Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can I...

publish from my phone? That would be a revelation...
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Keeping The Faith

....can be very very hard sometimes.

Like really hard.

You wonder: am I crazy? Stubborn? Fucked up? Is my thinking off? Why am I doing this?

Keeping the faith is not hard because of God. If you believe in God... if you really listen, really open your eyes, you see the little signs that tell you that faith is real, that you will be OK. God will provide.

But then the devil starts talking. Telling you all those truths you want to hear. Telling OTHER people's truths, the ones that make you doubt your own.

And then the fear sets in. The blind, irrational, all-consuming fear. Your worst nightmare.

I am still in limbo about my apartment. I got the letter from the court telling me my landlord intends to evict me. They gave me 30 days to do something about it. The best I could do was go sit in the welfare office all (fucking) day to apply for a "one-shot". And its been "pending" ever since. My 30 days are up. I am now waiting for the Marshall's notice. I hope my landlord doesn't' do it before Thanksgiving, but the Marshall's notice is eminent. And then I go back to court to ask them to wait, please wait a little bit longer... I'm waiting (and waiting) to hear from "Oneshot".

Suppose Oneshot doesn't happen for me? It's entirely possible. I owe upwards of $15,000, and every day the meter is ticking.

Why that much? Because really, my landlord is good people. They saw I paid them back the last time I was late... they know my story. But they are hurting. The worst part about all this is I know my not paying them affects their family.

My first thought in the morning when I wake up is "How the fuck am I getting out of this mess?" My daily prayer is to figure out how to pay these people back.

I question myself... what could I do differently? Am I crazy to want to stay the course? I know I've got talent, and even better, have skills, real skills, to back up that talent. Why is life so hard?

And my worst fear? As I walk the Sun through the A,C,E station at 14th Street when taking him to school, the homeless sit on the benches in the long walkway, their feet propped on their bags, asleep. And lately, I've seen young mothers, their faces hidden behind their baby carriages or behind a sign that says "I am homeless. I am hungry. I have two children. Please help." Hardened New Yorker that I am, I know these people are for real... their shame is palpable. They don't meet your eyes when you look at them. And I don't have a dollar to give them because I think, that will be me... that could be me very soon.

I know I don't do business well. Not for myself. I'm great at running other people's things... just not my own. Because it's at odds with creating my own. Two very different thought processes, and it's hard to switch back and forth. I end up being behind in both the business and the creating.

But I have to keep the faith. If I don't, I WILL fail. I know, when I examine myself (and I do that frequently) that I DO apply to jobs. I DID redo my resume, my website is just about done. I applied to P&G recently. For a design job. They didn't ask for samples of my work but had this long weird reasoning test that I'm sure I failed miserably. I couldn't find the patterns. I wanted to ask the Sun about it, but that would be cheating. I got an email from them about three days later, thanking me for my application but that I didn't match what they were looking for (in that ENTIRE FUCKING COMPANY???? REALLY????) and that I could apply again in a year. A FUCKING YEAR??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This experience only reinforced what I felt when I applied to P&G... I don't really want to work for them in the first place. At all. I just need a fucking job. Corporations suck ass.

So I HAVE to keep the faith. I HAVE to stay the course. I have to figure out how to do the business and the creating at the same time... or find someone willing to do the business for me and take a cut.

And I am ever-hopeful. There is always something for me to hold on to... there has to be or I fail. And what I'm holding on to is that my pictures from Peru were put on display at a salon I hosted, and it went pretty well. I broke even in the cost to put on the show... and am still selling prints. And they will be online soon. I had another bright idea, too... I just have to execute it. So there is hope. I just hope that things break before the Marshall's notice...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

By Popular Demand....

which is kinda nice.

I've had folk contact me and ask me why I'm not writing.

Mainly because my day is just too goddamn long... and by they time I sit down to write I'm falling asleep. Which kinda sucks... cuz I've got all kinds of things to ruminate on...

  • ...the new rash of gaybullying which annoys me because at it's core, the fundamental issue is bullying in general. I'm annoyed that gays are championing the cause like they're the only ones to be bullied cuz their different, when little "Black" kids and Native kids and Jewish kids and Irish kids and Mexican kids and any kid different from the "norm" have been bullied for years--nay decades-because they were different. Helloooo!!!! Can you say "LYNCHING," boys and girls???

    Bullying is the new "normal." People talk shit about cyber bullying and being politically incorrect, when the entire ConservativeWhiteRight is systematically bullying the country, bashing the president (who really is carrying on George Bush's traditions, so it can only be they don't like him cuz he's "Black"), by any means necessary including the internet. I don't get the bully hype. I think it's hypocritical...

  • ...the Divide between the rich and every one else, particularly in New York City. Holy shit. People who are doing well are doing really well but every one else is suffering, and a lot of people are REALLY suffering.

  • ...my adventures in Housing Court (my landlord is trying to evict me--rather nicely I must say but still it's a little nerve-wracking)...

  • ...my adventures in the trenches looking for the famous and elusive "One Shot Deal" in New York. Turns out there is still such a thing, but good Lord if they could make you eat feces to get it, they would...

  • ...how much in love I am with my MiddleSchoolSun. Even though he periodically brings me to the brink of madness--forcing me to take several deep breaths and think how best I will exact my will upon him--I find myself adoring him. He's the cutest thing. It tickles me that he can stare me in my eyes now. His voice is deeper and deeper but still cracks...

  • ...that it's weird to openly have two men in your life OK three... The other day we all were in the Parenting Partner's car... me, BigMan, PP and the Sun. It was uncomfortable for BigMan (and honey, me too). But whatever... the kid is happy. It's just weird. To go from "NO man" to three men...

  • ...now that I'm really an artist I know every reason I fought it so....

  • ...I'm working to exhibit my pictures from Peru on November 6, on Saint Mark's place. Lot of work. Lot of planning. If it comes off it's going to be pretty cool but if it doesn't I'm kinda screwed...

  • ...what it's like to fall completely and totally out of love with someone. The phrase "a thin line between love and hate" plays in my head. But it's not hate, really. At least not in my case. More like complete disgust. Like how you feel when you see a slug... your whole body WANTS YOU to pour salt on it so you can watch the nasty little fukker shrivel and melt. Odd. There are very very few people I've ever felt that way about... ParentingPartner used to be one of them. I've been thinking what made it change? Because I don't feel that way about him any more, but he worked very hard to overcome that. Or maybe I was just able to accept? I dunno... but I've really been thinking about it cuz for certain people these days the lack of love is visceral. And I don't really like the feeling...

  • ...the Blendian issue...

  • ...The First Amendment and how it affects the art of photography, in the age of digital...

  • ...Marion Brown passed away yesterday morning. An important, creative, crazy but virtually unknown (kind of like Poppy to the jazz world) saxophonist, his image and his sound fill my earliest memories. I owe him a post... But since I can't I'll post the sound of him I remember most:


*sigh.

In the meantime, it took me about an hour just to get this out, and I've a ton of things to tackle. And THEN I have to go retrieve my Sun from Chelsea where he is in school. Ugh.

So that's why I haven't written.

But I need to...

The Voices are Chatty....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Choice

Growing up, Poppy talked to us a lot about choice. A deeply spiritual man, he told us often that what separated us from animals was the unique combination of opposable thumbs, big toes and free will. We are similar to many other animals... to pigs in our inner anatomy, and to apes in our physiology, but no other animal but the human one has all three things... and the greatest of the three may be the ability to make a choice.

We read the Bible cover to cover at least twice during the space of our childhood and teen years, chapter by chapter, for fifteen years at least. Every week we looked at those chapters not just for the spiritual content, but for the overall story of man. The Bible is really nothing more than the history of man's choices... God's laws certainly, and His rules. But ultimately the story is about whether mankind chooses to follow, rationalize, ignore or dismiss those rules. We have the choice, the ability, to follow those laws or not. And there are always consequences. We studied the choice Eve made in the Garden of Eden to choose knowledge and understanding, we talked about the consequences of her decision. We talked about how it was difficult, and there were repercussions she still made a valid choice... Poppy always said she was the first scientist, the first to ask questions, the first to choose...

When I was younger, before I really understood the gift I have to see people's life stories, to see the consequences of the choices they will make before they do, I would get really frustrated and dismissive with those who made illogical choices. Poppy taught us to really think about the choices we made, and to stick with those choices, to choose a path and stick with it, or to choose an idea and make a stand. To make a stand for right, for light...

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live..." Poppy quoted often the passage in Deuteronomy 30/19, and it is a passage that stuck with me all my life, mostly because the chapter that precedes it clearly states the results of each choice. And bore a very scary similarity to the story of Africans and Europeans.

