Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Life is Bi-Polar

No, not me. I have narcissistic tendencies and pull to the darkside. But I think I'm pretty much even tempered. I have to be. Because my life is bi-polar.

There'll be that high from the sweetest moment ever, and in a day or two it's black as hell. The birthday was great, I coasted all day. But Thursday I detected something gathering and by Friday I'm fairly certain I know where this is going. Nowhere. Same old bullshit.

And on top of that I got a call from G-Man at 6:30p yesterday. I'd been out with the Professor and MMB buying glittery accessories and getting my hair flippy for today. I could tell by his voice something was majorly wrong. It was. Apparently a pipe burst in the club I was to gather my friends in, and the place was flooded. Shut down. For at least 3 days.

I guess he expected me to freak out... my friend. Who by the way, being a frat guy understands the concept of "Ride or Die". My grandfather was a fratman. And I don't think there's any more "ride or die" than a black fraternity. But I digress.

I told him well... when it's this big there's no point freaking out. There's no point crying. You have to start thinking of options. Cancelling wasn't an option. Neither was rescheduling. I got some ride or die folk coming in from as far as away as Minneapolis, and I had to find a spot to hang out in. Preferably with dancing. And mandatory that there was no cover, since my fellow pole-dancers are shelling out $40. And times are tight.

So we decided on Moca Lounge, in Harlem, which has a pretty good reputation for Harlem and no cover. I've never been. And I'm also leery of straight up "black" clubs cuz I love a wide variety of music. But... Moca it is. So if you're following my saga from somewhere in blogworld and care to come hang out with me, check out Moca Lounge at 2210 Frederick Douglass Blvd. I'll be the glittery one.

As for the rest... I at least know now why BeautifulHair was mad at me. I always say that however people feel about something is how they feel. You can't validate or invalidate how someone else is feeling. But the reasons behind it? I dunno. She seems to be saying that something snapped because I'd missed her birthday. Sent her a card a day late, saying that I was sorry I'd missed it. I had. What I hadn't told her was I was busy avoiding medication. Her birthday is in September, and in September I was better than I was in August... but I wasn't all better. And not for nothing but her being mad at me brings up all kinds of questions about "benefit of the doubt" and "reasonable expectations" and "understanding friends" and I obviously don't fit into that category for her. And maybe I deserve it. But you know, narcissistic tendencies be damned... I don't think I deserve it.

But whatever.

On top of floods happening in both party locations, no money, no job, and disappearing acts I really wonder at myself... how likable a person I really am and if maybe Karma is out to get me?

Pass the tequila. It's gonna be a long night.

I should be writing about more important things, too. Rihanna... and the Chris Brown Statement. That chimp/NY post thing. But it's still swirling and it's easier for me to free-form spew rather than write coherently. Besides... JaySmooth spoke on the chimp thing better than I can at the moment:


Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Of My Best Birthdays Ever

...as a growngirl just passed. I always had great birthdays as a kid. No matter what was going on. As I got older I've had great birthdays and really terrible sucky ones.

But some stand out for various reasons:
  • My 7th, because I had a party. Probably my first. I was attending Faye Simpson School on Hope Road in Kingston, and my classmates all came. Someone had sent me a card in the shape of a number 7 (my grandmother, I think), and I remember wearing it pinned to my dress. We ran all over the front yard and ate cake.

  • My 9th birthday(pretty sure, or my 10th).... we'd just gotten evicted from our house on Montgomery Ave. I don't actually remember much, other than blowing out candles on a cake and knowing that it was special, since everything else was up in the air.

  • My 12th birthday. We were broke as hell, and everything was rationed out and shared. All I wanted for my birthday was a jar of peanut butter that I didn't have to share. And I got it. And I didn't have to share.

  • My 16th. I had a party that like 3 girls and 10 boys came to. Not really one of my favorite birthday's... but it was fun anyhow.

  • My 18th. I was legal. I got red leather pixie boots and had on a red blouse. I felt really special.

  • My 19th... I and some of my friends went to a club (legally), drank (legally) and saw Evelyn Champagne King sing "To Be Real". Bigbear had made me a dress--pink and grey--that I had designed.

  • My 21st. Was dating a guy from High School everyone had thought was hot. We went out somewhere, all dressed up. I wore a fedora. Had a great time.

  • My 3oth. I was still a vodka girl then. I had vodka martinis and lemon drop shots. I had just moved to the Rock the summer previously. I had great new friends and got completely trashed. For free.

  • My 32nd. Only because I had a bunch of friends coming to meet me at the same local hot drinking spot mentioned above. And SD, who I had just begun to date, had called me at 7A that morning not to say "Happy Birthday" but to say we shouldn't see each other anymore. And he bounced the door at that spot that same night. I got trashed. My friend BeautifulHair carried me out when I started crying. SD came over the next morning and apologized and we made up. And the rest is history. It was like that for years.

