Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BailOut Package For The Little People

Hell fucking no, it's not the government.

I had to go to FoodStamps yet again today, to give them proof that my 9 year old lives with me. They wanted a letter with his name and address on it. He's fucking 9, for crying out loud. It's not like the Con Ed bill is going to come in his name. They wanted a school letter. But I really didn't feel like going to school and telling them "Um, I need a letter from you saying my kid goes here. For Food Stamps". So I took his health insurance bill. It's got my name and address on it, cuz it's billed to me, but his name is on it. I gave it to the Customer Service receptionist and not the actual caseworker. I hope they take it.

In addition, since I qualify for "expedited" FoodStamps (in less than a month--they say within 5 days but we'll see) I have to go way down to Canal Street to get my ID card. Cuz they won't mail it that fast. So I'm going there tomorrow. All this, mind you, for $87 a month. Oh, and what I had to show initially, in order to apply for Food Stamps?
  • My social security card - the actual card
  • The Sun's actual social security card
  • both of our actual birth certificates
  • Valid picture ID in order to be finger imaged--good thing I brought my passport. No, I don't have a driver's license. And yes, you must be finger imaged in order to receive Food Stamps.
  • A copy of my lease
  • My Con Ed Bill
  • They used to ask for a phone bill but they didn't this time
  • Since I get paid weekly, my last 4 pay stubs.
No, my ass got bailed out by Upstairs Neighbor, for which I am eternally grateful. She had offered for me and the Sun to move in with her... but as I told her the main consideration for not taking that offer is that it would mean I had given up on any chance of a sex life. Ever. And I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel on that.

I'm making light of the situation but it's only cuz what else can I say? Friends and neighbors like her are rare, and it means that I have to redouble and reapply to live up to her faith in me.

My conservations with the Fabulous are going well. I hope I don't scare him. We think alike as far as coming up with ideas and following each other's line of reasoning, and so when we're brainstorming ideas flow. Fast. Now we both just have to follow up... but I am beginning to explain to him that I'm obsessive and so I will stay on him. The deal is, he has to stay on me, too. So we'll see what happens. But he has a way of drawing these ideas out of me... maybe because we were taught the same way at Pratt. Dunno. But I woke up this morning feeling like ideas of ours could really blow up.

But then I crashed later when I realized he might just really think I'm nuts.
=-=-=-=-=-=-

Thanksgiving will be at my apartment again this year, where we would normally rotate to the Professor's place. But I wanted to include Upstairs Neighbor. Last year this time Mr. Kip had just passed, and she was in no mood. This year she's a little better--actually much better--and I wanted for her to be with us and I wasn't sure she'd come with me to the Professor's.

That dinner is at my house means I'm the one to make the turkey. I picked up the (organic) 14-pounder from Bigbear tonight, and Uncly drove me, the turkey and the boys home. Turkey got marinated and is sitting breast-down in the fridge till Thursday... I'm going to make my famous turkey sausage stuffing, I'm ripping off Shark Fu's Corn Casserole, green beans and probably a cobbler. The Sun asked for Pumpkin Pie. Bigbear will bring the greens, and the Professor makes the Candied Yams and Mac & Cheese.

I'm trying to decide if I want to make anything else. So tomorrow will be spent running to a multitude of places... I guess I should go to bed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Keep Swimming...

So probably less than an hour after I posted BigBear called up and offered to help pay ConEd, for which I'm grateful. And later in the day I accepted an offer from Upstairs Neighbor to help keep Landlord off my back.

Do I like being here? Hell no. But I was here before and I got out... so I hope/know I have to get out again. I don't like owing family.

The Sun's school had their annual BookFair/Fundraiser at Barnes & Noble today. We usually have a theme, and this time was "Book Publishing Party" in which our kids get up and read their own work. Very few were nervous... egged on by the applause they couldn't wait to get up and read. By the time they're teenagers I'm quite sure none of them would sign up or volunteer, much less show up to read, but there they were. It was cute. The Sun's story started out "My dad picked me up at the precinct. No, I wasn't arrested".

A newer parent unfamiliar with the drama that was the War with SD leaned over and asked me "why was he at the precinct?" and I laughed and told him. I still get freaked out thinking that it wasn't that long ago. Later I asked the Sun why didn't he expound on that part of the story... he said "It's too long, Mom. I'd have to start when I was three."
"Three!?" I asked. "You still remember all that?"
"Yeah. I was three cuz I still liked Thomas the Tank Engine."

That was the incident where the Sun saw his dad shoving me and me trying to claw his face off, and to keep him from walking in SD had put on a Thomas the Tank Engine video for him to watch. I remember seeing his little face that day, and by the expression I knew it was something he would never forget. But the rest of it I managed to keep from him.

After the kids read we bought some books. And then a bunch of us went a few doors down to Pizzeria Uno to eat; as part of the fundraiser a portion of the tab was also donated to the school. The kids all sat at a long table, and the adults scattered around. TomCat was there with PracticalMama and her family which was a little interesting for me, but I've managed to shut all that down except sometimes very early in the morning before I got to sleep and it hits me. But most of the time it's just locked up, now.

Besides, there's the Fabulous to wonder about...

And speaking of, later on I took the first step on my new joint project with Faca... once he gets to look at it and tell me what he thinks, I'll unveil it.

So life goes on... can't keep a good bitch down for long...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hold Tight

The phone has been ringing since 8:00 this morning, a Sunday. Not with friends and family but with bill collectors. One of them probably the landlord. I could "feel" the vibe, even though the number said "Unknown". The cat has been yowling and when I got up I realized I have no food for him.

I was going to complain about it, about sitting in Foodstamps Thursday afternoon and again on Saturday morning (where I was told I qualified for a whopping $87 a month.... I have a decent child support judgment and currently my paychecks are running about $90 a week after deductions. Combined it's not enough to pay my rent that's $1275 as of 12/1. But. It's too much income and the rent is noted but it's not calculated into the percentage. So $87 is better than nothing, right?). I was going to comment that particularly on Saturday morning (and Saturday morning appointments are a new thing) the crowd waiting--and I do mean crowd as the waiting room of about 40 chairs was full--were all obviously working people. And not just women. Women with partners. One man in a firefighter's sweater was helping his elderly mother apply.

But I read my sister's post and I guess I have no right to complain. I still have a phone for bill collectors to call. Although if I don't pay my light bill by Friday nothing is going to work.

Yesterday I went to the dojo to watch promotions. I haven't paid them the monthly fee and even though I've done flyers for them, it doesn't really cover the cost of the fees so we haven't really been going. And I couldn't afford the belt test fee and plus the Sun has been slacking. So I went to watch and take pictures. I started talking to BigSensei's wife, asking about her best friend who recently had a nervous breakdown.

It turns out the friend's living with her two teenaged sons in a house with an emotionally abusive man and his grandmother. She doesn't have enough money to leave. The older sun, 16, ran off for three days to be with a girl, and when she went looking for him and slapped him when she found him, he called the police and pressed charges. It generated an ACS case. She was so hurt she completely freaked out and so they took her to St. Vincents, and gave her medication. The kid is not showing up for the meetings, although she is, which means that at some point the Family Court will label the child a PINS -- Persons In Need of Supervision.

In the meantime, the boyfriend (who has a gambling problem) and grandmother are threatening her, berating her, calling her names. The system's response? Medicate her. So every time the boyfriend starts, the mother just goes into her room and takes whatever the psychiatrist has prescribed. Legal medication. If she were doing drugs, you see, she'd just be some crackhead.

It just makes you wonder.

So compared to those two stories, I'm doing fine. Although it really doesn't seem that way at all.

I went out Friday with my friend and we discussed our project some more. It's exciting. It could work. But it's long range.

And in the meantime there's so many things I need, I crave... but I can't complain cuz there are folks out there this morning who have it worse than me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Small Step For Bearmaidenkind

and um, that's about it. One small step.