I would wonder about the choices people made... and then I went through a long period where I rationalized a whole bunch of my own choices. I learned to operate in the big grey area... the area where you don't really have to make any choices. I got really good at it, too. And then I had my Sun and realized in a deeper way than I ever had before, how my choices affected other people. Specifically, this new life who depended on me. I realized then, that while it can be awfully convenient to slip and slide in the grey, and while you may think you're getting away with shit, what you do or don't do affects your kid. For life. That is a HUGE responsibility... and one I took seriously.

And so slowly I came back to the realizations of my youth, to make a stand for truth and the light, but time had taught me something important... that the course you choose to stand for is your OWN course... and it's not for you to judge the course that others may take provided they are consistent and "own" the course they take. But one thing I can't ever get over are the ones who choose to slip and slide in the grey. It makes them dangerous, because you never know where there going to fall on a particular subject. They cop-out at the most inopportune times. But by the same token, once I know that about a person I can choose to leave them alone. But it sucks when you think you can depend on someone, and then realize halfway in they only have their own self interest at heart. And no, most people DON'T operate like that... just the grey ones.

Somewhere in my 20's or 30's I had a dream that I was leading a bunch of people out of hell. There were demons on a huge, fiery stage having some kind of a rally or concert, and in the flicker of flames I could see many people dancing and writhing and having a good time. Hell really looked like a lot of fun, but at the same time I was terrified of being discovered, and terrified of leaving someone behind. We huddled behind a bush, watching the party, and I tried to comfort someone... and then I woke up.

I don't fancy that I am some great Harriet Tubman type, but coupled with that thing I have I realized that sometimes I am placed in the path of someone who has a choice to make. I have the ability to clearly (and sometimes scarily) see what their choices are... and I am compelled to persuade them to choose light. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes the grey is too comfortable. Sometimes the darkness is... and it hurts when I have to leave them behind. But I have to, because I can't carry their darkness with me. That ability I don't have.

The thing that sucks though, is that while I can see other people's paths, I muddle through my own. And until recently there weren't a whole lot of people I trusted to accurately see mine... without trying to color my paths with their own assumptions or desires. Cuz the toughest trick for me, was learning how NOT to let my own quest for light color someone else's. You can lead a horse to water, my mother always said, but you can't make them drink. And so I lead... but it was hard for me to be led.

So I live my life to the best of my ability... make choices I can live by. And the greatest choice I ever made was to be accessible to my kid. To be a fulltime, stay-at-home mom without a working husband, full time partner. It's cost me a lot, but I've gained a lot from it. But there are consequences, and one of them reared it's ugly head the other day in the form of a three-day notice from my landlord. I am very very very behind in the rent, and they want me to pay.

And I can't. And so I have to make the choice to ignore the notice, and let this thing go to court in the hope that I can get some grants to help, that will give me a stay of execution until things pick up.

It sucks. I am dizzy with stress. I fully expect to wake up one morning and have my hair be completely white.

But I made the choice... I made the choice to ferry my kid back and forth to school, to violin, to Peru, to eat dinner at home with him every night and put him to bed. I made the choice to fight his father because I knew I had to guard my Sun's light--it was my duty. I made the choice to give my kid as close to the childhood as I had. I made that choice even when I worked full time, which wasn't always the choice my employers wanted me to make. It made me expendable. But I can't blame anyone for my plight... and I can't even say I have regrets.

I am sure that there are other choices in there that I didn't choose wisely. I am not perfect, and I am not self-righteous. I doubt myself. I'm sure that those who know what I'm dealing with have their opinions on the things I could have done... and I'm sure that some of them are right. I can't always "see" my own path... but I don't regret the time I gave my kid.

But now I have to deal with the consequences... I have other, more stressful choices to make.

And I hope that I'm doing the right thing... I have to have faith that I haven't done wrong by my kid...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Love Is a Revelation...

...every day, bit by bit, discovering new things, new reasons to love. Like those Russian eggs... painted beautifully on the outside. And then you realize there's a different beautiful egg inside that, and inside that and finally the smallest red egg on the inside, so small it only has room for a few designs. It doesn't matter that it's so small and plainer than the rest... you know it's the heart of the set. And then you can explore putting it back inside it's larger shells until you're at the beginning again.

I remember falling in love with the Sun... first noticing and loving the little spray of bubbles deep inside me, then the shifting, the heartbeat, the little bumps and ripples across my wide belly when he moved. I knew I was pregnant about a week after I conceived and so had 37 weeks to love him more every day. And then he was born, and I saw his face outside my dreams, and for the next 596 weeks give or take, I have fallen in love all over again; every day another reason to love him.

But he's my Sun, blood of my blood and flesh of my flesh, and loving him gave me new reasons to love myself, but we are one, he and I the way mother and son can only be.

Outside of him I looked for and have had love in other ways... with his dad, with friends and family. The hardest to get a handle on was soulmate love. I was born in love... when all else was falling down around me, I always knew I was loved, I always had home in my family. I have friends I've loved for more than 20 years. The hardest part for me was finding a soulmate who could understand all of me.

I began to realize a few years back that I first needed to understand all of me. My life has always been a little schizophrenic. I began to write this blog to unify the different stories in my life, because as stated elsewhere I often think the stories in my life have only one unifying factor: me. Otherwise, they don't often have much to do with each other:

The Bohemian toddler in Europe
The middle class Jamaican child
The not-so-middle class Jamaican yard pickney
The religious home-schooled kid
The Harlem Girl
The Jersey Girl
The Bronx Bar Girl
The Brooks Brothers Corporate Chick
The DV survivor
The Single Mom
The Student
The Artist.

And now, the Girlfriend, bitches.

But it took me knowing and unifying all those parts in myself, acknowledging all that I am, for me to be able to find the one I loved who could love all those parts of me. I realized the unifying factor in all those women was me... but while the ParentingPartner could wholeheartedly love the The Bronx Bar Girl and the Brooks Brothers Corporate Chick, he couldn't handle the Student. He didn't know the Artist because I never really showed her to him. He wasn't sure he liked the Jamaican yard pickney. He had no frame of reference to understand the Bohemian Toddler and so couldn't understand why his own Sun was a Bohemian Toddler.

Towards the end of the SixyearWar, when I started loving again, I loved several men because they contained parts I could relate to. But as those relationships began to dissolve--either amicably or forced--what I took away from each one was the things I loved about them in the first place, the joy, the honesty, the friend, the feeling of "home" and put them in one category. The things that didn't work--not being able to cross into other people groups, language barriers, visions, lack of artistic understanding or acceptance of the "pricklies" I get--I put in another pile and tried to see which ones I could or couldn't do without.

I actively thought about me. My strengths and comfort levels. And my weaknesses, too... but just not about where I fell down, but where I knew I may or may not be able to fix them. There are some things that just aren't "fixable" at this point-I am just me and really, I'm OK with it. And whoever loved me would have to know that and not get too annoyed about it or be willing to supplement me. I am easily distracted. I am chronically late. I obsess on detail. I think tangled thoughts. I need rules and rationale as a guide but I often go my own way. I'm slightly narcissistic--I tend to think I am more super than I really am. My mind is usually "out there" somewhere thinking over thoughts that don't have much to do with my every day, but need to be thought out so that I can function every day. I am not easily breakable and can tolerate a great amount of stress, but when I do break I fall apart. I am an all-or-nothing chick.

And right when I had decided I was good with me, that aside from the loneliness and lack of trustworthy sex my life was great, and alone I could pretty much compensate for my shortcomings, along came BigMan.

No, he didn't turn everything upside down. No, I didn't suddenly find my life going in another direction, nor was I hit over the head with a great big love. And we fought frequently in the beginning. But every day has been a revelation. The first being that he wasn't there for so long and now he's here every day as if he's always been.

When life gets scary or I'm stressed he reminds me that I' m not alone anymore. He reminds me by doing something that shows me I'm not alone. That's a revelation.

The other day I hung out with friends from the Sun's school in Harlem, then traveled to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to a WHOLE other setting... and as easily as I can slip from one group into another, he can, too. That was a revelation.

His physical attraction to me is a revelation. Not that I don't think I'm something, cuz I am... but I'm a 45 year old something as opposed to a 25 year old something, and lately I've been feeling the difference. It bugs me, because I am, afterall, slightly narcissistic. But he loves 45 year old something me.

We were always able to "spoon" or cuddle, but that's expected in the beginning. I guess it lasts for years, but I haven't had a real relationship in a while that lasted comfortably past a year... so here we are a year later, and when we sleep we still hold hands, or have legs touching. Even in the heat of summer. That's a revelation.

Loving him today, this morning, more than I did yesterday, is a revelation... knowing that my Sun can love him too, and safely, yet still love his dad... that's a revelation.

I wonder sometimes, what's next for us. He asked me the other day why I loved him when he was such a train wreck. I thought about it... but I'm a train wreck, too. My financial situation is really beyond repair. The hole I have to dig out of is overwhelming sometimes. I wonder sometimes if the love we've found is detrimental to us because since we've been together, we've been progressively broker. Do we bring each other down?