  • My 44th. Just now. It started out unexpectedly good. I don't even want to say why. I think I want to hold onto it for a little while, before fear and doubt set in. But I've been trying to take deep breaths all day... beating back the little voices that remind me that things aren't always what they seem, that shit happens, things wander, go astray. That people do strange things for stranger reasons. I try to just enjoy the moment I'm in and not dwell on it too long once it's gone, or worry about the next moment. I will never repeat August. But...
...the day continued on well. And other than learning about/being completely horrified by the news that my wonderful, beautiful friend Fat Lady's car was the target of some awful, seemingly random act of arson (but I worry--is anything like that ever really random???), it continued on well. I even got an e-Card from my friend Beautiful Hair, though it said nothing warm or caring... but at least she remembered. Bigbear and I went looking for something for me to wear on Saturday (see below). We ate fish from Taste of Seafood. Poppy stood up and came to sing Happy Birthday over an Entemann's chocolate cake. I got to kiss TinyOne and hang out with the Diva and Moodmagic Barbie (who's been pretty MoodStable lately). The Professor drove us home.

I got what seemed like a million Facebook messages from friends. I wish I could save the page, but on the other hand, it's sort of apropos. Nothing stays the same; moments are moments and they pass... you retain the memory of them, the warmth, the glow... but they pass.

This weekend, a friend of mine from High School, he of WBAI radio and the Underground Railroad fame, is hosting a party out in Brooklyn. He let me tag my birthday celebration onto it. Well, the "after-pole-dancing-class" celebration part. I'm really excited. I'm hoping more than three girls and 10 boys show up... At least I know my blog sisters Green Tea Ginger and the Skinny Girl will be there, which is cool. Cuz I've never met Ms. Ginger face to face. But if any of you all out there in blogland wanna come... come on down to Black Betty in Williamsburg. It's gonna be slammin'...

Last but not least... the Fabulous and I are working on a Master Plan. Well, we've been working, but the vision is starting to clear. And, in doing so... one thing led to another and I made very small start working on a idea I've had for a while... illustrating the creation story. Here's my first beginnings of it:

Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered
together into one place, and let the dry
land appear”; and it was so.
-Genesis 1:9

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Animals Are Treated Better Than Old Men

in this country.

I mean like for real.

Cat went into the hospital Friday morning. I told them he was blocked. Yes, it cost me $125 just to walk in the door. Yes, half up front of the high estimate of $1268.00 before they treated him. But the minute I coughed up the money, they started working. It took me maybe two hours tops.

Poppy went into the hospital Saturday morning. The Professor told them he was leaking yukky stuff. It didn't cost anything up front... he's got good insurance. They worked on him right away, but mainly because folk recognized signs had been missed and he was pretty sick. Don't want a lawsuit. He got admitted and got a bed in about 12 hours, tops. All things considered... that was fast. Damn fast. When Shoefly's mother gets taken to the ER they sit around till her brother starts calling in favors.

Vet called me every day about the same time to report progress. Even when that vet went off duty for the long weekend, two other vets called, fully informed and were able to tell me how Cat was responding to treatment. They noted that he was "fearful", yet beautiful and tried to make his stay pleasant.

The fam went down to visit Poppy. The Professor happened to corner a doc who gave her some information but nothing very specific. Didn't particularly note any concerns about anything. I mean concerns on Poppy's part. Nobody cared that he was fearful or concerned.

I had been told that Cat would get out on Monday, and on Monday morning when the vet called to check when I'd be coming, I told her about 2P. So on my way down I spoke to Bigbear who said Poppy was asking for a falafel, and could I go bring him one and check on him on my way to the ASPCA. The hospital is pretty much in the same neighborhood.

I hate seeing Poppy in the hospital. I really do. I prefer that my Poppy always be what I remember him being... taller than me, strong, funny, in control. I remember all those nights he held me as a kid, me struggling to breathe, asthma constricting my lungs. Him telling me "Trust in the True God, you're going to be OK". When ever I REALLY hurt, I go to Poppy. And I know it's my time to give that back but really, quite honestly I hate it. But I went... I brought him falafel. We sat and he tried to eat, shifting uncomfortably in the bed.

Nurse came in and said "So you're being discharged today?"
"I am?" he asked. Nobody had told him. The doctors had been around and said he "could"... but Poppy (like me) is a literal man. "Could" does not equal "Going to". "Could" is a rhetorical question. "You are going to" means it's going to happen. I felt him stiffen, his aggravation and uncertainty rising.

"I don't feel like I should be going home" he said. "And I don't have all the right stuff". The nurse, who in reality was very sweet and caring, looked a little blank. She offered to go check out everything. I had to page her in order to find out about how long it would be before the discharge papers were ready. "About a half hour" she said.

I asked her (because the Professor told me) about the prescription he was supposed to get to help his sore foot... one of the doctors had said it was circulatory. There was none in his folder. There was a prescription for antibiotics. There was one for a sitz bath ("a SITZ bath???" I thought to myself). There wasn't one for pain meds. And one of the things he went in complaining about was back pain. It's had him flat for about a month.

The nurse paged the doctor. Eventually she put him on the phone with me. He didn't feel comfortable, he said, prescribing pain meds for a urology complaint. In theory, I understand. In theory, I realize percoset and vicoden are highly potent, highly addictive substances. Vicoden has pretty much put crack dealers out of work. But we're talking about a seventy-one year old man who had pain when he walk in here... and is having pain as you push him out.

