4.5. Old School

When did family become old school? It boggles my mind how many times I see people who are so dependent on social media to be social that they miss the true opportunities to reach out to those they know. Or better said, those they knew. Because you lose touch with people and their realities.

When did family fights lead to a Facebook delete? And when did this delete decide whether or not people will ever reach out to each other? People can tag others on posts but won’t bother to make a phone call.

Huge life moments happen and friends can’t reach out to one another. Family can’t reach out to one another. People don’t pick up the phone, put in the effort to have a five minute conversation. Everything is from behind a screen, whether it be the phone or the computer.

I’m not really sure when communication became old school. I’m not sure when talking became old school. I’m not sure when the default button, for lack of a better term, became the go to. The button that gets slammed the minute there is an issue. Instead of humbling oneself and moving forward, we stay waged in a war we aren’t even sure why we’re fighting.

Social media was created to socialize but instead dictates and controls whether people will allow bonds to flourish or fail. We are quick to deny, delete, ignore the “requests” that should matter but we accept any and everyone who will fuel the fire our ego needs to stay warm.

Too often, I hear people criticize the Christian who only attends church on Easter and Christmas. “Chreasters.” And yet, aren’t we all fair weather friends, fair weather family? Aren’t we all guilty of only reaching out when the time is fitting?

Set aside the obligations and requirements. Instead, reach out to those who matter and make an effort. Take an extra moment out of your day and reach out. Because one day, people will be gone. And the opportunity will be lost. The only thing worse is to ask a child if they want to call someone and the child responds “who is that?” Because that child should know. But he doesn’t. And it wasn’t our choice.

I’d give anything to hear my dads voice again. I can look at pictures of him, a piece of paper with his handwriting on it. But there is nothing that compares to the sound of his voice. And only those who can appreciate the old school way could understand that.

4.4 E-Race The Past

As far back as I can remember, I was never certain about my race. I knew I was similar to those around me. Physically, there was nothing about me that set me a part from those in the neighborhood. I’d been teased about “sounding white” because I spoke differently than a lot of people around me. I took it in stride even though I didn’t understand it at the time. It wasn’t until I was about nine that things took a turn and I began to question what I was. My mother was disowned by her family, with reason, and we fell into that same “black sheep” category. For whatever reason, this propelled my mother into a sense of self-mutilation. She denied any connection to the Puerto Rican community and searched for something else in the archives of genealogy.

She found what she was looking for.  She found what she needed to connect herself to a Native American culture and identity. In that moment and the years that followed, my mother rebuked all other races and cultures. We were told how horrible Puerto Ricans were, even though we’d been told this was our cultural identity up until this point. That had to be thrown away. My mother thrust me into anything associated with the native culture and kept her eye on the prize. She changed her name and covered her body in the stereotypical tattoos one would associate with said culture.

I’m going to be 33 soon. The same age of my uncle who passed when I was nine. When everything changed for my mother. When we had to disregard what she deemed “less.” Moving to the midwest, I experienced being mistaken for black. I’m still accused of “speaking white.” I’ve been shunned for not knowing my “native language.” For being a shame to my race. For diluting the heritage and producing a half-white son.

My plight is not the worst. My struggle does not define an entire culture. I won’t pretend to know how others feel or how they are dealing in light of elections and government implications. I am only one person. I don’t know what criteria I should fill in order to be deemed “racially aware.” I haven’t been back to Puerto Rico since I was 13. I’m studying Spanish in college and hope I can teach my son the language. For many reasons.

I struggle with the discussion. I don’t expect others to understand or even care. I don’t know what path I should walk. I don’t know if it matters at this point in my life. A bird is still going to fly, whether we call it a bird or not. I don’t know if the title means as much as is implied.

I’m just a bird. I want to fly. I’m built to fly. I don’t know if I need to be told that I’m a bird in order to do that. If I was told I’m a lizard…I don’t know if that would hinder whether or not I choose to ever use my wings.

And that’s about all I know.

…AND, I know I do not know everything.

Trial by Fury

They changed his name

And mine on that day

Slavery to racial profiling

To justice for some.

Eric Garner to Dead

Homicide to Suicide 

Systematic Racism due to 

A Consequential Qualification.

“I can’t breathe”

Unless you conceive 

I’m not a danger

In this hood.

These garments 

These streets

Are they one and the same?

Now I’m under cardiac arrest

With the duty to remain

Silent, every ounce of eumelanin

Will be used 

Against me.

Cuz you’ll take two seconds

To shoot my child

And use nineteen bullets to slaughter

My brother.

Self defense against

A toy gun and a wallet. 

I’ll get a casket and you’ll get

Modified duty.

I’ll make the “mistake” of running

For my life

And you’ll get target practice

In broad daylight.

What if I never 

Put my hands in my pockets?

If I never wore certain clothes?

If I laid down before you got to me?

“Sir, why did you shoot me?”

I don’t know.

What if I borrowed your gun

You could just hand it to me

Put a shot in my head

Keep this the land of the free.

In the home of the slave

“He looks like a bad dude.”

I know their talking about me

But they should be talking about you.

