New Year, New ?

I’m optimistic.  I love beginnings, because at the beginning, everything is possible.  New days, new weeks, new months, new years.  I try to approach it with how I can be better.  Over the past year, I’ve realized that I was a little too kind to myself.  There’s always a reason floating in the ether for me to have deserve ten more minutes of sleep, a late night bowl of ice cream, a night to party, one more drink.  Self-indulgence is my achilles heel, and I’ve often joked about being a closet hedonist.

As great as 2011 was (and it WAS great), I became overwhelmed with this huge anxiety about what 2012 would bring.  More specifically, do I have the stuff it takes to bring my goals to fruition.  I look at the goals that I accomplished and wonder if I put in more work, could I have doubled that.  What is it about me that gets to a certain point and stops?  Fear?  Coasting on my abilities?  Laziness?

I’ve felt so angsty lately.  What if I’ve waited to late to fulfill these goals?  What if I screw everything up?  What if my kids feel neglected in my pursuit for…whatever I’m pursuing.  WHAT THE HELL AM I PURSUING??  I don’t know how I went from the land of “everything is possible” to utter doubt, but it bugs me more than anything.

Maybe with my tiny victories, I get to push myself to see what I’m really made of.  The thing is, I like myself.  I’m not unhappy with who I am.  I just know that to an extent, it isolates me from my family.  That’s still a hard pill for me to swallow.  What if I’m living my life all wrong?  I hate being afraid.  It’s the reason that I’m so impetuous.  I do things before my fear response gets to kick in.

If you don’t hesitate long enough to let the fear register, you don’t get the chance to be afraid.  It’s the reason I walked out of my marriage on the way out to work; the reason I booked my ticket to DC the moment the idea hit me; it’s the reason I blurt out I love you as soon as I feel it.  That extra second it takes could be the difference between altering my future and wondering what might have been.  Is that foolish of me?  Had I given myself the chance to (rightfully?) be afraid of pursuing a relationship with the ex husband, sure I could have avoided drama.  I also would have avoided bringing two of the most awesome kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing into the world.  If I hadn’t walked out that day, how much worse would things have gotten?  If I hadn’t gone to DC and put everything on the line, I wouldn’t be missing out on so many family events, but I also might still be struggling to get published.  As far as telling a person I loved them, well, there is nothing in this world that makes me feel freer, even if they don’t feel the same.

I just want to be a good person, and do the right things for my kids.  Maybe be the type of person that my family can look up to, and not see me struggling all the damn time.  Right now, my refrigerator is dying, I don’t have use of my car, and I just can’t seem to get anything right.  That has me feeling hella defeated.  I KNOW it’s gonna get better. I KNOW I’m just going through a bad spell, but you’ll be happy to know that I haven’t cried ONCE.  I’m just having a teeny tiny moment.

For those of you who I know are going to pop up with words of encouragement, be it through comments, IMs or tweets, thank you in advance.  I appreciate you more than you can possibly know.

7/14/51

Today is my mother’s 60th birthday.  I can’t say “it would have been.”  It is.  I’m broken hearted about it in a million different ways.  The death of a loved one is not something you get over.  It’s something you take day by day and live through, at best.  Not everyone survives it, so I’m sitting on 6,081 personal victories.

On her birthday and the anniversary of her death, I get really sad, and understandably so.  I was in my car, and the first song that came on was “No Woman, No Cry.”  I switched to Beyonce, and “I Was Here” eventually came on.  No ma’am.  There will be other days to remember her with Gladys Knight, Carole King and James Taylor.  Today won’t be that day though.

One of my favorite memories was us sitting in bible study, and someone said something funny.  My mother was very well respected and many people saw her as an example, but she could not shake the giggles.  For the longest time, she stared at the wall, shoulders silently shaking, as she tried to compose herself.  Then, she lost it.  She erupted into this earth shattering laugh, and it gave everyone else license to do so as well.

I know that she believed firmly in people claiming their humanity, and there is no way she would not have wanted me to cry if I felt sadness.  But I was reminded today that Mama loved to laugh, so today, I honored her memory with joy and laughter.  There was a tear or two, but they didn’t overtake me. I’ll never be okay with her being gone, but today, I’m okay with being.  Here’s to 6,082.

Wildflower

My mind is all over the place. Forgive me if I ramble.