Doc wouldn't budge. Nurse couldn't because she's not a Nurse Practitioner. Doc said "go to his primary care doctor". The problem is... he doesn't have one. He's been in and out of the hospital several times, usually related to kidneys or staph infections... he's in the dialysis center three times a week. Technically, he doesn't really need one if doctors are seeing him all the time.

But only a PCP or a pain doctor would be comfortable giving pain meds. I get it. I start to cry. I dread going back into the room to tell him he's going to have to make it until we can get him in to see yet another doctor. Nurse helpfully offers that if he REALLY doesn't feel better, he can come back to the ER.

You've got to be fucking kidding me, I think to myself.

The other nurse/something sitting in the chair next to her has a little sympathy for me, and encourages the nurse to look up "Pain Management" doctors in the computer. Who the fuck knew there was such a thing? In desperation I call my former Hospital client. The one I'd done the monster brochure for and fought with. And made sure to make up with cuz she works in geriatrics. She encourages me to ask for a social worker, and if that doesn't work, a patient representative. An oncall social worker is paged. The nurse explains my concerns, and that I'm asking for help. What I wanted to ask for was help navigating the system, to get a name, someone who will follow the process. You know, like they do at the ASPCA. The social worker refuses to talk to me on the phone, and hangs up before the nurse can hand over the handset.

I go cold. Fuck a patient representative. I got some shit for them.

I read the discharge papers. They are in duplicate... written in someones scritch/practically illegible handwriting. They caution that if nausea or diarrhea manifest themselves, come back.

There's also a printed notice that if he really doesn't feel well, he can refuse to leave. I decide it's better that he get the fuck out, so I didn't point that out to him.

We wait 20 minutes for the wheelchair guy to come. Oh, but first I had to go upstairs and look for Poppy's shoes. When they moved him from the room he was in, they hadn't brought his shoes. There had been a fire in that wing the other day, and so all the furniture was in the halls, being wiped down buy gloved and gowned housekeeping folk. Mostly Jamaican. I told them why I was there. "You lucky!" the man said. "Me put dem inna de gyabij!" They were sealed in the "Possessions" bag, in a clear garbage bag, at least with nothing else. I grab them and start back down, thanking the housekeeping staff for their help.
"'Im lucky. You come likkle lata dem not be here" the man said again.
"God looks out for the old man" I said, and they laughed. They understood what I meant.

The wheelchair transport comes down, talking to orderlies about a bangin' party he'd gone to the night before. He takes his time getting Poppy onto the elevator. He starts telling us about a club patron at the club he was bouncing. The patron had on $1,000 alligator sneakers. The Wheelchair guy/club bouncer said he didn't let him in because $1,000 alligator sneakers are GOING to be stepped on, and it WILL cause a fight. We laugh.

We get Poppy in the car and the Professor drives me over to the ASPCA to get Cat. The reception/ER area is busy. An Hispanic-but NY-English speaking drunkie chick is stressing over her dog Nyah who apparently had the runs. Other than that, Nyah looked fine to me, running all over the room, dragging her leash behind her. The Drunkie chick running after her with a large, soiled sheet pleading "Oh, Nyah please. Come shit on the sheet! Are you OK? Look! She's trembling! She's so nervous. She can't eat! She won't sleep! Oh, Nyah baby come here!"

The vet assistants/receptionists are literally biting the insides of their cheek, laughter straining at their mouths. One of them comes and stands patiently next to Nyah's owner and her mortally embarrassed looked-to-be-16-year old son, asking for symptoms. "Look, she's trembling!" Nyah's owner said again. "She might bite! She's so nervous!" The attending took the leash. Nyah led the way into the back.

After I "cashed out" (which thankfully was $100 cheaper than the estimate, including a case of extremely expensive food) another associate called my name bringing with her a computer printed, detailed synopsis of Cat's condition. The report noted how fearful he was and how sorry the vet was about that. There was a detailed section outlining all the meds we were going home with--including pain killers--and specific instructions on how to administer them. The attending highlighted them in yellow as she read them to me. I had to sign an acknowledgement that I understood. There was also another couple of printed pages about how to prevent future blockages, what causes them, and what the likely course will be if they re-occur.

They bring me Cat, who reportedly had given them hell the whole weekend, but was calm the minute he saw me.

We get in the car... me with food and prescriptions. We still had to go by the pharmacy to pick up Poppy's. And I still have to call around, find him either a PCP or a pain meds doctor, which means I also have to figure out what Medicare he has.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Lot Can Happen

...in a few hours.

I successfully boycotted V-Day for most of the day. There was too much going on anyhow. The Professor took Poppy to the ER cuz he had an abscess that broke. This is when the (idiot) docs decided to check for infection, determining his body is probably rejecting the mesh used to rebuild his abdomen wall. Check out my previous post.

Poppy had begun to fade. I didn't tell anybody cuz I didn't want to add to the panic, but I'd spoken to him Tuesday and didn't recognize his voice. AT ALL. The only reason I didn't check my number was cuz I'd dialed the house specifically to speak to him, and had spoken to BigBear first, who had then passed the phone to him. He'd gone to work, forgetting his Vicoden. Was in so much pain he had to lay on a couch while he taught and made it home to collapse. Not cool.

