Friday, August 31, 2007

Subway Stories

I think I want to start a new thread about what all I see on the Subway. I'm on the subway a lot, cuz I don't drive. Not "I don't drive cuz I don't have a car"... more like "I don't drive cuz I don't know how, and its' highly likely I ever will. I even let my permit expire and they're good for like 7 years."

I have become quite proud of the fact that I can get most anywhere in the Big Apple and various far-flung reaches thereof, all on public transportation. Most times it takes me 2-3 times longer than people who drive, though sometimes not--seeing as how the traffic in the Apple is not to be believed. And getting worse every day.

One of my favorite things about the Apple and it's subway system is the music. Virtually all big "hub" stations in the Apple will have some performer in them. Singers, dancers, drummers, guitar players. Some good. Some god-awful. And like the city they perform in, the performers are all very diverse. The performers tend to represent the neighborhood of the station they've chosen as their stage.

You won't see the guy who plays the Asian lute-like instrument on 'Two-Five, for example. He mostly stays on the platform of the train that goes to Flushing, Queens where the Koreans live. Nor will you see the badly-playing-Jimmy Hendrix dude uptown. He sticks to the Chelsea area. And even though this kind of music tends to be universal, the soul-brother singers all tend to stay uptown.

There are of course, the "roving" performers who tend to pick a line and stay on it; the Tejano Trio who I only see on the east side with their two guitars and an upright bass. Cowboy boots and white Stetsons complete the look. (Used to be "El Barrio" was all Puerto Rican, but they have all moved up and into gated communities in the Pennsylvanian mountains, and the Mexicans have taken over). Then there's the conga-playing brothers who stick to the 2, 3 line through Harlem. But often there's a few steady regulars that pick one station and do regular shows.

There are two such performers that frequent 'Two-Five on the IRT 4,5,6. One is a rusty-looking group of rag-tag-homeless-shelter-looking brothers--4 or 5 of them--who when they open their mouths have the most amazing do-wop harmony you've ever heard. And there's another old dude who sings nothing but Stax/Volt type stuff, with some Temptations thrown in.

The latter was the featured performer on East 'Two-Five yesterday. I met the Sun in the train station (his Nana brought him) so that we could start that foolhardy trek to Yonkers to the dojo. The old brother was in rare form, except for a few seriously flat notes. On the whole, he has an amazing voice... with no mic he belts over pre-recorded tracks and you hear him all along the platform. His voice doesn't match his looks; he looks like he's seen better days. But man he can sing.

Yesterday he was singing Sam Cooke when we got to the platform: "I was born by the river in a little shack/Oh and just like the river I been a runnin' ever since/It's been a long, a long time coming/ but I know/A change gon' come oh yes it will..."

The rush hour crowd paused to listen. Someone dropped some change into his hat.

He broke into Jackie Wilson: "Shooby Doo Wop bop bop (hey hey)/Shooby Doo Wop bop bop (hey hey)..."

The crowd started smiling in approval. The old Puerto Rican dude said something in Spanish and smiled. A lady started dancing. The singer got up off his seat and started dancing with her, still singing.

"Come Home, Come Home/Just Say You Will/Say You Will..."

"I will!" the dancing lady shrieked. "I will!!!" People started laughing. The singer jumped and did his best Jackie Wilson pirouette. You wouldna' thought he was capable.

Our train was coming... the singer fast-forwarded his CD and the beginning bass line "dum dum dum dum dum dum-dum dum-dum-dum" and the chorus of"oooooooooh, ooh ooh...." started. "Each day through my window/I watch her as she passes by....." The Temptations, "Just my 'magination." The crowd moaned it's enthusiasm.

The Sun and I boarded the train....

Wednesday, August 31, 1977


Psalm 93

We're Off! *

*my handwriting's jerky 'cause we're on the train.

We didn't sleep till 12:00 am last night. Lisa Caleb, T+I shared a bed. Woke at 6:15am. Dressed, ate breakfast. Then Mr. Caleb's car wouldn't start. But we got to the airport on time. Said "Good Bye" to Lisa and Mr. Caleb. Went through customs o.k. though Pops was carrying Herb. First flight, scary. But after Mo-bay stop, fine. Stewardess fine. Got off at Miami. Customs etc. Met a funny St. Thomas Jamaican cab driver, gave us a room. Went exploring. Came back. Ate supper. Took a bath, went to bed. Thank you, Mr. O.
We ate:
  • Breakfast: Fried breadfruit, fried plantain, scrambled eggs, ice tea
  • Lunch: 1 glass orange juice, 2 chicken sandwiches, grape+pineapple+cherry+pawpaw salad, lettuce, tomato
  • Dinner: black-eyed peas+lettuce+curry+tomato salad, beef bologna, plantain chips, pnuts, raisins, bananas
Yup, Poppy was carrying herb through customs.

I should backtrack a little.

Sometime during the two years we lived in Bull Bay, we'd walked up to 9 Mile to go to market. There was a little clearing where on Wednesday and Friday mornings, fruit and vegetable vendors would gather. When we'd first got to Bull Bay, there was also a sort of supermarket owned by a Jamaican Chinese family. The son, (of course known as "Junior"--there was always at least one "Jun-ya" in every Jamaican family) was one of my crushes. He was very Chinese looking, but with an Afro. Then the supermarket closed, but the bus to Kingston stopped there, and there were still vendors.

One morning we'd gone up there, and in that area Poppy found this backpack and sleeping bag combo. It sat there for several days, and finally Poppy brought it home. There was no money and no ID. The backpack had belonged to some obviously hippie-type traveler--a Fruitarian, judging by the contents inside. Lots of packages of herbs--stuff I'd never heard of like Sassafras and echinacea. We were only familiar with stuff like fevergrass and cerasee. There were also several books about eating raw foods, and colon cleansing and Eastern meditation practices. There was also a man's parka--a heavy-duty hiking-type jammie, and a sleeping bag.

The great mystery of course is... what happened to the guy? What was he doing in Jamaica? How did his bag get to Bull Bay? Was he robbed? Murdered? We never found out... no one ever came looking or asking questions. We assumed he was white cuz only white people did crazy shit like decide to ONLY eat fruit and veggies and stick things up their culo. We assumed that he was probably American or Canadian as opposed to English, because the books were mainly published in America. The funny thing was the police station was right in that area too... but nothing was reported either way. And that area was reasonably quiet... you'd think the police would want something to do. I suppose they had more fun harassing the local Rastas and trying to bust up Nyabinghies (moonlit Rastafarian gatherings with lots of singing, drumming, chanting and use of Ganja) than doing any actual hard work.

The Eastern meditation books and books on diet held no interest (though I became familiar with the name Sri Chinmoy) for the Professor and I--and I read a lot back then, and would happily read most anything. The ironic thing is we pretty much ate a Fruitarian diet anyhow... but that was out of necessity/budget, and not by choice. Given the choice and the opportunity, chowing down on chicken or beef was far more enjoyable than deep breathing and raw foods (still is, in my opinion!!! STEAK! GIMME STEAK!). The parents, though were overjoyed. I remember being thoroughly grossed out by the fact that Poppy washed the parka and the sleeping bag and kept it. "Cooties!" I thought. I couldn't imagine why in the hell he'd want to keep that stuff, seeing as how it was hot in Jamaica. But boyohboy did both those things get put to use later on. And it's very ironic that we were touched by this brush of "Western Civilization" long before we were aware that we'd soon be back in it.

But the herbs... there were so many different kinds, and the Parents put them all in separate jelly jars and we used them. When we were packing up, Poppy stuck his "Herb" in one of the jelly jars, and stuck the jar in the box with all the other jelly jars. The immigration people escorted us directly to the gate, I remember. At customs they of course made him open the box, looked at all the various herbs and barks and roots.... and just let him through.

Can you imagine? We still giggle about that.

