The Four Children

Shirley Cavanaugh.


The Call Girl and the Cop.

The Call Girl…

And the brain tumor.

Shirley had a validated four children; Forest, Ruth, Jim, Judy.

Forest was an early death, age 8, scarlet fever or similar early death illness, and is buried in a cemetery in Florida.

I’m 13, my family is visiting his grave. I don’t feel anything, no one expects me to. My mother is crying, my father is supporting her, my sister and I waiting by the car. A family vacation to visit my mother’s side of the family. The side of the family that spilled the crazy in the deep end of the gene pool. There is a wedding for someone, we visit Disney World, we visit my dead uncle’s grave. My mother’s brother.

I’m 15 years old. Jim is a name I’ve never heard, a name my mother has never heard. They’d spent they’re whole lives searching for each other for Jim to show up at our house in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. I look out onto the lawn. It’s my mother. Her twin.


I am at least 4 different ages and Aunt Judy, I wish I could have been closer too as I grew. All contact information on my uncle Jim, my aunt Judy– lost.

The Call Girl and The Brain Tumor.

That second youngest child wailing in a dehydrating meow. Soiling in a soiled crib. The wooden bars, the pillow, the teddy bear, a baby; a diorama of neglect.

By the time my mother was found she was in poor health; in baby terms, that’s worse than poor. They found the name of her mother from the neighbors who found her in that crib…

Shirley Cavanaugh…


(My ten year ago self would, now, mutter beneath his abused breath; everybody leaves; attachment is meaningless.

But this isn’t true is it? In this journey, this pathway to understanding therapy and self-help as an adult one of the most important lessons I learned came from reading Deepak Chopra literature…

(I will often use the term, “esemplastic” throughout this blog to describe the cathedral of therapeutic intellect that I have devised; familiarize yourself with the term and concept. And also realize that everything is connected. All of what you have learned and value in literature, mind, heart, emotion, cognition &c. are all just houses you drive to, restaurants you eat in, bars you drink at, friends you laugh with- this is esemplasticity (if that is an actual word, I’m uncertain) at it’s finest. Nothing is separate. And everything influences everything else. See also: the Noosphere. See also: Limbic Resonance. See also: the Collective Consciousness. See also: I am, at heart, a skeptic and understand much of what I have faith in is pseudoscience. Useful ideas do not require scientific validation for me to utilize them.)

…from Deepak Chopra I learned the Law of Detachment which states that,

“in detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty… In the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilites, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

/tangent )

Shirley was gone. And Ruth was given to the next, available, of kin– Arthur and Elsie Horensky; the people that I would grow to know as my grandparents, that my mother grew to know as her parents.

It is July 20th, 1969

Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin are stepping out of the lunar module Eagle, My mother and her parents are sat flat, anticipating with the rest of the world in front of a black and white TV set.

Ruth is sixteen.

Sixteen years old,” her father coughs through the smoke of a Doral Doral cigarette.

The thing about some adoptions is – if you keep it close and in the family – no one has to know about it. That old expression – How do you know who your real daddy is? Because your momma told you so – that’s this; just in reverse. Who do you know who your real mother is?

Because your father is about to tell you, “now’s as good a time as (cough) any.

My mother’s mother was Shirley Cavanaugh, my mother’s great aunt’s name was Elsie Horensky– Grandma.

You’ve been gone for years now, I still miss you. I’m glad that we had lunch before you passed away, that I had the chance to tell you that having you as a grandmother is something I wouldn’t have survived without. You are wonderful to me.

Elsie and Arthur played the role; The Parent Game.

The thing is,” he muttered…

The Call Girl and the Brain Tumor…

You know that woman? Shirley? Down the street some? The women in the hospice with the brain tumor now? That’s your real mother, and Judy? Your friend down at Winkey’s Diner? That’s your sister. (cough)

Eight months old and my mother lay emaciated and dehydrated in a forgotten crib in some abandoned room; the perfect recipe for a feral child – this, is how Ruthy Cavanaugh became Ruth Elza Horensky.

What did Shirley go through? What did her mother go through? And her mother? It’s so often the parents who create this sort of conflict and fistless life fight.

But when my mother turned 16 and the men landed on the moon – what was thought as a simple step for my grandparents was a forced and faithless leap for my mother –

My grandfather, he lit another Doral Doral cigarette, inhaled deep, scratched the arm of his favorite couch and pointed, as Neil and Edwin step out the Eagle, at the TV screen screen while muttering under his breath the only thing he could possibly say in this time to comfort my mother…

“This sure ought to piss off those Russians…”


LSCI or How adults may grow into children…

Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI)…

What is it? states that it is an

“advanced, interactive therapeutic strategy for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for children and youth with chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors. LSCI views problems or stressful incidents as opportunities for learning, growth, insight, and change. This non-physical intervention program uses a multi-theoretical approach to behavior management and problem solving. LSCI provides staff a roadmap through conflict to desired outcomes using crisis as an opportunity to teach and create positive relationships with youth.”

