It’s been nearly a year since I went to court to file for protection against my stalker. Since then, I have been subjected to character assassinations, death threats, and a resurgence of phone calls on my new phone number that pushed the total to a point over 1200. I stopped counting and I changed my number again.
For the majority of this year, I have been in contact with various websites that distribute personal data such as Spokeo and Been Verified to have any and all information pertaining to myself and my family removed for privacy concerns (and because they have no business sharing my private information without my consent). As I have no social media profiles, these conglomerates were the last bastion where my stalker could obtain my information and continue her assault. Since writing to the various white pages of the internet, the calls have stopped and I have not received any further unwanted contact since April.
In two years, I have written much about the torment I have been going through since late 2011 with this individual, but never detailed how we met or the abusive relationship that I was trapped in with her throughout high school. As I have been writing about my school experiences and because I have been an advocate for victims of abuse most of my life, I feel that it is time for me to share that, hoping that it will help others.
This situation began in late 2002 to early 2003 at St. Nard’s. I was not well liked in high school as I wasn’t a jock, wasn’t religious and wasn’t involved in any clubs. I sat alone at lunch for four years straight. I was into prog rock, Magic: The Gathering and high fantasy novels so it was easy to see that I was a dweeb. I didn’t even perform in school talent shows and never told anyone that I played the piano. Because I lived 45 minutes away it was hard to make friends, and the highly conservative hierarchy of the school guaranteed that I’d never fit in. I even had a teacher as a freshman who bullied me to the point where I was ready to drop out, but I’ll talk about him another time.
Before I continue, I want to state that for privacy purposes I am not going to use my ex’s name or the name of the girl who set us up. So, I looked up a list of the worst names for girls in 2019 and decided to call my ex Diesel and her BFF Chlamydia. Yes, this is what the first result of my search yielded.
While I was a social outcast, I did manage to catch the attention of Chlamydia in Spanish class. (Oh, this is going to be fun.) To say she had a crush on me was an understatement; this girl openly told her friends that we were dating even though I had never asked anyone at St. Nard’s out before, she would force her way to sit with me at assemblies and hold hands with me whenever she got close. And no, she didn’t sit with me at lunch. While flattered, or at least as much as a 14 to 15-year-old could be, this girl did not interest me at all. We had nothing in common, she was failing all of her classes, and her clingy behaviour was creeping me out, especially after she signed my freshman yearbook with “I Love You!” alongside several hearts and a massive lip gloss kiss. She didn’t even know how to pronounce my last name correctly, so the idea that she “loved” me was really off.
This changed a year later, as she was the only person in the entire school who seemed to show the slightest interest in me as a human being, I kept Chlamydia close as a friend. (This is going to be awkward so just deal with it.) Her clinginess was still an issue but I just bowed with the wind. That was a red flag that I should have paid attention to.
Anyways, as a sophomore, a rumour started going around that I was gay, which was grounds for immediate expulsion from a Catholic school. Now, I am openly bisexual today, but not when I was surrounded by holier-than-thou ultra-conservative bigots, and because of the curriculum that clearly stated that both homosexuality and bisexuality were not real and just “wrong choices,” I thought I was flawed in some unforgivable way. This made being a social misfit who already had low self-esteem a lot, lot worse. In order to hush the rumours and to stay closeted to my family and friends until I could either “cure myself” (there’s no such thing) or come out as bi on my own terms, I made the horrible decision to ask Chlamydia out on a real date.
To my surprise, she turned me down, and said that she would much rather go out with another guy whom I’ll call Gary because it’s the first male name that popped into my head. Then she told me that she had already been dating him, while telling the rest of the school that we were an item. Now, a normal person would look at this situation and back the hell out of it, getting as far away from that tangled mess as possible. So, what do you think 15-year-old me did? I asked her if she had any friends…
I’m going to let you scream at me through the computer now, maybe break a mouse or something. It will make you feel better after reading that.
Chlamydia immediately told me about her best friend Diesel, who thought I was nice and cute (she never saw a picture of me before that) and gave me her email and AIM name. For the young ones here, AIM was the AOL Instant Messenger, it’s how we used to “chat” in real time before Facebook or Skype existed. Yes, this makes me feel old. Within a couple of days, Diesel had already written to me before I had even gotten up the courage to send her a single email.
We seemed to be relatable, at least we liked some of the same music though I was the only one who knew that Rush was a band and not a lunatic political commentator. I asked if we could have lunch together the next week, and that’s when I found out that she went to a different school. I didn’t see it as a major problem, but it was definitely trickier to make a relationship out of in the early ‘00s. When I passingly mentioned this to Chlamydia and that I was a little disappointed that she was setting me up with someone who lived over an hour’s drive away, she swiftly told Diesel behind my back and I was soon subjected to her “crying” over the instant messenger that I was dumping her and that she wasn’t good enough for anyone.
This should have been another red flag as Diesel was already beginning to abuse me with a technique called gaslighting, and was creating a false reality in my own mind where I was hurting her feelings just by having some doubts about making a long-distance relationship work in an era before teens even had their own basic flip phones.