"SEEYA! Get the FUCK out! We don't CARE if you have jelly jars full of shit. GET THE FUCK OUT!" I also vaguely remember at some point Poppy told us we'd been told that we were an embarrassment to the Jamaican government, since we had gone undetected for so long. They didn't care if we came back tomorrow but we were GONNA leave TOday.

And so thirty years ago today, we boarded Air Jamaica from Kingston and landed in Miami.

I remember the air feeling different... much more "tacky" and heavy. The houses and palm trees were similar, but the roads were wider and there were SO MANY CARS. We amused ourselves by counting Volkswagon "luv bugs" on the highway but lost track after awhile. I remember the room being seedy, and remember thinking the cab driver (and by the way, St. Thomas is a parish in Jamaica, in case you don't know, and Bull Bay was a few miles west of the border) would become a constant, but we never saw him again.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On the bus foolishly attempting to get to Yonkers during rush hour. From Manhattan.

Tuesday, August 30, 1977

Psalm 92

Got up medium. We are on the plane, I'm catching up. Dressed. Pops went to town after last minute packing. Mom didn't tell us what was going to happen this evening and tomorrow, but T. guessed -- going to spend a night at Caleb's and leave tomorrow. Ate, after cooking and hearing "Strange Homecoming" the last time. Rested. Caleb family came, and we saw Greta over to dear Speedy and said good bye. Saw Mrs. Mathis.

We ate:
  • Dinner: Rice, corn beef+gungo pea sauce, lentils (stewed), sliced pear.
  • Supper: 1/3 pancake (big) + pancake syrup, 3 ju jus, 3??
"Gungo" peas are what my Puerto Rican friends call "Gandules", or pigeon peas. A "ju ju" was a hard jelly candy--the kind that stick in your teeth and don't really taste as good as they look.

I have pretty much blanked this all out... which is OK since I wrote it down. Having it written jogs the memory a little. The professor tells me she remembers all this in vivid detail. I don't remember being sad then... but I feel so sad reading this now...

I don't think we really could have stayed in Jamaica, living that way. I do believe in God--something I say frequently. But I do believe He knew it was time for us to go... the animals were dying and slowly starving (though we didn't mean it... we just fed them what we had or could afford which was generally pig food), that lake was probably deathly polluted... and what would have happened as the Professor and I got older? I think it would have changed over from "interesting way of living" to "OK, downright fucking strange".

I do vaguely remember spending the night at the Calebs, and being crowded into the daughter's bed along with her and the Professor. I remember being "stuffy" (having a mild asthma attack) and not really being able to sleep.

I barely remember turning Greta over to Speedy. I loved that little dog. I hope he took good care of her.

Sunday, August 21, 1977

(I've been away from the story for a bit, but it's coming to a close/about to change direction.

Until we get to the U.S. I'm not going to copy all the food down. By this point, I wasn't always writing it down, anyhow.)

Psalm 83
Got up medium. Dressed. Walked and worked with Greta. Speedy petted and worked a little
with her too. All four of us went to biscayne. Came back. Helped with fire and ate. Rested. Got up. Fed Greta. Went to biscayne to see Mr. Jones (at right). Came back. Gave Greta a snack. Ate supper. Put on pj's. Went to bed. Heard "C.P" and helped T. with her basket. Thank You, Mr. O, Thank You.

The weekly summary said:
A good week. Poor, dear Guerly died--a blessing. T. went to town with Pops on Friday and I made a stuffed animal--Guerly, a puppy-face pillow.

Whenever I read Chines stories I'm filled with inspiration. Long live the workers, peasants and soldiers--the masses! We were supposed to go this week but we got an extension. A good week. Thank you.

The "Chinese Stories" I was referring to was mentioned in the last update-- the book was called"Seeds". They were written to be inspiring. Though I think I was sort of feeding in to the propaganda, as well, given what was going on at the moment. I still have it. I should read it again... though books tend to put me to sleep these days.

Monday, August 22, 1977
Psalm 84
Got up medium. Dressed. Went to biscayne with Mom and T. Saw Diana, her mother and brother. Mom cried. (No one saw her.) Came back. Heard "strange Homecoming." 3 Star United came (except Diana); Sonia, Bev, and Sharon. Gave Sharon some clothes. They left. Talked to Speedy. Mr. Jones + Pops came for boxes + trunks. They left. Showered, put on P.js. Heard "Dulci." Pops came back. Went to bed. Thank You.


I think this was the day Bigbear finally got through to "Mamabelle" on the phone, to tell her we were coming. Notice I don't really mention Mamabelle too much after that.


Tuesday, August 23, 1977

Psalm 85
Got up medium. Dressed. Fed Greta. It rained all day today. It started at 4:00 am last night.

Wednesday, August 24, 1977
Psalm 86
Got up medium. Showered, Dressed. Me, Mom and T. Went to biscayne. Came back. Pops went to town. Helped with fire. Heard "Strange Homecoming." Ate. Me and Mom played scrabble. Rested. Pops came home with 3 packages from Mamabelle, containing books. Looked at them. Talked to Speedy. Then all the Calebs came, and we met Lisa. She's nice.

Thursday, August 25, 1977
Psalm 87
Got up medium. Dressed. T Fed Greta. Me + Mom went to Biscayne.


Friday, August 26, 1977
Psalm 88
Got up medium. Dressed. Me, Mom and T all went to biscayne. Came back. Looked at the "Star". Cleaned the callaloo patch on the side. Heard "Strange Homecoming". Helped with fire. Ate. Rested. Got up. Talked to Speedy. The rest of the afternoon is sort of blank. Thank you, Mr. O.

Saturday, August 27, 1977
Psalm 89
Got up medium. Dressed. Rested. Read. Heard "CCFC". Ate. Rested. Played Scrabble. Had Sabbath School. then we all went to biscayne, and bought a picnic. We aw Beverly +Sonia. Came back. Ate. Put on pjs. Went to bed. Thank you, Mr. O.

Sunday, August 28, 1977
Psalm 90
Got up medium. Dressed Helped with Fire. Ate at about 10:45. Don't remember much more.

There was no "weekly summary," just a drawing of Pegasus. The psalm for Sunday, Psalm 90, is the only one in the book of psalms attributed to Moses. It is a family favorite.

Monday, August 29, 1977
Psalm 91
Got up medium. Dressed. All 3 of us went to biscayne. Saw Mrs. Jones--the last time. Pops went to town. Cooked. Heard "Strange Homecoming". Ate Rested. Pops came back.

And from that day forward... things were never the same again...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ugh! And Other Random Thoughts

I haven't bitched about The Job in a while because it had settled into What It Is... day after day of nothing to do, continually "suspended" Staff bashes (except that what happened is the Big Kahuna is picking her favorites to do do Special Project Meetings) and occasional spurts of "Ugh!" Like I was called upon to do a flyer for a Community event. The "client" liked it. My (on paper) boss said it was effective. It spoke to the targeted audience, (minority-particularly-Hispanic men in East Harlem, over 50 with families who should get a prostate cancer screening and who probably won't unless you "guilt" them into it). But NOPE! It got completely redone.

On the left is how I'd originally turned it loose, and the client was happy. Granted, I have a tendency to start with EverythingButTheKitchenSink, but on the other hand people respond to pictures way better than they do text.

On the right, after some suggestions/reworking/re-writing of the text (by BigBird -- a writerNOTadesigner, who at first said "no pictures"--mind you the client had specifically requested a "family" feel and the Prostate Cancer ribbon)












but then while I was out Pow Wowin', this happened:


Ugh. Whatever. But it gets to be really frustrating.

And the only thing anyone other than my boss has said to me today was "Can you take a picture tomorrow?" And I said sure! Actually... no one *said* anything. I was emailed. I sit about 8 yards, as the crow flies, from her office. And I've been gone 4 business days.

I also come back to find that while the Big Kahuna is out for two weeks, she has appointed NewGayGuyHiredAsWebTeamLeader to be in charge of the ENTIRE department. Bypassing my boss--(straight) manger of 12 years, and BigBird (who has been added to the 'dis list') in the process. And the two press people are sitting here like they belong here. Then they all went into a meeting and us RedHeadedStepChildren huddled in my boss's office just because.