In conjunction, think of the Kanji symbol for crisis; within the symbol for crisis are two other symbols.


The symbols wēi and jī. Danger and opportunity. Together they mean crisis.

From my work in the mental health field and utilizing LSCI as a tool to, “teach and create positive relationships with youth,” I have encountered a myriad example of each one of the 7 probably crises that a child may experience at any given time.

#1 The Red Flag

To paraphrase, The Red Flag crisis is exemplified by seemingly out of place outbursts and self-created, and thus fulfilled, no win situations. A troubled child will have an outburst with an effect of breaking the nose of a classmate that has nothing to do with his troubled emotional state. Instead, what his troubled state is, for example, is something that happened on the bus, at home, in the dorm and elsewhere. The student has, in other words, carried over a red flag from elsewhere.

#2 Massaging Numb Values

This crisis leaves the youth feeling guilty, remorseful, shameful or inadequate over what they’ve done because, sadly, due to a history of abuse and belittlement, this is all they have ever been taught to strive for. Shame and guilt have always been the consequence of their actions. And this is usually the result of the parent making illogical or irrational choices for their child.

I’m reminded here of a quote from, the fictional, Dr. Gregory House, “Acting on your [emotions] is easy. Acting [logically] is hard. That is why all parents screw up all children.”

#3 Reality Rub

The Reality Rub tends to be when a youth expresses, only, a fairly subjective view and unwavering belief that their reality is not only true but also unchangeable.

And while this may be true for all, the reality that a child has may reflect a difficult, estranged, sometimes maniacal worldview that will only hinder their self growth and improvement.

#4 New Tools

Without using any names, I will take a quote regarding a student of mine in order to explain this one.

“He does try to interact with his peers in a fashion that he believes will get him what he wants. Only, sometimes his responses to his peers are ostracizing and offensive; he snaps at them, yells, he has jerks in his shoulders and arms when he is even remotely upset, when interacting with his deaf peers he attempts to communicate but drops his hands and resorts only to speech when he is angry. He does have interests that, while some kids share, are eccentrically executed. For example, his drawings are a reflection of a disjointed world that no one else can see or experience or engage in yet he tries to get others to understand them and when they are incapable of doing so- he becomes upset.”

A New Tools crisis is simply that the student does not have the proper abilities to utilize in order to act in a manner that is socially acceptable or accepted by his/her family, friends or peers.

#5 Symptom Estrangement

Simply put Symptom Estrangement is believing that it always someone else’s fault and, “I am often, if not always, the victim.” See also: the way the student next to me dresses forces me to act angry. See also: the rules you expect me to follow are stupid, and I should be able to remake them. See also: I have no remorse for insulting people. See also: I have no remorse for physically hurting you, you deserved it.

If only LSCI would have a date with Byron Katie… This whole crisis would be settled.

That was meant, partially, to be humorous.

#6 Manipulation of Body Boundaries

This crisis has always been an interesting one to me. In short, a child will lie, sneak, manipulate and cheat in order to get one of his peers to do something viz. blow-up, start a fight with someone, scream during class, break a rule in school. Because this way, a Manipulating Body Boundaries child gets to experience all of the fun and none of the trouble.

#7 The Power Struggle… The most dangerous of the crises…

The power struggle is when adults turn into children. When the adult is faced with one of the preceding 6 crises and can only cause the child to spiral further into the cycle of crisis that has been spun among them. See also: I’m the mom, that’s why! See also: screaming at the child to sit down while you’re standing. See also: telling a child that he is lying, stupid, strange, unwanted, careless etc. See also: arguing (for the sake of being right) with a child instead of listening to them.

I will devote individual, more in depth, posts in the future regarding my thoughts and work with each of the crises as defined by LSCI. Among, I’m certain, many tangents, I will specifically focus on two areas; first, how it relates to children and how they may be resolved and second, the telling signs of adults who experienced these crises growing up and the consequences behind this.

The Callgirl and The Cop…

[We’d talked, essetially, about a blog that would sell the self as a product. I can only imagine the scrape marks on the barrel bottom when this story of mine is come across by anyone.

The self as a product?

Then, it has to be asked; how was this product conceived?]

I am a believer in time being a fairly unimportant contrivance that merely allows me to get to work on time and prevents my girlfriend from being mad at me if I show up to dinner at a random time expecting her to meet me there.