And I knew in my gut it was an infection. The last time he had crazy back pain he'd had a mad staph infection. When he went to the surgeon for a check up on Friday... even with a report of high white blood cell count.. and he even showed a swelling to the nurse, nobody picked up on it. A friend out here on the rock just lost his 49 year old wife to an infection she developed after a surgery. I kept urging for Poppy to see a primary care physician, someone trained to connect the dots. Even I tried to find him one. The insurance website was slow as shit AND didn't come up with anyone, and the ones the Professor had called said they weren't taking new patients.

Whatever. Once he got in, he perked up and I'm quite sure we'll have him around for another 20 years. He's alive right now cuz he was determined to fight for life.

So between Poppy and the cat and a trip to Target with Shoefly, the Day went pretty fast. And at the last minute I decided NOT to stand up CNC and I met her at the bar across the street. I was suddenly very pissed about the whole V-Day thing.

"Make it a double" I told the bartender when I decided on 1800 (all they have out here on the Rock in the way of tequila is 1800 or Jose Cuervo), and he did so, and stuck a straw in it.

And it was all down hill from there... CNC and I ended up in the dreaded WeirdBar down the block... me, her, and two other drunk and lonely Spanish women. Plus the owner, two local men and an old chick. But between the drunk Spanish chicks and CNC and myself, we had a grand old time, playing salsa and merengue on the jukebox and singing at the top of our lungs. It's amazing the Spanish I can sing when I'm drunk.

They introduced me to this song... and I am in love again:



Mmm mmm mmm..... made my whole damn night.

Came home and passed out in front of the computer watching it again and again... and what of it?

Five shots of 1800 (I'm pretty sure... I don't think it was more than that) is a little harsh. 1800 is not my favorite tequila and I woke up slow today. The Sun had stayed with the moon and the cat was gone and I was quite alone. And completely unproductive. The washing machine is dying... it leaves little scrapes of plastic amongst the clothes... so I should have gone to the laundromat but SO didn't feel like it.

But I cleaned the bathroom and and made bacalao. Not enough, I know. And you know, I felt guilty cuz I should have been working on stuff for the Fabulous. That's funny...

And despite my annoyance about the situation he's still a work partner and I still think he's Fabulous. And I know I have a tendency to be an ass about stuff so I'm trying to grow up a little and just let things be what they are. And accept them for what they are... but it's fucking hard. I'm secretly an instant-gratification kind of chick and really don't like it when I can't get what I want when I want it. But there's something about him that's worth being friends for... kind of like Nene who I still adore and still count as a friend. So I hope that whatever happens I'm capable of keeping this friend as well.

I've got another post to write about the over-written Chris Brown/Rihanna story... but it's more a confession on my part. I told the story to CNC the other night and realized it's actually pretty funny, in a not-funny-at-all kind of way. But later... as usual I'm nightcrawling way too late...

Just Because They're Old Doesn't Mean They're Senile

Word of advice for those of us with aged parents. Just because they're old and have begun to act a little dotty, doesn't mean they're just going senile or losing their minds.

One of my many jobs was working part time in the geriatrics department of a large and well-known teaching hospital. My job was assistant web editor. I was to read through and post various presentations written by doctors onto a website where other doctors would come to do research. There were all kinds of presentations about all kinds of medical issues relating to the elderly. Most of it went over my head. But a couple of very important things stuck...

- The elderly very often don't run temperatures. So you cannot use fever or sweats or clamminess as a sign that something is wrong or that your elder has an infection.

- An infection in an elderly person... even if it's something as simple as a urinary tract infection, can cause symptoms like "dottiness", confusion, lethargy.

So if your normally sharp-as-a-tack parent or grandparent begins to be confused over simple things like writing checks, losing wallets or they're glasses, don't just chalk it up to "old age" or being senile.

Also, back pain can be an indication of a severe infection. Twice my father has had severe, debilitating backpain, and twice he's had a severe infection. The first time it was a staph infection; this time the results aren't back yet, but trust me... he's got an infection. The likes of which haven't been seen in a while because the docs dismissed the symptoms and it's been festering awhile.

Which brings me to something else... "specialists" are apt to miss something important if it doesn't fit into their specialty. Meaning, don't expect the hernia surgeon to pay attention to elevated white blood cells especially if there is no infection AT THE SITE of the surgery. He might refer you to the oncologist. Who, if he doesn't find a cancer, isn't going to give you a clear answer or dismiss it as a random infection. The renal doc is going to suggest a CAT scan or fill your mind with a fear of cancer. Find a geriatrician for your elder. And that's hard to do, because there aren't many, apparently, but there needs to be someone who can look at the overall picture and connect the dots, realizing that 2+2=4. Too often the "specialist" doesn't see the overall big picture and will chalk up pain or confusion as just something that happens when you're old.