We've all decided we just want to be fired.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
On another tack, the Sugarcube is back sniffing around. Still cute and sugary sweet, and still only REALLY good in very small doses. But I have a new perspective and some distance. And a renewed understanding of how men REALLY think, having been surfing the "Blogosphere" (I hate that word) recently. And listening to Z-100 this morning, where one guy came on the air and completely and freely admitted that men would have sex with a girl they are "freinds" with, if given half the chance. No matter who she is. No matter their own status in "committed" relationships.

Two weeks ago, after a half pitcher of Mojitos, I was telling the Prof and my Beautifulhaired friend that truly, women put FAR too much emphasis on the emotions behind sex. Now, some women are better at "emotionless fucking" (as one blogger wrote) than others. I don't happen to be one of those, though I have had my share. But I at least have to LIKE the person... and like him a lot, in order for there to be physical contact. Of any kind (unless it's because I've known the person forever, like the old acquaintance I mentioned earlier). Because otherwise, my skin crawls. Ew. There is so much weird shit that goes into sex that you really have to like the person. Or at least you have to like yourself enough to not just "do" anybody. But men... they can "do" anybody very easily. AND like themselves, still. I admire that, I really do.

(And just as an aside... it's ironic that men can have affairs and while it's talked about it's not a BIGBLACKMARK on their career... whereas women just can't--even if they can. Beautifulhaired's most recent boss--a semi-public-person--resigned a little bit ago in anticipation of a HUGE scandal that just broke the news. Seems she had an affair on her hubby.)

So what was proposed was "No relationship." Now since the Sugarcube happens to be a sweetheart (and young ie not quite as corrupted as other guys, though that will change with age, I'm sure) I pointed out bluntly that any interaction between people, especially sexual adults, is technically a "relationship," so what you're actually negotiating is the depth of the relationship. And he smartly agreed--which is one of the reasons I like him. He's at least fairly honest. For now. But as I said... it's cuz he's young.

Sigh. It could be done (pun intended). It could be done very easily. But unlike him I don't *need* non-committal sex. There are toys for that (good fancy ones with blinking lights and rotating beads and stuff). What I need is some kind of a friend/running buddy, which is precisely what most single men *don't* need. Somehow, their toys don't seem to work as well as ours, I gather. And they'd rather run with "Da Boyz" or watch porno than hang out with a chick they're having a non-committal relationship with. I mean, that's why it's non-committal, dammit.

Then of course, if there's that much thinking and talking between two people (such as the conversations I've had recently)... what's the big deal? He had said to me the other day "I know you're looking for a relationship, and I can't provide that." And I'd said "well, I AM looking for a relationship, but not with you". Which I'm not... for several important reasons. But he's awful cute. And I've probably already spent far too much time mulling it over and may have lost my shot at it anyway.

Ugh.

It's just I don't do "half-ass" real well, and to me, non-committal relationships are half-ass wastes of time. I'd rather put my time in reorganizing my workspace... or making shit for this craft fair that's coming up, or freelancing. Not that I'm doing ANY of those things...

...and he's just awful sugary. And I should think like a man and take some serious joy out of the fact that I, at 42, can actually elicit this kind of attention from someone young enough to be my child (but still be legal!). He did say though, that he knows I won't give him half the drama somebody his own age will. Which is quite true.

*sigh*.

Ugh.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

YO! Leedem Drugs (and Alcohol) Alone!

It's not good for you!

So I sat in Jury duty all morning again today. I KNEW I was going to be called, and sure enough about 11AM they called me for a criminal case. The one criminal case they'd called on either Monday OR Tuesday.

And I had to pee something fierce, having drunk my entire thermos of coffee in an attempt to stay awake, but I dared not ask if I could go then.

They called us into a big, oak paneled room with incredibly high ceilings. It really does look pretty much like it does on TV (Family Court looks nothing like Criminal Court... it's much more "government institutional" like the Food Stamp office, or some place like that).

The Judge read the names of all the people involved, in case we knew them, and then gave a little bit of background as to what the case was about. This was so if any of us potential jurors had an issue or knew anyone involved, we would be excused. The judge explained the cases usually last about a week, which was already giving me pause since the Sun starts school on Tuesday. But when he also explained that the case involved a DUI, I REALLY began to have some reservations about how impartial I could be. Summer time on The Rock is full of drunk driving, and it's annoying as hell, to say nothing of dangerous. The Defendant was an elderly Hispanic man... Mexican, I think, who spoke little-to-no English, as there was an interpreter present.

As instructed, the defendant rose and turned around and I was slammed with this overwhelming feeling that I can't say I've felt in a long time. Sometimes, I can get a "read" on people, especially when they are in some kind of mental distress. I wouldn't say I'm psychic, cuz it's not that precise. But when "Jesus" stood up and looked at us, I knew I'd have to get myself excused. He was guilty. And his whole life was riding on this. I felt overwhelmingly that here was a man who worked hard, probably construction judging by his jeans and red t-shirt (though there were no stains or dirt). He wore his cell phone in a little pouch on his waist. And he drank as hard afterwards, as he had worked that day. He had probably been caught DUI before, but this time he either hit or broke something. He knew that this trial was going to have a major implications on his life, and he was genuinely concerned and sorry. But he was guilty. And there was no way that I could sit there for a week and pretend to be impartial, and there was no way I wanted any parts of messing up his life... particularly since I'm a firm believer that drunk drivers should be punished.

Last fall, a woman was hit by a speeding drunk driver right outside my window. The Sun and I had been sitting in the kitchen and heard the "screeeeeeeechTHUD" and then the car taking off again. We ran to the front window. It was pouring rain. At first I didn't see anything, but then I heard someone come out from the restaurant across the street and ask hesitantly "Ginny?" and then "OHMYGOD ITS GINNY". I looked straight down and realized that Ginny had been knocked by the speeding car from the center fire lane, right out of her sneakers. She lay face down in the gutter, half-under a parked car. "Oh My God!" I said, and the Sun started to freak out and shake, though he couldn't see. He could only hear the horror in my voice. I called 911 and the fire truck came pretty quickly as we have a volunteer house down the street.

The rumor on the Rock was that they knew who had hit Ginny, but as there were no witnesses at all (I provided what I knew, but it was only auditory evidence) the person responsible has never been charged. And the rumor was also that this person had already had another hit and run, and was a known drunk driver.

So "Jesus" really got no sympathy from me... except that I could see how much was riding on this for him. When asked, I told the judge and the attorneys that I lived on "the drunk driving capital" of the world, and that I knew police officers personally and had seen them run DUI checkpoints (which is true) and without any hesitation I was excused.

I still had to sit there until 3P, though, till they let us all go. But as BORING as it was... I was happier there than at work. I've decided the dark energy at work is really getting to me, and I've got to get out. Or motivate myself to do other things. Which is hard, because the dark energy really zaps me.

On the way from Criminal Court (which is one block away from Family Court... I swore that once my case was over I was never going to that area of town ever again... which is why I found my jury duty to be sort of ironic) to pick up the Sun where he was with Nana, I ran into an old acquaintence from my youthful days back on 'TwoFive.

Life had not been kind to him. Or rather... he had not been kind to his life, and in return, Life had jacked up his looks. I couldn't believe how bad he looked. Drugs and alcohol had taken an obvious toll. "You may not remember me" he said apologetically, and I told him I never forget a face--only names--and I let him kiss me on the cheek.

People!!!! Leedem drugs alone! Dey ain't good for you!!!

P.S. the sugar cube might be back. But that's another story.

On Jury Duty

...and it sucks.