Diesel immediately got to work setting up a list of rules and a schedule for me to follow. I had to be online from 4pm to 10pm every weekday in case she logged in to chat, and if I wasn’t there she would get quite peeved with me. Keep in mind that she never told me when she would be online and that this was before you could message someone while offline. Also, AIM did not save messages automatically, you had to manually save them as a file if you wanted to reread an older chat log. I had to send her at least two love poems a week, I had to call her my girlfriend even though she hadn’t even told me her last name yet, and I was required to complement her looks in every chat even though I hadn’t seen a picture of her yet. She had gotten a scan of my sophomore class picture and restated that I was cute, while hiding her own image from me behind a list of strange excuses (for example; she had no disposable camera, her makeup was running, she didn’t have a computer even though she was telling me this over the internet).
My sister Hannah absolutely hated Diesel. They had never met each other, but in one chat Diesel had asked for me to say hi to my sister for her, to which Hannah gave the computer monitor the finger. Hannah could see that I was being manipulated and abused, and it infuriated her that I continued to talk with someone who was hurting me. Diesel’s ridiculous rules also made it hard for Hannah to use the computer for school or to talk with her friends, and because we had dial-up, it meant that the phone was inoperable while the computer was online. I gradually moved away from my required schedule as Diesel and I both worked after school and this freed me a little from her grasp. Hannah seized this opportunity to try and get me out of that pseudo-relationship and would desperately talk with me about asking one of her friends out, mainly those who were secretly crushing on me. She even tried to arrange a date between her best friend and I, hoping that it would break Diesel’s spell.
Nothing seemed to work though.
In one instance, Diesel became irate with me for not being online during her designated hours. She had told me the night before that she would be working the next day until 10pm and wouldn’t be home until 11. I didn’t bother going online and let Hannah have her fun with the zany websites of the era and group chatting with her friends about which 1980s rock star they thought was the hottest. I didn’t hear from Diesel for nearly a week after that, and found out from Chlamydia that she was angry with me for breaking her rules. Diesel had lied to me about working just to see if I was online during her schedule, and seeing that I wasn’t sent her over the edge. After discovering this from Chlamydia, I was sent a long and seething email from Diesel where she claimed to have been in the hospital for a suicide attempt, and threatened to cut herself or worse if I ever disobeyed her again. She claimed that I was being unfaithful and that she couldn’t trust me at all if I wasn’t willing to follow her instructions.
All of Diesel’s claims were false; this was her continuing to gaslight me and attempt to gain further control of my emotions and psyche. A different mutual friend of ours had later told me that she had never been hospitalized and never had self-harmed.
It was only by dumb luck that I was finally able to meet Diesel in person during my junior year of high school. All attempts to convene in the past had been turned down by excuses (“I got a bad haircut!”) despite that we’d be meeting alongside both of our parents and in public spaces to ensure our safety and to put our folks’ minds at ease. Just before St. Nards’ winter formal, Chlamydia and Gary broke up, and Diesel and I decided to go together as a group since Chlamydia was now going to be alone. I purchased two tickets to the event and a corsage for Diesel, and everything was put in place so we’d meet in the lobby of the Best Western where the dance was taking place. This time there were no trite alibis and things finally seemed to be going well.
I was waiting in the hotel lobby for an hour with fear in the back of my mind that I was going to be stood up before Diesel and Chlamydia arrived. We introduced ourselves to one another and this was also my first time ever seeing Diesel at all, and she was very pretty, maybe not what I had pictured, but at least this wasn’t some sort of weird joke out of a crappy Paris Hilton movie. We went to the dance, got a snack and took our seats while we got to know each other better and everything was going great. I also have to add that this was the first real “date” I had ever been on, so I was really nervous and awkward. After about seven or ten minutes, Diesel excused herself to use the restroom and never returned.
I sat alone at our table for over an hour with the DJ’s speakers right next to me, before I was told that Diesel was sick and was going to be leaving early. I helped her out of the hotel while and she left without saying a word to me. I had been given my dad’s cellphone, the only one in the house, and swiftly called home to get a ride. My parents and sister had just arrived at the house from going out to the mall, and my mother was furious when I told her what had happened. She was under the impression that Diesel was a no show, but she was angry at the entire set of circumstances anyways given how much I had paid for tickets and flowers (nearly $150 in total), and for all of this to just backfire in my face after waiting so long to try and meet Diesel face to face.
Hannah was livid but happy at the same time. She was a little envious that I was going on a date to a formal dance and that she hadn’t been asked by anyone herself. She was a freshman and I knew of a lot of guys who had crushes on her but they were too afraid to ask her out either because they were freshman themselves and thus timid by nature, or were in my class and were concerned that I’d be upset if they had asked my sister out, which I wouldn’t have been but they just made that assumption without even talking to me. As a consolation prize, Hannah gave me an early Christmas gag gift of David Lee Roth’s greatest hits (an oxymoron), which we listened to in her room with a dance off to cheer me up.
