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Like Visiting an Old Friend…

Dec 2016–It has been quite a while since my last blog post. Time really does fly, even when you are not having fun. That is a great thing (especially during the not so fun times). Over the past almost 2 years, I have kept busy.

  • I broke up with a nice guy.  We just had two very different views on FUN.
  • I got dumped by another nice guy. He was so uncomfortable in his skin and with himself that it was affecting me. we just never settled into a rhythm. After a certain period of time (a year, two, etc.), you should be talking about the future in terms of we and not in singular tenses. I knew it was not going to work out. But having just played the part of the bad guy in the previous relationship, I opted to be the dumpee this scene.
  • I started a new job. I usually shy away from the word job, but since I know I have yet to identify my life’s purpose, it is a job and a means to make ends meet. Although, lately, that has yet to occur…
  • I’ve decided to take my business more seriously. I think the most important thing I have done in this time is learning me. Not the “me” I was expected to be. that person is shaped by a lot of external forces.

When I wrote this, I had no idea what was in store for me. In the following 2 years: I lost my father, my dog died soon after, I got evicted from my home of 20 years and I lost a baby…It’s funny the things you worry about when you have no real problems. Context is so important. 

Dealing with my new normal has taken its toll on me and my pocket. It has also freed me of my false sense of security and control. We are never truly ever in control. The idea that if we are better, faster, nicer, slimmer, smarter, richer, we can control our destiny is prevalent.  I am now focusing on being happy. Finding pockets of joy where I am. Being content with all the things I have and people in my life. 

My New Normal-Living with Loss

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I started typing this over a year ago, right after the loss of my grandfather. I could not even form whole sentences, find words or describe the emotions swirling around in my head ad heart.

When you lose someone so integral to your very existence, how do you process? Those stages of grief do not even scratch the surface. I know for a fact I did not experience them in any rational order. Without getting too deep into the stages one by one, I’ll just say I am still going through them one by one. It seems I am cycling through them faster. I’ll be happy at the glance of a picture of Pop and in the very next moment, sad that There will be no more of them. Then back to happy as I am grateful to have had the moments to cherish. Again, to mad at the thought of him not meeting his great-great grandchildren.

Just typing those thoughts is evoking an overwhelming sense of sadness. Yet this time I am not paralyzed by my grief and deafening silence of this ever present figure. He was and still is a part of my conscience.

My grandfather, by birth, was truly the grandest father I have ever met. He loved his family and children in an unconditional way that made you want to do better and try harder.

We all continue to strive to do the right thing and more importantly take care of each other because that is what Pop would wanted.

When Pop was first diagnosed with cancer, he was digging in for a fight. literally, the fight of his life. He was a feisty crazy little man (spunky). He rarely walked away from confrontation. He though it best to “nip it in the bud”.

Even though we all are smart, we ignored the statistics. If they say 1 out 10,000 survive, then we were foolishly thinking that our Pop was going to be that 1. He really was a larger than life figure that always seemed to beat the odds. So, why not now…

While I don’t have the answer to that question, I do know that my life is fractured into a few chapters. We’ll just call this chapter Life After: The New Normal.

I lived with or near my grandparents my entire life. So for almost four decades, there was Pop. We had traditions.

Now what? As I see my entire family splinter apart and fracture, I still don’t know. Only this time the person that would be able to fix it has transitioned onto a higher plane. He has left us to tend it these problems ourselves.

In one year, I lost my grand father, my 11-year-old dog and got evicted from an apartment I live in for 18 years! My new normal was traumatic, scary and still defining who I will be for a long time.

My new normal is filled trying to honor the spirit my Grand Father embodied. Passing on the lessons he taught me, to not just my sons, but to all I encounter. Symbolize the integrity and confidence he lived. The truth he always championed, even when it was hard. To Pop, right was right and wrong was wrong.

My new normal has flickers of light and hope. Now, the things and experiences I know he would have been proud to witness bring me an unbridled joy. I still feel the love and pride, as if I could hear him saying “ya did good kid” every time.

Again, as the tears begin to stream down my face as I think about him, they are bittersweet. Bitter because no new memories. He is gone and that is final. Sweet because he is not in pain anymore. This strong, rugged man no longer has to suffer the humility of us caring for him. He hated every moment of it (and he let us know too. He caught my uncle with a jam to the mouth to prove it).  Also, sweet because I have four decades of memories, experiences, photos and videos to comfort me. My sons knew him, not just of him. That in and of itself gives me joy.