But on the other hand... we understand in each other the need to be ourselves. And he does encourage me to stay focused, to look up and see the bigger picture, to just "do" sometimes instead of "think". And I can remind him to look at the details, to think a little more, market differently, break out of the box he'd put himself in.

I think we'll be OK, sometimes. Most times, I guess... because I can't imagine life without him now, and that's the biggest revelation of all....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Here I Go Again...

....long periods of not writing and it sucks. But there's just too much going on. And not enough money to do it with.

The new school year is approaching. I'm still trying to get a handle on my Sun's violin program and how to help it live another day. I'm fed up with people and their issues and halftruths and personal agendas. I'm worried for my sister, who's honesty and integrity prevents her from worming her way into a new job. I worry for her, not because I think she'll struggle, but because she continually believes she'll fail. When she's usually the one who survives. She's not $80,000 (at least) in serious debt... and yet she's as stressed as I am. My hair is even greyer now than it was in the spring.

BUT.

I've spent the summer getting to know BigMan's boy, and despite occasional 16-year-old-isms, I rather like him. He's hard to know, but I like him.

And my Sun amazes me. He's just about taller than me. His voice is deeper every day. He's hairier every day. He started teaching a younger kid violin, and is getting paid for it. At first he didn't think he could do it. His first lesson went well but he was unfazed. But this week, his second week, I detected pride in his eyes when he spoke of his student. The kid had a perfect bow-hold he said, and had remembered what the Sun taught him. It made me so proud of my bigboy.

I'm still getting along with the ParentingPartner. Our child support agreement is completely fucked up and not what we agreed to in court, and so I'm forced to ask him for money on a fairly regular basis. And he gives it. I guess all he ever wanted was to take care of us.

And last but not least, the BigMan. What a revelation. He is one odd duck... random mumblings (if you ever REALLY wanted to know what men think about, just hang out with him for a while and listen... he'll tell you. And it's just strange and random and sordid.) and a strange sense of humor. But I love him. I told him the other day I wish I'd met him much earlier in my life, but in the same breath I wondered if we would have appreciated each other back then. It took pain and hardship and mistakes for us to appreciate and value the love we've found.

We talk all the time. Sitting at the kitchen table, or laying across the bed, or walking to the bank, the post office, the supermarket. About everything. About life. Friends. Hopes, dreams, art. Photography. Our kids. A baby.

I'm beginning to sense he really wants to try. And I do too, would already start trying if it weren't for the fact that I owe so much back rent I keep waiting for the Marshal. I can't do it now, and I'm afraid that by the time I can I'll be too old. Last doctor visit when I asked, the OB I've been going to for years said it's highly unlikely for 45 year old women to get pregnant. I can't say that I think that's correct... but I do know the longer I wait the slimmer my chances. To say nothing of the fact that my child is grown... and freedom DOES beckon. But a little baby boy with tiny braids toddled past us tonight and I know BigMan was looking. I looked... and I wondered....

But for the meantime I enjoy being his friend, his company.

Really, if I weren't so horribly broke, my life would be perfect...

Friday, July 30, 2010

I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

...in Perfect Harmony....

remember that Coke commercial? The original one, I mean. And the song?

The Sun is in String Camp this week. It's been a struggle. Coming right off the trip to Peru we're both a little burned out and suffering from some Traveler's Tummy issues. Not bad, but seriously uncomfortable right after we eat anything. I'm a little closer to better than he is, since mine started first. I think I also drank more chicha morada than he did, since he quickly became addicted to Inca Cola.

But also we're tired. So today was Thursday and it's the first time we got in on time all week. He's also his usually recalcitrant and violin-resistant self, and I waver between letting him quit and forgetting the whole thing, or forcing him. The latter usually wins because while I don't think he's going to be the worlds greatest violinist, I think he'll continue to play as he grows up. And every so often he gets that look in his eye like he did today when he watched Joe Deninzon demonstrate his Mark Woods electric violin with the guitar pedal set and amps.

But the first class he so annoyed me by walking into an empty room and choosing a seat in the back, that I walked out. I told him I wasn't going to sit around and watch him waste his own time. By the second class he was warmed up and in a better mood, and so I decided to sit in on Matt Glaser's class "Embracing the 7th".

When we walked in, the Circle of Fifth's was drawn on the blackboard and I thought "uh oh... Sun's in trouble." The circle of fifth's tormented me in High School; I'm not sure if it's because I started learning to read music late, or if it's because I'm not very mathematical, but I just never got it. I managed to pass the required theory classes for a Music and Art diploma, but I didn't retain the information. And I never learned to read music fluently.

But the Sun already reads pretty well, and is EXTREMELY mathematical and he seemed to grasp the concept pretty quickly though he struggled with actually finding the notes on his violin.

But the class was about finding the harmonic 7th of a chord, and how to either harmonize with it or improvise on it. And I don't know what triggered the thought as he helped the students through a "guide line" built on the 7th of each chord in each measure, but it suddenly hit me:

Life is a harmony; millions of people and beings working and living and coexisting together. And music helps us hear it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Consider The Possiblity

...is what I wish folk would do sometimes when I tell them something. Just listen. Think about it.

Trust me.

Which of course no one does, and why should they? People are liars, and self-serving. The minute someone says "trust me" I immediately don't. So I can't blame them.

But they should consider what I say because I'm not always right, but frequently I am.

I had a dream on the plane coming back from Peru. The trip back was much harder than the trip in... we were tired, we had been made an offer we couldn't refuse by accepting a later, direct flight at midnight instead of the one-stop flight we were in the airport to board at 7AM on Friday.

We had a good rest at the Thunderbird Hotel in Miraflores, the Sun and I lounging on a king sized bed with fluffy white duvet, taking turns in the jacuzzi and watching the flat screened TV. We had an amazing lunch and dinner, but dinner ran a little late and we left for the airport stressed.

The airport was just as packed at 9P as it was at 7A that morning, and then we saw our midnight flight was delayed by an hour. One of the little ones burst into tears and the older ones looked stressed.

Our FearlessLeader held it together until she snapped at our PeruvianFriend who then pretty much refused to have any interaction with her for the rest of the trip home. By the time we got on the plane at 2AM New York time I was drained, and passed out. I barely remember take-off.

And then I had this dream... so vivid it woke me up with a start. And when I got home, the 3rd thing I did after I walked in the door (the first being take a shower) I wrote my friend BeautifulHair:

I had a dream about you

and as I get older and learn to trust myself more, I have learned to pay attention to my dreams.

You crossed my mind before I left for Peru two weeks ago, and I saw you had "liked" a status or comment of mine but in the rush to get everything ready for the trip I didn't get it together to reach out to you.

But oddly enough I was thinking about you in Peru and it's not that there was anything in particular that reminded me of you so I dunno...

When last we wrote each other we had stuff to say to each other :) and afterwards, when you told me why you were upset at me I started really thinking about, and I confess I got annoyed all over again.

Reason being, I was hurt that you thought I would be that dismissive of you after all those years and years and years of friendship... that you would think I wasn't caring about you. You really should have given me the benefit of the doubt... you should have known that after all this time for me to drop off like that was because something was very wrong.

To say that I was suffering that summer (gosh it was 2007, right?) is an understatement. And all these years it has always been you that I relied on and borrowed from and I know how much you give to people, how much you gave to me. I needed so much and hurt so bad that I felt I would have bled you dry. I knew you had other stuff going on, how much your own family relies on you and I just couldn't ask you to go through that with me. Truly... I went through hell when I broke up with JerseyBoy... but this was 10 times worse. And I was only barely coherent in September. It really took all of that winter to start to feel better.

But I learned a lot about myself. I had to do a lot of introspection.

And I know that I am not the easiest person in the world to be friends with. I have another friend who sort of reminds me of you, and she gets mad at me about the same things you would... that I am self-centered and snappy and forgetful. And I apologize for those things and I try to compensate, and all I can ask anyone who loves me is to take and love all of me... not to separate out those infuriating things about me, and allow me to compensate and make good. Because I never forget who my friends are... and as time goes on and people fall off the ones who stick around I value all the more....

...I had a very clear dream that this girl came to me (I know her; you don't) and said that I needed to reach out to you. That you yourself were OK, but that people around you were having a hard time and suffering, and you were going through a lot on behalf of them. That you were very sad... and I saw an image of prayer beads.

Now, my dreams are weird. It's not that they are prophetic, it's just I get images of things and sometimes my timing is off. Sometimes it's something that has already happened, usually though it's something that's happening right now and only rarely is it something that is GOING to happen. But in any event, my dreams are always right. And when they are that clear I pay attention to them.