Despite Diesel’s apologies for what had happened, I later discovered that she was not sick from a bug, but that she and Chlamydia had been drinking before the dance (hence their late appearance) and were wasted by the time they had arrived. Diesel had passed out in the ladies’ room while vomiting and was taken back to Chlamydia’s house so her parents wouldn’t find out that she was drunk.
This was the last straw and I stopped following Diesel’s rules and maybe chatted with her once a week, just staying friends with her. I considered myself single again but didn’t go on the dating circuit as to give myself some much needed “me time” after that whole kerfuffle. I was feeling good and was more confident that I had been in ages. But things would soon take a very different change of course.
On 3 May, 2004, I was involved in a multi-vehicle wreck on the highway while being driven home by a livery service. Hannah was seriously injured, but due to confusion and some sketchy 911 calls, it took over 20 minutes for an emergency response. Hannah passed away from her injuries, with details that still have never come to light fifteen years later.
I lost my best friend and half of my entire person.
I was incredibly vulnerable. I had been seriously injured myself, but mentally I was in worse shape than any part of my body. I couldn’t and didn’t know how to react correctly, I bottled everything up, and I considered suicide on several occasions.
My classmates provided an outpouring of support with sympathy cards and interaction that I had never experienced before, but it also opened me up to the worst of the abuse I’d receive from Diesel.
Using this vulnerability, Diesel immediately swooped in and tried to make herself my saviour. She visited my home the day after the wreck and became involved with my parents and myself on a more personal level than ever before. She actually seemed like a real friend for the first time in our relationship. She wasn’t just an internet friend now, and she would visit our home at least twice a month and even showed up as a surprise on my birthday. After about six weeks of this, I slowly and unknowingly found myself following Diesel’s every command, even resurrecting her controlling schedule for online chats without realizing it.
At this point, Diesel became the only friend I had. Even though my oldest and best friend from kindergarten was visiting me every day, and she and I would go out for drives and just talk about shit, Diesel was still the star that I was guided by and was orbiting. Going out with some new friends had to be cut short so I could talk to Diesel. Visiting with Hannah’s friends for mutual support, each of us stricken with insurmountable grief, had to be scheduled around Diesel. Visiting my grandparents had to be worked around Diesel. She had me by every cell of my body and every part of my fractured soul.
By the summer of 2004, Diesel dictated who I could and could not speak with. She demanded that I only stay within her and Chlamydia’s circle of friends and that everyone else, including my aforementioned best friend, was excluded. I still spoke with them, but had to hide that from Diesel. It reached a point where even Diesel’s mother was involved in controlling when and where we would speak or meet. Diesel’s mom even tried to control my parents and used that to schedule dates or get togethers around her work and interests.
My mother hated Diesel’s mother. She was an illiterate, self-absorbed asshole who had no empathy for my family (or anyone). During our last get together, Diesel, her mom and Chlamydia all decided to come to my family’s house for lunch. When my mother told Diesel’s mom that she was doing poorly (as it was just four months since Hannah’s passing), her response through chewing a wad of gum was a sarcastic “Still?” which turned her as red as a can of Coca-Cola. That would be the last they ever spoke to each other.
We had a tense lunch, but Diesel, Chlamydia and I got along despite everything. Diesel’s mom had made some disgusting noodle salad that I feel obligated to bring up for its sheer nastiness, but other than that, it was just a cookout. Afterwards, things got even stranger. Diesel decided to use the family computer to instant message some of her friends despite deliberately coming to my house to visit me, and she was fixated on the computer for the rest of the afternoon before she had to leave to go to work that evening. She didn’t even hug me goodbye like we usually did. This would be the last time that I ever saw Diesel willingly.
After that lunch date, things became worse. Diesel and I were up very late online one night and I had casually written “Love you” as we were signing off. This made her very angry and she refused to speak to me for two weeks. That two word sign off also enraged her father, whom I had never met, and he decided that I was some sort of drooling villain prowling remote hamlets for maidens to have the nerve to say “love you” to his daughter.
Once my senior year began, Diesel was again demanding that I be online all evening to talk to her even when I knew she was working, and she would randomly give me the cold shoulder and refuse to respond to messages before accusing me of being mean or angry to her when I knew for a fact that I never was. Again, this is gaslighting and she was a master of using that abusive technique. I’d write a simple “Hi” to her and she would type back absurdities like “Why are you so mean all the time?” or “How could you have done that to me?” without specifying anything. I started to doubt myself and had to save all of my chats with Diesel just to go over them later and see if maybe I did have a temper or did say something out of line. I didn’t, but I felt like I was going crazy every time I spoke to this woman.
I started to question reality because what I knew and experienced was never the same thing as what Diesel was telling me I had done or said.