Be aware that your elder may not tell you EVERYTHING that's going on. For a variety of reasons. They may be embarrassed. They may not see the significance. They may not see themselves as being "elderly". A geriatrician will be more aware of things that will affect the elderly and so is more likely to ask the right questions to get the right information. For instance... a regular GYN is not going to be aware of all the issues an elderly woman may face. But a geriatric GYN will. A geriatrician will also be able to spot signs of depression. And depression in the elderly can mask itself as something else entirely.

Here's a few links (some are more technical than others):
http://www.eldercareadvocates.com/pages/art14.htm
http://www.kcom.edu/faculty/chamberlain/website/lectures/noll/sld001.htm
http://medinfo.ufl.edu/~gec/hmoa3/pt3tk3/pt3tk3.html
http://www.lifebridgehealth.org/sinaibody.cfm?id=1973

Generally my parents are pretty healthy, and I'm only now beginning to navigate the hell that is elder care. And truthfully, the Professor does most of the navigating because she's got an MSW and is sufficiently bossy enough to get hospital staff to listen to her. What I do is listen to the terms she picks up, and then Google everything, feeding her things to ask.

Meaning... it practically takes an army paying attention full time to get adequate care for your elder. And you will still find that the doctors don't listen, don't look at the big picture. So don't rely on the doctor to fix your elder. They really don't like it when folk come in armed with research done on the Internet, but honestly, you have to, if only because your questions may spark them to take a closer look. And if your parent is NOT normally forgetful, be sure to say so. Even if you have to say it 1,000 times.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Boycotting

the day that is today. The day that shan't be named. It's over rated, commercialized, doesn't mean much. Like most things in this country what starts out as a good idea gets grabbed up by some company as a way to sell something, gets completely overblown in the process and makes those of us who don't celebrate that day or who don't have anything to celebrate feel empty and alone.

When I was a teenager I used to like to make cards for this day. They were usually very elaborate. It was fun to do. I thought about it this year... I could still do one. I would have done it in honor of the glass angels... but I don't know.

I don't know why it's bothering me this year more than last year. But looking back it bothered me last year, too. Although there was some drama that kept me focused on other things.

Not that I don't have drama this year. We're still concerned for Poppy. And Cat went into the hospital because he's now completely blocked. I came home last night and knew it was time for him to go; he was sitting on the rug in front of the stove in the dark... not yowling for food or upstairs with the neighbor. When I put catnip into the borrowed carrier, he walked right in and turned around to look at me. "Lets go" his Cat eyes said. He didn't even sniff at the catnip.

The estimate is $1268. Thumbelina drove him and me to the ASPCA and gave me $500 cash. It cost $125 just to walk in the door. They wouldn't touch him or treat him till I gave them the rest of what I had and debited another $130 from my account--half of the high estimate. Thank God SD had paid child support and the bank had posted it. ASPCA wanted me to apply for credit, but I took a look at who the provider of the credit was: GE Money bank, and knew they wouldn't give me shit. I have two store cards with them that aren't being paid. It wasn't going to happen. And I just didn't have it in me to go through the denial. So I called UN. She said she'd take care of it. Cat has adopted her as his other pet and so she's about as attached to him as I am. And sometimes I get occasional bouts of jealousy about that, except Cat always comes home to me, and gets mad at me when I go away. And I know she needs him. But I cried. I owe UN so much money it's ridiculous. But I've paid her back once already... so I guess she knows I'll take care of her when I can.

But I'm just fucking unhappy now.

Despite what I posted yesterday, I was still checked on by my Fabulous friend, and ended up sending messages back and forth till ungodly hours of the morning. But today is not a day I'll spend with him.

We talked about letting the beast loose. I told him it's not that I don't know what I'm walking with and so am afraid to find out... it's that I know exactly what I'm walking with and I can't unleash it without some kind of anchor.

I never wanted to be an artist. I think it started in Junior High, when we got back to this country. Till then, I didn't know anything else, had nothing to compare. We got back to the states in '77 and for the first year my parents kept me out of school. We hung out in the library a lot, making friends with the family of the live-in custodian. There was a boy, Jonathan, who used to come into the library to play chess. I had a mad crush on him. I found out he went to the Junior High up the street. I convinced my father to enroll me there the following school year only to discover Jonathan had left... graduated 8th grade.

I was disappointed... but quickly got over it discovering a whole new world of Pro Keds and colored flare leg Lee jeans and matching plaid shirts, of boys named Rat and Papo and Nicky D. We couldn't afford the Pro Keds or the Lees, and I was teased unmercifully because I wore skippies and straight legged Levis handed down from the kids of the white artists downtown that my parents knew. I didn't press my hair and so even though I rolled it it tended to go it's on way, unlike the other girls who's pressed and bergamotted hair would stay in one place till it rained or they sweated it out.

I enjoyed school. I was a year or two older than most of the kids in my 7th grade class, cuz I had no school records and they didn't know what to do with me. And I was physically tiny compared to them. The administration stuck me in 7th to be safe... and also because my math sucked. My reading though, scored at college level. I spoke standard English. Teachers loved me.

The kids batted me around the way Cat bats a mouse around... never actually hurting it or breaking skin but terrorizing it until it becomes paralyzed with fear. I got jacked up in the staircase just about everyday by Kaye Williams and her ugly friend Tammy who took my quarter just because she could.