So... I just wanted to say "hi". To say that I've known you for so long and whatever transpires with us I hope that time heals. I hope that you and your family are OK but if something IS wrong and you need me, I'm here. Or if it already passed and I missed it I'm sorry... but that you still mean enough to me for me to get the message... I will always love you, always be grateful for our friendship.

...really I hope you are OK. It was weird to dream of you like that so I had to write.... cuz I'm better at writing than I am on the phone these days. I don't even check voicemail :(.

Love you always,
Me

Today, Monday was the first day of the Sun's String Camp which is put on by the celebrated and Extraordinary Gentleman Mark O'Connor. Still jetlagged and tummies slightly askew, the Sun and I were moving slow, the bus we needed never came and the trains were extra slow and so we got to the camp late. By the time we got settled it was probably 10:30 and I left the Sun in his class to go into the lounge. I checked my phone and was happy to see that BeautifulHair had written me back. She said, in part

My dear friend!! :) We have totally moved on from that!! I think the last we talked it was about your Dad because he was in the hospital. Which by the way, I hope everyone in your family is okay my love to them all! Even though we don't talk believe me you are always in my heart and I do consider you one of my dear and closest friends!!

I'm sorry myself for not being around either but it has been extremely busy. Alot of changes in regards to the job and my brother has been in the hospital since February so everyone has been sharing the load to help my parents out. He's doing better and should be out in maybe a month or two. He fell and then all these complications started happening. Your dreams are good!!! :) ... It's true - I don't really call anyone anymore either so I don't want you thinking it has anything to do with that last time. I totally understand about that summer when you went through what you did and you just don't want to deal with anyone. Believe me I've done that myself!

So.... that made me feel good. And it was good to know she'd moved past her annoyance though I was still steamed... but having said it and gotten it out of my system I'm all good. And maybe I'll even call her tomorrow if I can remember to... that and call someone who wants to buy something from me and Medicaid to see if they've reinstated the Sun (who they dropped due to their own incompetence).

It made me think of other friendships and how sometimes you still care and sometimes you just don't anymore. But BeautifulHair and I trust each other for the most part and even though every 10 years or so we've had disagreements there are certain things I know about her and that she knows about me and one of them is that we don't fuck each other's boyfriends. Never have, and never will. Men have their rules; "Bros before Hoes" being one of them... which is why it's so important to a chick friendship not to fuck with friends because the dudes in the situation will ALWAYS move on. Really because they never cared that much about the hoe to begin with. But chicks can't allow bros to do that to them. And CNC and WhiteShoes and BeautifulHair are some of the chicks who know that... which is why I've been friends with them for so long.

But more importantly that all that... the dream. To have my gut instinct or feeling be right, to have learned, finally, after many years and painful mistakes and misunderstandings that when my gut screams at me or I have vibrant and recurring dreams about someone out of the blue, or if I suddenly feel a situation is brewing, to know that I'm not just being a bitch makes me feel better. It doesn't mean people will listen to me; it doesn't mean I can prevent anything. If anything, sometimes it hurts all the more because I realize I have to withdraw from something and it bothers me to think people think I'm just being a bitch. I'm not. I'm just telling you something cuz I feel it.

And I wish folk would consider the possibility...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yo Quiero Perú

... mucho.

But I am glad I live where I do now, though I could almost almost live here. Almost.

In funny ways it reminds me of Jamaica, of Bull Bay in particular. Bull Bay in spanish.

Lima, where we have spent most of our time with the exception of the 18 hours plus travel we spent in Chincha, is a strange mix of old and new, efficient and inefficient.

There are lovely old homes and incredibly futuristic looking buildings. There are efficient roadways and speedbumps but insane driving. There is great food but hardly any vegetables. They are amazingly aware of the ecology by conserving paper, plastic and using fluorescent bulbs, but they use a lot of diesel and the air quality is horrible. Sometimes my throat burns and my asthma has been a little weird by my allergies are nonexistent.

People are poor mostly compared to home, and don't seem to have personal computers or internet and I don't see a whole lot of folk with cell phones... but who really needs it because there are internet cafes on every corner and it costs 1.60 soles--less than .60 American cents for an 11-minute call to the US. Fifty centinos--less than .20 cents for 15 minutes on the internet.

I don't see a lot of people smoking cigarettes either, but smoking is allowed everywhere, and there aren't a lot of bars but there are pharmacies on every corner. Sometimes two or three.

I heard healthcare is bad and expensive but the pharmacies sell antibiotics freely.

There are no leash laws but no poop on the streets, dogs run freely but are as polite as the people, and I don't see cats. OK, I saw one. And our FearlessLeader took the kids to Miraflores today and came upon a park that was also a sanctuary for stray cats.

They don't refrigerate their eggs, even in the supermarket. But I wonder if they even know what salmonella is....

There are pet clinics everywhere, but they eat a revered American pet--the guinea pig. They call them "cuy". I also found out that cuy are the symbol for life.

The cars are mostly modern... I've seen a lot of Rav 4's and Nissans, but I have seen more Volkswagon bugs than I have ever seen since my childhood. It's like every VW LoveBug America ever threw away ended up in Lima.

It makes me realize how much America throws away. We went to a chain restaurant the other day, for pollo y papas fritas (chicken and french fries). The chicken was (finally) the spit-roasted kind and was really juicy and good... but the waitress didn't bring out napkins until AFTER everyone was done. And how American napkins are one large square folded in fours? Peruvian paper napkins are that one small fourth of an American napkin. They recycle soda bottles... Inca Cola ("el sabor de Perú" which is everywhere here--and while available in the US it's still made here with sugar) bottles are smoothed along the ridges like beach glass. Even beer comes in recycled bottles.

There is very little garbage in the streets. Even in the seedy parts.

And good God but Americans are SO wasteful, throw SO much away. It amazes me that people bitch about old cars breaking down and falling apart, and there are cars here on the road almost as old as I am...

There are cacti and palm trees every where but right now it's winter. The sun is out maybe 3 hours a day if you're lucky, most of the time hiding behind mist. It rarely rains but everything is damp.

And it's fascinating to me to see the racial breakdown, since all of the same players started here as they did in North America, but it all ended so differently. The Afro Peruvians are discriminated against, they feel... but nowhere here has anyone been dismissive or disrespectful to the Afro Peruvian we are traveling with, the way they blatantly are disrespectful in America.

So.... that's only the tip. There are all kinds of feelings and things bubbling, but I'll need some space and time to process, along with the 1,000 or more photographs I've taken.

I miss my BigMan, my cat, Upstairs Neighbor and the family... It's hard traveling with people who aren't family, too. Although out of this there are some people I've truly come to like and some I could truly do without...

The Sun has enjoyed a fair amount of freedom on this trip--he isn't rooming with me and I almost feel like I haven't seen much of him.

I'm tired though, and I want to come home... at least for the warmth. I'm tired of being cold when I know it's summer in smelly New York. But I'll be home Friday... God willing... and then I get to see where my life is really going...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Living Well Is the Best Revenge

Two years ago, just about this time I boarded a plane to fairyland with a man I knew would break my heart. I had a great time, came back and crashlanded in hell, and survived.

Two days ago I boarded a plane to an unknown land with my Sun, leaving my heart behind with a man I love and trust with my heart. Two days in, it's been quite an experience and I know when I get back home to my heart with my outlook changed, my life is going to take on new directions.

What a difference two years make...

The countdown to Peru began with a fast.

I would have been fasting anyway, because for my crazy family it was Yom Kippur. Yup, still. We still haven't converted to the proper Jewish Calendar. The world still shakes it's head... but I am my father's child. My grandfather's granddaughter. I am the product of four generations of people who make a decision to do things their own way... why stop now? And it was appropriate, to fast and reflect before embarking on a trip that should have been impossible.

I sat on the deck with my Sun and BigMan's boy, talking about the logic of the dietary laws and the Ten Commandments, giggling over the Old Testament's repetitiveness... just in case you missed it the first three times, or thought it complicated, it's there for you to see again. And again.

I was pleasantly surprised that BigMan's boy joined the Sun and I on the deck... he had looked at me like I was crazy when I was explaining it to him. How my father read the Bible cover to cover and happened on the Holy Days. How we began to keep them, but on the regular Roman calendar... and so since the fast was to begin on the ninth day of the seventh month at even, here we are in July when the days are longest, in the middle of a heatwave, not eating for 24 hours.

Sunday I vacuumed and mopped until my heelspurs begged me to stop, did laundry, began to pack. The Sun went to spend the night with WhiteHorse's boy and have a Nerfgun war.

When WhiteHorse brought him back the next morning, we sat and chatted for awhile about DeepThings, and BigBear and the Professor stopped by and I packed some more...

And of course, like always I couldn't sleep at all that night. But I got up on time and was ready when the ParentingPartner came to pick us up. BigMan was still asleep. I tried to wake him but he looked at me bleary-eyed and so we left...