I’ll share more about Pop later. He really was a renaissance man (He went back to school late in life-before it was cool. He started a whole new career). He was pretty funny too…for example, I wanted to buy a fake (artificial) Christmas tree. It is a cost saver and they look just like the real ones. Plus you can buy the pine fragrance. So it’ll be more authentic. I tell Pop my plans. He looks at me and with a confused expression says, “Girl are you crazy? You’re going to buy a fake plastic tree and then spray it with fake pine scent? That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard! What’s next? You buy a toy burger spray it O-day-burger and eat it??” After I thought about it, he was right. To this day I have never bought a fake tree (or a fake burger). The real ones just smell so much better.

My new normal will be full of great memories, as many as I can fit into the years I have left on this earth. In this new leg of my journey, I often ask myself WWJD (what would James do)?

 

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Pre-trip Thoughts & Jitters…

ALL my life I have had to share my birthday with the Grand Old Diva I call “No-Thanks Givens”. She is greedy, glutinous and inconsiderate. She’s the popular girl that gets all the party invites and only goes to one party, fashionably late of course. You are nervous to meet her. You want to make a good impression. However, every year you are happy she is gone so you can get to planning to host her more jolly cousin Chris-short for buy my things X-mas. Don’t even get me started on this guy (oy vey!)

This year I got the bright idea to be selfish and take my entire birthday week. I use to (ok I still do) laugh at people who over-celebrated their birthday. I’d hear things like it’s my birthday month. They were genuinely excited. That excitement, excessive marketing and constant reminders of the upcoming minor holiday aka their birthday, was contagious. People cared.

In my case, I never was able to maintain that excitement. I learned early on, “it’s not about you right now.” “We’ll celebrate later.” “I know it’s your birthday, but  I need your help.”

I remember being excitement and anticipating my birthday as a kid. Even though I knew I wouldn’t see my school friends until  after the break or that the only reason everyone was at our house was because of the holiday. I still got some by-product birthday wishes, but never the celebratory fuss of an actual birthday.

I was content though. Not this year. I actually want to create a life of adventure. Thus, content just won’t do.

Disclaimer, they all were not good birthdays. I don’t want to give the impression that I was Cinderella or something.

It wasn’t until I actually started to see the importance of celebrating a birthday and the joy of being celebrated that I started wanting to join in. Since, I’ve never been too patient I started to plan things for myself to do on my special day.

Great! Right?? But this is probably a less than ideal time. My grandfather is sick battling cancer. That is a whole other thing.  My partner and I just went through an extremely emotional and traumatic situation. The concept of loss is real, ever imposing upon me daily.

I will be using this week for a few things-to reconnect with my art, with my god, my inner fighter that is slipping away, to find the point in this existence again and to just think.

I’ve never travelled by myself. It is both terrifying and liberating.

Stay Tuned….

Short story 1-chapter 1 :2019

Are you to believe there is an infinite number of souls? For all of eternity, the creators are making unique energy beings? You would be wrong. It is a funny joke amongst the heavenly bounders. You are born new and every soul is born fresh. The non-believers are the Clayers. Their memories of the previous life is erased each visit to this universe.

For me, this is my 10th birth, 8th trip. Twice there were complications in my voyage here and I had to go back to the heaven-realm. Each trip is different, as you (the traveler change). Every once in awhile a Clayer will take notice of “an old soul” or mature spirit. I laugh when I think how many times I have heard, “that child has been here before” or “you remind me of my grandmother or grandfather”.

Some of the Clayers that chose to leave the Heavenplane were able to divulge some of our secret way of existence. Each one was only able to remember a few details. Because they are telling tales in various languages at varying points in the time sequence, there is an air of ambiguity. I believe they call it religion; some call it folklore or tall tales. Over time this practice of beliefs has become more an more infiltrated by Clayer motives.

Whereas I recall it beginning out of true concern for the Clayer condition, it is now about materialistic proof of favor. From who you might ask? The answer to that question varies too. It depends on who you ask.

You might be wondering how is it that I know this information. I am a Hevenbounder. I am not of this universe or any you’ve heard of and we have the ability to voyage to this galaxy in various hosts. Unlike the Clayers, we are gifted with the memories of each trip. This has allowed us to advance far faster than any other species. Do you know how valuable memories and experiences are?? Well, of course, you don’t. This realm is just now documenting past events. Unfortunately, you are re-writing and skewing the accurate events, thus you will repeat the tragedies over and over again.