But I'm a stubborn bitch, even when I'm afraid. I dug my heels in about the skippies, refusing to buy Pro Keds the next year even when Poppy offered to buy them for me. Refused to wear flare-leg jeans... making my jeans even skinnier by taking in the inseams. In 8th grade everyone else suddenly discovered straight legs, too. In the art class I worked on a portfolio... all through my life in Jamaica and during the transition to New York in 1977 I had always drawn and painted. Usually horses, or elaborate scenes of Native Americans crossing the plains. Looking back on those pictures I was pretty good.

I joined the band in my music class. I'd wanted to play trumpet and enjoyed getting sound out of the thing, but Brother Lee refused to let me mess up my lips and switched me to saxophone. But then the kids discovered I could sing. It happened by accident. There's a tradition in Harlem of the coordinated dance routine. Nowadays it seems to have degenerated into which individual girl can pop the booty the best, but up until recently coordinated dance routines were a big deal. But I couldn't dance... never grasped the steps quickly, always turned the wrong way. So they let me sing while they danced... and the crowd went wild.

In 8th grade I worked on my portfolio for Music and Art, but already my refusal to be an artist, to struggle and be poor was beginning to present itself. Even though I could have had Pro Keds by 8th grade and refused them on principal, it pissed me off that I was teased when I couldn't afford them, and I resolved to never be teased about stuff like that ever. Singers made money. Artists didn't. I stopped drawing.

I got into Music and Art for voice... and my audition was kind of a fluke because on the application I applied for both instrument and voice. Poppy took me to the audition and I sat there with my sax, ready to play. But when they called me, they told me I could only audition for one thing. I chose singing because it was easier. And besides, I could hit the high note and stay in key singing the Star Spangled Banner. They'd have to let me in. They did.

That summer between 8th and 9th grades, I made crocheted kufi's and sold them in front of the Tree of Life on Lenox Avenue and 125th Street. Every dime I saved that summer, I spent on clothes and shoes. I worked on my hard-ass layer, learned not to show fear.

And it worked. Generally, all throughout high school my real life existed on 125th street; my boyfriend, my true friends. But I loved singing and learning about music. At the Semi Annual concerts/exhibitions every year I'd walk around the art on display and feel a slight pang. But I never ever drew anymore and at some point I even convinced myself that I didn't know how.

I graduated High School and went right to work. I never even wrote an essay for college, never even applied for any of the CUNY schools. I knew my parents couldn't afford to send me. I had no concept of what I would want to learn in college anyhow. The guidance counselor at M&A didn't really care much about me... and took my natural stubbornness and fake confidence to heart and didn't make me apply for anything.

I liked making money. I liked shopping. I liked working, even. Initially my plan was to audition for things and sing someplace, but I went to an audition for "Tropicana" that was being produced Maurice Hines--Gregory's younger brother--and I choked. It was the dance music era anyhow and I didn't like singing that stuff, so eventually I stopped singing. The jobs I had got progressively less creative, and I made more and more more money.

And then I met DC. I met him cuz he was the friend of a high school friend and "flyguy" who I dated briefly once we left high school. Flyguy dumped me and in revenge I went out with DC. DC called himself an artist. I introduced him to Poppy's friend and my future mentor, who encouraged DC to take graphic design classes.

DC had issues though. He was a passable artist and illustrator and largely self-taught. But he was a hustler and he partied a little too much. Initially our partnership was based on money... I bought him shirts and he painted on them, and we sold them for Harlem Day. We made a lot of money... the shirts sold out. We started dating. And I enjoyed watching him work. I could sit for hours watching him draw or lay out fliers, talking to him the whole time.

For various reasons I decided we should get married and basically talked him into it. It wasn't a good idea and we were ill-matched. But one thing that came out of that marriage was a renewed interest in visual arts. I still thought I couldn't draw... but around that time computers and color printers were making their way into the general business world, and I found myself spending more and more time making presentations look good than actually caring about the content.

But the good salaries were all in the financial industry and since I was following the money I eventually ended up there... far from anything remotely creative. I made $80K a year... not bad for a chick with only a high school diploma. But I felt like I was dying. Till the Sun came along, till 9/11.. till I walked out on that world and never looked back.

And so now, knowing what my choices are I know that I belong on this creative path. I have to follow the voices. It's what I know. It's me at my most natural.

The Fabulous was saying that I should unleash the inner self. He knows she's there... he can see her. I told him it's a beast that can't go unanchored. And it's why I'm looking for my Ride or Die. I need to be around someone who's not afraid of the Bear Maiden, who can be her marker so that when she does go out roaring into the abyss, she can find her way back.

He does that for me, the Fabulous. But I'm not sure it's something he wants to do. And I'm not sure it's really something anybody can handle. But I'm not about to let that beast lose without an anchor. I know what it's capable of and what it's not. And it gets a little frustrating to be so close to finding that anchor and yet be so far...

...especially on a day like today.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh Dear God. WHAT EVER.

It's amazing how a few hours can put a damper on a day.

Of the three paths I mentioned earlier in the day, by later in the day it became apparent which one was chosen for me.