And now we are here, in Peru. It took some adjusting. I guess I am 45 and a little more stuck in my ways than I'd like to be, and the low water pressure bugs me and the "Continental" breakfast here sucks ass and I was having serious Internet withdrawal... but I am below the equator in ancient, ancient land.

And how I feel about this place needs to be in a separate post. Though really, it's too soon and too deep to really say right now, but I tell you what: It ain't Vegas. That's for damn sure.

And by the way, you over there? It's not worth commenting on except to say: Whatever helps you sleep at night....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm Going To Peru

...next Tuesday.

I spend my days in a fog of freakout moments... scraping together dust to pay the communications bill, dealing with Con Ed, getting PP to pay the cell phone without guilt because he's not paying child support. I wrote a two page letter to my landlord acknowledging I owe them over $11,000 and begging them not to evict me while I'm Peru. I had to tell them I was going... The Rock is really small and someone would say something or they would just decide to they're done and try to evict me, and if I'm not there to answer the summons I'd come back to no home.

The letter could still piss them off, though I gave them as many facts as I could... that my trip was paid for in return for photodocumenting and chaperoning, that my Sun's trip was paid for strictly on donations.

And I marvel that of the $1673 the trip cost, I am short $38.50... and it was all on donations. Some amazing people came out to help, and I am grateful.

I marvel that I was able to raise that money for the organization, but I can't raise anything close to that for myself. So obviously I'm doing something wrong.

Then I got into a discussion with the BigMan about art. I love him, and I accept him completely because he's what I asked for and what I needed... but he's not an artist. The Cricket was... and I miss that about him. BigMan is not. He said I process my pictures too slowly. I needed to be faster.

And theoretically he's right if I'm shooting a paid assignment. And, when I am paid I do process quickly. But when I'm doing it for me... I take my time. I put myself in the same zone I'd be in if I were in the darkroom. I've learned finally, how to dodge and burn in Lightroom. It's been a revelation.

I still miss printing my own photos in the darkroom. I miss the dark, the soothing running water, the smell of the chemicals. I miss exposing my negative to light, counting the seconds, using my hands to shield light or focus light. It was like painting in air. And the final thrill... taking the empty paper that doesn't show all that work, slipping it into the developer and watching the image appear. Watching the story unfold. Am I telling it the way it happened? Or the way I wanted it to be?

My favorite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson. I can look at his pictures for hours. Every corner of the image tells a story. When I take pictures I remember him. I try to tell the whole story, especially when I'm taking pictures of people. Who are they? Where is their pain, their joy? How do they fit in the world? How have they shaped the world in the frame? Where are they going after this moment?

And sometimes I don't think any of that, just take the picture. But sitting at my computer later those questions form, and I try to show them in the picture... and all that takes time.

So I told BigMan that I take pictures for me. I take pictures because I love photographs, and when I "develop" for me I take all the time I want. That art takes time.

He looked skeptical. He said but you don't make any money. I said that's why I never wanted to be an artist, because you don't do it for money, you do it because you are compelled, because you have something that needs to be said. I told him he didn't grow up an artist child, so this concept might be unfamiliar.

He thought I was taking a dig, but I wasn't... and I tried to explain what it was like to be this kid in Paris, who's earliest memory is the smell of linseed oil and paint and the tap-tap-ching of my father's typewriter. What it was like to have paintings all over the wall, the sound of jazz, of folks laughing and talking about life and people and art...

...it's just what I am. And I can't fight it. Don't want to fight it anymore.

I told him I hate being broke. I don't like owing my landlord $11 grand or worrying about Con Ed. But I don't get freaked out about it because I've been here before. I know that whatever happens I will survive. I have faith though, that I am following my path. I know I am... how else would I get to Peru?

I'm going to Peru.

At some point, when I was defining what it was I really wanted out of life, (someone who would love me the way I could love them, accept my crazy, be my groundwire) one of the things I asked God for was the opportunity to travel with my Sun. I didn't want him to grow up his whole life in one neighborhood, one town, one country. On the one hand he's had far more stability than I ever did, and I did want that for him, but I wanted to be able to show him what the rest of the world is like before he got too set in his American life. So he has the pow wows... and he has his Albanian culture to explore, but he's still here, in America with his PSP and cable and cell phone... where no one is TRULY poor. We have shelters in America, and foodstamps. They don't have those things in other parts of the world.

So... while I have no money at all ($9 today... I have to buy fabric softener, cat food and carfare) my Sun and I are going to Peru. He will see something and people completely unfamiliar to him, except for the music and the drums...

and while I'm gone my love, my heart, my groundwire, my BigMan will be here to hold down the fort and watch out for my Upstairs Neighbor.

I try to be kind and honest and loyal, I try to live a good life as a mother, daughter, friend, mother. I am full of shortcomings, I'm not always kind for one thing but I am loyal to the death and as honest as I can be with myself and others... but I hope that this trip means that I am living life to the best of my ability, and that when I come back I'll still have a home, and a family, my BigMan... I hope that this trip signals a break for big things to come.

But if nothing else I will have traveled with my Sun to see something different, and I am grateful.

I am going to Peru...

...where I look forward to taking pictures of 11 amazing and brave children, one amazing and brave woman who has started this organization, and a funny and engaging and brave man who is willing to accompany us and protect us in his homeland, sharing his home, his family, his history with us for 10 days..

I AM GOING TO PERU!!!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

So....

...maybe I'm starting again. In a way I am.

Seven years of my Sun's and my life intertwined in a place and a time we are no longer an everyday part of...

It was his journey, really... I was just along for the ride; the Guardian, the Keeper of his flame. But along the way I ran into my own (mis)adventures and towards the end I had to remind myself it was his story, not mine... and that my issues were not to corrupt or maim his memories, his stories.

I look forward to not being so invested in his life, his friends... I look forward to him making his own memories without me.

After my last post it took some digesting, but generally I feel clean. A weight has been lifted. I did not like the pain and the rage and the venom that was settling in. I don't do well with "frenemies." I either like you or I don't. If I don't like you I prefer that it be outright... it doesn't mean I can't sit in a room with you, or work with you, or even share a laugh. I can smile with my lips at you, keeping my eyes and my heart to myself. But I like it better when you know I don't like you, so that I'm not forced to be nicer to you than you deserve.

And after the rage and the pain was let loose, I felt... profoundly nothing. The way I did the night the Sun's dad left me on the corner of 100th Street and Madison Avenue, in front of the big hospital at midnight with no money and only a Metrocard, walking away with my Sun's hand in his hand, leaving me to fend for myself. Something snapped. A stillness... and I vowed that night to take him on, and I did. And I won. And we are peaceful now. We're even friends. I can even smile at him again, but I still keep my eyes and my heart to myself.

And all that means is the things I fought him so hard over, they no longer bother me because I no longer care. Life will go on whether he's on the good side of his mood or no. Just like that other situation. I no longer care what happens... hearts were revealed, choices made. I can move on.

On Friday, CrazyNicaraguanChick got married. She's only known him 6 months. They went to the county clerk in Rye, and married each other in presence of her children and a few close friends. Family members were unable to make it, but neither of them seemed to care much. The jury is still out on him, as far as I'm concerned, but so far he seems to be good for her. He settles her. She doesn't seem to change much when she's around him except that she's in love. And I wish her the best. And it's not the timing that makes me wary.... my parents met in April and married in December (it would have been August except there was no money), and Upstairs Neighbor married Mr. Kip in 6 weeks of meeting him. My parents have been married 47 years, and UN and Mr. Kip were married 38, until he died. So... I don't know. He seems to love her and is accepting of her insanity, and really that's all that really matters.

The night before, The Professor and I and two other girls went to her house and drank tequila with her and talked about sex and men and friendship. After the other girls left, The Professor and I walked her home and sat for a minute while she settled, leaving her sleeping on the kitchen floor.

BigMan said I came in and sat on the couch and asked him when we were getting married... but the cheap tequila makes that memory fuzzy. He then said I passed out and he carried me to bed.

I woke up the next morning OK, and got it together in enough time to go take pictures of CNC getting dressed. BigMan didn't come with me, in part to not having any money, in part because his son is here, in part because frankly I don't think he's ready to face that scenario.

Nor am I.

I love him... I am still surprised by the things he does, that he sticks by me and does dishes and vacuums and tolerates my increasingly bad PMS and counts pennies with me. But I think we have some time to go, some things to clean up before we can be comfortable marrying each other. But I do want to grow old with him.

Its weird, sometimes. When I'm with him, it's easy to be open. I can tell him anything and everything, and I do. I love that his loyalty is absolute. But sometimes when I think about him in the abstract, my guard goes up.... because there have only ever been two almost three men who have ever been to the core of me, and none of them ended well. The last one was a scrub. And this makes me afraid.

