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December 08, 2011


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  Wendy Levine

The Blood Money
An upside down white Toyota, my comatose self, blonde hair tangled, skull fractured. This memory has shrouded 27 Christmases. I was 25 then. Yet I’ve made what many docs call a miraculous recovery, given the litany of injuries.
But 10 days before this last Christmas many ELNY annuitants received “shortfall letters” from New York Liquidation Bureau. How calculated send these letters just before the holidays.
Now Judge Galssi "approves" restructuring so we have benefit of hardship funds. Who will qualify? How can you quantify injury? They're cutting the unprotected annuitants; I signed when emerging from coma, yet the “blood money” will be cut to 56%.
Losing this monthly stipend feels like a 2nd occipital fracture on the right side of my brain.
I don’t want to see myself as handicapped. It’s the ugliest of labels. It means impaired, not quite up to snuff. Yet every Christmas I’m reminded of what I could have been, would have been, if not for that dreadful crash. The ghost of the girl I once was still haunts me - in the NY art scene, engaged to the love of my life. So very much was lost.
In ensuing years I married and divorced another. Marriage was at Mother’s bidding, divorce at mine. The man was a gold digger. Thank God I have wonderful children.
But at this point, how do I get hired now when I can’t drive, wobble when I walk, slur when I speak, and have not worked in three decades? The Blood Money represents a measure of recompense for a career irrevocably lost.
The financial collapse of Executive Life of New York is affecting thousands, many like that blonde in the white Toyota, Christmas 1982.

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