It's not the one I wanted.

Not the one I was hoping for. Matter of fact I'm suspecting it's the usual bullshit but
  • Andrea Boccelli still makes me cry, and so I won't go listening for him anymore. I knew there was a fucking reason I never listened to him.
  • I can't think anymore and don't want drawings to come back. I just need to be paid. After all, that's all there is.
  • It has been nice to write to someone... but I hate revealing too much which is what happens when I write. Can't be helped. So I guess I'll be blogging more often, letting the wind snatch my voices and carry them away.
  • I haven't felt beholden to someone, to create something or to stay on track, in a while. And I do, now, still. So I will. I keep my word.
SD called to give me an update on an offer he made... but it won't be as useful an offer as I was hoping for. Instead of putting me ahead it will only put me back a month which, while I'm grateful for, isn't going to give me the breathing room I need.

But Bigbear seems to think Poppy had a better day, though earlier the Professor had called with all sorts of dire ideas about what's really happening. I found myself retreating.

I'd been up all night IMing Fabulously, but the end result is that I'm tired during the day. Nothing more.

I was thinking about love today... about what I'd written a year ago about loving freely. About not giving if you can't afford to, or if it's going to cost you, but otherwise give with no strings attached. I was thinking about the man who gave me money out of his own pocket, and a Valentine's day card because he said everyone should have one, and about the glass angels he gave me that still sit on my desk. I wonder how he's doing.

Earlier I'd had the idea, in honor of that man, to give a valentine simply because everyone should get one... but now I don't feel like it. It will cost me, I think. Everything comes with strings attached. There's a catch to everything, and nothing is ever free.

I was told today that I should draw what I write... but I can't draw free form. I can illustrate an idea. And this was the idea I had today, on the train coming home.
It's not anatomically correct I know, cuz I just plucked it out of my head with no reference. And while I have an artist's soul I've an illustrator's hand and that means we can't draw without reference.

Anyway. A picture's worth a thousand words, right? So I don't have to say anymore. And anyway I'm being very melodramatic, probably cuz I'm over tired.

But it's my blog. I can do what I want.

Cat has a reoccurence of his UTI, and now a blockage. I was hoping he would beat it on his own. I hate taking him to the vet, nor can I afford to. But no animal should suffer. And so tomorrow I have to try to get him there, to the vet he hates and who hates him. It means money I don't have and will have to borrow from UN. It means missing a movie with my Sun and the Fat Lady and her beautiful girls... my freinds. It means missing some work from the bullshit job I have. But I hate seeing Cat suffer, hate hearing him cry. Hate my apartment smelling like piss...

I am SOOOOO fucking tired....

I Should Say Something...

and there's a lot to say but no time or strength to say it.

I'm not in a bad place, though.

I'm actually in a pretty good place. An odd place... a "jumping off" place though I'm not exactly sure where I'm jumping off too. Coiled, pressurized, ready to spring up, gathering force. But not quite ready to be released.

The thing is though, that what is actually winding the spring is something of a dilemma that I haven't quite solved yet. I'm a structure-builder. I need to know a path and an order to things before I embark on something, because even if I deviate from the path, or the order deconstructs, I need to know there was a framework in there somewhere. A roadmap... so that I can climb back on once I've found my legs again.

But this time I'm not quite sure what the path is. Or rather... there are three possibles and I'm not sure which one I should embark on. I'm not even sure how I feel about that... that I don't know. There have been times when I felt a certain way about a thing or person, and didn't mind flinging myself headlong out into the space of it even if I knew I was going to burn on re-entry. There have been times when I knew I had to go through it to get out the other side. But this time... I don't know. I haven't even allowed myself to think past the little tip of ice on a placid and serene surface to the huge chunk of ice underneath.

All I know is...
  • Andrea Bocelli makes me cry.
  • If I think it, it comes back in a drawing.
  • It's been nice to write to someone rather than shouting into the wind.
  • I haven't felt beholden to someone, to create something or to stay on track, in a while. And I do, now.
So here I sit... drinking coffee, gathering force.

SD and I have had some pretty long conversations, too, over the past few nights. Half of it scares me cuz I know he's lonely out there, and scared and stressed... and I'm familiar. I'm the Comfort Doll. I had to cut the conversation short last night because I didn't want him to think I only wanted to talk... in fact I had only called him so that he could clarify something for me. And I wanted to IM the Fabulous and didn't want to be distracted.

But it was hard getting him off the phone. The other night though, SD made me laugh by making a remark about the court case. It reminded me a.) how very well I know him b.) that I was absolutely right in fighting him as long and as hard as I did c.) he HAD to be beaten or he was never going to respect me d.) he knew what he was doing e.) he's nowhere near as dumb as he lets people think. He's not sophisticated... but he's not dumb.

But we made an agreement that for now, we weren't going to discuss court. And that in 15 - 20 years, when our Sun is older, we will sit together at his wedding and laugh our asses off.

But for now it's much too soon...

And while I have your attention: please say a prayer for Poppy. He needs to stop hurting. Thanks.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just...

holding on.

Lots happening but not... a lot's moving but standing still.