When I can get over that, that fear, is when I know we'll be OK, not because of him... but because of me.

His son is here, and that's been different. He's 16. And I don't really know16 year old boys... had he been the Sun's age or younger I'd be well within my comfort zone. But I like Bigman's Boy, a lot. His humor is dry. He doesn't get in the way. I feel bad that he's bored, and I try to give him space to know his dad without me trying to mother him.

But it's been odd to go from just me and the Sun, to me and the Sun and BigMan, to me and the Sun and BigMan and BigMan's Boy. It's an adjustment. And it doesn't help that both me and BigMan are living on the brink of complete financial ruin.

On the other hand... the fact that all of us are in here and not snapping at each other or whining... that's a pretty good thing.

The Diva is facing challenges of her own... and has been forced to leave the current boyfriend in a hurry. But I'm proud of her... she seems to be navigating her life OK.

So....

...we'll see what happens from here...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Long Time Coming...

...this post is. Since December, I guess? And I've been debating this a long time, mulling it over, keeping it in, trying to be understanding, giving my self space to figure it out, trying to overcome it. But it's been festering. A bloody gaping wound gone gangrenous.

I'm good for a letter or an email to someone I care about, if something they've done has upset me. If I'm REALLY upset and I REALLY care about you and I'm trying REALLY hard to work it out, you might get several emails. The scrub got several. But I debated a letter to you, because I knew it would bring a response, and I'm not really sure I want a response. I don't want to hear you rationalize yet again, or lie any more than I already suspected you were. Beside, writing directly to you would mean that I was going to continue to try to be fair, because one thing about my letters... I try to see both sides. I try not to attack without the offer of a solution. But I'm not sure there is a solution. As a matter of fact, after debating this in myself for six months I think the only solution is for me to leave you alone. This whole thing bothers me that much.

See, you really, profoundly hurt me. He isn't the issue. He's a scrub... like the proverbial snake that bites the hand that saved it from the wagon wheel, I knew he was a snake when I picked him up. He's a scrub, riding in his best friend's ride, trying to holler at whatever moves. And after spending some time with him, and hearing his stories, in my heart I knew the shit was going to blow up on me. "How they find you is how they leave you..." if they have a particular pattern, and they've over 25, there's a pretty good chance they're going to continue that pattern. But I fell in love anyway. I knew it would blow up on me, but I took the chance.

And in part, I took the chance because of you. "Go for it," you said, "you never know." And no, I didn't fall just because of you... I fell because I was very lonely, confused, and had just ended the six-year-war. And I'm guessing you're in pretty much the same place I was though your war is only beginning. I wanted my Happy Ever After, after all that hell. But it's not like I fell with no help... I'm a sucker for long talks on the deck at night, or sunbathing naked on a hot summer day, foot rubs, riding in a car with the windows down and the music blasting, cuddling on the beach... and he gave me those things. He made me remember what it was like to love someone you were friends with. My heart needs to think that those things happened because there was something there, and my head didn't need to be reminded he was simply a great manipulator. And lately, every time I see you I am reminded what an asshole I was.

I started to fall before the big trip.... but on that big trip I lost complete control of my heart and down I went, and you were the one I called to tell. I remember you asking me "Does he feel the same way?" and I said, "I don't know... I don't care. Because I know how I feel." And then we got back and the fairy tale turned into the darkest hell... again you were the one I called. Because you were the only one who really knew how far I'd fallen. And you held me up. And in my mind, I owed my heart to you.

Jesus. I still can't look at pictures from that trip... I took them all down off of Flickr, I deleted them off my harddrive. They're on a CD, though... waiting for the time I can go through them again but it's been two years and I still can't. I know that two years later, I've got the better deal. I AM in love with my best friend. I DO have a man I trust implicitly. He believes in loyalty. He loves me. I love him and trust him; even around you.

But still, when I remember how I crawled through Black August I can still cry. I know I must have a been a pain in the ass. I know you, along with everyone else, felt I was dumb for even believing, given that he was a scrub and a snake, and that made it worse. Eventually though, I made peace with myself. I even made peace with him. I had only asked two very specific things of him: Don't treat me like you treat your bitches, and when he broke that one I knew he'd break the other which was don't fuck my friends. I was prepared. I just didn't think it would be you. And it wouldn't have mattered so much if it was anyone but you. Because you saw me bleed. You read my pain on this blog. You knew how torn apart I was.

Because I considered you a sister. Although now that I think about it, it's appropriate, I guess, given his previous patterns. He knew I thought of you as family. Men mostly come and then go, but good girlfriends are a gift to be treasured, and I never thought you of all people, would be weak enough to sell me out.

Loyalty is a big thing to me. People suck. The world sucks. 95% of the people you meet don't REALLY care how you are when they ask. The other 3% are only marginally interested and if you're lucky, you'll find 1% of the world who really gives a shit about you. And those are the people you hold close, and don't fuck over. If they have idiosyncrasies, you deal with it.

My friend BeautifulHair had a thing for being called on her birthday. Two years ago Black August turned into GreySeptember and two days after her birthday I realized I'd forgotten it. I called her and left her a message, rather rambling, because I didn't want to burden her with my hell.

I didn't hear from her for months, and when I finally sat down and wrote her an email, mad at her because it was obvious I'd done something to piss her off and didn't know what it was, she wrote me back and told me. I had forgotten her birthday.

On the surface, it might seem stupid... but I'd known that was her "thing" and I had a made a point to honor that "thing". So I couldn't get mad at her for that... but I did get mad at her that after 15 years of friendship, she would assume I'd forgotten her birthday because it was unimportant to me, rather than thinking maybe I was trying not to commit myself to a mental hospital and hadn't gotten around to calling her. We haven't spoken since.

Friendships--even 15 year friendships--are just that fragile. A friendship only a third that old needs to be nurtured and cared for.

A friendship, like any relationship, must be made up of equal parts love, trust and respect, and those parts must always be in proportion to each other. To have one of those parts goes missing makes it hard for a friendship to survive.

So I love you... this wouldn't have hurt so bad if I didn't. I've wrestled over this bullshit for six months. Although "this morning I woke up and found I didn't care for you no more..." And today I don't think I love you anymore. I lost an awful lot of respect for you as a woman, and as a friend. And I damn sure don't trust you anymore... and I don't think I ever will. Because not only did you betray my trust and my heart, you lied. Looked me in the eye and swore it was a flash in the pan, something you needed, an abnormality. You were sorry. It was over and wouldn't happen again. But I don't believe you.

I gave you the benefit of the doubt because I'm a friend. I struggled and questioned forgiveness because I'm a friend. My spideysense went off and I saw things I didn't want to see, but I went on your word.

My gut never lies and unlike you I trust myself. I've been through hell and back and battled demons and fought wars, and I trust me. I trust what I feel.

And the other day, Monday, was the straw that broke the camels back. The tinglies started upstairs, and as I was coming down the staircase my senses were raging. Your name was on my lips and I was set to go home and delete you off FB for no good reason other than my alarms were going off, struggling with myself over the rationality of my feelings. I got to the bottom of the staircase with your name raging in my head, opened the staircase door and bumped right into you. And the look on your face told me everything I already know:

You're a liar. You're weak. You want every one to like you. You crush on people, absorb everything they are, do everything they do until you hit upon something of theirs that you can't do. Because you're not them. And instead of embracing the things in someone else that you can't do, can't imitate, and instead of developing your own many unique talents, you turn and walk away. And justify it, rationalize it by saying you can only have one friend at a time. You say your open and honest, and treat people with respect. But you're not open... you're not honest. If you were open you could share in things that you're not good at because you'd be open enough to enjoy that someone else can. If you were honest you would have told things long before I had to find them out on my own. If you treated your friends with love and respect you wouldn't have done the shit in the first place, and you would have respected my pain by not lying.

Or maybe there was something about me and my friendship that you were willing to do without. And that hurts too, because if there was something about me that pissed you off that much and you told me... I would have done something about it because I loved you.

I know your life is miserable to you now, and I'm sorry. I know you are faced with decisions that cause you great pain, and I would have gladly held your hand. But you avoid your pain because you don't like it, and so numb yourself by doing things you know you have no business doing, risking everything you DO have... all the things about you that are good and true and valuable you systematically destroy because you don't have the balls to stomach a little bit of pain.

This makes you a dangerous friend. Someone who, while you avoid your pain, causes pain in others. And then you rationalize it as something you need to do for yourself because you do so much for others. But really... what have you done lately?

But it's come back to bite you in the ass, hasn't it? What goes around comes around. I'd almost feel bad for you... except you brought the shit on your self. And what's worse is, you'll have to go it alone. When I was fucked over and hurting, I had you. And now that you're fucked over and hurting, guess what... you don't have me.