“I was leaving the South to fling myself into the Unknown…I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns and, perhaps, to bloom.”

-Richard Wright

If you’ve visited my spot with any regularity, you should know by now that I’m a maverick.  I won’t spend an extensive amount of time discussion how my choices to march to my own drum brought forth strange results. My life was my life, and though it’s heavy with mistakes, I try my best to not exist in regret.  Recently, I’ve had clashes with the present and past that seem to have triggered an evolution within me. Confronting my demons and challenging my own ideas have become what I do in my down time.  After years of observing and learning about people, I’m taking the time to learn myself.  I’ve cracked myself open and viewed my frailties and fears for what they are; part of me.

I’m a child of warrior women.  Women who would see the world crumbling around them, and stand stock still and hold it up on their shoulders rather than run. If asked why, I would imagine their answers would be much like mine:  it’s all they’ve ever known.  Part of me dares not put out my hand for the softer side of life, because beneath the surface, having that denied to me seems unbearable.  In short, I’ve chosen to be a warrior, because the alternative represents the unknown, and the unknown scares me in ways I can’t verbalize.

I feel that as a result of my defenses – my ability to shake it off and adjust – people don’t think I have real feelings.  Or if I do have feelings, that I’ll just ultimately get over it.  Those moments make me feel like a fraud, because I hurt just as much as anyone.  Sometimes more so.  My pride that comes with my strength though, won’t allow me to say, “Yo, I know it doesn’t seem like  big deal, but you just ripped me in half.”  There’s no shame in strength.  But to make it an obsession, and deny myself those moments when I need gentleness, is cheating my spirit.  So I’m learning to speak on my vulnerabilities and those moments where I need my heart touched.  They deserve protection; not to be treated like shameful secrets.

There’s something freeing about confronting my actual fears and frailties.  Rather than wishing them away, I’m working to own those too.  In so doing, I have become braver and stronger than I ever believed I could be.  I feel myself becoming, not a reinvented stranger, but rather my true self, fully realized.  You can call it whatever you see fit; I call it blooming.

The Mom

Being a mother doesn’t make me a super goddess flower.  It doesn’t make me this special chosen being, who has ascended to a level past all childless women.  It doesn’t even make me good.  Sure, I think I try to be a pretty good mother; only because I try to be a pretty good person.  I often joke with my children that they drew the short straw in the moms category.

I make a conscious decision to not discuss beef with their father here because aside from the fact that someday, they will come to this blog and see the things I have said, he’s trying.  I can say that the dude is really trying.  With my acknowledgment of that, I see that it encourages him to continue to try.  There are days when I am resentful of this.  “So now I have to coddle you just to get you to ___.”  The fact is, if that’s what it takes for him to be there for The Chocolate Wonders, I’ll take it.

Effective parenting, though, is practice makes perfect at it’s finest.  Factually, he’s short on practice, but long on pride.  He wants to show himself, his kids – and in some part, me – that he can do it.  I commend that.  But with that pride still comes the lack of communication that can frustrate transitions that could have gone smoothly otherwise.  And that’s where we are today.  We’re on the way to hashing it out, but it was only because I was insistent on speaking to him, rather than allowing him to poke his head in the sand.

There are times when my method of dealing with adversity and unfavorable situations leave much to be desired.  Though I have grown leaps and bounds in that department, it is still a part of my reputation.  It’s what my sisters know of me, it’s what my kid knows of me.  As one of the most painful parts of what seems like another life, he knows it probably better than any other.  When I calmly respond to whatever the latest craziness is, he is as apprehensive as I am when he exhibits reliability.  It’s a trade off.  I’m doing my best to not fly off the handle, because when I unleash the dragon that is my tongue, it’s vicious.

I was angry, and had every right to be so on behalf of my kids.  So I would flame him on my blog, and on the phone, and on his voice mail if need be. I was right. He wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain.  And his inaction was causing the kids to separate themselves from him.  They were ambivalent about whether or not he would call.  The knew that I would tense up when I talked to him.  Though civil, I despised him.  Though I lied and said that I didn’t think about him one way or the other, it was a lie.  I could not stand him.  They were beginning to see him for what he was.  Irresponsible.  He was accepting the fact that he was being edged out.  I was “winning.”  Except…

They didn’t choose their father.  I did.  I was, dare I say, culpable.  If I just let him vanish into the ether, in what way could that possibly benefit them?  So I did everything I could to get them to rebuild contact.  I harassed him (nicely) when time would elapse and he hadn’t called.  I would drive to New Orleans to get them there.  I would drive them to Atlanta.  I made sure he knew about important events.  I made him a part of whatever was going on, despite the distance.  I felt like I was wasting my time.  I felt like I was doing everything.  I WAS doing everything.  I STILL do everything.  A good friend pointed out that I do everything, because that’s the way it is.  Simple as that.