The friendship with the Fabulous took an interesting turn over the weekend... for me, I'm more convinced than ever of what he is, but you know these things need to go both ways and I'm not entirely sure they do. And so I'm trying to accept it for what it IS, in it's entirety and current actuality, and not let hopes and dreams and psychoses get the best of me. One breakdown in a 12 month period is quite enough, thank you.

But... I remember once, way early in our friendship when we were just hanging out, driving around the city... five years ago. I'd had to meet the family in Times Square at the Diva's school for one of her dance shows, and he'd dropped me off. I remember watching him drive off thinking how much I hadn't wanted the day to end, feeling sunbursts in my head. At the time, he had a girlfriend, and I was dealing with SD and hadn't yet extricated myself. The war hadn't started yet but I could feel storm clouds gathering and I knew it was gonna be hell. And the Fabulous was such a ray of brightness in all that storm, and I hadn't wanted to drag him into my dark. So I let him go.

He ended up dating several other women, and we stayed in touch off and on finally losing touch at some point... till he popped up on Crackbook in August. And he always has the same effect on me. Whenever I'm around him I feel like rainbows exploding. Incredibly corny but really true.

Maybe I should just leave it alone. Except we work Fabulously together and things are starting to flow. So I guess I'm stuck.

Maybe I'll date somebody else so I won't care as much.

Grrr.

The Fabulous is a bright spot in an otherwise very overwhelming existence... another reason I'm not so anxious to drag him into my hell. SD lost his job... and has some other ish going on and needs to file for a reduction in child support. At least he called me to tell me in advance... and I can't really fight him cuz I know it's tough for everyone. And once we got the child support rolling he never really fought me. But it's stressing me the fuck out. Cuz it was the last tangible, steady income I had.

I should have been a stay-at-home mom. I wrote about that a little over a year ago; looking over it just now I decided it still held true. It's my major malfunction in life. I mean for real... raising a kid is a full-time job in itself. Especially one you have to take to various activities. Generally my coupled friends trade-off on the shuffling duties, especially when there is more than one kid and more than one activity. And they still look stressed. And it's not frivolous... really, the time you spend shuffling your kid around can amount to a lifetime activity. Or at least some kind of enrichment.

Take violin. The Sun got a free trip to DC and some TV interviews out of it. He's got an audition at Opus next week, with the other members of the ensemble to see if they can play a song at the composer's (breakneck) speed when he debuts the piece at Avery Fisher Hall in a few weeks. And it seems he and the ensemble will also be playing the National Anthem at Knicks game fairly soon.

I tell the Sun that like it or not, violin is his ticket to college. Because he's going. I won't allow him to make the same mistake I did, to think that I could function without a four year degree. And I can't afford to send him. We were in Lincoln Center last weekend ( the kids were doing a fundraiser for Opus at the Barnes and Noble there) and I showed him the new Julliard building that's going up. I told him if he didn't go to Berkley in Cali, that that's where he's going.

Either there, or the University at Bridgeport's Japanese/Martial Arts program.

And today I was presented with the vague opportunity of at least an introduction to an extremely prestigious private school.... just into time to avoid the horror that is NYC public Middle School.

But these things require me being there... require me taking him to practice, require me being home and functioning to make sure he practices at home. In addition there's the ordinary child-rearing stuff like cooking and housework and laundry. And my trade... but there aren't enough hours in the day to add in "full-time job". There just isn't. There isn't enough time as it is.

I don't know. Somehow it seems people do it; they succeed at it. You hear stories of heroic single parents who do all this and more, and truthfully I feel like I'm failing miserably.

I borrowed money to pay back rent, but I'm already behind again. And not by much, but I got a mildly nasty letter in the mail yesterday from the landlord. So I sent her one today... I just don't have it in me for a phone call.

And Poppy's not feeling well. His back hurts and it's not going away. He says he's fighting but it's slow. He's not himself. He's driving my mother crazy. She's driving him crazy. Yesterday she called and I was down anyhow, stressing about SD and she was telling me what's going on. She needed to say it... I needed to hear it said because I want to know. But we hung up and I cried. Because they're helping me out... helping the Diva out (and that's a whole other rant) and we should be the ones right now to ease it for them. And all I can do right now is listen.

I am so fucking tired of living this shit on my own. I am. But I'm afraid to get involved with anyone because I'm so needy and it's so not fair... and even if I thought the Fabulous thought as highly of me as I do of him, how could I drag anybody into this now? And so I hold back a little.

Which reminds me SD is talking about coming back. I knew he would; I knew it was coming. I know he thinks my friendliness is an invitation. And I don't mind being friendly because it's easier than warring and it's good for the Sun. But I just can't go any further than that. But it's not that easy to keep him at bay. It never was. It's a little like feeling hunted.

But then at the end of yesterday I spent like 4 hours on the phone... listening while my friend worked fabulously, trading ideas. He's the first person I have met in FOREVER who can actually out last me. I actually start falling asleep on him. It makes me feel good that I do.

But.... first things first. I have to bring in some income. So I'm gonna stay up a bit and see what I can accomplish. But I had to get this shit off my chest cuz the voices are back...