Will post when I'm out. Till then, click on the FlickR badge for Schemitzun pictures. There are lots, so make sure you see them all!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gon' Pow Wowin'

but I'm back now. I'd wanted to post some stuff before I left, including the continuing saga of Livin' La Vida Low Budget, but I got home Wednesday night from work and dun-dun-dun-duuuuunnnn, no internet. No phone, either, since I use VoIP. Not cool. But I have to say, I've used Acecape for about 6 years now, and this was the first time I've ever been down. And, it wasn't them, I think it was Verizon. So I called the service line and one of the two or three Russian techs who usually calls (I swear, it's got to be a family op) told me they'd put in a service ticket. It was up when I got home. I should advertise for them, but right now, here's a free "plug". If you're in the Big Apple area, I highly recommend Acecape as a dsl/VoIP provider. They rock. And you can't beat them for courteous support.

(As opposed to Sprint wireless, who suck so bad that I am seriously considering not becoming a customer of theirs, except I really want that new Treo.)

Anyway.

We got on the road Thursday about noon; me and The Sun, Mima and Bigbear. The rest of the tribe came up in the Professor's van. We stayed at Two Trees, which a few years back was cheaper and had bigger rooms. But this year they did away with any Pow Wow rates, which sucked... but still. You can pack an awful lot of people in a Junior Suite and there's enough space where people don't get on each other's nerves too much. (Which is why, methinks, all the dancers and drum groups stay there.) Me and the Diva with our boys shared the back room, and Moodmagic Barbie and her two freinds stayed in the front. They are cute kids... good girls really but I'm so glad I'm not a girl mom. Pre-teen girls (well, one is a newteen) just get on my nerves really really bad. Especially when they devoured my coffee cakes. Didn't save nary a one. I was looking forward to them with my morning coffee. And they tend to leave wet bathing suits and towels everywhere, and they stay up till 3 AM giggling with an occasional piercing shriek. But they're all beautiful, busty girls, and that comes in handy when you want to dump your pre-pubescent Sun with someone for some "me" time. And they love the Chocolate Wonder (aka PerpetualMotion) so that was handy for the Diva. And Diva and I get along quite well.

The Professor took advantage of the situation to go sleep in "The Elder's Room" with Mima and Bigbear. Friday night, after PerpetualMotion was asleep and The Sun was bathed, the Diva and I dragged the Professor out to roam the hotels. It took some doing. She was layed up on the pull-out complaining how tired she was, while the Elders walked around in their jammies and polished off a bottle of wine. "What are you, 50!?" we taunted, so to prove us wrong and that she wouldn't be any fun anyway, she came along.

The Club (which had Latin Night on Thursday night) was closed. We tried to get the Diva into the Mezz Ultra Lounge at the Great Cedar, but security wasn't having it, and after the Diva got her quick dance on outside the club with some passing dude that grabbed her, we walked over to the Atrium. There were all the bull riders, just like last year, hanging out and listening to the live band. We probably could have snuck the Diva up to the bar (it wasn't as strict as the Mezz) but we didn't, so she wandered for about 10 minutes while theProf and I had a quick drink. Had I had slightly more Tequila and a little more time, things could have gotten really interesting for me (bullriders are HOT) but....

So that was the "entertainment" part.

The Pow Wow part, the whole reason we were there, was awesome.

We saw Grand Entry Thursday evening at six. There's nothing like Grand Entry. But it's the kind of thing you have be there to feel.




Over the years that I've been going to Pow Wows I've tried to catch the dancers, but lately my obsession are the drum circles. Talk about your real Rock Stars. There's no better feeling than standing up close and watching while you feel the steady beat pulse like lightening through the tips of your hair right down through your heels. And some circles are more powerful than others. The Boyz, Southern Boyz, Battle River, Midnite Express... standing close to them makes your hair stand on end. I confess I'm not quite sure who was who, but I'm trying to go through all my pictures and identify. Host drums this year, as most years that I've been going, were Mystic River.

In no particular order:


This one, I know is Mystic River.



And while the drums are going, the dancers are dancing:




This young man was a member of Mystic River, and every break I saw him with his baby.


A few small repairs


Sunset


To my mind, there's nothing more patriotic than a bunch of bullriders listening to the Indian National Anthem...

then watching the bulls kick their ass.

The dance tent had a nice white background, which was convenient when MoodMagic Barbie asked "Take my profile, Auntie". So I did.


And then BigBear was taking one of the Professor and I, but she kept saying "It's not clicking!" but it did. I like this picture because this is pretty much what we're like....

There are many many more pictures, but I'll put them up on Flickr in a bit, and Snapfish for my freinds and family who know me... more to come. Stay tuned!

Oh, p.s. I have to take a picture of my new beige buckskin. With fringes and beaded medallions. Kick ASS!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Drained...

I am. Still wrapping my head around the custody thing, I think.

It still doesn't feel like a big deal. And everyone says "well, I never doubted you'd win" and "there was no question". I suppose on the outside looking in, it's easy to say. On the surface, I was about 95% certain I'd win, too. After all, the man has certain, documented issues. But still. "What if????" the mind would wander.

"What if?" One thing life has taught me... one thing I know for certain: Nothing is certain. Nothing is predictable. You go your whole life thinking one thing, feeling one way, and something can come along and wipe everything away. Everything you thought you knew could be gone in the blink of an eye. One day you wake up and there are two enormous, ugly buildings at the tip of Manhattan, that can be seen from practically all five boroughs. You know how solid they are, how massive. You worked in them. Hid in the store rooms and wiring closets when you didn't feel like working. Knew where the airshafts were. Shopped every store in the underground mall; could wander it with your eyes closed. The next day by bedtime, those towers are gone. You get out of the train and can't immediately see which way is 'downtown'.

One summer, you live 9 miles east of Kingston in a little cement house by the beach with your family and a dog and a bunch of cats, listen to horse races on the radio and cook on an open fire, and by the end of that year you live in an entirely different country, watch color television and huddle against the cold in a dank and dingy apartment, in the middle of Harlem at it's worst, in the middle of the worst of NYC's history.

One year, you spend your days at work, your evenings drinking and carousing in a bar with people you know and maybe like sometimes; the next year you're a mother and you suddenly realize you can't just pick up and go like you used to. You don't even drink at all anymore. The things that were so important before mean nothing to you and other things you never knew about or thought nothing of or just didn't "get" (like why 8 year old boys still sometimes sleep in mommy's bed) suddenly take on a whole new meaning.

I'm a lazy bitch. I work hard at things that consume me; obsess over them. But until they grab me I'd much rather do nothing. Children never occurred to me, especially after I'd gotten divorced. I mean, there was the Diva, but I quickly realized that the Professor, although 3 and a half years younger than I, was a much better mother than I could have been at that particular moment. I had A Plan, when the Diva came along... and the Plan was to get married to the then boyfriend, and bring the Diva with me and live happily ever after. So I orchestrated and jumped into a marriage. And realized that not only was it not the right thing to do... the marriage was decidedly NOT one where I would bring a child... let alone someone else's child that we were still fighting for in family court. And by the time everything was sorted out, the Diva was the fully the Professor's baby, which I do firmly believe was the right thing for all concerned. My Plan was not THE Plan for me.

So aside from the Diva, while I wanted kids "at some point" I wasn't consumed by the thought of marriage and children. But then I got pregnant. And I decided, after thinking over the pros and cons (Pros: unconditional family support, a solid job, my own apartment, the desire. Cons: Father has temper issues/has no job/doesn't want a baby, would most likely be raising a baby without him.) that I wanted a baby. And so in typical "all-or-nothing-type-chick" fashion, I became consumed with being pregnant, giving birth, with being a mom. Having watched the Professor struggle with mommy issues (and then some) I knew what I was in for, but I certainly didn't count on the intensity of it all. On the overwhelming, all-consuming love.

The custody petition I was served with--by TF's sister--was something of a joke, initially. The claims were bogus and easily disputed. And I'd already been to court to file for custody of a child that wasn't mine and won. "Temporary" custody of the Diva took a year. Two judges, one team of investigative social workers, one law guardian and two court-appointed lawyers. (After the Diva and the Professor were in The Accident, there was another round of court, but it didn't amount to much.) And everyone told me I'd win.