I called in sick from my barelyhelping factory job cuz I just couldn't face the day ruminating over shit I don't have any control over. I'll go Friday, and spend the day. I also didn't go cuz I couldn't sleep last night. Well, I couldn't get to bed. And when I finally got there, the fucking cat got on my last nerve... padding noisily around the joint, jumping on and off the radiator, jumping on my bed (which drive me nuts cuz he leaves practically another cat's worth of hair everytime he does), skating on the rug outside my bedroom door. I finally had to get up and lock him out so I could catch a half hour of sleep. Cat gets mad at me when I do this, and now probably what he'll do, like any man worth his salt, is just go stay out all night upstairs at the neighbor's. SHE lets him do anything he wants. And he knows it, the fucker, so he'll probably stay up there with her tonight, blinking his green-eyed stare at me when I try to get him to come back downstairs.

Anyway. So I didn't go to the factory. And I slept in a little just until I could think clearly, and the voices began screaming "GET UP, GET UP, and go face that which you know has to be faced!". And I did. There was something outstanding that I had to deal with, that I've been putting off since August, that I knew was going to bring up all kinds of feelings but I took the first step today in dealing with it. One, tiny step.

*sigh*. Life goes on.

Next up... everything else.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Time is Not On My Side

Yesterday I was sewing batten pockets for sails. I had my headphones on. I hadn't gotten any sleep the night before cuz I was up trying to create an online newsletter for the Sun's school, and I hadn't quite finished my thermos of Bustelo.

Between being tired and having too much time to think (it IS factory work, after all) I was suddenly gripped with fear.

The financial situation is critical. And I really have no solutions.

I got into it the other day with the Professor (and it's over... I'm not mad--just recounting) cuz she would say things like "get a job". But that doesn't take into consideration a number of things:

Time vs. Money
  • The way I see it, as a freelance designer I ask between $50 and $75 an hour depending on what I'm doing, or I'll ask for a set package fee based on my estimate of time and materials needed to complete a job. And that's cheap. Art directors and GDs who have been in the game a long time get $100 or more an hour, on average. And it may seem like a lot, but there are times when you're NOT working so then you make nothing.
  • If I work per Diem or contract for someone, or even a full time gig at this point I'm worth about $25-$35 per hour.
But nobody's really hiring GD's right now, and it's not like I'm not applying cuz I am. I even apply for stuff that's beneath me. But nobody's even answering. So that means I'd have to look outside my field:
  • Retail pays between $7-14 an hour, depending on experience and the store. Most retail places don't do commission, but if they do, that means pay is about $7. And you usually are required to work a weekend. I never work a job on Saturdays--it IS Sabbath, afterall, so that means having to work a Sunday. And in some retail stores (especially the one I worked in while I was at Pratt) working on Sunday means "closing". And you can't leave the store till it's clean. Sundays are my least favorite day of the week even when I'm home, cuz I always feel like I'm running out of time to get things ready for the week. If I HAVE to, I'll work Sundays, but the thought of having even less time to get my kid ready for the school week is very frightening to me.
  • IT/Tech probably pays more, but I haven't worked a techie job in hmmmm....8 years, and I've forgotten more than I ever knew.
  • As an administrative assistant or something I'd probably make between $15-$20 per hour.
  • Da Factory pays $10.
But here's the catch... when you're working for someone else, you're not working for yourself. No canvassing for business. No answering emails. No combing Craig's List. No hitting up former clients. And certainly no working on your own stuff. So I bring in steady "cheap" money, but in doing so I give up the prospect of more "valuable" money. I also give up the time it would take me to develop the million other ideas and projects I have or want to start or want to finish. There IS stuff I can do. But I feel like I'm trading chasing the cheap money because I have to, vs. trying to snag the big money. However... an advantage to being paid small money when I'm not working for myself is that I'm paid like clockwork, vs. the time spent sending invoices and trying to get people to pay me the big money I'm owed. Right this second the hospital owes me at least $600... and I've been trying to get it since the summer. It's a major pain in the ass.

Blogging
  • People in real life tell me I spend too much time blogging. But I need to write, much like I need to breathe. It's cheaper and more readily available to me than therapy, and I'm not sold on the idea of prescription meds. I think I am MUCH saner in the year and a half blogging than I have been in a long, long, time. The Voices used to scream at me all the time, and lately, they really don't. Except for early yesterday when they were so loud I thought I was going to lose it. But generally we have pretty decent conversations, now. If I hadn't been able to write my way through August (easily the worst, scariest mental health month of my life--and I can say that now cuz I'm oh, so much better. But I realized last night how scared I was of myself even though I didn't tell anybody, cuz I know I won't be re-reading or revisiting that time period any time soon) I think, well... it wouldna been pretty. I'll leave it at that.

  • In the past year and a half, I've had about 20,000 hits here on this blog. If you weed out the thousand or so that are family/myself from different computers, that's still 19,000. Now suppose everytime I got a hit I earned a dollar? And don't think I don't think like that... I have been watching my stats and who reads me and for how long. So there is still the possibility that something could happen for me because of this... you never know. I'm still trying to figure out how. And blogging could figure into my project with my friend Faca, so I have spent a year learning this skill and how it works, and the potential...
My Low Tolerance for Bullshit
  • Seriously, it's a problem. It's always been a problem. I remember being 4 and going to school in Jamaica where they had corporeal punishment in the schools. My parents rarely, if ever, spanked me, and when they did it was cuz I did something dangerous or stupid. So to have a teacher smack my palm with a ruler because I was a "chatterbox" really pissed me off, and I told her so and that I would tell my parents. She laughed at me; Jamaican children were used to this sort of thing and were pretty meek. Me? I was furious. And I never forgot her or forgave her for that, either. And I never grew out of that. I look back at memos and emails I've written bosses and am amazed I wasn't fired more often for insubordination. It's not that I was rude or anything... but my language and attitude were far, far above my "station" in life. Definitely "uppity". In one instance it did outright cost me a job and I'm pretty sure it's why I was one of the first to be "let go" when the hospital "restructured marketing". Uh yeah, fire that snappy bitch. She has to go.

    I don't take shit from co-workers either. I lock my drawers and password protect my computer even if that sort of thing is frowned upon. I won't take the fall in the name of "teamwork". Stupid procedures and outdated technology really rattle me.

    I always start out promising myself I'll keep my big mouth shut and my temper on lockdown, but it's hard. People and low-level politics and ploys for power really piss me off, so that weeds out a lot of jobs. Like, generally I can't do retail. I can do it in a store that makes people happy, like a housewares store, or maybe a grocery store, but no place where people would be super picky like say Macy's or a shoe store where people don't want to admit their true size. I worked at the Gap once a long time ago. I quit quickly.

    To tell myself I can just work "anywhere" would be lying to myself. And I struggle with this, I do. I try to be a team player. Hell, I worked for a long long time and at one point was pretty good at the whole thing. But I can't now. I know I can't. The thought of forcing myself to do it seriously distresses me.
My Kid Matters The Most to Me
  • I know everybody says that, and everybody means i,t too. But I guess most folk are conditioned to going off to work and their kids going off to school or daycare or the babysitter. Me, both my parents were home full time until I was out of the house, practically. I don't think my mom started working a "real" job until I was in my '20's. Poppy always either wrote or taught somewhere part time. So to me, staying home with the kid is like breathing. Leaving him to go to work when he was a toddler felt like dying. I did it though, until he was three. And when I worked at the hospital a year and a half ago, the situation worked cuz guess what; his school was very close to my job. I could pop over and see him at lunch, which I did frequently. But more importantly there are things I want to keep up with him, like his violin and his karate. If I work full time, I give a lot of that stuff up. Especially karate cuz of the logistics. And also, his father now lives cross country. There's just me. I want to be active in his life and I hate jobs that get in the way of that. The minute an employer/boss looks cross-eyed at me cuz I have to go to a PA meeting or a parent/teacher, I get really annoyed. My kid comes first, and don't question me about that.
So I look at all this written out, and I'm honest with myself. I am. I suck. I have issues. I know Shoefly in particular and the Professor also--who fully believe in the concept of working--will have a multitude of things to say about this. That I'm making excuses, that I need to get over my issues, etc. But I am my father's child. I'm also my mother's child. Neither of them works full time for anybody, and Poppy in particular grumbles about all the administrative stuff he has to do in relationship to his teaching.