You do have friends who'll help you. And you know what? I'm not the bitch who will turn folk against you. This is my rant and my blog and my own personal issue with you. I don't hate you. I won't shout you out to the public at large. After all, I sat on this shit and hurt by myself for six months. And I do hope you come to your fucking senses and pull your head out of your ass and do what you know it is you NEED to do. I hope your life gets better--I genuinely do. But I won't be there. I will no longer cheer you on.

Fuck you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Among Other Things....

...my Sun, who is just about my height/soon-to-be-taller, graduates elementary school today. He is eleven years old. For most of it, it's been him and me. For seven years, we've taken the hour-long commute in the mornings, giggling and telling stories, or eating breakfast, or arguing over undone chores/lost bus passes/missing homework, doing homework or sleeping. When he was very little he used to stand on the seat beside me, in the corner seats we always take, peering out the window of the elevated train, waiting to see the two big highlights of our trip. The first was the trainyard just above the Parkchester Station. In the morning the yard was mostly empty, yards of silver tracks criss-crossing each other like shiny ribbons.

And then right before we went under ground, we'd cross over the very high bridge that spans the dirty Bronx River and look down over a lot where school buses used to park. He would race to see how many buses were still parked in the yard before the train went under ground.

After a while, he got too big to care... playing his video games or reading a book instead.

Only one year I didn't take him in every day; the year his friend the Moon went to the same school and Shoefly, who is a much better morning person than I, would take them both in. I didn't miss rushing to get out of the house, but I did miss taking him to school.

Over seven years his hair went from long to drastically short to gradually long again, his face went from round to long, his voice deeper. Only his beautiful eyes remain unchanged, but now his face has grown to accommodate them.

Over seven years I went from war to peace with his father, been in love twice, played with booty calls, been heartbroken and joyous.

I've made friends, lost friends, changed friends...

But his life hasn't changed much. By the time I was his age I'd lived in three different countries, and he has pretty much lived in the same apartment his whole life. I was a lot more independent. I definitely wasn't as spoiled.

But he's a good kid, I think. Mostly polite and courteous except to me at times; talented, resourceful and enormously secure in himself.

I don't know that he realizes how much his life is about to change, but I'm confident that he'll handle it the way he handles most things; with a calm beyond his years and mostly good humored.

My little boy... now soon-to-be taller than me, long legged and husky voiced. I love him more than I could ever say... he is truly my light, my sun.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lately...

my patience for human beings is insanely thin.

I'm not quite sure why that is. Though I have a few suspicions.

One thing is that sometimes seeing every one's issues that they can't see themselves really really makes me crazy. It's a curse. I wish I could shut it off, but I can't. The problem is, I have a lot of empathy for people and their issues, provided they are trying to do something about them. But most people roll along with their issues, putting them off on everyone else, fucking up situations, gossiping, taking what they need to feed that white hot flame and sometimes it's just so draining. Mostly because I struggle with my own. I'd probably be more patient if I had less issues of my own to deal with.

You know, like the ConEd serviceman coming to my door to turn off my lights. For whatever reason, he was really nice to me and gave me an out--bought me 24 hours. Maybe because I made a point of being nice to him. I had a flashback of the electric company in Jamaica sending techs out to disconnect our electricity in Jamaica one Christmas eve. Bigbear went ballistic, and so they got mad at her and turned the lights off for spite. So when the ConEd tech called on the phone from his car, I ran downstairs to talk to him in person... barefoot and stressed. I guess he had pity on me.

So I robbed my business account and kept the lights on another month. I got reimbursed from something I did out of charity and kept the cable on. I borrowed $1,000 from Poppy to throw into the $10,000 hole I'm in with the landlord. I still have to figure out my Sprint bill. And next month I get to do it all again, plus figure out how to raise the rest of the money for the Sun's Peru trip.

I am going grey at an alarming rate. I scrape together nickels and dimes for carfare.

And on top of that, while Bigman has told me before about his being molested as a pre-teen, the horror of what he went through hit us both full force the other day when he decided to do a little digging. What he found, and passed on to me, left my head spinning, left me almost nauseous. I had flashes of my own little boy and what I would do--what his father would do--if someone ever got to him. It was horrible. And my Bigman was really struggling. He was better today, but it's been a rough 24 hours.

So you think I give a rats ass about your problems and issues??? I'm tired of being sensitive, patient and understanding. I'm tired of reeling in my tongue. I'm tired of seeing your shit. I really am.

But of course it's not something I can shut off, so I just have to remove myself as much as I can, hiding out in my house until it passes, until I feel better. I have to do things in my own time.

I'm just trying to hang on... I want to go to Peru because it's the opportunity of a lifetime; I've always wanted to travel with my Sun so that he can see something other than New York City. I'm blessed that this opportunity has presented itself, and I thank God that I have the time to seize the opportunity. But it sure would be nice if I had the cash to do it a little more comfortably.

But I guess it could be worse. It could easily get worse...

I have faith that I'm doing the right thing, mostly for my kid. After learning about Bigman's hell I felt a little better about giving up my whole life to guard my Sun's flame. It's worth it, I guess, if he grows up to be a good man. I look forward to him being more independent so that I can go back to being a more social, working person. I miss shopping. But I'm glad I didn't sacrifice him to do so...

The end of his days at his elementary school are fast approaching. My kid is so nonplussed about everything, I'm not really sure how he feels about it. He got into the Middle School he wanted; he's got two friends there. He is confident in the friends he's made at his current school, and I've no doubt he'll keep in touch with them. There will be no music in his middle school, but he already speaks of continuing with Opus. He has a deeper voice that gets deeper every day, and a slight swagger. Sometimes he throws me incredible shade and I'm tempted to beat his ass, but pretty much I'm proud as hell of him. He is the best of both me and his dad.

It's a little weird to know that in a few days our time at his school will end; it's been six years. A lot has changed in those six years. But me, I'm chomping at the bit... I think I put in way too much of myself with some cool results but also some very not-so-cool results, and I actually look forward to walking away from certain people and never, ever looking back. And the closer the end gets, the more my animosity rises. I struggle with it. I don't usually hold on to most things, but I guess the big things stick with me for a long while and I do much better when I can walk away. And I haven't been able to... but now that I can see the end of the road, Lord I can't wait to get there... then I can stop being polite and having to smile at shit that really burns me up...

But.

Despite all that I want to end on a happier note, and that note is that I am completely in love. I find myself wanting to protect that moment we met... the moment that could easily not have happened because my going out that particular night was such a fluke. And suppose my natural suspicions had over taken me and I'd never given him a chance. Suppose the Scrub had been available that day in early August. But all those things happened and I have my ride-or-die. I love him completely. Flaws and all. He is the kindest human being I have ever met... even though it doesn't seem he would be. He's starting to refer to my family as his family. My cat likes him. Someone said the other day that I would grow old with him, and I know that I will. We joke about that.... being old and stuck with each other. But I like the thought of that....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The House is Quiet...

...for the first time in a while I'm by myself. And there's a bunch of stuff I SHOULD be doing, but I've done absolutely nothing. But then again, it IS the Sabbath, and when I was a kid I did nothing on this day anyhow. I guess the body gets used to things like that, even though we think we've given them up. My body, my psyche, is used to being quiet on Saturday, and even though I've gotten out of the habit mentally, my body remembers.

Cuz I'm tired and don't feel like doing much.

It was a draining week, mentally. A lot of talking. A lot of thinking. Maybe because it was full moon this week... but folks' issues were really draining to me. Every conversation was weighted with their own backstories. And sometimes that stuff rolls off me but somehow this week I felt like I was under a wet blanket.

Someone posted a quote on FB the other day, about how when something disturbs you about someone else, it's because it reminds you of something that disturbs you about yourself. Because you wouldn't know it to recognize it otherwise. I've been mulling over that the past few days but I'm too tired and drained to make any sense of it. But I do wonder... cuz the same could be said for things that attract you to someone.

And I'm only wondering about all this because twice this week I've had people tell me of a strong dislike for a person, based on assumptions they've made about someone. But the thing is... the assumptions were wrong. AND the people talking actually have things in common with each other. It's not that I think they'd like each other, nor do I care that they do or not. It was more that the arrogance of the assumption annoyed me, an unwillingness to look beyond the assumption to "read" the person underneath. And all folks in the equation equally flawed, hiding their white-hot core with arms folded, sharp words or attitude, weight or make up or fancy clothes.

We're all the same underneath. Some of us think we're sophisticated by admitting to it; we say it but not many of us REALLY live our lives assuming that we are all the same underneath. Humans are relentlessly unforgiving of others... mainly because we are unforgiving of ourselves.

It's enough to make me want to hide on a beach in the sun, just me and the kid... People are just too draining...

Oh wait, I already do... it's why I like living out here... far from everyone. Only the ones who love me and love themselves enough to love me make the trek out here, to sit in my quiet.

But.