And it’s worth it, because that’s their father.  They love him as freely and unconditionally as they love me.  I’ll do everything it takes to ensure that they continue to do so.  He and I will NEVER be friends.  But it’s not about my friendship, or even my preference.  If we don’t work together, nobody wins.  I’ll take a little stress and some headaches to help them win.  I’m so grateful that he is stepping up and doing the same.

That Which I Do Not Want

Ah, the life of a masochist.  We all have that little inkling inside of us, which forces us to do the things we hate. Not simple, beneficial things, such as eating your vegetables, or running just a little longer.  We torture ourselves with Facebook, Twitter, and other silly meaningless acts of “networking.”  How many times have you followed someone on Twitter, who made your left butt bone ache?  How often do you maintain a “friendship” on Facebook, because you dread the awkwardness that comes with “unfriending.”  ‘Tis a bizarre world that we create for ourselves.  But why?

I honestly have no answer whatsoever, but I found myself pondering this notion a few months ago, when my ex-husband requested me as a Facebook friend.  I went through all sorts of changes, trying to hash out why I did not want to be friends with him at that time.  The things he had done happened so long ago, and I was over that right?  What legitimate reason could I have for not being his friend on this harmless networking site?  We talk in real life, and I live with a fair amount of transparency, correct?  And if I don’t want to be friends, don’t I owe him an explanation why? I’m friends with his mother and siblings. Well, I came to this conclusion: because I didn’t want to.  We have the right to decide what we do and do not want in our cypher.  I’m okay with being friends with his family, thus far.  I didn’t want that connection with him, and I don’t owe him a damn thing, and that includes an explanation.

The flip side, is the people who make comments regarding when a person has chosen to block them.  I think as a society, we have lost the concept of parameters.  My mother always instructed me that if someone didn’t want to be bothered with you socially, it’s not up to you to “sell” yourself to them.  Leave them the hell alone.  Not everyone is going to be down.  There is a natural degree of confusion that comes with not being liked, but we have to realize that not everything is for everyone, up to and including our personalities.  Taking individuals to task, however, for not wanting to play in your sandbox, is a bit much.

So rather than dealing with the social awkwardness that comes with clipping the tenuous technological tethers that bind us to people with whom we would not typically associate in real life, we hide, ignore and gnash our teeth over their gaffes, ignorance and that ache in our butt bone.  It really has to stop.  I found myself removing people today.  No, it didn’t feel “freeing;”  it felt like, “What the hell took you so long?”  I can deal with that though.

Okay

The pity party has been in full swing.  For months, I tell ya.  Months.  Part of my highs and lows, you have witnessed on the very pages of this blog, and I would always profess that I was on the upswing of a down slope.  Yeah.  I’m sort of a liar.  The truth is, I’m still pretty sad.  Who knows how long this will go on?  I’m hoping it ends soon, but I’ve been trying to mind fuck myself into thinking I knew the answer.  I don’t.  And that’s because there are about a million reasons why.  It’s not as simple as suffering from chronic depression.  I have a whole bunch of things currently going on in my life that make me wish I could stay in bed for about a month.  Taking a pill will not help me cope with any of these issues.  I need…I don’t know what the hell I need.

I’ve recently discovered that the kids’ father is terminally ill.  Thus far, the outlook has not bee positive.  Regardless of my issues with him, I wouldn’t wish something like this upon ANY person.  Additionally, I set free my baggage with him long ago, and outside of him doing things to directly impede the day to day happenings already in place, I treated him with casual ambivalence.  This however, is a little different.  I’m really praying for the strength to help my kids through this time, and the compassion to treat him like a decent human being.  He, of course, does not make it easy, but I remind myself that I can only do what I can do.  It’s up to him to express interest in spending time with the kids at this difficult time.  My feelings on that are by no means easy, either.

