when my time comes.” Since that day, we enjoyed a good friendship, and he was extremely generous and supportive. He paid my rent when I lost my job, helped pay the mortgage on the house, and even helped pay for lawyers.

Still, he had moments when he could be incredibly insensitive and mean. I will never forget last Father’s Day when I called him and asked if I could bring the kids down for the weekend. He called me back and told me no because he can’t deal with my son’s autism. You have no idea how much that hurt, and it took every ounce of strength I could muster not to lash out.

His wife has been a thorn in my side for the last twenty-five years. She goes out of her way to make me feel uncomfortable and inferior, and loves to put me down whenever she gets the chance. There are pictures of all of her grandchildren throughout her house, but there is not a single picture of mine. I suppose my father is partly to blame for this, but he does not interfere with matters of decorating the house, and lets her get away with it. Believe it or not, it hurts every time I walk into that house, knowing there is not one picture of my beautiful children to be found.

Beyond that, she emotionally abused my eleven-year-old daughter when she told her she could not have another piece of pie because she was too fat. Samantha was very upset about this and we talked about it on the way home. I told she was not fat, that she was a beautiful, little girl, and that my father’s wife was just mean. She agreed, and I made the decision not to go back there again.

With the publication of Harmony House, my father was so upset he told me he wanted nothing more to do with me ever again. Swiss Chocolate was just published, and so far he has said nothing about it. He did say that he would not read it, and to not market it in his area. I suppose he has taken the high road and simply chosen not to acknowledge it, which is truly a gift on his part.

For me, family means that when I am in trouble, the last place I can turn to is my family, because they don’t want anything to do with me, with the exception of my youngest sister, who is incredibly supportive and loving. However, she can’t handle hearing things that are a bit too intense and bring up unpleasant feelings. My oldest sister is so completely dysfunctional she has never held a job. My middle sister simply can’t deal with me, and although she read Swiss Chocolate, the only thing she could say about it was that it was difficult to read because it brought back so many painful memories. And I had to call her to find out how she liked it; she would never have called me.

Just recently I was granted a Default Judgment, and I am now divorced. Though I should be happy about this, there are still a lot of unresolved issues that need to be hammered out in court. So, if family is everything, who is my family? The answer is my children. They are my family. Nothing else matters but them. I need to focus on the love I have for my children to keep centered and my priorities in order.

I want Samantha to grow up knowing that she is loved and appreciated. And Andrew, although autistic, is a very bright, sweet young boy full of laughter and smiles. He can be a handful, but patience and understanding can go a long way if you try.

My children will ultimately be my salvation, and it is up to me to make sure they grow up having every opportunity I can give them. So, the next time someone tells me that family means everything, I will say, "True, but that only applies to my children."

That’s my answer. Honest, to the point, and no mincing words.

Love to you all!

James M. Weil

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- Dylan Thomas

This is one of my all-time favorite peoms. It speaks to me on every level of my being. It is, without a doubt, one the greatest literary works of all time.

Pensieri Prematuri

Photo by Steve Garfield

Premature thoughts
Like boats in the night
Tied securely to moonbeams
Break free of their moorings
And bump against each other
Their silent whispers
Spread through the port
By the lapping waves.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bipolar Spectrum and Management of the Disease

Although the spectrum for bipolar disorder is rather wide, there are actually two major classifications for the disease—bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar I is considered much more serious, and most people with this classification are usually hospitalized when they go into mania or severe depression. People with bipolar II go into what is known as hypo-mania, a less severe form of mania.

What differentiates the two classifications is the severity of your manic episodes. I am bipolar I, although I have never once been hospitalized because of my disease. As my good friend Joey always tells me, my greatest gift is to accurately assess my own mental well-being, and get help when I need it, or talk myself out of some pretty hairy trees.

People with bipolar I usually hover on the manic side, and don’t take antidepressants unless they swing deeply in that direction. I rapid cycle, meaning my moods go up and down rather quickly, but generally stay pretty close to my baseline. We rate our moods from a -5 to a +5. The scale looks something like this: -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5.