And then there's another issue... I do apply for things and obviously my resume is not working for me... but I can't have a chronological resume because my experience and skills are all over the map. So I have a functional resume, and a pretty good one, I think. But something is off. The end result now is that I'm pretty depressed about the whole thing and the thought of applying for stuff fills me with dread. Cuz I hate not hearing anything. I also really really hate interviewing, particularly "cold" interviews. I'm just not good at it. I'm not "bubbly". My philosophy is... I can do anything. Unless I can't do it, in which case I'll tell you I can't but it won't take me long at all to learn. I can learn anything. (Hell, I've learned to make batten pockets for sails recently. And I'm pretty good at it, too, so I've heard. I heard through the grapevine I'm fast and neat. Who knew?) So just give me the damn job already. Teach me, and leave me alone. But apparently interviewing and job-seeking doesn't work that way.

I'm a mess.

And I need to kickstart something REALLY FAST or I'm in a heap of trouble.

Although I did say that when I first got canned... and I've now been "unemployed" over a year. But now it's for real for real. I need cashflow. I'm running out of time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Somewhere I Called It...

that Hillary should be Secretary of State. I'm just grinning all over myself that it's actually being talked about it. I should be a political pundit, hah. Of course, for the life of me in all the rambles I spew here, I can't find the damn post or comment that would prove what I said.

I find it amusing though, that Bill's activities are being called into question though. See, I told you they were sleazy. But still... Hillary would be a fantastic pick and I hope they manage to sweep Bill's shit under the rug. I'm sure they can... they're all politicians after all.

I've been watching Obama do his thing, getting his folk together. It's gonna be interesting. But so far, I'm still impressed with him. Can't wait till January 20th, and I'm trying to figure out how I can be there...

Anyway, eight minutes to "Heroes".... gotta go...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sometimes I Get To Read

though not often. I don't have time. I also tend to be obsessive, so when I do get to read a book I have to read it straight through, and can't do anything else until I've finished it. Luckily I read pretty fast... or this tendency could be a problem.

Last week Thursday was MMB's 14th birthday, and we'd gone to Bigbears to eat baked chicken wings (Bigbear makes the best damn chicken wings on the planet. I don't know how she does it cuz mine never come out like that) and salad stuff and kiss MMB.

I picked up this book that Bigbear had just been reading; she said it was pretty "horrible" and wasn't sure I'd enjoy it. I glanced at the first chapter and got sucked in immediately. I didn't put it down until I finished it. I even read in bed. I can't tell you the last time I did that.

I don't like "soupy" emotional books. I guess I don't really like "soupy" emotional anything, which is probably why "the darkest child" by Delores Phillips gripped me. SoHo Press, the publisher has the following synopsis on their webpage:

Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Yet everyone in her small Georgia town knows. Rozelle's ten children (by ten different daddies) are mostly light, too. They sleep on the floor in her drafty, rickety three-room shack and live in fear of her moods and temper. But they are all vital to her. They occupy the only world she rules and controls. They multiply her power in an otherwise cruel and uncaring universe.

Rozelle favors her light-skinned kids, but insists that they all love and obey her unquestioningly. Tangy Mae, thirteen, is her brightest but darkest-complected child. Tangy wants desperately to continue with her education. Shockingly, the highest court in the land has just ruled that Negroes may go to school with whites. Her mother, however, has other plans.

Rozelle wants her daughter to work, cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the "Farmhouse," where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she's decided, is of age.

Huh. That doesn't even begin to describe the horror. The fact that Tangy (I'm guessing it's pronounced "TAN-gee" since she's often called "Tan" for short) is the darkest child (until a new baby comes along) is almost incidental, and the fact that she is most often the recipient of her mother's almost random acts of violence is also almost incidental.

Ms. Phillips gets the story going, and you're rolling along in it and suddenly something out of the blue happens that takes your breath away. And then she just keeps on rolling. The thing is, abuse is like that. It's how you get sucked in so easily. It becomes normal and you don't realize the depth of the horror until you've managed to step away.

But it's not just the description of abuse and manipulation of an obviously disturbed parent over her children that makes the book so gripping. It's the way Ms. Phillips describes everything... the shack the kids live in, the town, the 1950's racism the children are confronted with daily, the abject poverty, how people's lives in a small town intertwine with each other yet fall apart, how hopelessness and despair become so ordinary that you can survive it. Even if you think you can't. And how something in you, something unexplainable and quiet, keeps you moving ever forward. And how sometimes, it doesn't... sometimes people just never overcome.

But despite the intensity of the images you'll see in your mind's eye, Ms. Phillips is so matter-of-fact about everything, so dry, that it makes the horror easy to bear. It's a strange thing. I'd taken a peek at "The Secret Life of Bees" cuz Fatlady was reading it, and while I still think I may read that book, I would describe it as "wet"... very lucid and flowing, as if the pain could drown you. "The darkest child" is dry... dry as a mummy.

This seems to have been Ms. Phillips first--and possibly only--book cuz I can't seem to find anything else on her. But if you have the chance, you should read it. But I warn you; it's intense.


So, Um, I'm Pretty Open-Minded...

but I'm definitely not politically correct, at least not all the time.

I've been mulling over the gay marriage issue for a while now, trying to figure out how I feel about it. I was distressed at the outcome of California's vote on Proposition 8... not necessarily because I agreed or disagreed, but mainly because it was a reversal of something that had already been passed. Like if they overturned Roe V. Wade. It's really uncool to sign something into law that affects how people live, and then take it away. Yeah I know, it happens frequently. But that doesn't make it right.

But it got me to thinking, again, how I felt... and I guess I do know, and I'm not trying to hurt any body's feelings... and I know almost everybody I know is either gay or bi-sexual or has a family member who is. And some of the folk I've really truly come to love and appreciate are gay or bi or has a family member who is.

I was watching snippets of the demonstrations on CNN, and a woman said "you can't legislate love".... and she's right. You can't. You can't help who you fall in love with... and love is so rare these days that if you find it in the arms of someone of your same sex... who's to say you shouldn't pursue it?

But at the same time, I've had an internal debate going on for years about how I feel about the gay rights issue. See... I consider myself to follow the teachings of the Old Testament. It's pretty specific that men should not lay with men, although I'm always highly amused that as specific as the Old Testament is about a lot of stuff, right down to how you treat leprous sores, that it never says specifically that women shouldn't lay with women. Although it does say specifically men shouldn't wear women's clothing or vice versa (that last instruction is kinda dicey these days, though).

Then of course there's the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how the men of that town had surrounded Lot's house demanding he turn over his (male) guests so they could have their way with them. It doesn't end well for the men of that town, so it's pretty clear what the moral of that story was.

On the other hand, that story is older than Methuselah, which means a.) homosexuality has been in existence since the beginning and b.) obviously there are times in history when it is easier to be openly gay than at other times in history. There is even a tradition of homosexual Native Americans, particularly the Great Plains and Southwestern tribes. In some tribes they were known as "Two Spirits" and revered because they tended to be spiritual leaders, and the fact that they existed between two genders was considered a gift.

I've come to the conclusion for myself, that the spiritual tenets that I follow require me to make choices about the way I live my life. A lot of people in the world eat pork or shrimp or calamari but if you "choose" to follow Judaic Law, than you are forbidden to eat those things. But I can't. And there are whole chapters and lists of things to do or not do if you choose this God... but it doesn't mean other people will choose the same thing.

In the Old Testament certain offenses are punishable by death or ostracism, but when you really stop to think about it, the punishments are for the people who are supposed to be following these traditions but aren't. Generally, they didn't extend to folk outside the Tribes of Israel, unless of course you were coming into Canaan to take over the land. Then you were to kill everyone. But that's another subject. The point I'm trying to make is that if you are living within a certain set of rules then the punishment for disobeying those rules pertains to you... not to the rest of the world.

I have a son. I'm pretty sure he's hetero although he's far from girl-crazy right now and sort of takes it in stride that little girls (and I mean little girls... he's a major hottie for the 2-6 year old set) chase him around. He's only ever had two "girlfriends" or crushes since pre-K, and one major crush on his best friend's older sister but usually he's just kind of cool about the whole thing. But I've wondered how I would feel--really, truly, honestly feel--if he came and told me he was gay. I know that I would always love him from the bottom of my heart, and I know that I would always want for him to be happy. I want for him to find his one true love and live happily ever after. But I confess I'd be less happy if his true love turned out to be another man.

And if he did come to me and tell me he wanted to marry that man, I'm pretty sure I'd struggle with it. I'd struggle with it because according to the set of rules I live by, and am hopefully raising him by, his choice would not be in accordance with those rules.