This reached a breaking point when Diesel decided that I was not to call her on the phone anymore. She randomly messaged me with those disheartening words: “We need to talk” and proceeded to leave the chat for over three hours before coming back, watching me nervously squirm the entire time in her mind’s eye. Her reasoning was that I was “an unstable person” for having told her “Love you” back in August. This was October and this reasoning was inane. But Diesel had so much control over me that I still obeyed her. While she didn’t want to speak with me by phone, she still insisted that I speak with her online daily, and demanded that I give her my AIM and email passwords so she knew what I was “really up to.” And I did. I didn’t even question such a brash and unreasonable violation of my own safety and privacy, I just gave them over.
Because Diesel had asked me to never call her on the phone anymore, I didn’t call her for her birthday and instead sent her a Hallmark card. That did not go over well. She tore into me that I was “over the line” in sending her that simple card (which I only had signed with my name because I knew “love” was about as bad as a certain c-word with her). A few days after she called me every name and slur in the book over AIM, she apologized saying that it was just the stress of senior year getting to her, and that I was “lucky she still loved me.” It’s okay if she said it but if I said it, oh boy. And that right there was a massive red flag amongst all the smaller ones that I still had failed to see.
Everything came to an end on Christmas Day of 2004. My parents were not doing well, I wasn’t doing well and everything in our lives and home was off. After our dinner, with a special plate set at Hannah’s seat with an offering of yams, her favourite vegetable, my mom asked if I was going to call Diesel and wish her a Happy Christmas. I was hesitant as she had told me to not call her on the phone but it was, after all, Christmas. With a lot of anxiety, I dialed her number and was confronted by her father almost immediately. I’ve mentioned this before, but after I asked for Diesel, he responded with something along the lines of “Don’t you ever call here again you goddamn k*** or it’ll be the last fucking thing you ever do! That’s all over now, Chanukah Boy!” in a thick, nearly unintelligible Boston accent, and with an obvious hint of drunkenness.
I never again spoke to Diesel and I never saw her after that (on purpose). I was devastated at first, but once I began talking with my real friends, I slowly started to understand what a blessing I had been given. I started to see through the fog and realized just how manipulated I had been, and how clouded my judgments had become due to her constant abuse. I had even slumped in my grades and in my musical practice during that relationship because I always had to make time for her which meant less time for studying and less effort in my essays. I comprehended that I had more friends than I had previously thought, as she had controlled who I could and could not see or speak to. After making arrangements with my companions and colleagues, I soon deleted my email and AIM name and created a new one as Diesel had my passwords and I didn’t want her to know how to contact me ever again.
Of course, she would later go on to stalk me with her mother’s assistance, but I’ve already discussed that and have had police intervention to make sure that she stays as far away from my family and I as possible.
Given the weight of this very long story, I want to again provide my readers with information on how to leave and heal from an abusive relationship, alongside suicide prevention hotlines from around the world. Stay strong, and know that you deserve to be treated right and with respect and dignity, and anyone who fails to do so is not deserving of you!
Domestic Abuse Hotlines
United States: 1-800-799-7233
United Kingdom: 0808 2000 247
Suicide Prevention Lifelines
Canada: 1-866-277-3553, (514-723-4000 in Montreal)
United States: 1-800-273-8255
United Kingdom: 0845 7909 090
International Suicide Hotline List
Ho. Ho. Ho. Fuck.
Gods, I just want 2018 to end.
This year, without a doubt, has been one of the most challenging I have faced in my life, and comes in around only second to 2004. For the past 12 months I have enjoyed:
It should come without surprise that the Chelmsford Police are now under a massive state and federal investigation, not only for what I have experienced, but for several alleged instances of egregious misconduct throughout the department occurring over the past several years. Similar scrutiny plagues much of the northern communities of Middlesex County, where Chelmsford is located. Maybe this is just what happens in a state where heroin runs rampant and oversight beyond Boston is little.
Below are his messages. I have only blocked the names of the innocent parties whom he had made direct threats of violence and kidnapping to. His official Town of Chelmsford email was clearly used to log into the comments section, and a VPN changing his location to Paris, France was also incorporated in a weak attempt at hiding his identity. Working with my host, I was able to find this officer's real IP address as the VPN he used was a free, run of the mill, and poorly constructed proxy website. The real IP address shows that these messages were sent directly from a computer inside the Chelmsford Police Station.
Warning! These messages contain highly offensive, graphic and racist language targeting my Jewish ancestry. I am only choosing to show this as evidence against these crooked cops:
Apparently, this guy can't be too good at his job if he doesn't realize that I'm Canadian.
I have closed all comments on my site indefinitely to prevent any future occurrences of harassment.
Now that I am finally safe, I have resumed working in public as a musician and artist, but have made it a point to never perform in or around that corridor of Massachusetts for as long as I live. I will go to Boston, Worcester and Springfield, but I will never perform or show a gallery in any North Middlesex city, town, or hovel. That region is to me what Innsmouth is to the Cthulhu mythos. In fact, it'd probably be safer for me to work with the fish people and cultists of Innsmouth than it would be to make an appearance in that county.