But a year dragged on. Then two. Then three. He fired two lawyers. We had two different Law Guardians. Then my lawyer was suspended. Then he was "Pro Se". Then I got a lawyer, and the Sun got a new Law Guardian. Then four years. Then we had a new judge. Then he had a lawyer. And all the evidence, all the testimony, all the prep work, everything was shelved/ignored/forgotten. No matter what anyone said, nothing was certain. "Two years, tops" people said (it was more like 5). "This time, there WILL be a trial", the judge declared (there was never a trial). "He'll lose visits, based on this behavior" (kid got sent to California). Five years, four lawyers (plus two subs), three law guardians, two judges. All before I could claim custody of my own child. All before I could say with certainty that he belonged to me, that I had the right to make decisions about his life--uncontested.

I always felt reluctant to get a "real" job once the custody battle began, because I couldn't count on only using my standard two weeks vacation for anything other than court dates. I felt that I couldn't make an permanent decisions about how far I wanted to move, or how to raise my kid, since any decision I made could be called into question at any given time. And I could be called upon to (bare minimum) outline the thinking behind the decision, or (worst case scenario) outright defend my decision at any given time. You don't realize how many little decisions you make in a day, until you are aware of the fact that any one of those decisions can blow up in your face.

On the outside, it may not seem like a big thing. I am the mother, after all. It's my job to make those decisions. But it can be debilitating, year after year after year, to know that you have to be able to defend your reasoning or thinking just because somebody got a bug up their ass that day. It is very daunting to sit in a courtroom before a judge, who has Ultimate Control over your life, and with at least two people who are prepared to oppose you just because you sit there, one person who's supposed to be "neutral" but isn't, a bunch of nosy-assed people (court officers, lawyers-in-training) and just a lawyer on your side.

I was often reminded of the story of Solomon and the two women. He was to judge between the two of them, and to decide which one was the real mother of a child. One wanted her child to live. The other wanted to eat the child. Each were passionate in their claim. Each one must have been convincing, since Solomon actually had to deliberate. I have often thought of the sheer terror the real mother must have felt; does she fight? Does she give in? But she CAN'T give in. Giving in is just not an option. And then to have someone say flippantly "Oh, just cut the kid in half." And then for her to say... just take him then. I'd rather you take him than cut him in half. I felt just like that when I saw the trip to CA was a done deal. I could go... go sit in a hotel room in CA and wait for him. "Have a vacation! It's beautiful out there" the judge joked. But like the mother in the story, I would rather you just take him. It's less confusing that way, less painful for him and for me.

I do have faith in God and that He knows what your limit is, because this custody battle was ended right when I knew I couldn't do it another day. I do have faith that I endured all this for a reason, though at the moment I'm not sure what it was. At this moment I'm exhausted. Unfuckingbelievably tired, and I wish I had the luxury of a week of doing nothing, but no such luck. And last week--the week the Sun Wasn't Here, probably could have been a good week for that, but I couldn't breathe. The week proved though, that the Sun will come back. More importantly, it proved to his father that he was beaten, which is probably more important than anything else. Not that I take joy in beating him, nor was that the point of all this, as far as I'm concerned. But the man has no understanding of "negotiation" or "compromise" or "agree to disagree". It's all win/lose for him, and in order for him to back off, he had to lose. He had to return the Sun to me at a specified time and location and not when he damn well felt like it, and to him, that meant he lost. And I knew this... but I still couldn't breathe.

The day before yesterday, TF sent me an email, ccing Lawyer and Law Guardian, but I didn't see it till yesterday. He sent me a bunch of pictures from the Sun's trip. I sent him back an email, NOT "cc"-ing (although I did blind copy someone):

"Thank you very very much for those. I appreciate it. He had a wonderful time. And we got the big dreads out of his hair. I was ready to cut them out but he wouldn't hear of it.

I still haven't set up the webcam. I keep falling asleep. But I will, I promise. I want to set it up on his laptop because I work on my computer.

Thanks again."

I expected a nasty email back, but so far, nothing. Nothing, in this case, is a big something. A HUGE something.

The Sun has insisted on sleeping in my bed, along with Torpedo his stuffed dolphin every night since he's been back. The Cat, who feels that he was there first and thinks "I'll be DAMNED if the Kid sleep in the bed and I can't" has decided that he must sleep there, too. I wake up pushing a long-and-heavy-legged Sun back over to his side, and kick the Cat out of bed. I asked the Sun when he might be going back to his room; he said tonight when Nana came.

Little bits of the week are beginning to slip out; he had a great time but it wasn't ALL easy. There was the issue with the Pizza on the last day; the Sun didn't like the frozen pizza taste, and refused to eat it. TF got mad, and yelled, and dumped two pizzas in the trash with great flourish. The Sun was scared a little--he cried, he said. "Why didn't you push 'The Red Button'" I asked? The Red Button was our code word for "MOM, GET ME OUT NOW!" "It was the last day" he shrugged. I laughed. His composure was unbelievable. There were other little "prickly" times, but none warranted pushing The Red Button. "They weren't Mega Ultra-Bad, like the Pizza thing" he said.

We go to Schemitzun tomorrow. It won't necessarily be "restful", but it will be spiritually reviving, and the weather is supposed to be nice and I can't wait. I hope I come back feeling rested, cuz right now.... I'm just drained.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Saturday, August 20, 1977

Psalm 83

Got up medium. Showered, dressed. Read the Bible and my new book "The Seeds and Other Stories" written in China that Pops got me yesterday. Heard "Colgate Cavity Fighter's Club." Ate. Rested and read. Heard the "Heineken International" race, Harlequin, my choice won from Sheer Joy, Jungle Prince and Roca. Saw Speedy. Washed, put on pj's. Pops went out at 8:00pm. He came back. Ate. Went to bed. Thank you, Mr. O.
We ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 banana, 1/4 Ortanique
  • Dinner: Butter beans+cucumber+tomato+sweet pepper+carrot salad, carrot+sweet pepper strips, banana+peanuts+(?) pepper chutney, 1/4 ortanique, 1/2 orange
  • Supper: cornmeal+oil+salt
  • Snack: peanuts, tomato +butter beans + sweet pepper.

The top photo is what you would see if you looked out our back door. There was sort of a barbed wire fence and a few fence posts, but it was more to mark the edge of the yard than to keep anyone in or out. We would walk through all that brush, sort of bearing to the right, and that would take us to the beach. We'd walk along the beach for a bit, then come up through the yard of the club up at 9 mile, if I remember right. From there we'd get to the road and walk into town.

The bottom photo was our home. Leeward Close. The professor actually remembers the house number--was it 66? That little round bush in the front, I'm pretty certain, was a lignum vitae, the National flower of Jamaica (I never did understand the logic of that tree being the national "flower" of Jamaica). The mountain in the back is Sugar Loaf.



Sunday, August 19, 2007

Friday, August 19, 1977

Back to the Story...
Thirty years ago we left Jamaica to come back to the U.S. I had written in my journal practically every day except for this week.

Psalm 82

Got up medium. Dressed. Cleaned up. T+ Pop went to town. Mom and I cleaned up. Before T+Pop went to town, I worked with Greta and we saw Speedy. I finished my "puppy" pillow, which I call Guerly. Mom sewed up my "rattie." I call it "Country Mouse".* It rained. Cooked with Mom. Ate. Where are Pop & T? Pop and T. came home. They ate. Me and Pop caught the p.nut man. Saw Speedy. Pjs and bed.
*While hearing "Strange Homecoming."
Thank You, Mr. O.