Another thing I've been struggling with is the comparison of the gay rights struggle to the civil rights struggle. And I confess I take some offense. No doubt some people are really really brutal and mean to gay people. And it's not right. We've all seen and heard horror stories of hate crimes against gays and it turns my stomach.

But it's arguable whether gay people are born gay or are made that way... I tend to think that for the most part, it's the former. I've met young children who have seemed to lean one way or the other, and not for nothing but however they lean as young children they tend to grow into that. But I've also met young women molested at an early age who became gay. And I've met gay women who weren't molested and molestation victims who weren't gay. In other words there is debate about the origins of sexual orientation. There was a time when I thought that gays chose to be gay, and at that time my argument against the comparison between gay rights and civil rights was that you don't get to choose to be Black. You just are. If you're light enough, you can choose to pass for white, but generally if you're born Black it's a guarantee that that's pretty much how you'll stay. But I'm pretty certain at this point in my life that for the most part, you don't choose to be gay either--you just are.

But there's no debate about being born black, particularly during the civil rights era. There was no doubt at all that at the worst of it, particularly in the south, you couldn't drink from the same fountains, sit in the same movie or coffee houses, ride in the same train car, go to school with, walk with, talk with, be insolent with someone who was white without risking a beatdown, or worse, death. There were signs telling us where we were or weren't allowed to enter. There were laws preventing us from going to school in certain places, as well as laws about who we could marry. And when horrible things happened to us there were laws that prevented us from obtaining justice. When African Americans finally rose up in numbers to protest, they were beaten and lynched and had fire hoses and dogs set on them. On television. So to me, it's kind of not the same thing.

That doesn't negate the human rights aspect that gay people are fighting for. And no one should ever be fired from a job cuz they're gay, or be ostracized, or teased or beaten or discriminated against. And if two people have decided to become a family unit, they should be able to share health benefits, or visit each other in the Emergency Room or hospitals.

But I do have some issue with the marriage thing. I think it's because generally, the institution of marriage is based on a religious view. You're choosing this person as a life partner in the sight of your God. And for the most part, marriage is between a woman and man and a God they've chosen to follow. Quite honestly, I think this is the way it should be. And I think that within the confines of a religious faith, this is perfectly acceptable. Because you can choose to follow or not follow a certain religion.

And while I completely agree that same-sex couples should be able to provide each other with health insurance the way married hetero couples do for each other, and I applaud companies who allow this, I get really annoyed that an unmarried, hetero couple can't provide health insurance to their partner. Someone once provided me with the argument that it's fair because the theory is that a hetero couple can marry but a gay couple can't, but I disagree with that. Because sometimes a hetero couple can't marry, for various reasons. And I also think that if an adult is living with say their disabled parent or sibling, they too, should be able to provide health insurance for that person.

But I don't like the idea of the Federal Government stepping in to define what marriage is or isn't. I think that's dangerous.... it would give the government too much control over our private lives, and there is that whole issue of the separation of Church and State, since the definition of marriage is really based on a religious idea.

I do think though, that the government should--across the board--create a definition of a domestic union, and write into that definition that any people who file papers requesting this status be awarded certain rights. The right to insure each other, or visit each other in a hospital room, etc. I think that the definition of a domestic union should include adults who have become their parent's caretaker. Or two members of a family who live together for whatever reason.

Of course this brings into question how to handle divorce, or the dissolution of a domestic union, and I recognize that for the purposes of creating amendments to a constitution it's probably easier to change the current definitions of marriage to include same sex couples, rather than write a whole new set of laws. And I can't see the government doing that...

So I guess this sort of dumps me back where I started out from; reluctantly supporting gay marriage, because I wholeheartedly believe everyone should be entitled to certain things. I wholeheartedly believe you should be able to love and cherish anyone you choose, and I believe that the government should respect your personal decision.

But I still, deep down, think that the definition of marriage should remain between man and woman and God...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Old Thought, a New Thought

...for Veterans day.

I woke up late this morning... the Sun was off from school and the Moon went to his cousin's, so we didn't have to get up right away. Both the Sun and I needed some catchup sleep, so it was good to not have to get up.

But I woke up thinking about Veterans, and war...

Last year I wrote about Grandpa, and how he was instrumental in the integration of the Army. And in my I Hate Black History Month post, I mentioned how Veteran's Day started out as Armistice Day, a day to honor WWI vets. But the "White" ones, since African Americans weren't allowed on the battlefield until Grandpa Truman came along. And if they were, they were in their own segregated units and often poorly trained.

I spoke to my Homegirl on Sunday, the one from Back In The Day, the one who is a veteran of Kosova, and of Baghdad. She lives in Indiana now, and when she called we started talking about our new President-elect. How Indiana's African Americans and Hispanics got out the vote in favor of Senator Obama, and how they rejoiced in the streets when he won.

We were agreeing on how badly this was needed, how it would help raise the bar for young minority men. We were agreeing how neither of us ever expected to see a brown face in the White House in our lifetime. And then she said "For once in my life, I can call myself an American. For once, I feel like I am. My faith in my country has been restored, and I can forgive her for everything... even forgive her for sending me to Baghdad."

I woke up thinking about what she said this morning... how many brown, red and yellow faces soldiers went off to war, carried the flag and fought and died for this country, but never really felt included here at home? Were discriminated against at home, and on the battlefield, and yet still fought proudly, and with honor?

I also thought about how much I dislike war. I hate the "rah rah patriotism" that war brings out in people. I really hate the expression "Freedom isn't free", because to me, it's a "rah rah patriotic" way of justifying war. Freedom IS free. It's people that hold you back. And often, America has gone to war to force ideas on other people... very often ideas we espouse on paper and in the Constitution, but not in actuality. I am not in favor of war... and I am certainly not in favor of America sticking her nose in certain places and not in others, depending on the resources of the country. So we'll send our soldiers to fight and die in Baghdad, but not in Rwanda or the Sudan.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*
We went to the dojo today, the Sun and I. On the way home we missed the bus back to the rock by 5 minutes, which meant we had 25 more minutes to wait before the next one came. Fuck that... I'm broke but we were both sore from the workout and it was cold, so I took my last $10 and hopped in a cab. The driver, turned out, was nuts... but actually we should have expected it since I seem to find that most cab drivers in New York are nuts. Or foreigners. One of the two.

In any event, he chatted all the way out here. During the day he drove limos he told us, and often for the government. "Don't trust the government" he said, "I drive for them, don't trust them." He then proceeded to tell both of us how everything about the U.S. was encoded on the money, and if you looked closely or folded money a certain way you could see certain things.

He then took out a $20 bill folded into a paper plane, then unfolded and refolded it into the shape of the Pentagon, folded it again so that the engraved picture on the back looked like the Twin Towers burning (I kid you not) and then demonstrated how the names of airlines hijacked (American and United) could be "folded" into existence. Lastly, he picked out the word "Osama" by folding the bill several more times.

The Sun was impressed and as we came up the stairs he asked me who Osama was, how he was responsible for the attacks on 9/11. When I told him, he said "We should kill him. Was he caught?"
"No, never, though the President said he would get him."
"Where is he?"the Sun asked.
"Probably in Afghanistan" I explained. I then told him that this was one of the reasons I was upset with Bush; he promised, in the days after 9/11, that he would get Osama, and he never did. Instead of going to Afghanistan, we ended up in Iran.

And this is one of the reasons I struggle with the concept of war, because in the modern era we often don't go to war for clearcut reasons. Or rather, reasons that aren't clearcut to the general public.

Yet it occurred to me that in a time of war, particularly for the soldiers actually doing the fighting, we almost have to have clearcut reasons, and if they don't exist we have to manufacture them. Our soldiers really can't be doubting themselves and their reasons for being in some hellhole... isn't that sort of what was happening in Vietnam?

And whether we agree with whatever war we're fighting, we do owe it to our troops to believe in them wholeheartedly, to support them unconditionally. Their survival depends on it. My friend had to believe that the reasons she was in Baghdad were valid; it's what kept her going on those nights she said she slept with a loaded attack rifle, what kept her focused when shells aimed at a her were going off around her.