4.3. Not in Vain.

This is about to get real personal.

Over the course of the last five years, I have experienced a great deal of loss. But who hasn’t? As we get older, people drop off and we find ourselves standing alone…wondering why we lasted and the others didn’t. What makes me any more worthy to be on this earth, to have another day, another opportunity to make things better?

Nothing.

And yet, here I am. Better said…there I was. Seven months ago, I got the news that my estranged mother died and I was a ball of mixed emotions. Up until that point, I thought I was progressing in life. I was progressing in my job, I was in a relationship with a guy, I figured, was out of my league, I was moving my son into a home, and I was feeling on the up and up.

And then she had to go and die.

Yes, that’s exactly what I thought and for that, I am both ashamed and embarrassed. I was confused, upset, angry, sad, and disappointed over things I don’t have the time or energy to explain. Either way, my thought process would not allow me to function like a “normal grieving” child. I mean, I bawled my eyes out for my step-father but was upset at my tears for this woman I’d struggled with my whole life.

It wasn’t until the autopsy came back that I woke up.

Warning: don’t read your dead parents autopsy report. Seriously, it’s not the way you want to remember anyone. It sterile, it’s graphic, it’s heart breaking. That being said…I’m glad that I did. Up until that moment, I thought I had shit all figured out. I thought I was the best I could be and that life had just been hard because <insert crap here>.

Up until that moment, I was a mess.

I was a barely functioning addict. I was addicted to the pain, drama, and memories of hard times. I couldn’t and wouldn’t let go. When I didn’t have my son, I drank in excess and turned into an angry, aggressive, chaotic beast. This is not self-deprecation. This is fact. I spent years hoping I would be in a relationship so someone else could make me feel worthy. Hell, I briefly dated a guy who blatantly cheated on me and I turned a blind eye because I didn’t think I was worth anything more. I risked my health, my future, my happiness for someone else’s opinion of me. I hated everything about myself but kept the barely there smile in hopes people would think I had my shit together. I hid behind the one thing I was doing well…raising my son. I made everything I did about him and when I was feeling inner turmoil, I pushed it down and rationalized that I should be happy because I’m a mother.

It was all bullshit.

And then I read that autopsy. And I was forced to think. To reflect. To self analyze. I thought about losing my dad and where I was in my life, mid-divorce, when he died. I thought about how ashamed I was that I didn’t have my life together and he never got to see me in a better state. I thought about losing my best friend Nico and how he hoped for a good life for me. A life I hoped someone would give me instead of a life I should have earned. I thought about my sister, Barbara, and how she died. I came full circle and thought about my mother.

The demons she faced

are no excuse for the choices she made. BUT…I have to acknowledge something big here. I have to acknowledge her sickness. I have to acknowledge that she came from a time and place where mental health, addiction, and abuse were not talked about. Feelings were not permitted. These things were alien to her. She was programmed to believe her sickness could be silenced, could be quieted, could be ignored and it would all just go away.

She chased that possibility through sex, drugs, alcohol, and manipulation to the point that she believed her lies. She made false claims of being physically ill. And I hated her for that. BUT…it was easier, more acceptable to falsely claim physical ailments than to admit mental anguish because that is the way the world me live in works. She followed the beaten path and in the process was beaten.

And now, things are different.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II when I was 13 and I pretended I could maintain. I have had low self-esteem, considered suicide, and drowned in depression for as long as I can remember. I spent years crying myself to sleep, wishing my own demise, hating my body and mind, avoiding anything that challenged me, and settled for minimal connections in order to feel like I was in control. I couldn’t make friends so I said I didn’t want them. I was afraid to have my book rejected so I stopped writing it. I wasn’t living or even surviving.

I had no sense of direction because I didn’t want to pick up the map and figure things out for myself. I was lazy when it came to bettering my life. I wasn’t taking care of myself and I hid behind the excuse, “I don’t have the time.”

But I did. And I do.

The only time there is no time is when you’re dead. Everything else is an excuse. I may be like my mother in certain ways. But in so many ways, I am not. I am not dead. I have another chance, the chance she was unable to take, to make this life meaningful.

I visit a therapist once a week. I take Latuda for my BP. I work out 5x a week. I talk about my feelings and how I can be a better me. I take medication that levels out the highs and lows. I push myself to lift more, run faster, feel the burn of progress through my muscles.

I do this for me and I can say that without feeling selfish. I do this so I can know me, love me, appreciate me. And hell if it didn’t take 31 years, tons of loss, and wasted time to figure it out. I do this for me because it has to start with me.

And in turn, my son sees a woman who loves herself, a woman with growing self-esteem, a woman who believes in hard work and determination, a mother who wants to be around a long time.

My mother died so I could live

and in her struggle, I have learned so much without having to fall that far down. I am sad for her. I am sad for the life she didn’t live. I am sad for the memories never made. I am sad because I cannot tell her that she did, in fact, teach me something quite worthwhile. I am sad because I cannot tell her how thankful I am for this lesson.