We ate:
  • Breakfast: 1/2 grapefruit, 1 mango 1 banana
  • Snack: Sweet pepper, red herring
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs, sardine+baked beans+sweet pepper + tomato, rice
  • Supper: banana+ortanique juice+mango salad, roasted peanuts.
We sewed a lot. A. from across the street had given me a horse sewed in some of vinyl. I'd named her Dixieland (I still have her). But I was intrigued by the pattern, and by the fact that she stood up. I figured out how to make the pattern, and would make other stuffed horses, mostly by hand.
****************************************
Interesting to look back and imagine life without telephones. Pop and T couldn't call to say they were on their way home, that they'd been delayed, etc. So you just had to pray and hope that everything was OK.
*******************************************
And finally, the peanut man. No vendors came down our way all that often, so it was a big deal when they did. The peanut man would also be on a bike or motorbike, and instead of an ice box lashed to his mode of transportation, he'd have some sort of hot box. The peanuts were salted, usually, wrapped in little brown paper parcels.

Yes, The Beast Was Tamed

and oh, my what a fight. It bared it's teeth and snarled, and dared to be defied.

I finally got the Sun in the shower about 11AM yesterday, and wet The Hair (the water rolled right off) and I almost cried. I squeezed a bottle of Infusium Leave-In, plus the half of Creme of Nature Detangling conditioner I had left, and about another half a bottle of Pantene 3-minute conditioner, rubbing it in to the knots and pulling them down. So instead of being one big dread, it was now several LARGE dreads that were hard and solid. Left to my own devices, I would have just gotten out the scissors, but the Sun wouldn't hear of it. So I massaged knots and pulled some more, and finally, The Hair had some length again. But Sun had been in the shower an hour already, so I wrapped up Hair in Saran wrap and put a black plastic bag on top and he stayed liked that for another few hours.

The Professor had called and said the Fam was coming, and that she would detangle it when she got there. Then Shoefly called. I told her the progress (none, really) and she said "I can do it, bring him here". I was doubtful, but she told me she could (and suppose she'll be the one to tame TF!) and so we unwrapped The Hair (I'd done a good job, because conditioner poured out), smoothed it into a ponytail and headed over.

ShoeFly broke out all her best whips. Pantene Hair Serum. Paul Mitchell Hair Serum. Matrix something-or-other ("$16 a bottle!" she said) conditioner. Her kitchen sink has a hose that works, so we stood in front of it, one on either side of the Sun and began to work. And she did the hard work because I admit I was scared. Too much emotion I think, attached to that hair and I couldn't face it. But in her usual emotionless, authoritative way, ShoeFly attacked that snarling, writhing beast. It bit and snarled and fought back. Mermaids and killer whales, porpoises and seal pups jumped out of it. But finally, it was tamed and we smoothed it into long twisted ropes. Amazing.

The Professor was disappointed, but I couldn't wait, couldn't look at it like that. But I try to be a fair person, and so I'm going to stop here and print a "retraction". TF may not have set about to sabotage the hair on purpose, because there are pictures on The Sun's phone of him at the beach with the braids. The Sun said "I got sand in them" and I should have told him that all he had to do was spray them down in the shower till he came home. I think now that TF still thinks the Sun has that soft, gentle baby hair he had the first time; before it was cut, and I think he thought he could handle it.

But when the beast was loose, after a long summer of sun and surf and sweat and being tamed by braids, it wasn't having it, and fought TF and kicked his ass. And the Professor is right; that's why he didn't want me to meet them at the gate; didn't want "a scene" cuz he thought I'd freak out on him. Not that I ever have in public. Even when he brought back a shaved 4YO Sun, I didn't. I went into the Police Clerk's office and cried instead, after TF had left the precinct.

FatLady had said to me on the phone that maybe TF would cut his hair out there, and I had said I doubted it because it was written in the order. He gets off on doing what you specifically didn't call him on. And I think the Sun has been adamant with him on his own, enough for him to know not to do that. Nevertheless, I had resigned myself to meeting a bald baby at the gate, and was relieved that I didn't. I think he took some joy in the fact that The Beast won, though, but I don't think he set out to do it on purpose.

The Fam came up, all but the Diva, and Perpetual Motion was so happy to have his Sun back. He even waved at the Moon, who was here. "Hi, guys" he said. And then the three of them ran so much it made me dizzy, and we all compromised to go Seafood City, sat outside by the water, and ate.

Afterwards, the Sun and I watched Eragon (though I kept drifting off) cuddled on the couch. I realized how very much I missed him and his company. It was a long week.

I've let the conditioner dry in the Sun's hair and today we'll rinse it all out, condition it again and see if it's tame enough to be let out on a leash. I told you, that Hair has a life of it's own.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Well, Aside From The Giant Dreadlock...

he seems unscathed. They had a great time. I admit to a little jealousy, and a little sadness that I'll have to share him with more and more frequency. I think that it's OK to admit that... because it means that if I'm aware of it, I can make sure not to allow what I feel to interfere. Not to act on my jealousy and sadness.

There's a different bond between mothers and sons, I think, than mothers and daughters. Particularly when there is only mother and son. A daughter knows she has the potential to be her mother's equal and from the moment she realizes that it's a power struggle. But there isn't that competition--that power struggle--with mother and son. And so it's very easy for a mother to accept her son as her only companion. I know I'm not the first to feel this way; I know I'm not the only one. There are stories and legends and Greek tragedies. But it's an interesting thing to be confronted with.

So, there is that jealousy and sadness... but also the triumph in knowing that I am his mother, and he'll always come back; that his father can't break that.

JFK was BUZZING with activity last night. I think that because of the hurricane in the Caribbean, Jet Blue had canceled several flights--something like six, I think--and several others were delayed. Connections were missed. I think the power of 200 women (my online moms group plus assorted friends and family) collectively thinking positively allowed The Sun's plane to take off and land without delays and without incident. The flight before his, scheduled to leave CA much earlier in the day, touched down only moments before the Sun's. The terminal was packed. People were angry and threatening, or sleeping on their luggage. The staff was overworked. Printers weren't working. One crazed woman, her ear seemingly permanently glued to her PDA, her other hand dragging her tired, Chinese-adopted daughter, walked up and down the line of people waiting, asking them to join her in a class action suit. She asked me "Do you want to join us?" and looked annoyed when I said "I'm not here for that; I have problems of my own."

The Jamaican counter woman took off her badge so as not to reveal her name, and told ShoeFly and I how she was going to kick some old lady's fucking ass, because the woman had told her "I pay your salary. Do your job." But she took the time to issue me a gate pass when I told her why I was there--to meet my child with his father who may or may not attempt stupidity.

They wouldn't allow ShoeFly to the gate with me, so she went to the baggage claim area, and I went through security. The officer told me "be careful in there, seriously. There's some shit going down." I got up to the Jet Blue gates and began to panic. It was MOBBED. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to get the Sun without running up on them (thereby making TF feel threatened) because they literally wouldn't be able to see me otherwise. And then it turned out that due to all the cancellations and delays, the Sun's plane landed on the other side of the terminal. So I decided it was safer to go down to baggage claim, but I first needed to figure out from which direction the Sun would be coming. In the meantime, the Prof--who had been monitoring the progress of the plane via Jet Blue's refreshed-every-two-minutes-for-your-convenience plane-tracker (WAY FUCKING COOL!) was texting me every two minutes: "He's over PA. Holy shit it moves fast. He's over NY. HE'S OVER BROOKLYN!!!" It was enough to panic a bitch.

I called the Sun, and finally got through the second he must have turned his phone on. They had to sit on the runway a bit, then had to take a shuttle over to the gate. ShoeFly went and stood by the revolving door they'd be coming through, and I stood by the baggage carousel. It worked perfectly, because it completely neutralized TF. And she, in her amazingly authoritative way was able to tell him something that the lawyers and judges and law guardians have not much success in telling him; act civilized, and you will get more time like this. She told him that my wanting to be at the gate had nothing to do with him or confronting him, and everything to do with the fact that this was the first time a boy and his mother had EVER been separated for any length of time, and that his mother truly missed him. And somehow... he understood. At least, at that moment.