But in the larger sense we owe it to our soldiers to send them to war responsibly. It must be the last resort. To sacrifice them for vague reasons is tremendously irresponsible. I hope that our new President will keep his promise to use our troops as a last resort.

And on Veterans Day it's good to remember our vets... my Homegirl; a friend's son who may shortly be sent off on another tour, the countless others. The ones still in some far away country, fighting because they believe in our country and what they're doing.

May they come home safe and sound.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Blendians: images from the pow wow trail

is the name of the show Bigbear and I put up at Tribal Spears Cafe and Gallery in Harlem.

I guess I should have posted about it earlier, but you know me. I get sidetracked. And generally this blog is about my head and heart, rather than what I do for a living. And I kinda wonder about having my blogworld and lifeworld collide though that tends to happen anyway so what the hell.

Here's the invite (I designed it):
...and the show runs through November so if anybody's down in Harlem go by and see it.

Yesterday was the opening reception. Bigbear and I didn't get done hanging the show till about a half-hour before the reception was to start. Talk about work... and then I had to run across town and get my hair washed and try to clean up a little.

We had a small but constant stream of folk pass through; some of my ride or die peeps and two OLD friends from high school (got me all verklempt). The show was so well received it was suggested that Bigbear and I do a closing party, which we've decided to do. This time, I promise to invite my blogfriends.

I put 24 photos up, and Bigbear had 18 pieces. We also included some work of friends of ours from the Dine' (Navajo) whose work is truly spectacular. So far, I sold two and Bigbear one, (the Manygoats sold some jewelry) and both Bigbear and I are in negotiation for more. So that was exciting... but to me, the most gratifying thing was the response.

There was a smattering of "Blendians" we've met on the pow wow trail who showed up, most of them in daily garb but one sister in particular came in her Seminole regalia. I overheard one woman say "I should have come in my regalia" which really made me feel good.

Another sister came up to me and said "Thank you... thank you for doing this" and I almost cried.

I take pictures at the pow wow because I love being there. I don't dance, and I don't wear regalia but I know who I am and I know I belong there. I can't claim a tribe... I trace my ancestry to a few different tribes but none of it is provable in the paper way. And some tribes, particularly the Cherokee, who have decided to only include those folk who can trace their ancestry through a paper trail may not want to claim me. But I know who I am... ironically enough I know some of my people were Cherokee. Whether you claim me or not I know this to be true....

So I take pictures. I plant myself in a corner somewhere, and watch my brothers and sisters and cousins pass by in all their glory, and I try to capture the love and the pride and the hearbeat that I see there. And I was so moved that people saw it, that both Bigbear and I were able to communicate that love and joy.

A good friend and fellow artist emailed Bigbear today, and I quote:

"...it's hard enough to make good, honest work in your studio, but to be able to find a way to present it all in a way that unifies it without losing the strength of each piece is so damn hard! ...I thought you totally nailed it! I kept wanting to go back and forth between pieces and I thought the realism of the photos was an important counterbalance to the poetry in your's. ...it's another way for the viewer to access the creative moment and really share in what you were doing."

It means a lot because it's precisely what we tried to do...

...and it brings me to another thing. My friend, hereinafter referred to as Faca since that's what he calls himself, came to the opening. We've been friends a while now, he and I... and I always say it's very hard for men and women to stay friends cuz there's always that "thing"... and I hope that "that thing" won't ever get in the way of us staying friends cuz I really think he's fabulous.

He and I have been talking about how we can keep each other artistically motivated, since we both suffer from similar issues. It's possible we may be starting a project together that will further the idea of the viewer being able to witness the creative process... and maybe that will encourage them to buy the finished product. Cuz you know, us artists need to eat. Shit's critical out here.

Anyhow, here's some pictures of how it looks. Pretty damn professional, if I do say so myself:

Bigbear (second from left) poses with some friends and Mima (far right)

Tribal Spears is located on Frederick Douglass Blvd (8th Ave to those of us who were there "before") between 116th and 117th Streets in Harlem. Tell Spring (proprietor) the Bear Clan sent ya...

A Response to Raw Dawg Buffalo

I've been annoyed--like seriously fucking annoyed--at the aftermath of Obama's election. The Gollums are just downright blatant; one guy in Jersey had his home-made front-lawn Obama sign turned into a burning cross on his front lawn overnight. It's bullshit. This was a democratic, American election people... your candidate lost. Get over it. And get used to a new administration; this is America. That's what the democratic process is supposed to be about.

Hell... I had to deal with my disappointment at another four years of Bush. You'll be alright. I was.

So Raw Dawg posted something, and I responded and it got long... so I brought it back over here:
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Jersey Girl pretty much summed up my position on Obama, how I felt about his policies, his ability to rally people, and his message of hope for change, and I will add this... as I've said before the man has demonstrated an ability to plan ahead. Far ahead. Personally I think he's been planning on the White House since he wrote "Dreams of my Father", and personally I think that's why he wrote it. He's a thinker, yes... but he IS able to find and rally people who can "do", and this something I find refreshing. They executed the hell out of his campaign. I don't think he was any more or less "fluffy" than McCain who never said anything concrete. Other than we were going to stay in Iraq. But McCain couldn't keep that rally going. That speaks volumes. And no matter what the Red States think or how racist and oldschool they may be... they have a Brown Face now they have to look at, and that's good for them. And long over due. For the first time they really have to acknowledge the true face of America.

Can Obama fix everything? Probably not. Did he really know what he was in for till the day after he was elected? Ha ha, probably not. I daresay when they start briefing him on what REALLY goes on behind closed doors he's gonna start saying "Oh shit, what'd I do?" But he has as much chance of succeeding or failing as anyone else, and it kinda pisses me off that people claim they're just being objective and looking at the facts, cuz I suspect that a great proportion of people's visceral dislike of the man is just plain old racism. And African Americans can be just as racist against "our own". Some of "us" plain ol' just don't like looking at ourselves. We can justify that shit all we want to, or deny it if we want to, but it's a fact.

And it REALLY pisses me off folks are quick to point out the Dow fell the day after his election. But had it not dropped the week before? All of a sudden, Obama was supposed to change the world in a day?

Seriously. The day after the '04 elections when I realized we had another 4 years of Bush I can't describe to you how betrayed I felt. Cuz Bush wasn't' working before...and to go through that shit again? And people have the audacity to think McCain was gonna fix the direction we're in???? With that Palin behind him? Please. So if people are having a hard time adjusting to Obama as president "based on his policies" I say, oh well. Get over it. The rank and file of us had to be fucked over by GW for eight years. You'll survive. Or not. It's always about survival of the fittest anyhow.

Right now, I'm at the bottom of the economic food chain. I'm talking to you from the bottom looking up. I write well and I have a computer and the internet, but I'm a stone's throw from destitution and I'm the one sitting in the foodstamp office and figuring out how I'm gonna pay my light bill and the rent. And the way I see it... it's all politics. It's all bullshit. You can sit and argue the politics and the policies and how they look on paper... but the bottom line is, no matter who's in the White House, they're not running the show. None of them are. Those few quiet multi-billionaires the world over are the ones running it... it just depends on their agenda--the price of oil or pharmaceuticals or defense missiles or pork bellies. And it's gonna take a LOOOONG TIME before that shit trickles down to my level. Obama's face in the White House isn't going to change that.

But what was more important in this election was breaking the legacy of slavery. Of letting little brown babies of all hues see that "ceiling" shattered. That it's cool to be intelligent. That succeeding or failing as an individual depends on you--you are not a slave to circumstance or the color you were born.

And for the world to stop thinking that all America does is talk shit and doesn't even apply our own "democratic-everyman is equal" stance to ourselves. How could we really tell people they shouldn't kill each other based on religious views or ethnicity when there is inequality in our own country?

Hope and faith are very very important.... whether you believe in God or call yourself and Atheist or Polytheist or whatever... the human ability to hope was being destroyed by those folk who are "objective" and "factual". And you "thinking, rationalizing" types need to go back to that once in a blue moon. It's not always all about "facts". There is always that chance that something unexplainable can happen.

Once in a generation some one comes along and changes the way we think, changes what our expectations are, changes what we think about ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the world; MLK, Brother Malcom, Ghandi... ultimately, did they change the world? Did they REALLY make a difference in the long run? That's debatable, depending on how you look at it. There is still racism and poverty and war and genocide. But it DOES makes us stop and think, question what we know.