My first trip here was very cold, even by my standards. I was a tiny tadpole amongst many others. What I did not know then was that my parent or birth vessel had no attachment to me whatsoever. When my travel pod was attacked, my mother left me and saved the others. She deemed me unsavable. I was the smallest of the group. It made sense at the time. In hindsight, the act of unbridled love is special and unique to this realm. I would learn that later in my lives.

 

…I have the rest of the story handwritten…I’ll add more later. It’s fun to imagine new worlds.

Snagged by Snooping

Lately Ive been struggling. That is putting it mildly and a huge (in my Trump voice) understatement. I feel like I am having a midlife crisis. All the plans I have made, coupled with all the hopes I had, truths I hold are under siege by this world and these fucking people in it.

It started when my unofficial mentor dropped the bomb on me and my co-workers. She resigned and was leaving in two weeks. Did that just happen? I am a fan of self-improvement and progression. Deifinelty not bitter about her leaving. It is just that to timeing for me couldn’t have been worse. The bloodhounds are outside circling and one of my strongest defenders has decided sto opt out.

You know that point at which you have worked with someone long enough to anticipate their needs, the next question and you have a rhythm established. THey know when to fuck off and you know when to drop it.  It took us 2 years to get that solidified.  We went from strangers to comrades.

Being in the male-dominated industry I am in for as long as I have been, this was a nice, welcomed andmuch needed break from ego.

I was adjusting to the uptick in paranoia and position jockeying. Then one faithful afternoon right before my first meeting with the new substitute leader, I find a three year old pay stub. I am no creep but I do have a creep mode. Usually, I would have saw it was not mine, diligently sealed it up and expeitditoanly returned it to its rightful owner.

This was different.  I felt different. I was having a pity party (Parker Party of one). I was asking all those questions the gurus tell you to avoid (why her not me? When will it be my turn? Am I not doing enough? Am I doing too much? Why don’t I like these people? Why don’t these people like me? Etc).

thus I insulted myself and opened it. I was astounded by the letters and numbers the ink formed. My eyes scanned the document as if i was committing an act of espionage. One figure stood out like it was highlighted just for my nosey ass.

52.64! What is that? That is how much this person was getting paid per hour. I hear what you’re thinking-maybe that person deserves it? Maybe they even earned it?

NOPE! The owner of this American dream document is an asshole. I know I sound like an asshole calling this person an asshole, but whatever.

This person is not a good reason. this person is inconsiderate, rude, petty, closed-minded, hostile, polictical, an awful leader, a terrible horrible person. HOW COULD THE SAME COMPANY THAT JSUT LOOKED ME IN MY FACE AND SAID NO, THEN PAY THIS AMOUNT TO THIS PERSON??  I still have the scars from battling my own HR and Finance team to insure my employees get a damn livable wage and here on the other side of the page this person is racking up the dough.

I have been in a funk ever since that very moment. It has been about a week. It’s on thing to have a hunch. I’ve done quite a bit of research on the glass ceiling and gender pay disparity. I know the picture the data and statitsiacs paint. As a woman of color in this industry, I already know it is an uphill battle for every thing.

This was different. THis was women and people of color making these decisions, not the illusive “they” or “them”.

This time we did it to us. That truth always takes my breathe and sucker punches me in the breadbox.

I snooped. I confirmed something I already knew. Why the hell am I upset?

I had to dig deep for this answer. I AM NOT HAPPY WITH MY LIFE. When I saw that pay stub  all I could think about was the life it is supporting. All the things I could do with THAT figure. I pulled out my calculator. I started deducting tax’s and Savings. I mean I even etched out a house in my new budget.

I am still pissed the fuck off. I’m mad that the people I work with are still in the dark and playing victim to this pervasive bullshit. I am mad this is still going on.

I am also reinvigorated to stick to my plans. I have been setting boundaries at work (not making any friends with that move). I cannot let the company get more value out of me than they pay for.

I have signed up for training that will help me be better at my job and wisely manage my time.

I am going to get some help with my personal shit. That feeling of jealous and envy left a bad taste in my mouth. A bitter residue of shame for even comparing myself to THAT person.

Good people lose and bad people win. WHO determines what is good and bad? IDK I do know that the next time I find something that does not belong to me I will stick to my truth, seal it, and return it to the rightful owner.

Damn…

 

 

Shelter in Place

I love words. Not because I’m some grammatical gremlin trolling for dangling participles. I love words because when given context they can change meaning.

For as long as I can remember (it’s pretty far back), I’ve always been so amused to learn a new word or phrase. Instantly, I would wonder where it came from, it’s origin or root.