Before I end this article, I must share some very important information with you:
I hope my story can help others find the strength needed to overcome whatever challenges you are facing. Please remember that you are loved and take care of yourselves this holiday season, and all year long.
I've been keeping very low profile lately, going so far as to cancel all performances and galleries in much of the Northeast US for the majority of the year. I had written a post a few months ago explaining my absence, but had to remove it. The reason being that I have been the victim of a violent stalking incident that has only just stopped in the past four weeks. This is my story.
Originally posted 8 August, 2018:
I have been rather quiet lately on the site, and I want to write to explain what has been going on.
Beginning in December of 2017, I have been dealing with perpetual, organized harassment directed at myself, my family and my friends. This is not internet trolling or junk comments on a website. This is criminal harassment, stalking, and assault and battery. I am actively involved in a court case regarding this matter and as a result, I will only share the details that I can.
On 7 December, the local police came to my home and demanded to speak to my sister. My sister Hannah passed away on 3 May, 2004 so it was an incredible shock to be hearing this from police officers, never mind that it was in the midst of the holidays when her passing weighs heavily on me no matter how much time has gone by. The reason for the police response, I was told, was that my sister was making threats to my former high school sweetheart over Facebook, and that I had to contact the police in Chelmsford, Massachusetts to figure out what was going on.
I have not spoken to nor seen that ex-girlfriend since December of 2004. I called to wish her a Happy Christmas and her father answered, where he proceeded to call me an anti-Semitic slur word and threatened to outright murder me if I called again. That was the end of that relationship and any mutual friendships it bore.
I explained to the officers that Hannah had passed away over a decade ago, and that she never had a Facebook account because it didn’t really exist back then. She didn’t even have a MySpace page as those were fairly new at the time of her passing. The officers were very shocked that this was going on, and further informed me that they had little information other than that the Chelmsford Police had been trying to contact me all day.
I never once received a call from the Chelmsford Police that day, or anyone for that matter, meaning someone in that department was lying.
To solve this mystery, I called the Chelmsford station. I spoke to an “officer” after a long time on hold who never identified himself by name, and refused to give me his badge number when asked. He told me to stop bothering people on Facebook, and to cut out the pranks. I informed him that my sister had no Facebook and I had no means of making any such pranks using the site as I seldom use it anymore and, at the time of the incident, my account was deactivated and had been deactivated for several months while I was upgrading my studio computer system and had no time for social media nonsense.
He refused to listen to me so I told him, very bluntly, to inform my ex to leave me alone and to never bother with myself or my family again. The officer nonchalantly agreed and hung up, seemingly irked that I had him figured out as causing trouble on her behalf.
My high school ex-girlfriend, a woman whom I have not seen nor spoken to in (then) 13 years, and her mother made a false report at their local police department just to harass and upset my family. The officer was talking to me off the record, as a favour, which would explain his failure to provide his own name, and why I couldn't hear the usual beeping noises of a police phone system recording the conversation.
This woman has shown up from time to time online via this website and the social media pages I had in the past since late August of 2011. She always would appear out of the blue, asking to be friends again and when I refused, she would leave a stream of poorly spelled threats, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs, and comments directed at my closest friends and relatives.
Each year in May and again in the November and December holidays, times when I was (and am) at my emotional weakest, she would reappear with new names, new email addresses and new social media accounts just to torment me. Her mother got involved in it, and eventually, so did her husband.
What began as an online nuisance became a real world threat last December. This is a woman who was willing to lie to the police and openly falsify police reports in order to attack me, and to attack my friends and family. If she was capable of this, and if the police were that willing to side with her just because she "knows so-and-so at the station,” it put my entire public life in jeopardy.
Just as I’m recovering from this latest reappearance, the phone calls started. I would receive dozens of calls a day, all in my ex’s name on caller ID. One day she called my cellphone 57 times in a single hour. Every day she called. She called my cell, my landline, my parents’ house and their cell phones. So far, I have received over 500 phone calls from her, and they continue to come each day. In addition, her best friend, the mutual friend who had set us up back in high school, has also been involved in calling myself and my family. This mutual friend’s father, who is (or was) a police sergeant, has also been calling which is extremely unnerving.
They never leave a message. They almost always hang up if the call is answered. If they don’t hang up they just shout slurs into the phone. Their primary phone numbers have been blocked since December and they still call, knowing that the blocked call message is enough to cause aggravation. When the primary numbers don't get through, they use a new, unblocked, cellphone to call from.
Last month, my family and I hired an attorney to handle this ongoing situation. That is all I can say about that for now. The calls are still coming in, and just today they called me four times and my parents three times.
I have been afraid of leaving my house because of their connection to the police. I fear that if I am out performing live, they will harass the venue or call the police to the location to arrest me in front of an audience on counterfeit charges. They have used these ties in the past in order to issue a false arrest warrant on my best friend, which was dropped after the police in her area realized it wasn’t authorized by a living judge (it was “signed” by a long deceased judge from Kansas).