And I was so busy hugging and kissing my child that I didn't dwell on the fact that his hair is one giant dreadlock. This morning I woke up with heart palpitations, thinking "there's no way in hell I'm going to get that out. It will have to be cut." I haven't touched it yet..... everyone assures me that all day conditioners will do the trick, but I have to tell you that as of this moment, I'm not hopeful. It would have to be felt to be believed. And his idiot-assed apparently father sent him to wash his OWN hair the morning they left. Personally, I think he set about to sabotage The Hair, but whatever. I'll do what I can.

And TF is already back in CA. For the moment, my Sun belongs to me. My house is a wreck--I accomplished nothing this week, but it's all good. My Sun is home.

Got'im

Friday, August 17, 2007

It Appears

...that The Sun and TF are on the move; they cannot be stalked located.

I have the flight number. I'm gonna go home and get my papers in order...

So That I Can Tell The Tale In One Spot...

On my mom's list, one of my dear friends posted excitedly

> TODAY IS THE DAY!!!!! YOU DID IT!!!!!
>
> I can't WAIT to hear all about all of it!!!!
>
> How are you doing today? Are you counting the hours yet?
>
> How was The Sun when you last spoke with him on the phone?

Well, friend, (and others) I was great till I got to work, checked my personal email and saw this:

"[The Sun] and I return to New York late Friday night and I am asking that you Please do not meet us at the airport because I do not want a big scene for him. He is not coming back from camp or a long voyage, he was with his father. I had him call you every day ( even times he didn't want to ) and had him call you back every time you called. I will have [The Sun] call you when we depart and when we land, then he will call you when we arrive on [The Rock]. Thank You."

Yes, I hyperventilated, started an email and called my lawyer who must have been in transit at that moment, then called ShoeFly to ask what she thought. Then I sent back the following:

"As was discussed in court, and agreed to, I will be at the gate when [The Sun] arrives.
[The Bear Maiden]"

Then I freak out a little, but luckily Lawyer calls me right back. She'd already put in a call to TF's lawyer (conveniently on location) and then called the "Emergency Number", and called the Law Guardian who's in court till lunch time. Don't worry, she said, just go to the gate. That's what was agreed to, between his lawyer, mine and the LG. I take a few deep breaths, assure my lawyer I won't respond to anything else from him, and will go on about my day.

I check email again, and there's this:

"Again I ask you for what's in [The Sun]'s best interest but again you do not what to hear it. Grow up"

The beauty in all of this is that he cc'd both my Lawyer and the LG (though not his own lawyer). Especially that last one. So either he thinks he's totally in the right, or he didn't mean to hit "reply all". I'm counting on the latter.

To back track:

The reason this is a big deal is based on History. Historically, I have spent *countless* hours waiting at home, and then later the 49th precinct and once in an emergency room, for him to bring back my kid from a visit. It got so bad at one point, that I set up a little log for police officers to sign, noting the time when my kid was finally brought back, and more importantly, how often he was late. And he was never more than hour late, because police won't do anything about tracking your kid down until it's more than an hour. Before we got to the OP stage, I'd wait up till 4 hours in my house, trying not to freak out especially when he'd stop answering the cell or yell "I'm on my way" when I'd get so concerned after two hours and no word. After the OP, he was consistently 20 minutes late. Sometimes 40. Once, 5o minutes late. Once or twice? I wouldn't have had a problem? But EVERY TIME? It got to be really upsetting, particularly when if I was even 5 minutes late for a drop off, TF would start ranting and raving.

The time at the ER, The Sun had called from his dad's cell, saying he'd been stung by a bee and his father was taking him to the ER. For a bee sting??? All he needed to do was to check for any allergic reactions (and they happen fast), call/ask me if he was allergic to bee stings (not so far) and tell me to watch for symptoms. But no, he took him to the ER. The one he was closest to, in the upper Bronx, was "too slow" and so right as my Neighbor (who so nicely drove me back and forth to pick ups/drop off for two years) and I turned into the street that the Hospital was on, the Sun calls me to tell me they were leaving the ER to go to another one in Bronxville (out of NYC across the city line).

(How is that logical?)

I ask The Sun to STAY PUT since we were right there, but he hung up, and when I got to the ER, the staff was calling The Sun's name but they were no where in sight. They had already left. The other ER they were on their way too was in Bronxville, which happens to be where Neighbor works.

We get there; TF is there with two of his softball buddies, and wouldn't allow the Sun to come over to see me. Mind you, it is a good 40 minutes PASSED the time where he should have handed over The Sun. Neighbor informs security of the situation, and they don't ask him to leave but they won't allow him in to see the Doctor when Sun (and now I) are called. I come out to find that TF has knocked a cell phone out of Neighbor's hand, and one of the Softball buddies got into an altercation with the Yonkers PD, who had been called.

Later, the police report only states "a custody dispute" and that there was "no incident".

So in court I had asked specifically to at least meet my Sun as he came off the plane because from experience, there is no guarantee that TF would bring back Sun when he said he would, ESPECIALLY SINCE this agreement isn't written.

These people keep underestimating him. I have said countless times that ANY order between he and I needs to be specifically written out, because the ONE THING you don't write down, is the ONE THING he's going to blow up.

So, as of now all I can do is take deep breaths, and hope that the LG, who firmly pushed for this visit, understands the above correspondence to be TF's way of trying to take Power in the situation. I know my Lawyer "gets it".

I told Lawyer that despite what TF said, he did NOT have the Sun call me "every day"; in fact, on Sunday I had to text TF to ask him to have The Sun call me. The rest of the week, I was usually the one to make the call, usually around 11 or 12 midnight NY time. And truthfully, I didn't call him all the time; didn't need to as I could "see" him and text him, just like I posted yesterday.

My current plan is to make no contact with the Sun, except maybe a text message or two. I will "watch" him to see that he gets to the plane (as of this moment he was still at homebase). I have the flight number, and then will monitor the progress of the plane. About an hour before they are scheduled to land, I will go to JFK, bringing ALL my papers, ask to be allowed to meet my (underaged) child at the gate and ask that they make sure to have security in the area. I don't want to be accompanied because that will rile up the situation. But if somebody starts yelling (him) I want them to appear.

In the meantime, my Lawyer said she will let me know if anything develops. And I pray really hard that nothing does... I just want my kid back. Nothing more.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

LISTEN...

I HAVE NO PROBLEM admitting issues. Not any more. The last few years of spending lots of time in Bronx Family Court, my life laid open for the world to pry into, has pretty much cured me of that.

There's an enormous amount of freedom when you admit to issues. That's not to say you should use your issues as a shield: "You're always late!" someone says and you reply "Tough! That's my issue, so handle it!" thereby making them feel powerless to express their frustration at the fact that you've jacked up their time. I think that when you "own" an issue, it actually behooves you to try even harder to either a.) correct the issue b.) learn to work around the issue c.) be uber-cognizant of the fact that your issues can have some major impact on the world and people around you. And if it impacts people you love, you are even *more* responsible, in my opinion, for trying to do something about your issues.

It took me a while to own up to the fact that I had become afraid of The Fucker, because I'm not the type that scares easy. And I do hate it when people say "Ugh. That could never be me. I would have done x, y, z and it would be over" as if saying "You're weak because you're in that situation, and I'm better than you." But um, it ain't that simple, people, and I can tell you that from experience. When I was in my very early '20's, at the height of my "know-it-all-ness," I knew a chick about 3 years younger than I who had a psychostalker of a boyfriend. He beat the crap out of her, held her hostage, made her walk 3 paces behind him. She ran one day and hid in our apartment, till the Professor--A Social Worker From Birth--took her down to Covenant House for her safety. The Chick then apparently called psychostalker on the phone, and told him where she was, whereupon he came and got her and beat the crap out of her some more. Someone, and I shan't say who God-Rest-His-Soul took it upon himself to take the law into his own hands, and shot psychostalker dead right in front of our friend freeing her. She went on to have a pretty decent life, all things considered.

But I remember thinking at the time "shit, that could NEVER be me, and if it was, and I ran away and hid, there's no way I'd call him to let him know where I was." Well, 15 or so years later, I found myself in a similar situation, though decidedly not quite as bad, (and no, I never called him to come get me so he could beat my ass--matter of fact, I started putting things in place the minute I suspected he might beat my ass) but still. I was, where I swore I'd never be.