When you grow up the way and places I did, you would have heard some real humdingers-that’s one of them.  Ain’t got a pot to piss in, hauling ass, cruising for a bruising, don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, (need I go on)

A while ago while in a training class, the instructor of the active shooter session said something that stuck with me. I didn’t think about it until recently. He said if you are really trapped, pinned down and cannot find a way out of a room without drawing attention and danger to yourself, the best option is to shelter in place. I had this class at least a year ago. But yesterday a co-worker asked a question about how would she get out of the office of there was an active shooter.  I just started rattling off  the exits and strategies like a tactical officer.

Just today, this term “Shelter in Place” made me sad. If is haven’t explained a thousand times already, here it is again. My mind works like a big game of word association. It’s weird to others but it makes sense to me. The topics seem unrelated to others, but to me they are so connected, irrevocably so.

I was standing in hallway waiting for someone to come open the front door for me. I had my backpack on, with everything in it (wallet, iPad, folders, papers, bills, lotion, mints, etc.) I thought to myself about how heavy my bag feels. Then I thought wow this guy is really taking his sweet time to open this door. Next, at least I’m in the hallway out of the cold and nice refuge form teh elements. (Yes that was my actual thought). Then, I was like wow you are packed as if you’re about to take a trip.

I’ll spare you all the bread crumb of thoughts but I felt a bit of fatigue thinking about my past and my future.

I am forty years old (and young). I am still renting. I have no roots. The word shelter just feels so distant to everything I know right now. I realized that I am still, in a sense, living out of a box or a garbage bag. Just never really settled-having no real shelter from these storms.

The safety provided by a shelter, the comfort, has eluded me my whole life (both personal and private). Yet I have physically been places for years!  Never felt secure…That thought of a fugitive’s life or a vagrant’s welcome are my true reality.

I thought about how my life and its turbulent events have battered me and in essence I have been sheltering in place all this time.

The places I have lived were not of my choosing. They were more survival tactic by-products. I needed to move and this is where I landed. over and over and over…just making the best of bad situations.

WHAT KIND OF LIFE IS THAT? NO WONDER I AM ALWAYS DAYDREAMING AND THINKING ABOUT LEAVING? DAMN

In this moment of clarity, I am thinking about where do I want to live, the things I want to do. Now that the emergency, the danger or the scary people have left, I can uncover my eyes, left up my head and crawl out from underneath the desk. I can stop hiding. I can make my way to my loved ones and go to a place of my choosing. No longer the survivor of life’s lessons, I am a creator of destiny.

As I have learned in my years here, there will be other emergencies. Those survival skills are needed. But I cannot live in survival mode forever and I can no longer shelter in place for years either.

No more hiding….

The Duty of Truth

As I meet more people and expose myself to new experiences, I learn that I have very strong opinions. I am more comfortable not knowing things than most people.

I used to think those people delusional, crazy, weak-I was just not here for those people and their shroud of lies. Now I see it as a survival technique. Everyone is not able to walk in truth for long periods of time. Some folks need to escape. There are some things they just need to be true, whereas I would like them to be true. I am rarely surprised when they are not. A cheating spouse and lying relative maybe a crooked business partner-none of it would shock me.

Of course I wish I could escape at times. The gravity of a situation is never lost on me. Often times it is an inescapable burden. Thus it is a lot of work for me to stay positive. Think positive. Don’t get me started with my game of “what-if”

I know I do a great job of handling this burden when people are shocked by my responses to certain questions. People seem to think that I am this optimistic, motivational person, that is inoculated against human fragilities.

One night me and my significant other (no I didn’t dump him after the cruise. He apologized.) were watching television. A commercial about a bipolar medication came on. The lady is unmotivated to paint, play with her daughter or do anything. Without thinking I said “I feel like that a lot”. The shock on his face was shocking to me. with concern soaked words, he asked, “when do you feel like that?” I replied, “I am not bipolar but I feel unmotivated to do things. Maybe it’s depression. I’ll never know because I will never go get my label.” This time he sat up straight and at full attention and said , “Babe, when do you feel like that? You can talk to me, you know?” Yes of course I knew. But here’s the thing. I was there to cheer him up. I wasn’t about to let me regular gloomy cloud rain on his parade.

I think that he was so shocked by my statements because he really thinks I knows me  so well. I don’t think he ever entertained the notion that he didn’t. He’s been there for me through some really horrible events (death, murder, lost, family fallouts) and he’s been there for the really great stuff too (graduations, successes, births). Bonds forged in the fires of life. But, unlike many, I never have been able to be 100% honest with people without some backlash, judgment or negative consequence. So I’ve learned to give people what they can handle. I go a wrestle with my own demons. Then I rejoin society. It’s how I’m wired.