I should be cleaning my apartment, not musing. I'm by myself. I should be useful... churchbells are ringing and dusk is approaching... but Lord knows I just feel like going to sleep...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Had A Dream...

early this morning in which I had cornered the Scrub someplace and told him exactly why I was pissed off at him. Why he hurt me. In the dream, I told him I realized I was not so special to him. That what he'd done to me, he'd done to people in his life more important to him than me. I knew that my pain didn't make me special.

In my dream I could sense his distance, that me telling him these things was really only to my benefit; that it wouldn't make him go "Oh, I get it and I'm sorry" and MEAN it, and more importantly it wouldn't change his life or the way he did things.

And then I woke up... realizing that I had been in a VERY deep sleep, awaking into full consciousness the way you come up for air after diving in a cold pool.

The contrast between the crispness of my dream and the reality of my undersea blue room and my double bed and the BigMan snoring softly beside me was arresting. I didn't want to go back to sleep to finish the dream... the dream had been completed as I awoke... which is unusual.

I didn't wake up crying. I didn't wake up ashamed of dreaming of him with BigMan next to me.

I did have a mild feeling of annoyance that this still bothers me, but then it changed to curiosity... why now, two years later? Why so clear? A lot of times dreams are metaphors for other things in your life... you wake up from a dream full of symbolism (like the dream I had about the dead fish tank) but knowing vaguely what the dream is about. And when I have those dreams I sift through the symbolism to figure out what my subconscious is telling me. But this was different. There were no vague messages. It was very clearly me, and very clearly him in a space (white, ironically) and me telling him in my own everyday words in my own voice what I had to say.

Most interestingly, I didn't wake up with a need to make the dream a reality. I still see the Scrub frequently and have pretty much stopped acknowledging his presence except where absolutely necessary. There is no animosity on my part; I just decided he no longer deserved to live in my world.

The only thing I can think of that would have triggered it is that I came home from dropping the kid off from school yesterday. It was an interesting morning filled with interesting conversations in which people's own issues were playing into situations that affect other people. I had three different, equally draining conversations with people in which their own issues so clearly figured into the shit that was going on with them that by the time I came home I was drained.

I'd met BigMan on the train ride home (he'd done an IT job downtown) and when we came back to the house, well, we had an interlude. Which is unusual for us just because most times we sit here in my living/work room, backs to each other, doing our own thing. I told him I loved him, and he asked me why... and I told him "because you're my friend. A real friend." My ride-or-die... He hugged me and told me that most people didn't really appreciate the true meaning of "friend." And very briefly and mostly subconsciously I remembered that what had hurt me most about the Scrub was that I had thought we could be friends. And then I didn't think about that or him the rest of the day. And wouldn't have remembered that thought if I hadn't had the dream.

But BigMan is what I had been looking for, my ride-or-die, my groundwire. The Sun and I presented him with a key to the apartment the other day, and he actually blushed. And hasn't left the apartment to go home since...

....so wow... no posts for a month and then two in a day...

¡carajo!

There's just so much going on. And I'm not writing for lack of shit to say... just lack of time. My time being taken up with the Sun and his various musical activities, BigMan, the Fam, my own disorganization...

Overall, I'm happy. Fat and happy and my heel spurs hurt like hell. But I'm broker than I was the last time I complained. In fact, the landlord's son knocked on my door today, and I showed him my turn-off notice from Con Ed to prove to him that I wasn't dodging just him.

However, I'm going to Peru this summer; it's official. Now I just need to raise the $1,000 to get my kid there. I'm excited though... I'm going to photo-document the Speaking In Rhythms Percussion Ensemble's Syncopated Peru project. We're going to Chincha, Peru, where African rhythms have traveled their via slavery, and 11 kids who have been studying Peruvian rhythms with the Ensemble will visit and learn. And it just occurred to me to put a Paypal button on this blog to help raise funds... maybe I'll do that in a day or two.

Of course when I get back I'm quite sure I'll be homeless...

Either that or the lights will be off. Shit is serious.

I love my BigMan. He makes me bellylaugh. And he can walk into a room and "see" the same stories I see. Which is so amazingly cool. The other day I took him someplace and out of the blue he started telling stories about the people there... and he was right. I happened to know the back-stories and his perception just made me all gooey.

Cuz now I know for certain I'm not making stuff up. I mean I'd figured out that I could "see" things, but I wondered if I was the only one who saw it so clearly. He said people wear their stories all over their body, which is a funny way of putting it. And the thing is... I don't think most people would peg him as the type to see things like that... but I think it's what makes him a good photographer. And a great photo retoucher, cuz he hides the flaws that people hate about themselves.

Me... I don't hide the flaws. I think the flaws are what makes people fascinate me. I don't think "flaws" are anything to be ashamed of. But of course most people don't see it that way. And I guess too that's why he's a commercial photographer and I'm an artistic one...

but anyway.

That's my one deep thought for the day. I could sit and write about the multitude of stuff going on in my life and the things I've been "seeing" lately but then this post would get long, and would take me days to finish instead of the two it took me to finish this one... and the next time I sat to write I'd be afraid of the time it takes to distill everything... so I'll stop writing now and come back tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Today I Force Myself

... to put something down, to make the time. It's been a week already.

Kinda sucks that all I have time to write is just what's going on... no time for pithy meanderings through the Swiss cheese tunnels in my head. No time to separate the Voices and let them free.

I am particularly unfocused these days... and it's not like I don't have a plethora of things to tackle... all of them fun for me, but I just can't grab a hold of anything.

But since I rambled on last week, maybe a good thing to ramble on is updates to the ramble.

The Scrub has thankfully receded from my thoughts. But the vividness of it all still sort of bothers me.

I'm guessing Cricket is having issues but I'm still mad at him... but I can't really do anything about it for a few days.

I'm anxiously awaiting my Federal Refund. Anxiously, because I owe so many people so much money I'm very afraid that someone is going to snatch it, the way they snatched BigMan's. He owed the State--the State came calling.

My sis wasn't "invited back" to her horrible job. I feel for her... the scenario reminded me very much of what happened to me at The Hospital. But she needed to be out. That place was toxic... And I always joke with her that like Cain and Abel, God favors her so I'm sure she'll be fine.

I... on the other hand...

Opus 118, founded by Roberta Guaspari, and who my Sun takes violin with and plays with the Ensemble, is in financial trouble. Funding has dried up. It doesn't help us AT ALL, that the much larger and older Harlem School of the Arts is folding, largely due to mismanagement. I'm kinda thing there was some mild skankiness at Opus about a year back... not by Roberta of course or the teachers. But I think some people got in and saw Opus as a business to be made glossy at the expense of what Opus was founded for... to enable Roberta to continue teaching violin in East Harlem. I think there were some folk in there who didn't really share the vision Roberta founded Opus on. But the core of who's left at Opus are die-hard... and Opus is smaller and "lighter" than HSA so I pray to God us parents and assorted friends can save her. Because Roberta needs to teach. My kid needs violin. It's his ticket to college... but it really has affected me.

It's funny, cuz I often fight the Sun for practice. And I finally got him to the place where he can find the joy:


video

I downloaded some sheet music for him from the song "Broken Arrow" by Nothing but Stringz... and he loved it and has been trying to work it out for two days. He can't quit violin now.... So if you haven't already and you have a dollar to throw in the pot (preferably more but whatever) please do so...

Lately I've been suffering from random bouts of physical insecurity, which is weird for me. Insecurity has never been one of my issues. But I am not at my best and BigMan gets to hang out with a lot of young, fairly dumb and attractive chicks. I sleep on none of them. I AM fairly certain I can outcook and outsex most of them... that's one very cool thing about being an OldBitch. OldBitches have skills. But I'm not diggin' the fact that I'm an OldFatBitch. And my feet hurt.

Though I went to the FootDoc today and he was most happy with the progress and the flexibility... so I can do more walking and physical stuff. Which is great cuz um, I need too.

And it's not that I DON'T trust BigMan. I just know chicks tend to get complacent and take men for granted and that's precisely when men go whoring. So I can't get complacent.

The Diva is working on her relationship still... all seems well for now. I saw her today and she reeks of cigarette smoke. I just tell her she's got to stop cuz it's all in her clothes, but that's not a judgment on her, just a fact. She took it as such. It's hard being an OldFatBitch but it's also hard to be a YoungChick, so I don't really envy her. It's hard growing up. Especially when you're growing a child at the same time...

Last Saturday the Sun and I went with Poppy to have lunch with "Carpenter Avenue Boys"... three guys he grew up with in the Bronx. It was great... four old men from very simple but very varied lives--three Italians and one BrownSkinned kid. It was great Poppy saw them because the piece that's scheduled to be in Harper's soon starts with them. And it made Poppy so happy. And I was happy to be there to take pictures:



So that's the update for now; I forced myself to write. Just to keep at it...