Zero is our baseline, and we are completely stable at that level. A +1 is a slightly elevated mood. A +2 is a comfortable, happy high with lots of energy. At this level I can produce enormous amounts of work very quickly. I have astounded my boss on many occasions when I hit this zone and stay there for an extended amount of time. A +3 means you are probably not getting enough sleep, and need to stick to your sleep pattern. A +4 means get help immediately, and adjustments to your medication may be necessary. A +5 is when you are completely off the rails, and here you experience incredible highs with lots of energy, little or no need for sleep, a huge increase in your sex drive and often delusions of grandeur. This is a very dangerous place to be if you don’t get help because you are apt to be very self-destructive and can spend reckless amounts of money or take huge risks.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are rare occasions when I go into a deep depression, and thoughts of suicide are pervasive and overwhelming. My last depression lasted several months, and my doctor was thinking seriously about hospitalizing me, but I convinced him that these thoughts of suicide are just thoughts that come with the disease, and that I had never acted upon them in the past and had no intentions of acting upon them in the future. But I will tell you I was miserable beyond all belief, but still managed to go to my job everyday and produce. I just put it out of my head and concentrated on my work. Self-discipline is a very powerful thing.

My doctor does not worry about me. He knows how responsible I am and how seriously I take my mental health. My therapist, on the other hand, worries about me quite a bit because of all my anger issues and unhealthy situations and relationships I get involved in. We work well together because all my years of introspection have taught me to be brutally honest about what I feel and think, and I express it so succinctly in our sessions, although I have a tendency to go off on tangents, which drives him crazy. Anger, without a doubt, as I have made clear in so many earlier posts, is my biggest demon. But together we are wrestling with it, digging deep within my psyche to find the source, deal with it, and let it go. There are other issues that we deal with, but my anger is on the front burner for now.

My regimen consists of 2,000mg of Depakote, a powerful mood stabilizer; 500mg of Seroquel, an antipsychotic; 3mg of Clonazepam, an anti-anxiety; and 10mg of Ambien, a sleep aid. These are hefty doses of medication. There are other regimens, and I have tried a variety of them. Lithium is considered a leading standard for treating bipolar disorder, but my system can’t tolerate it, so we changed up my medication until we found a combination that works.

Sleep is the most important thing you can do for bipolar disorder, and without a regular sleep pattern you are asking for trouble. Ironically, the first thing that happens to you when you go into mania is sleep deprivation. It feeds upon itself until you completely wipe out your system. For some, their manic episodes are so severe that hospitalization is their only option. For me, writing a full-length novel in a matter of weeks does the trick, and keeps me out of the hospital, but I do pay a heavy toll afterwards in that I am incapable of functioning for about a week.

I hope this discourse has provided an education and some insight into what many people with bipolar disorder suffer through. This is not an easy disease to live with, but it can be managed with the right regimens and behavioral training. Beyond doing individual therapy, I am also in a support group for people with bipolar disorder. Some of us are more high-functioning than others. There are a few guys in my group who are so debilitated by their disease they are on disability. I find that heartbreaking, and wish I could do or say something to help them cope with their disease more effectively. Several men in my group are going through divorces or have been recently divorced because their spouses can’t deal with their diseases. I have to admit this disease is hard to live with, but I am lucky in that I am very high-functioning, and hold an important job with the State of New York. I get along very well with my coworkers, and adore my boss. For the last four years I have gotten glowing annual reviews that are beyond spectacular.

This year has been tough, however, because the publication of my debut novel has had ramifications I wasn’t expecting, and I have had trouble concentrating on my job. I need to turn that around and really focus on what’s important. My job is paramount, and I need to keep it. I have many responsibilities to my family, and provide my ex-wife with enough child support to make sure my kids have all that they need. This is important to me, and I take the well-being of my children seriously. My lawyer and I are in the process of nailing down the details of my visitation rights much more concretely, and the matter of the house was never decided because I was given a Default Judgment. That will be decided as well.

Love to you all!

James M. Weil


Last Saturday I made the decision to deactivate my facebook account and stay away from that forum for awhile. There were many reasons for this decision, but the main reason was that I was venting my anger on a public forum, which made a lot of people uncomfortable, not to mention what it was doing to my own comfort level.