People always feel like something traumatic has to happen in order to justify the feelings of sadness. Yes, that definitely is true. But after those tragedies are over. I do the work to regain some sense of normalcy or try to adjust to the new normal.  It’s like I am leading a fractured life. The life uninterrupted by tragedy and this new augmented existence. At times, I mourn the lost of what “could have been.” It is really rough when the present life is beating the hell out of me. What would my life have been like if everyone had dealt with theirs shit? How would I have turned out if I was told I was beautiful and smart as a child? If my abilities were recognized and nurtured early? If I was told that men touching your  overdeveloped young body is wrong, every time?

I know that people are evil and kind. I even learned early that you can have a kind person doing evil wicked things. Then a glimpse of kindness from a hate-filled person. I am comfortable with that truth. But my peers and many like them want no parts of this truth.

I used to wonder why people were like that. I believe it is fear. Once you know (I mean really know-deep down in your soul)  you have to do something about it. If not, then you are choosing the misery, the sadness, the pain. It is easy to what to know the good stuff, and choose to enjoy it. That other side of that dark coin, where the scary monster lives is where few want to tread. I am ok there. It’s not so scary actually.

Who’s job is it to be the truth teller? Ironically, I don’t feel any obligation to rip that shroud off. I feel like it is not my place to force people down their paths. I really think ‘who the fuck am?” Who appointed me the truth fairy? I believe you will always be disappointed loving a version of a person as opposed to the person. Thus the duty of truth (to seek it, believe it, live in it) is all of ours, especially since we all have our own truths.

 

WHY DID HE LOVE NEWARK, NJ?

I wrote this last year and just never posted it…I was so conflicted about the town I live  in. Here are just some thoughts I had on the way to the voting booth one morning. My grandfather had passed away a few months prior. He was a revolutionary in his own way. He had strong sense of duty and unwavering moral beliefs. Voting was our duty not a luxury or right not to be taken lightly. That morning I struggled with my view of this city vs his.

“I walked to the voting booth early morning. I live in Newark, NJ. Yes, that Newark. Strolling through a city like Newark at this time of the day can be a unique experience. Since it is May and the sun rises at 5:47am, it’s the usual scary crime scene. There are hardly any people outside, only two types of people-The people up to something (i.e. going to work, school, exercising) or those up to nothing (bums, criminals, those still up form yesterdya’s activities).

As I walked the few blocks, an engulfing wave of sadness, failure and deafening disappointment silenced the thoughts normally swirling in my head.  In the absence of the normal distractions, all that is present are the structures of decades of oppression and low-self esteem. It angered me. It broke my heart. On my way to vote for these politicians that claim to love these citizens, I was disgusted.

My family prides itself with staying involved. Being the change we want to see. Walking the talk so to speak and not being hypocrites is a creed. Here I was contemplating not sticking to the script. Saying fuck this and going home, packing my shit and fleeing this bullshit.

It made me think about the activists saying that the intelleinget and finanacially upwardly mobile black people need to NOT leave the “hood”. I get pissed when I hear that. First, I feel lucky (not blessed), fucking lucky to have survived this succubus  of a place. Secondly, what kind of future can you have here? In my loudest Paul Revre voice, “The wealthy are coming! The wealthy are coming!” It is definitely bigger than race at this point; this is a class problem. I stay. Then I am being priced out of any decent housing by displaced New Yorkers. What is the pay off? The Prize? Living next to new neighbors that will keep calling the cops on me, my family, or friends for pseudo-criminal activities?  Lastly, the only reason I stayed as long as I did was because my grandfather loved this city. Why? I don’t know. I think about how promising of a place it must have been for him to move from South Carolina to put down roots here.

He always saw the beauty in this godforsaken town. I tried to look through those rose colored lens. Every time the delusion was strong and secure, something would reach out and smack my face. Getting robbed, shot at, cars stolen, car crashes, danger, gang wars, drugs, drug dealers, dirty cops, fake politicians, bad ass kids, bad ass parents, lack of education, lack of decency, lack of care, litter, trash, shit, stray animals, etc. has finally worn me down.

I think when trauma happens it leaves a scar and a spirit of unrest. No good will take place here, no matter who tries to build upon it. There has been to much blood shed on the streets of Newark. The ghosts and lost souls are plentiful. Too many dreams have died here for a future to prevail.”