It is too late for my mother

but my story does not have to be written the same. Because we are the writers of our story and though tragedy has reigned for so many chapters before…I refuse to include it in this one.

I am not my illness. I am not “living with” my illness.

We are not roommates.

Simply put…I’m living and loving.

 

 

 

4.1. What Are You Fighting For??

Dear Girl
What are you fighting for
Not fame nor recognition
Just a touch of ambition
And the will to move on
Promote the next bloke
Quickly realize the dream is
Gone.

Dear Girl
What are you fighting for
Not love or affection
Just the lack of rejection
And the promise of tomorrow
A dream she’s willing to
Follow.

Dear Girl
What are you fighting for
Just a life worth living
A heart worth giving
A reason to breathe each day
A fraction of hope
Instead of being a joke
A joy that will actually stay.

Dear Girl
What are you fighting for?

3.18

Ten months since my last post. Oh, how time has changed things. The muse has been a big part of my life in so many avenues. My son is in Kindergarten, I’m in a serious relationship, my best friend lives with me, I live in a house now, my job is doing better, and I’m working through the things that use to bring me so much stress. Somewhere in there, I’ve reanalyzed my book and decided to rewrite the first telling though I admit it’s probably just procrastination to prevent me from ever attempting to publish it. I wish I knew what else to say but at this time…I dont. So I’m going to give myself a welcome back and see what this chapter brings.

3.17. BigWigs

Give me a nine to five and I’ll thrive to be the prettiest, baddest bitch you’ve ever seen. Because my numbers will pale in comparison to the potential worth of my bust as you thrust me forward to smile that keen smile at another stranger. Pimp me out to do your bidding so your fancy car and fancy lifestyle continue to function…all the while, I’m applying makeup with lights out and no heat. I’m shaving by candlelight trying not to nick the skin from the shivers so my calves look promising and show you the potential I have. The promise that seems to elude you when I’m not so foxy foxy.

But I’m not good at this game, sir. I’m not the type of girl who spends her time plucking and tucking and shoving thighs into the ever so tight and the ever so revealing. I’m wearing black because I’m concealing all the shit I wish wasn’t real about me. But these things don’t matter to you; couldn’t to someone of your magnitude.

You’re not the first titan I’ve come across. Let’s be honest. I’m the queen of faking it but so long as the money is rolling in and the stats looks promising, my lack of satisfaction is not something you’ll ever notice. Or address even if you did.

I’m not your prime cut which means I’m not your prime candidate and so I continue to be the mule…the minion…the tool that will traffic your goods to plump pockets of pious pirates…drooling over booty they want to attain in secret but hold back in public because certain treasures are meant to be spent…never invested.

Oh, Mr. Bigwig, don’t you worry because I’ll show up tomorrow and do your bidding and bring you success so a legacy is left behind far beyond my timeline.

I’m withering, sir, crumbling under the pressure. I’m trying to reach the goal but I’m sure the hurdles will be placed at dusk before I awaken…making the promises farther off until I fall short. And then you will bask in my failure because you’ve gotten the best of me. And another will come along, another who is smarter, prettier, younger, just a touch more clever and a little more submissive and way less opinionated.

But for tonight, I’ll put my hair in a trendy setting, I’ll paint my face so I’m almost unrecognizable and my tear stained cheeks become unnoticeable. I’ll slink into something appealing; maybe a dress and heels so you feel like I take it all just a tad more seriously. One more day to fake it in the game. I’ll start tonight as the sun is gone and practice my smile in a handheld mirror so I get the pleasure of making you money just right.

Just perfect.

3.16. Successful Rant

She stands at the podium…waiting in silence until the clearing of someones throat brings her back to the pressure point. All eyes on the girl, all focus on her shortcomings and the fact she’s unprepared. The music has fallen short; magnifying her comings and goings that have propelled full steam ahead into the success of a nobody. She stands at the podium and tries to avoid eye contact, searching the matrix for some escape route but things like that don’t exist in places like this. She is quiet and time passes, awkwardly and uncomfortably. The timer stops and she removes herself from their ridicule and disdain…though they are silent…she can smell it, sense it, feel it…taste the annoyance.

They asked her to speak of what it felt like to be successful.

She’d said not a word.

3.15. Tech Issues

Sooooo, day 1 of NaNoWriMo is underway. Needless to say, it was a rough start. I reattempted to use Scrivener, for organization purposes, after losing my entire novel mapping about two weeks ago. The IMAC still wont start up so that’s a dead issue. Literally. So, I try it on my other computer at midnight. Ive got music, snacks, and a plan. I type for about an hour and get about 1600 words Im stoked about. I hit save as and the entire thing is erased. Gone. Vanished. NOT THERE. Im crushed. I cry for a good 30 minutes in the shower and vow that God hates me and Im not writing this novel as I believe this is a sign.
After looking up online, I find that scrivener had or has a bug that makes the save as option clear all work instead of saving. I decide to try again and use save instead.  So far, so good though I’m still a bit nervous.
There is obviously a reason I lost the initial work but I refuse to believe its because Im not meant to write this novel. And so, the beat goes on. Good luck to all my fellow participants!!!!