For this reason, I have kept a low profile online. I normally see and can now expect an uptick in harassing, incessant phone calls after posting this. Every new post I’ve made since last December results in such activity.
I can only hope that the justice system hasn’t eroded completely, and that I can bring charges against this woman and receive a restraining order against her for my own protection.
Shortly after posting this, I began receiving threatening calls from a man claiming to be a police officer in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Things escalated further when two men claiming to be from the FBI came to my home. They had no badges, and did not provide names. The only thing they were interested in was the personal information of friends of mine (addresses, when I last spoke to them) which I did not provide to them before demanding that they leave my property.
My attorney called just as these men were leaving to go over the Cease and Desist notice to be issued to my stalker and her family, and a few weeks later it was mailed to them. They immediately retaliated by having the Chelmsford Police Department call my house (their number is permanently blocked due to this harassment) over Labour Day weekend, even sending the local authorities to my property. I showed them the court notice and they left it at that, knowing that they were being played and that my ex was bypassing the court order by establishing indirect contact using the Chelmsford PD for her illegal gain.
The calls started again after that, pushing the number to around 900 in total.
My stalker then hired a relative of hers in New Hampshire, near the Canadian border, claiming to be an attorney (I have never found his name in the Bar Association or any legal records to this day) who then proceeded to slander my name by publicly proclaiming myself and my family to be a danger to society. At the same time, my stalker began sending me death threats where she stated she would shoot me on sight if I left my house.
She sent several similar threats to friends and family across Canada and the United States.
This resulted in many of my closest friends discontinuing contact with me, leaving me more alone than I've ever been.
I contemplated suicide during the height of this period and was nearly hospitalized for that, for incredibly high blood pressure (that was measured at 148/102) and frequent asthma attacks.
Then all of a sudden the girl who set my ex and I up back in high school emailed me using a Tor address, and confessed to being an instigator in this entire seven year ordeal. She claimed to have moved to Europe so she felt that there was nothing we could do legally in response to her actions.
Everything stopped after that.
Some of my friends and relatives who did receive death threats from my stalker did end up pressing charges and there are now warrants for her arrest in the states of California, Pennsylvania and Washington, and in the province of British Columbia.
Right now I am cautiously optimistic that I can advertise, perform and host galleries again. I have no idea if this woman is in police custody and fear searching for it as she is crazy enough to use that against me.
For now, I'm posting this update and hopefully can return to a normal life.
Here we are at the end of April 2016 and what a year it has been here! I have just released my third record in the span of one year and have finally freed myself for more projects with all these backburner ones completed and made publicly available. It has not been easy, and not all of it has been pleasant, but with my recording of Robert Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood launching this past Tuesday, it’s a massive relief to be finished.
I started these endeavors all the way back in April of 2013. I was reviewing older pieces in my repertoire and started thinking about putting out a collection of classical piano works. I had been toying with the idea of an album since the latter part of 2007, but being in school, not having a fully equipped home studio and not having an idea of what to do for it was the biggest setback. I made a few demos in those days, mostly of original ambient or new age styled works just to get a feel for producing, and they were never made public. These were homemade discs in home-assembled jewel cases with graphics printed out on an inkjet printer and made exclusively for friends and family. It was tedious, frustrating and looked like garbage. I didn’t want to repeat that sort of thing, and with a professional studio setup that I had been running for a few years, I figured now was the time to make a proper record.
But what to do?
At this point in 2013, I was just about to record Erik Satie’s Three Gymnopédies, and considered those as a single, just to get the ball rolling. However, I felt that my first public record would have to be something a little better than just three short and easy piano works. That’s when I decided to do Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood. It wasn’t virtuosic or anything, but it’s widely known, approachable to pianists and listeners alike and provided enough material to make a proper length album.
I started reviewing each piece in the opus, as it had been years since I had looked at them, and decided I would record them as soon as I was comfortable with the interpretations. I started in July 2013, but a few setbacks started to take hold come September.
While in the middle of recording the third and fourth pieces, I started taking extra classes in electronic music with Berklee Online. The project heavy courses meant I had to compose and produce a fully realized EDM track every three weeks in addition to the standard course work, discussions and sound design projects. I had to wait until Thanksgiving to record “Catch Me!” and “Pleading Child” since it was the only chance I had between classwork!
In the winter, I enrolled in two classes, another electronic music class and one in world music. This created a delay in recording both “Perfect Happiness” and “Important Event” as I now had twice as much work. Then, something interesting came about.
I had composed four major electronic tracks for these courses and I felt they all went along with each other. That’s when I got the idea to also work on an EDM album on the side, in between Schumann sessions.
Then it got even better.
Come May of 2014, I was in a bit of a depression and the music of Satie was a big help to me. This got me thinking about my recordings of the Gymnopédies a year prior, and I decided I wanted to play and record the Gnossiennes as well. Now, I had never played these pieces before, so I had to buy the sheet music and learn each one. In doing so, I deliberately set out to find and record the seventh Gnossienne as every Satie record I had or saw excluded it. (The reason being it was not written as a companion to the other six, and was part of at least two other suites Satie had written, the one that is also known as Gnossienne Seven was originally written for two pianists, but has been rearranged for a single player many times in the past century.)