I have made many posts about anger, and how destructive it can be. My therapist and I are digging pretty deep into my psyche to find the true source of the anger, and ways to deal with it more constructively. Writing helps, but I am not prolific, and I cannot simply write on demand. But it will take a lot more than just writing to deal with this problem.

To be perfectly honest, at my age anger shouldn’t be such a big issue anymore, but I have talked to many people on facebook and several support groups who are filled with rage because of what they went through as kids. This is not how I want to live my life, so I continue digging deep inside myself with the help of my therapist to get to the root of it all, and hopefully find a way to let it go.

Anger is a cancer that consumes you, and roils deep in your psyche until everything goes black and all that you can think about is doing damage to yourself and others. Even though I am aware of when I have these moments of darkness, there is nothing I can do to stop them, except to try to keep them under control and not lash out.

Wish me luck on my quest to vanquish such self-destructive rage. Acknowledging it is the first step in dealing with it, but I have known about it for years and years, yet I have never been able to control it very effectively. Maybe now I will be able to see inside myself with the help of my therapist, deal with the pain that is causing all this anger, and then let it go and be happy.

Life is too short to be so miserable.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Violinist

Photo by Marc Verdiesen -

Some of the most amazing musicians I have ever heard have been in the bowels of the New York City subway system. I have heard everything from truly gifted vocalists to jazz bands that could rival the best. This is only part of what makes New York City so great.

I take the 6 train from 51st and Lexington one stop downtown to Grand Central, where I jump on the 7 express to Flushing-Main Street. On dozens of occasions I have heard a master violinist standing at the foot of the stairwell going down from the 6 platform to the 7 train. I always stop for a few minutes to listen to her play. She is a master—no doubt about it—and her music is filled with stunning precision and breathtaking passion. On several occasions I was nearly moved to tears by a Mozart concerto or a Vivaldi piece.

Last Friday, I was extremely lucky because as I approached her she was just finishing a piece by Beethoven. I dropped a twenty-dollar bill into her violin case and she handed me a CD. We talked for a few minutes. She had been studying violin since the age of five, and had played in several major symphonies. She practiced for hours on end in the subway to earn a bit of extra money, and perhaps connect with aficionados who appreciated the Masters.

I always carry a copy of Swiss Chocolate with me, and I showed her my debut novel, explaining that the book just came out, and that it had gotten six 5 star reviews on Amazon. She read the synopsis on the back, and I told her about where I got the inspiration for the book. She seemed fascinated by the story, and I handed her a bookmark, directing her to my website where she could read more about me and my work. In return, she handed me one of her business cards.

I intend to call her sometime next week, and ask her if she is interested in having coffee. Amazing things happen in New York, and there are opportunities everywhere for all kinds of magical things, be it a simple friendship based on appreciation for the finer things in life, or just hearing some truly gifted artists who put their heart and soul into what they do as subways go roaring past them.

I do love working and living in New York City, even if it is way beyond my means and I live like a pauper. But this city has so much to offer; you just need to find out where and when to go to wonderful cultural events that are within your means and available to all.

Wishing all of you a wonderful Sunday!

James M. Weil

A Day at The Frick

Yesterday, I took my eleven-year-old daughter, Samantha, to the Frick. I originally wanted to take her to the Guggenheim, but it had sold out when I tried to purchase tickets on the internet at 6:00 am that morning. I was a little disappointed because there were some really great exhibits there this weekend, but, as it turned out, going to the Frick was a better choice because the Frick collection contains the best of the best of some the earliest masters.

This was Samantha’s first time at an art museum, and I was anxious to see how she reacted to really fine art. I was pleasantly surprised by her delight at everything she took in. She was astounded by the amazing architecture, the gorgeous antique furniture, the paintings that she studied with utter fascination, Frick’s taste in delicate statues and even the splendid Persian rugs that covered the floors of the main rooms.