We needed to remember that right in through here. And we needed to be reminded that Hope is not "childish" or "stupid" or that it doesn't count for anything in the face of "data" and "facts".

Business can--and will--continue as usual... but we needed to stop and question ourselves.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A New Era

This still hasn't sunk in.

I went to work yesterday.... in honor of my grandfathers who would have been besides themselves.

About halfway through my day, the radio station that's played on the factory floor played Ray Charles "Georgia on my mind". I sang that song at my Grandpa Truman's funeral... he loved Ray Charles and had been born in Atlanta. So I knew I'd done the right thing. I could feel him smiling, talking shit in his flat midwest accent.

The three brown people on my job smiled broadly when I walked in, but gave no indication of the enormity of the day. But when the break bell rang, we huddled in the basement breakroom excitedly chattering about where we were and what we felt. Everyone else was very very quiet, though I heard the man who hired me was an Obama fan.

The Rock was unbelievably quiet. While New York is a blue state, the Rock is a very quietly Red enclave and they were none too pleased. When I was on the phone with my mom at midnight the night before, listening through the phone as Harlem erupted into horns blaring and people cheering, I marveled that the Rock was as quiet as Christmas Eve... not a creature was stirring.

Today, the Gollums slithered all over the web, spewing hate and unrest.... but like slugs caught on a bright sunny day, their time has come. They'll either have to crawl back where they came from, or turn crispy.

Because this change had to happen. It was long overdue. It had to happen for America, for the world. We had to let our Caucasian brothers and sisters release their collective guilt. We had to let our brown brothers and sisters overcome the legacy of slavery. We had to reach out to our Native brothers and sisters for help (even though Montana stayed Red, I noticed that Rosebud voted blue). We had to bond again with our Hispanic and Latino brothers and sisters. America needed to know the sum of her parts equaled change, and hope, and strength.

And we raised the bar for all those little brown babies, especially the ones in inner cities. More than anything, our little boys need to pull up their pants and tuck in their shirts and go to school. They need to see it's cool as hell to be smart, to be able to speak eloquently, to love one woman and have both of your children with her. There is no excuse, now. Our little brown boys can no longer chalk up their insolence and unwillingness to break from the pack to the fact that "they'll never let a Black man succeed". Cuz yes, you can succeed. You can do anything, be anything... even be President of the United States of America.

Yes, you can.

Now get out there and do it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change!!!!

Wow.

There's a "Black" man in the White House.

I can't even process it.... except that how could he not win when

a.) somebody loves him and has his back:

b.) he had a plan and a script. And I'm going to post an article here so that you all will read it... cuz back in January when I talked about his logo, I knew the man had a plan. And when I dug around his website, I knew he knew how to plan, how to get people to execute his plan, how to listen to people so that they COULD execute his plan, and I knew he knew what the hell he was doing. And you know, I've every confidence he can turn this country around.

c.) young people and thinking people all over this country knew it was time.

I am so proud of all of us... of my friend OneHalf who went and volunteered, giving out flyers, coordinating calls to other states; of my niece the Diva who called me crying... she registered, she voted and it counted. She said it was like New Years eve, and she felt she could do anything.

I'm just proud, and overwhelmed. Wow.

Now read this:
The 'Obama Way': Seven steps to success
What his distinctive approach reveals about his possible administration

ANALYSIS
By Howard Fineman
msnbc.com
updated 12:57 p.m. ET, Tues., Nov. 4, 2008

NEW YORK - I was sitting in David Plouffe’s spartan office at Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago.

This horserace has been an interesting one, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. Instead, I asked the campaign manager about decision-making.

A lot of the campaign's choices have been better than good.

Cautious politically and bold organizationally, the decisions made amount to the best planned, executed and essentially mistake-free political effort I’ve ever covered.

So, I paid close attention when Plouffe told me there was an “Obama Way.”

It sounded vaguely mystical, but if there is one thing we need to know to help assess an Obama presidency, this could be it.

Having said that, you have to be cautious about seeing a White House foreshadowed in a candidate’s campaign.

Take for example George W. Bush. Some characteristics of his presidency — loyalty, insularity and reliance on a small core of advisors — could be noted in his 2000 effort. But unlike his presidency, that campaign proved adaptable to changing circumstances and more attuned to realities on the ground. The differences proved catastrophic.

Obama’s campaign has been so distinctive, disciplined and cutting edge that it’s nearly impossible not to look at it for clues as to what his White House would be like.

Businessmen and politicians will reverently study the campaign for years to come as a model of innovative branding and an example for digital sales strategies.

Politically, Obama’s ability to finesse tough issues — to anticipate criticism and play off of it — is a model of tactical skill. In terms of public character, his vaunted coolness is state-of-the-art.

Altogether, this strategy is seven-pronged — and it's a veritable play book for political success:

Be decisive: This is what Plouffe meant by the “Obama Way.” “Everybody speaks his or her mind,” he told me, “and then Barack makes the decision. After that, there is absolutely no second-guessing or looking back.”

The trick is to stick with it. Outside the campaign there was considerable hand-wringing a few months ago about the wisdom of pursuing an “expanded map” Electoral College strategy. Obama didn’t budge.

“It’s better to have one strategy and stick to it,” Plouffe told me, “than to try ten in pursuit of the perfect answer. The point is that there is no perfect answer.”

Have a tight circle: Obama has a very small circle, although it’s not the circle of one (Karl Rove) that Bush had.

Obama’s core group consists of four people besides the candidate himself: the “two Davids,” Plouffe and David Axelrod, the reporter-turned-consultant and the keeper of the Obama message and the mythology; Valerie B. Jarrett, a Chicago lawyer, fundraiser, and former city hall official; and Obama’s wife, Michelle.

“It’s the two Davids and those two women,” said a top party official. The result is an ability to keep a secret. The choice of Sen. Joe Biden for Obama's running mate, for example, wasn’t leaked to the press.

Stick with the plan: Obama's game plan was devised by that inner circle, plus maybe a ring or two beyond it, and has been in place since the moment Obama announced his candidacy in 2007. It’s remained mostly intact.

The plan was carefully back-timed with the general election in mind. Except for his commitment to a specific timetable for withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq, the overall platform has remained substantively centrist in tone and content.

I’ve never seen another campaign so willing and able to stick to the script.

Sweat the details: Planning strategy is one thing, but executing it with almost obsessive precision is another.

All winning campaigns must be able to do that, even ones that have benefitted, like Obama’s, from historical trends, including Bush’s travail and a near-collapse of the Republican Party.

But the Obama campaign has not missed a single detail — including, as a recent example, an unprecedented effort to win one stray Electoral College vote in Nebraska.

Understand your brand: Obama lacks a background in business, but you could never tell by looking at his campaign.

It has adapted and improved upon key techniques of modern, international marketing. One of them is branding through iconography.

His campaign is literally centered on a symbol. The Obama camp created that road-meets-the-rising-sun logo two years ago. And that’s just one part of a larger focus on visual sales.

Remember the stage for his speech at the Democratic National Convention? The vast set, covered in faux Greek columns and video monitors, was designed to embody the idea of a mass movement or a crusade for change.

And at a recent rally in Cleveland, the entire Obama family wore matching outfits, representing a united familial front by smiling and rocking out with Bruce Springsteen to “The Rising.”
Go digital: Obama’s campaign devotion to semiotics is matched by and married to an innovative, envelope-pushing use of web-based and digital communications.

One example, demonstrated to me by Chris Stern of Bloomberg: an Obama applet for the iPhone, developed by a supporter in London. Among other things, it organizes all contacts according to key swing states, allows users to distinguish friends as Obama supporters, and lists (for those with GPS-enabled phones) local Obama meetings and events (complete with maps and directions).

The campaign’s texting efforts are perhaps better known. Enticed by contests, supporters sent in their phone numbers at major rallies. Electronic participation continued and hit new highs in August when the Obama camp promised to reveal their veep choice first via e-mail and text message.

Use caution: Speaking of vice presidential selections, Obama’s selection of Biden speaks volumes.

Given the range of choice, Obama made the safest pick — and one that he had reason to believe would yield a specific, tangible benefit: help in Pennsylvania (specifically, northeast, where Democratic turnout is essential).