Fortunately, these pieces were very easy and I was able to learn and record all seven in less than four months. It would have been faster had I also not been reviewing and recording the remaining works in Scenes from Childhood and composing another EDM track. All at once!
To calm things down, I decided to reduce the EDM record to an EP (extended play) release over a full-length album, and that the one, gigantic track I was working on at the time would be the title track and the last one I did before calling the project complete. Just a little bit of original material in the midst of all the impressionist and romantic works to avoid being pigeonholed as a strictly classical musician.
Then in July of 2014 my studio computer crashed. Big time. It stopped turning on due to a problem in the boot protocol that prevented the operating system from moving forward in the startup. I had a good friend of the family repair it, twice in the span of two months, before it just stopped turning on at all come September. It was just a white screen with a spinning wheel (typical Mac display). I had to move all my work over to my college laptop that was half the RAM and a third of the hard drive space while a brand new hard drive was installed on the studio iMac (kids, don’t get a Mac, they might look nice, but they’ll give you a headache and make your wallet puke. Trust me). Installing a new internal hard drive on an iMac is the worst thing ever. My friend, Ahmed, who has repaired my family’s computers since I was in high school, had to rent a windshield repair tool just to get the glass edge of the screen off. You see, Mac screens are held down with powerful magnets, you can’t access the inner workings unless you open up the screen, and nothing can remove this except tools from the auto repair trade. See why you should avoid Apple now? They make their products so hard to repair so that you’re more likely to buy a new one over fixing the one you have, and therefore getting more of your money.
Anyways, that gets taken care of while I record and produce music on a laptop barely capable of handling the job. The classical works aren’t hard; it’s just sequencing the performance in Cubase with the Ivory II plug-in on a single track. But the EDM track basically had to be delayed as it was using up to 93% of the CPU’s power when trying to play it in Ableton Live (compared to the 75% on the desktop, still lofty, and this is with frozen tracks and CPU-intensive MIDI plug-ins converted to audio). After the desktop comes back, and I spend three or four days reinstalling hundreds of programs and copying over all my files from an external backup, I was back to work.
During the time my desktop’s hard drive was sputtering, I did manage to finish the Satie record, but I waited until it was repaired to begin mastering. That didn’t matter anyway since I wait at least two weeks after recording or mixing original music to master it to avoid any bias in the process. Ideally, I’d have it sent out to another studio to do the mastering, but I wanted to keep my budget tight and was able to approach it without any major issues.
It is now October of 2014. The Satie album is finished and mastered, and I have just come back from a photography trip to the Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, MA to create the related artwork. The Schumann record only has about four tracks left, and I have just finished writing “Earwig Rising”, the eight-minute title track for the electronic EP.
Come January, everything is looking good, the Satie recordings and artwork have been sent to the Copyright Office and it’s ready to go. Earwig Rising is mastered but missing artwork, and at the end of the month, the final tracks of Scenes from Childhood are recorded. In about a year and a half, I have created three records, now to release them! Should be a cakewalk, right?
I planned on releasing the Satie collection on March 10, 2015. I made the date without any trouble, but trouble did rise come June of that year. A troll had emerged and filed a fake DMCA notice against my recordings, forcing me to remove them from CD Baby and all other digital distributors until the case was resolved. Because I filed a counter measure and the troll didn’t respond, the case was dropped. The same damn person filed a second strike against my work two weeks later and the only thing in his report was basically a note about how much he hated me and that was it. It’s taken down again, but restored within a week because I have the proof of ownership with the Copyright Office and can prove that all the tracks are in fact my own performances.
Bear in mind, every time this was removed, I had to pay to have it put back on CD Baby and then sent to the digital distributors like iTunes and Spotify. This one record cost me over $600 because of this problem. A problem so bad that the person filing the fake claims, a non-existent company that went by “Jakob MILLZ World Entertainment, Ltd.” had to have their IP address banned to prevent any future headaches to me or my distributors.
You’d think that a company that has no address, phone number, website, email, a CEO, or anything else pertaining to it would alert the receiving parties that this is a fraudulent case. But in today’s YouTube fed algorithmic copyright systems, where making false claims has no consequences for the accuser, the burden of ownership always lies in the hands of the accused.
No matter, he was taken care of.
But this left a huge financial hole in my budget. I had planned on releasing all three records in 2015, now I was over my ideal spending threshold from having to pay for the Satie record three times as a result of this blatant harassment by someone I’ve never even met. It’s July, and I’m planning on releasing Earwig Rising on August 25. And because I was so busy having a nervous breakdown for the past month and a half, I haven’t even done the artwork yet!