We both took audio devices, and next to each painting or statue was a number which you punched in and then hit play. Samantha wanted to know about every single piece, and was fascinated by the short discourses about the artists and their work. Although Frick was not a major fan of the Impressionists, he did have a few important pieces. Samantha fell in love with them. I explained to her that Frick’s collection of Impressionism was atypical because the ones he chose were somewhat dark, unlike the majority of the movement, where everything was depicted in soft pastels and full of light. I will take her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where there is a much more extensive collection of Impressionist work.

We stayed several hours until we both got hungry and had seen every major piece. I took her to Lumi on Lexington and 70th, a really fine Italian restaurant. Samantha had the ravioli and I had fettuccine Bolognese. The food was extraordinary and Samantha was happy. After lunch we shared a delicious piece of chocolate cake, and I finished with a cappuccino.

As we left the restaurant it started raining in buckets, so we decided to go back up to Rockland County to the Palisades Mall and go see a movie. Thankfully the traffic wasn’t bad, considering how hard it was raining. Samantha said she wanted to see “Hanna.” The movie didn’t start for another hour and a half, and Samantha said she wanted ice cream from the Cold Stone Creamery. The ingredients she chose were pretty creative—strawberries, chocolate chips, walnuts and peanut butter in vanilla ice cream. They slap the ice cream on a frozen stone, throw in the ingredients and mix them all together using two putty knives. Too rich for me, but Samantha loved it.

We walked around the huge mall and did a bit of window shopping. I bought her a really cool cover for her iPhone 4—a picture of a tiger stalking its way toward you on the back. The movie started and we were lucky to have gotten there early to get the seats Samantha wanted because the theatre was packed. Hanna was a great action/thriller, and I was riveted throughout the entire show. Samantha loved it just as much as I did. She said she wanted to be Hanna in the sequel. We talked about the movie, and Samantha said that Hanna only wanted to be happy and have a normal life. She was convinced she got what she wanted.

It was time to take her home, so we got in my car and started up the Palisades Parkway to Spring Valley. We both had a wonderful day, and I know this will be a day she will cherish forever. I hope there will be many more like this one with both of my kids. It’s really too bad Andrew’s autism would never allow him the patience to enjoy an art museum, but there are so many other things that he can enjoy, and I will be there to make sure that he enjoys all that he can.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

Friday, April 15, 2011

Anger is not Healthy

Click on Picture to See Hysterical Video

There are times when my anger takes control over my psyche, and I find myself in a very dark place. Anger is one of my biggest issues, an unfortunate side-effect of child abuse and having your spirit crushed by callous parents. Years of torment by cruel children who seem to instinctively know when another is hurting and hone in on them and bully them relentlessly is yet another cross to bear, and can also leave deep scars. At least that was the case with me during my younger years.

It is during these times when I have to exercise a lot of self-control, and not allow my anger to get the best of me. There are times I do lash out, and I have no tolerance for abusive people. This took a long time to learn, because people who were abused as children internalize what they went through, and because their self-esteem has been ripped away from them, they gravitate toward relationships and situations that cause them more pain. It takes a lot of work and years of therapy to overcome these issues, and to break the pattern of self-abuse, and abusiveness toward others, which is often what happens to adults when they were abused as children. The cycle of child abuse is difficult to break, and it takes great courage, conviction and dedication to face your demons and exorcise them.

Most of my writing is my way of coping with my anger and pain, and therefore I write with brutal honesty. I have learned to be brutally honest in therapy and with my friends. Some can handle it, most cannot. As an editor and writer, I am compassionate toward others, and it is because of all that I went through I can empathize so well with so many people and the pain that everyone suffers from time to time.

However, when my anger roils and erupts from the depths of my psyche, I have a tendency to become extremely self-absorbed, self-destructive and destructive toward others. All of this is compounded by my bipolar disorder, which makes things even more complicated because of my many mood swings. But, believe it or not, it is my medication and talk therapy that keeps things balanced and in check.

I have a strong relationship with my children, a great job, a lot of success as a writer and editor, and I do have a strong, core group of loving, supportive friends who would do just about anything for me. For me, this is extremely important. My friendships are what sustain me, and without them I would be lost. They understand and know when my anger is coming on, or I am in danger of going into mania. They are, without a doubt, the most amazing people I have ever known.

Love to all!

James M. Weil