So what's the bottom line? Pretty simple. If past is prologue, Obama and his circle are already very hard at work — and very far along — planning the details of his presidency.

The game plan will be comprehensive, detailed, clever and cautious.

That's good news, whether you’re for him or not. As Plouffe says, it's always better to have a plan. It's the Obama Way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Change Coming...?

So I did it. I pulled the lever for the first (openly) brown-skinned man to run for President in the 232 years of the history of this nation.

I took the Sun in there with me, and he moved the big red lever to the left to record our vote.

Awesome.


...and now we wait, wait to see how many people believe in Change, wait to see if the system works right, wait to see if brown people will continue to have faith in this country...

Change?

Yesterday was Black Solidarity Day*. Back in the day when I was teen, a lot of people, myself included, stayed home from work and school. Somehow, Black Solidarity Day sort of fell off the radar but I was reminded of it recently, because there has been talk of what to do the day after election day.

There's been talk of people staying home if Obama wins, to celebrate and mark the occasion. Without being able to say why, exactly, I feel strongly that life should go on as normally as possible. To me, to have a brown-skinned person as a President is long overdue. But if he gets elected, it's not going to end racism. The heavens won't suddenly part with a choir of singing angels. In fact, the real work will only just have begun. Plus... we've got to make it to Inauguration Day in one piece. But THAT day? I won't be at any kind of a piece of job...

Besides, I keep thinking of my Grandfathers... Grandpa Will who was "51 Percent Garveyite" and who wrote the following creed for himself in 1922:
Do not let thoughts of the horrors of Hell prevent you from doing wrong; nor the peace and joy to be had in Heaven persuade you to do right; but do right as though you were ignorant of your reward for doing right, or your damnation of doing wrong. In other words, do right because it is right to do right, and not because of fear.
He was a little bit of a stickler for things, from what I understand... a little rigid. Even that passage is a little overdone. He wasn't exactly a joyous man. He went to work every day. I never got to meet him; when my father was 19 he had a heart attack on the subway platform on his way to work. But Grandpa Will would have been beside himself these days... and if he were able to, I know he would have gone to work tomorrow just to point out that it was the "right thing to do".

Grandpa Truman on the other hand, made it a point to enjoy life... he spent freely, drank much, enjoyed the company of women (much to my grandmother's ire-she referred to them as "husseys") and friends, but he was loyal as hell and from all accounts was a pretty good lawyer. He fought for those things he thought was right, stood up for the truth as he saw it, even if what he thought or was fighting for was unpopular. He didn't waver. And I know for a fact he would have been at work, calling folks on the phone, talking shit, enjoying the day.

So even though I really have no piece of a job, and I've got a lot of stuff to do to get ready for this show... and even though I'd rather be in Harlem people-watching, as of this moment the plan is for me to go to work. It's actually the ONLY day I'm working this week. Broke ass that I am.

But yesterday, because of Black Solidarity Day, I didn't work. And now that I think about it, I don't think I spent any money, cuz uh, I have none. I went to visit FatLady and keep her company while she cleaned up (cuz cleaning is much easier with company). On the way there I wandered through Central Park for a minute because the leaves were so beautiful.

Then I met up with OneHalf at the Harlem For Obama Office on what used to be 8th Ave and 133rd.

Harlem was quiet, but there was a low hum of intensity just under the surface. All kinds of people stopped by the office to volunteer; run off copies, fold fliers, make a plan to manage the lines for today. I was wearing one of my Fringed/beaded jackets, and noticed a woman of Native descent who only "saw" me without saying anything... she was wearing a Native watch. An elderly Caucasian woman was there, volunteering to man phones tomorrow, as well as several elderly church ladies, a crazy man and a few young women.

We folded flyers explaining the Democratic column in New York for a little while, enjoying the company and the hum of activity. It suddenly dawned on me how huge this is. Whether Senator Obama wins or not, in years to come this time will be read about in history books. And if he wins....

I was glad that I was there, in Harlem, which in previous years had been the center of African-American consciousness. She has survived the ravages of time, drugs, poverty and gentrification pretty much with the same spirit. Because even though Harlem is decidedly different (cuz when I was kid I NEVER went to upper 8th Ave... it was WAY too wild) that basic spirit is still there.

Later on I picked the Sun up from school and decided on-the-fly to attend OneHalf's "Pre-Election-Call People in Swing States" Party. Which meant I hung out with FatLady for the few hours in between, mainly cuz I knew I could catch a nap riding around in her van. My insomnia is at it's peak and the night before I only caught an hour of sleep, and felt myself crashing at 3P. We heard that Tut, Obama's grandmother passed, and the text messages passed between us all. To me... I took it as a sign that Tut knew it would be OK, and she could go. Plus... maybe she can pull some levers strings up there....

At 6:30 we got to another friend's beautiful home right at the edge of Harlem, and there was plenty of food and excited chatter. I don't do phone calls; I have a thing about calling people on the phone sometimes, but I forwarded some text messages to folks I haven't spoken to in a long while, urging them to vote. My parent friend from Yonkers texted back "Obama! Obama!". The kids ran around downstairs in the playroom and popped up for food. It was a great time; I normally go home and don't attend gatherings cuz I live so far and it takes so much energy to get home, but I was really glad I was there. I enjoyed watching my friends make phone calls... sometimes they got hung up on; sometimes they were told the person was voting for McCain. But a huge cheer went up whenever someone confirmed Obama as their choice.

The Sun and I got home about 11p. There's no school in NY today so we all slept a little late. Bigbear and the Professor both called at 8A to report long lines at the booths at 6A in the morning, but ShoeFly and I laughed that there are no lines out here on the Rock... where I'm about to go... and cast my vote for the first viable and (openly) brown-skinned man that has ever run for President of the United States in over 200 years.

Fucking Cool...

*In 1969, the call was for Blacks to stay away from the madness of U.S. society. Africans in the diaspora were asked to stay home--no work, no school, and no travel. If we, as a people, did so the day before a so-called national election, our absence would make our collective presence felt. If this were accomplished, we would be able to force a racist and recalcitrant society to address our issues. We would then confront our oppressors by not providing labor for their benefit.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pullin'

So the days are getting better though I'm still broke. Thank God for Caller ID... I can dodge my bill collectors although the Student Loan people recently took to calling neighbors out of the phone book. But what can I do. I'll deal with it when I can.

In the meantime, I went down Saturday to hang out with Poppy and the Peeps on Poppy's birthday. He turned 71. Around this time 10 years ago he was really sick and about to find out he had bladder cancer. And that his kidneys were failing. And that while he was pretty healthy he was one sick Poppy.

I was pregnant with the Sun and fighting with SD all the time, and I remember just not being able to deal with the thought of Poppy not being around. I think I gave up being a grown up right then... relinquished the reins of responsibility to the Professor, who wasn't quite a professor yet; she was just finishing up one of her degrees. I was still working as a techie... at Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center.

I've been a kid ever since, growing up all over again with my Sun. Poppy recovered... he had some scares but he made it, and has been on dialysis for about the past 9.5 years. Not bad for an old dude.

He feels old now... and he doesn't like it at all. I more feel for him not liking it than I do feel bad watching him get old, because to me, he's still Poppy. Every so often I realize he's not 38 (his turning 38 is stuck in my head because we were in Bull Bay, Jamaica then, and since there was no money sis and I would make presents. That year we made him a "birthday hat" with 38 on it.). He walks slower than he used to... I remember saying "Papa, slow down!" and now he says it to me... but his spirit and humor are still the same and that's enough for me. Besides, I refuse to think of anything else...

But it was nice to go sit with him; life gets busy as you get older and when his birthday is on a weekday it's hard to stay down there and so I feel I've missed a few birthdays even though I always talk to him on the phone (and it's not like I don't see him a couple times a month at the bare minimum). The only one missing was the Sun, since he was with his dah.

MMB and the Diva asked him what he did for fun when he was young, since there was no TV or computers back then, and we sat and listened as he told us what the Bronx was like in the '40's... it's strange to think that 60 years ago there wasn't much to the Bronx... he said there were farmers out near where I live now. Funny.

We ate Popyeye's fried chicken (eh) and had cupcakes. We didn't have birthday candles so Bigbear lit a regular candle (really cuz TinyOne insisted we turn out the lights) and sang "Happy Birthday".