That was the beginning of becoming the Bear Maiden, I think, because I began to truly understand the phrase "there but for the Grace of God, go I". Because "it", whatever "it" is, CAN happen to you, given the right set and combination of circumstances.

Poppy used to say "The True God doesn't keep you out of trouble, He gets you out of trouble" and over time I've sort of modified that phrase down to the more human level; if you find yourself in trouble (because you weren't listening to God/your inner voice/your sixth sense/your "older" sister/etc) what matters the most is getting out. And so I try to not to look at other people and think "Idiot! How could you let that happen!" Because I've learned that anything can happen... you can find yourself in all kinds of strange places. Now, granted... there's a point where you think "OK, that was funny the first 400 times...." meaning... at some point people need to wake up and take care of their shit. And I *do* lose patience with people who keep repeating bad patterns for years on end. Seriously; at some point you've GOT to "grab ahold"!

I hope I've managed to grab ahold... I think I have, for the most part, though it took me 5 fucking years to free myself from TF. And I'm still not completely free since we have a Child In Common (how the Sun is referred to in the Good 'Ol BFC). Five years to get out of a situation I should never have gotten into in the first place and certainly didn’t take that long to get into. But I've no regrets; the Sun is the single greatest thing that's ever happened to me. I was very reluctant to let him go with his dad, one being that sperm notwithstanding (and cleft chin and fiery temper, too) the Sun is MINE. But, I was ordered to let him go... so off he went, and I've missed him tremendously. And have openly stalked him on the internet.

Let me tell you, that GPS thing rocks. I forsee all sorts of issues with it, and ladies, if you have a psychostalker of your own, and Child(ren) in Common, I urge you to reconsider when DumbAssDad offers to buy your child a cell phone so that they can "talk to daddy without mommy interfering." Cuz Daddy could be tracking your ass. If he does buy them a phone cuz you can't afford it, make sure you instruct your kid to turn the phone OFF until they are home (unless of course your home is in an undisclosed location) and ready to talk to him. Of course, that means you could set your kid up to receive ranting messages a la Alec Baldwin. Also, if you drive check your car for tracking devices. They make them real small these days. I found all this out when researching GPS for the Sun.

But anyhow. When used properly, it really gives you peace of mind. And it gives the kid peace of mind; so far the Sun has kept that phone on and charged his entire trip. He knows I can "see" him, and it's sort of our little joke. And I think his knowing that I can "see" him has helped him to navigate this week. I spoke to him yesterday morning; they were on their way to Disneyland. GPS revealed that at 10PM CA time last night, they were still there, so I'm guessing they had a great time.

I'll admit; part of me was hoping I'd have to "push the red button" and get him out of there. Knowing that he is probably having a great time means that I am probably going to have to deal with these trips on a fairly frequent basis. But that's my issue and ultimately what matters is that The Sun can handle his dah. And that he has a relationship with his dah. I have a dad... eccentric, yes, but I love him dearly and appreciate him in my life. The Sun should have the same. As long as he isn't too psycho....

In the meantime, I can stalk him over the internet. And it's been fun, too, cuz it's almost like being there. I find his location, and then I go to Google Maps and put in the location, and I can hover overhead like a bird in the sky imagining him walking around down there. Sometimes I send him messages, either from the GPS site or by text message, and let him know I'm thinking of him.

The other day, the little locator icon said that he was IN the Pacific Ocean. YIKES! Of course my heart jumped; why would he be *in* in the ocean? Was he on a boat? The phone wouldn't work if it was IN the ocean and if he were moving in a boat, he probably wouldn't be "locatable." So, I "Google" the closest highway intersection, and voila... Huntington Beach Municipal Pier is a looooong pier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. *sigh*. I see my sister has renamed me stalkerbarbie, but THAT'S OK. I'm good with that. I'm actually a pretty good stalker (all it takes is putting your mind in the other person's body, and thinking like they do. I've done it before--ONLY out of curiosity, I assure you, and it's an awful lot of fun. Modern day technology helps tons, too. And if you think you can hide by not putting info in on the internet... WRONG. But I digress).

I realize too, that part of this latest obsession stems from my own Control Issues, which I freely admit to having about certain things and which clearly stem from my father. A little bit of therapy a while back helped me to begin to admit to a certain amount of things, though I never "came clean" with my therapist. I think revisiting 1977 is helping me--and all of us in the family--despite the Professor's discomfort. It was probably one of the biggest things to ever happen to us as a family (another being the Prof's accident). In hindsight, 1977 is the last time any of us were clearly in control of our lives. As far as I was concerned, up until the "beastly men" came onto our porch and told Poppy we had to leave, I was in control of my own destiny.

I could be anything or anyone I wanted or imagined. There was no one around to tell me any different. There were no "race" issues because the few people we ran into pretty much looked like me and Poppy (BigBear always stuck out, though, and the Prof confounded Jamaicans who thought she might be “Coolie” because she had that weird hair that "didn't jibe" with her skin tone); we were taught at home so we didn't need to compare our "progress" or grades to anyone else’s; we each had a voice in the day-to-day family dealings, and there was no television to show us what the world was "supposed" to look like. We read plenty of books, and in your mind's eye, the pictures reflect the world you know and so all worlds were utterly familiar.

The Parents--Poppy in particular--had set up Utopia In a Bubble... and so long as we were in that Bubble we had complete freedom. There were things you shouldn't do of course... my sneaking out of the house into the dark night was one of them, but I snuck out because I didn't think it was dangerous. I had no concept of fear. When I realized that it could be dangerous, I didn't sneak out. As much.

I suppose the Professor thinks that as the baby she had no control... but I venture to say that the ensuing years has put a kind of film in between then and now, because I can vouch that sis was very much in control of herself at the time. Poppy repeatedly said "As long as the baby is happy, the family is happy " and so there was an awful lot of weight given to the Professor's feelings. As the older sibling, I never felt that because she was the youngest, she was *supposed* to be under my control--although I was "responsible" for her. And when she was being "obnoxious" it was generally because she had "planted" herself somewhere, or declared her feelings about something and wasn't budging from her position. The family joke was that the Prof could "root" herself into the ground, and refuse to be moved. On occasion (OK, several occasions) the only way to move her from her position (physically or otherwise) was by brute force, and this is why she and I had fistfights. She was a formidable fighter, though I never let her know it. (So now, I'm telling you, sis, that you easily could have kicked my ass from early on; it was merely your fear of me that kept you from doing so.) I learned the power of manipulation and persuasion simply because I found those skills to be necessary when dealing with her, at times. Sometimes it took far too much effort to kick her ass.

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The Sun comes back tomorrow at about Midnight. When I spoke to him yesterday he asked quickly (probably the minute his father had stepped out of sight) “when I come home, can I sleep in your bed?” “Of course you can” I said, “I got your spot all ready for you.”

Oh, P.S. We just got word that the Diva will be in a Japanese magazine called LUIRE. Never heard of it till now, but it seems to have been around a while, and quite popular. The photographer stopped her and PITA on the street early this summer, and took a bunch of flix:

And so it begins....

If any one knows where in the Big Apple you can buy this mag, please let me know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monday, August 15, 1977

Psalm 78

Guerly Dies


Got up medium. Dressed. Pops went to town. We were talking to Speedy. Yes!, he'll take Greta. Mrs. Mathis could get Guerly. Came around the back to tell mom--but Guerly, dear Guerly was dead. Heard "Strange Homecoming." Speedy helped us bury Guerly.


And that, friends, is it for the next few days. I guess we were packing and cleaning. The only thing I made note of until Friday of that week was that Marcus Garvey's birthday (b. 1887) is on the 17th.

But this works out see, cuz I can scan pictures from old contact sheets, and put them in the appropriate places, and then I can update you on my current life. Which basically consists of waiting for my Sun to come home...