Seriously, I had to shoot the cover art for that EP about a week and a half before the release date! I wanted the cover to look like an old B-movie, like Beginning of the End or Godzilla. My father helped me build the set using Styrofoam to create Wiggy (the giant earwig), an unfinished birdhouse we started when I was 8 for the frame of the building that was then covered in cardboard, and then cardboard and tissue boxes to create the rest of the set, built around a now dilapidated electric train set I had when I was a kid (that was also unfinished in building, so yeah, lots of those sorts of things lying around). I bought some dye cast cars from CVS and smashed them with a hammer and lit one on fire so that I could add to the devastation. The front of the main building was painted, torn, crushed and abused in so many other ways to give the impression that a giant, cheesy monster was responsible.
I ended up shooting this in my basement with all sorts of crazy lighting setups and sacrificing my large black backdrop to contain the entire diorama (it ended up with dirt and dust all over it from being in the cellar, and it had to be stapled to the rafters in order to be held up over such a long and awkward stage that it ended up tearing afterwards). But I managed to beat the deadline and get that out just in time.
Now with two records available online, and the financial burden created by the copytroll, I decided it was best to promote what I already had and wait until the next spring to release Scenes from Childhood, ironic considering that was the one planned to be my debut in the long run (I went with the Satie because the final tracks had already been mixed and mastered before 2015 started, while the Schumann tracks were all still in mixing by February 2015). I booked myself at several local events to showcase the artwork I have for sale on Fine Art America, and a limited run of physical CDs alongside download cards.
These didn’t go as planned. The Horseshed Fair in Lancaster came on a day when a major nor’easter hit the area, and the surrounding days (and weeks) of heat and dust were replaced with temperatures in the forties and heavy rain. And this is an outdoor event with no rescheduling. The winds were so bad that even if I had had a tent, it would have blown away! I had to cancel as a result of the weather and the damage it would do to my work whether or not I had the canopy.
The next event was a craft show at the Sterling Village nursing home. Of course, I was put on the second floor where nobody went. I was sharing floor space with a group of elderly ladies selling their knitted works, a young man around my age who crafts jewelry, and an older woman selling homemade fashion accessories. All of us bombed compared to those on the ground floor. I managed to sell a couple CDs, a tote bag and a lot of greeting cards, but then a middle-aged woman ran off with a whole box of the Satie discs, making for a major financial loss at the end of the day.
But that brings us here. It’s a new year, with new promotions and new projects to come! I’ve sold a ton of records in the past year, mostly overseas in Europe, Southeast Asia and in Israel, and have had the chance to give Scenes from Childhood the promoting it deserves that fell a little short last year due to trolls, set design mishaps and other family issues. I’ve also learned a lot more about how to promote myself successfully after a lot of trial and error last year.
So, what’s next?
I don’t know. I have a lot of original compositions to get through now that had been pushed aside for these three behemoths of recording projects. I’m working on original classical, jazz and blues music at the moment. The classical works are virtuosic tone poems, the last two out of five (the other three being very easy), the jazz works are mostly for a trio format (piano, bass guitar and drums) and the blues are solo piano. It feels nice to be playing exclusively original material now, but also a bit anxiety inducing as I find I’m second guessing myself more on these as there is no reference, no prior recording or performance of them, to compare and take notes on. Especially when it comes time to improvise on the jazz and blues tunes. It’s all me, and that can be a frightening place to be on stage or in the practice room when you have an anxiety disorder. You can be your own worst enemy.
But other than music, I’d love to get back to making some short films. My last movie was three years ago, and that was my first one in nine years! I have been making short movies for a long while, like, all the original ones are on VHS or VHS-C tapes. Deliverance Chips was the first publicly available film I ever made done entirely in digital. I’d like to do more of those. I’ve been talking about it for years now, the whole 2-minute movies series, and now that I’m not working on a major record (at this point, they get done when they get done) it could be a nice change of pace. Especially if I paired the music from some of these releases to accompanying visual stories, sort of like a video spin-off of the classical records I’ve made. “Earwig Rising” (the track) definitely needs a music video, but for what I’m picturing, it would have to be animated, and I’m not an animator.
Right now, I just want to start enjoying working on my own pieces for once, getting back into the gigging scene and relaxing after all that work, stress, depression and frustration. But at least I can confidently say I proved all my high school bullies (which included a few teachers and guidance counselors), numerous haters and other people who have told me I’d amount to nothing and that I’d be better off working in a paper mill, completely wrong. And I have the income from my record sales to prove it too.
This past Tuesday my second album, Earwig Rising, was released without incident (unlike that previously mentioned debacle involving harassment surrounding the Satie record). It is available for download now with a limited stock of physical CDs for my friends and relatives.
For upcoming events, I am going to appear at the Horseshed Fair in Lancaster, MA on October 3 at booth #62 selling physical CDs of both the Erik Satie album and Earwig, alongside download cards that you can purchase for an electronic only version. I will also have a very limited stock of fine art photography sets available in greeting cards, smartphone cases, tote bags, throw pillows and matted prints. These supplies will be very small and will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. Directions to my online store will be available so that customers can purchase anything that has been depleted, images that were not available for the fair or on items that were too bulky for the booth's allotted space.