I called the Sun so that he could talk to Poppy. ("Ma, we're going to wash my hair when I come home Sunday, right?" "Huh? You just went to the salon... it doesn't need to be washed". "But we're going to wash it, right? As soon as I come home?" And then it dawned on me that the kid was essentially telling me that so his father wouldn't feel compelled to wash his hair. Smart kid. Later when I asked him about it he only smiled and said nothing.)

The Professor drove me home... she was hoping that TinyOne would fall asleep in the car, but his bright eyes stayed awake the whole way out to the Rock, and the whole way back... watching her drive, keeping watch on cars for her. That's his Muma... his Ride or Die. Funny baby.

Happy Birthday, Poppy. We love you with all our pinchie hearts...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Thank You....

I wanted to acknowledge that while I don't always comment back these days on comments that are left for me, and I haven't been consistently been visiting my blog friends... I appreciate you all being there. Checking, reading, commenting. A Narcissist needs her peeps...

When I go back and get to the comments, I do read links you send, and think about what you've said.

So thank you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tick Tick Tick Tick...

I often wonder why I spend so much time trying to figure out what makes people tick. Why it matters to me... whether it really matters at all.

I guess sometimes it comes in handy. But I can't seem to figure out my own shit.

I haven't written in the past few days cuz I still don't feel well; I've had to work; I kept falling asleep in my chair here at the computer; too many thoughts buzzing around to put anywhere coherently. That and there were preparations to be had since SD was coming.

He got here Thursday, and picked the Sun up from school. Yesterday the Happy Family went trick or treating... me mostly following and taking pictures of my fabulous (if I do say so myself) dragon head costume (which of course I couldn't even begin to picture until the last freaking possible minute... and then like a whirlwind I put it all together in an hour and a half, with UN being my model and assistant), and SD mostly getting to walk with his kid. It was pleasant enough. I could remember why I liked him at one time. But there is steel between he and I, probably mostly on my side.

The Professor said I should just play along and get my little girl, but the thought of that.... no. Probably the regret of my life (and I don't like living with regret) is that I only had one baby... but I couldn't do that again. Not for anything. There was too much drama. Too much pain. Too long a war. I can easily call a truce. I can walk with him and smile and enjoy that our little boy can be in a space with both his parents, and I will do that for my Sun. But I will never forgive SD. I'm not a Christian, I don't have to. It's up to God to forgive him if he asks for it himself. And I'll never forgive me for enduring all that shit, and never ever could I let my guard down around him. I could never trust him, heart and soul. Besides... I've never revisited the scene of a crime, and I don't intend to start doing that with him, of all people. Plus, ew... the thought of sleeping with him.... nah. I'll pass. Babygirl just wont be. I'm sorry, Babygirl.
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I've been wasting time on Facebook, being annoyed by people who seem to think McCain/Palin are the right way to go. It's always interesting to me... how people can be so wildly different on seemingly blatantly simple issues. And again; it makes me wonder what makes people tick. What makes people think that Palin is a good pick for VP? Why don't people see the divisiveness that comes from that side? In truth, it really wouldn't matter who was running; some people are guaranteed to feel one way and others are guaranteed to feel another way. I try to figure out what people are seeing... or not seeing. But I admit I'm stumped. I don't get it. I don't get how people are still talking about JoeThePlumber and how "he asked a valid question"... and all I see is that he was obviously a mole, a set up.

I get so close to saying "You're an idiot"... but that's not being fair. We're all entitled to our opinion. And our opinions are formed by our experiences. And our experiences can be wildly different.

At least that's what I tell myself. When I'm trying to be fair. But truth be told, I'm getting a little tired of always being fair. Cuz it's not seeming to get me anywhere.
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Those body parts that got blown apart are all in one place again. Most of them are back together, and every so often I can feel them flexing, testing themselves. A few parts still lay here and there, but they are finding their rightful places again. Some days I feel myself... some days there is still residual pain. It was a mistake to open up those gates once something got in... I should have instead, found the source of the breach and like a rathole, plugged that shit up. It wasn't worth the pain. Some creatures are wild for a reason and should stay that way. But I've learned...

I have to remember that of the images of a person I can see, the only one that counts is the one at the core because that's the one that will win. Love, or faith, believing in a person... none of that shit counts unless the person themselves aspires to the best in themselves. I learned that with SD... and it's something I should have remembered. I wanted to believe in the impossible. But there is only "What Is".

That makes me sad, that thought. But there's not a lot I can do about that except live my own life to the best of my ability.
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Fluffernutter went away for a few days. I don't talk to him all the time, but I kind of missed knowing he was around, doing his thing. The night before he left we had another IM chat, and I could tell from his phrasing he was a little down.

He, like me, gets too easily sidetracked. He's way too hard on himself, which is what people say I am. So I proposed an idea to him that would enable the both of us to try something we like doing within a certain limit, and then each of us will play "stopgap" with the other so that we can remind each other to stay focused on the idea we chose. If it works... if we can concentrate on the same thing long enough to get the idea started, it could be really cool. I told him to think about it while he was away, and he said he would. The next morning it stormed. I thought of him briefly, wondering if his plane got off the ground and found myself being happy that he texted me from the runway: "Hey, guess who. I've been on the runway..." That was kind of cool.

But eh. Our worlds are worlds apart, and I need his type of friendship because his need to create things is as big as mine and I'm not about to fuck that up.
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Last night, after I did the Happy Family thing, SD took off with my Sun and I transformed myself into a '60's Black Radical/Blaxploitation chick (actually, my costume was totally based on this mental memory I have of Mima in 1968, which is highly amusing to me), and went up to Yonkers to the dojo's Halloween party. The kids were all still there, running around chasing each other, the women were all sitting along the wall and the men were all congregated in the back, waiting for the liquor. Kind of like High School. There was a ton of food. I felt loved... the little girls all came up and kissed me hello. The BrothersSensei were glad to see me. BigSenseis wife bustled around picking up spills and cleaning up garbage. Babymama was nowhere in sight.

Eventually most of the kids left except for the ones who's parents were there, and one of the moms went along the wall and pulled all the women out on the dance floor. The men broke out the liquor. The DJ, who is one of BigSensei's friends and someone he keeps trying to introduce me to, gave me a big hello. He's kind of nice looking... but eh.

Around midnight there was commotion. Some drunken hoodrats (wannabe gangbangers) who were passing acquaintances of CrazyPurpleBelt tried to crash the party, but BigSenseis wife mostly had it under control. I love her... ex-military, about 5 foot nothing and afraid of no man. But then one of BigSenseis 161 - OG's* got annoyed at one of the hoodrats, and apparently fisticuffs ensued. I was inside, enjoying my vodka cranberry, and didn't see any of it, but next thing I knew the older kids were herding what was left of the younger kids into the back of the dojo, the men all surged outside and the women blocked the door, one of them holding a folded metal chair.

Gotta love the hood. Where people know how to fight.

Yonkers PD came quickly... it tends to be rough up there and the Yonkers PD are known to swarm quickly and are none too friendly. The rest of the kids and their parents broke out, so all that was left was family, and me. The PD dispersed the hoodrats, but of course that's only while the Po-Lice are there, and the minute they left Family went into action in case the hoodrats came back, like they apparently promised to.

I grabbed Little Sensei's kid who had started to cry, and took him into the back room. I told him it was all going to be OK, not to cry, and we were just going to sit quietly and wait till the "bad guys" left. Little kid stoically buttoned himself up and stood quietly, holding my hand. I told the older kids to turn out the lights (see, I've been in a few situations myself) and we waited in the dark till all the cars had been brought to the door.

Hoodrats never showed up--I didn't think they would but you can never be too prepared cuz sometimes they do. BigSensei's wife drove me home, regaling me with stories of other incidents from 'Round The Way.

Back on my boring Rock, I went and found CrazyNicaraguaChick and we hung out for a little bit... it was way too early for me on a night that I was actually out, dammit. But I've done my hangtime on the Rock and had no interest in seeing all the HasbeensWhoAreStillHere, and watching the newer younger crop gyrate in the corner, so I came home...
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Today is my Poppy's birthday... he is 71 years old. I'm gonna go down and see him...

*OriginalGangsta