Time is useful, yes. But in the sense only that it that we can remember anniversaries, be punctual, follow morning rituals etc. In a much larger, more relevant, sense– time doesn’t exist. Days do not begin or end anymore than a tree was called a tree before we named it. And the earth has circled the sun far longer than we’ve had measurement tools.

So, then, where do I start?

60 years ago when the ideas that I plan to write about were just a bullet in the crotch of a cop in the “ABA club” on 6th Street that hasn’t been spoken of in decades?

Or how everything that led to this point is the 24 year long night terror that produced a high functioning adult with eccentric ways of therapeutically helping others?

Or is it really that nothing before or after this point is any of my damned business?

If I began at the absolute vestige of all of this it would be the evening of February 24th, 1957.

If I start here, a bullet is shot from a snub-nosed .38 revolver. Allan Carnahan is smiling at his mistress and she’s thinking of everything that wouldn’t make a man smile anywhere. Especially not in the empty gun holster of a narcotics division police officer. Shirley Cavanaugh with her smile, her hair, her short stature, her 4 children forgotten, her trigger finger curled in a gesture towards a man she’d actually fallen for.

Shirley and Allan- The Callgirl and The Cop.

Born into the, “stallion understanding of everything by the single click reliability,” that Allan would never have children now that his penis lay in multiple red chunks on the bar room floor.

This was Shirley’s last call. What the paper’s dubbed, “The Carnahan Affair.”

20111229-134251.jpg Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – May 29, 1957.
Oh grandma, you were so beautiful.

Shirley was a prostitute. One of the best. In the whorearchical ladder she dominated the top rungs. And when Pittsburgh had a, “Vice Squad,” they weren’t too up to date on human ethics.

And when Carnahan took the bullet to his crotch- Pittsburgh didn’t have a vice squad anymore.

What you could call a “Whorearchy” divides prostitutes into various classes the same way any other social group would. You’d have “slavegirls,” comparable to a burger flipper at McDonald’s, you have the “working class strumpet” or “streetwalker,” comparable to laborers and plumbers, higher still you’d have the exclusive “parlor house prostitutes” and “courtesans” which would be comparable roughly to professors and doctors.

My mother’s mother Shirley, she never walked the streets.

The exclusive ones, these parlor house courtesans, these were the women who’d get passed around corporations, bachelor parties for the Pittsburgh Vice Squad.

This is how Shirley became famous, she is why the Pittsburgh Vice Squad no longer had a Hooker Removal Division.

Now pretend that in this reality – contraception simply does not exist. Shirley Cavanaugh went Hansel and Greteling her life with children.

From what I know there were 2 alley way abortions, 2 barroom bathroom miscarriages, Uncle Forest, my mother and her brother Uncle Jim and my Aunt Judy. A handful of needles in a bed of hay that Shirley slept on when her career ended by landing her in jail.

Even Call-Girls get the blues.

In every press photo Shirley wouldn’t have been caught dead without a perfect updo for long hair and pristine makeup poised across a glimmering cantaloupe seed smile.

Miscarriages wipe the smile right off your face, and abortions just put the hurt worse on the inside.

Forest died at about the age of 5 or 8 from some sickness. Aunt Judy was – where ever. Uncle Jim and my mother, twins, maybe, split at birth.

Who really wants kids anyway?

Shirley Cavanaugh… The Patron Saint of all the Trick-Babies alive today.

When a business deal between a John and a Callgirl has quality control problems… That’s a trick-baby

And children can make problems on a profession like Shirley’s.

And those children- well, nothing normal will they ever be from birth forth. So you toss them in a crib in an abandoned house and forget about them. The 2nd youngest lay for a day dehydrating in a soiled crib until the neighbor heard her cries and called the police.

The 2nd youngest of the four was Ruth, my mother.

Where all of this began.

“I used to think that when a writer became a man of letters he was done for… But I feel alright…” – Dylan Thomas, “A Few Words of a Kind.”

After my teenage years warped and wrapped in the dramas entwined within the flat affect blank pages of my ravings, I swore that I’d never blog again. Interestingly, and now ironically, that is if you define it as Ben Lerner, a past professor of mine, did…

“Irony is when form and content undo or contradict each other.”

…I find myself needing to blog again. I am form, I am content. I am contradicting myself- always.

Why exactly? Because I have a few things, several long winded mea culpas, therapy ideas, creativity ideas, logic ideas etc. that need to be put out there, “for me or for you for anyone or of course for no one to make what you or he will of them.”

Dylan Thomas again. Same piece.

Because I’m supposed to be a statistic. Because according to every psych text ever read- everything points to me being in a gutter, in jail, on drugs, careless and apathetic…

Here’s why that didn’t happen…

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