I’m not a pill girl, and I have yet to make time for a therapy session so I’m really focusing on my prayer and my meditation.  It helps some, but it doesn’t always combat my blues.  Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in my own clusterfuckery.  That’s heavy when you are drowning in yourself.

No.  I need I would like companionship.  Like, for real.  But the nature of my personality tells me that it’s gonna be a HOT minute before that happens.  I summed it up in an emotional vomit session with one of my friends:

Me, I’m a rubix cube as far as dudes are concerned.  In the beginning, it’s fascinating that everybody doesn’t “get it” so there’s something admirable about taking a shot at the title, in a manner of speaking.  Until he realizes that he doesn’t get it either. So, subconsciously or not, the resign themselves to the fact that I’m not meant to be gotten. How many times have you ever even seen a completed Rubix cube after it’s been jumbled?  Only freakish weirdos.  So I get the speech: that I’m a unique and special person, and SOME dude is going to be SO LUCKY, and as much as he WISHES he could be that dude, he realizes that he just CAN’T. I’m convinced there’s a “Break up with Melanie” template somewhere (*look down now* *sigh here*).

And rather than set loose my apocalyptic anger, because I don’t want to be branded as an immature chick who throws a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way, I eat something…or everything.

As extroverted as I am, it’s come to my attention that I sort of exist on the fringe of everything.  I’m not a neat and tidy, hospital corners type of chick.  I don’t limit myself on “this” train of thought, simply because I feel a certain way about “that.”  It just doesn’t work that way with me.  Sometimes, I feel a certain way about a thing simply on the strength of feeling that way about it.  It can’t get no deeper than that.  Hence, making me a little bundle of contradictions.  And bundles of contradictions don’t always do well in the dating world.

And yeah…it’s coming back to that, because who wants to do this shit alone ALL the time.  My family and friends are great.  My kids…jeez, they’re rock stars.  (I never group them in with “family,” not because they aren’t family, but because they ARE me, and therefore, have their own category.)  But there’s something to be said about having a person to walk with you through the muck that is your life – and walk with them through the muck that is theirs – in semi-matching boots.  Is that too much?

For a long time, I bucked against the idea of that, because for a long time, there was no space in my life for it.  Even when I was kicking it with the Chupacabra Hunter (whom I did, and for the foreseeable future will, love), there was a certain separateness that we each guarded, where we went through life in relative close proximity, but through our own respective mucks.  I’d like to meet a fella interested in muck-puddle jumping.  And occasionally being, and having, brief comic respite. Oh…and sex. I would like to have sex please.

Even the biggest, toughest battleships have harbors.

Four Sentences

This weekend,  I thought about Lance and couldn’t stop laughing.  He was a hurricane of animation.   Amongst our religious community, we bonded as outcasts:  Me for being, well…me; him for being both flamboyantly gay AND in the closet (if that makes any sense). We met when he was 16 and I was 18.  Having become so accustomed to judgment and scrutiny, we didn’t know what to make of one another.  Our friend that introduced us was in line at McDonald’s leaving us in the car.  He produced a hidden 40 of 8 Ball, and said, “You want half?  I’ve never had one of these.”  After we finished, and against sage advice, we went to the hood daiquiri shop and got two house specials.  As if that weren’t enough to cement our friendship, after my night of puking, I called him the following morning.  He answered the phone sounding like Dr. John and said, “I’mma call you back when I don’t feel like shit.”  How can you not love a person like that?

We weren’t sole hangout partners, but when we hung, it was ON.  The dancing was wild, the laughter was raucous, and the fun could not be contained.  And the hugs?  The best, tightest, longest hugs ever.

People liked to ask me, “Well, what’s his story? Is he GAY?”  I would give them my best version of, “The fuck should I know?” and keep it moving.  Now, his strut, manner of speaking, fashion sense, and insistence that we see “Too Wong Foo” opening weekend pretty much told me the story, but it was really a non-issue.  It’s amazing how, even when you’re very young, your elders will jump on you and attack because you’re different, and don’t fit into their norm.  I never got that.  It’s almost like they will force you to be something that you aren’t.

And that’s sort of what happened.  He got married and had a couple of kids.  I remember him working hard for his family (something a LOT of his heterosexual critics couldn’t seem to do). Trying to force something that doesn’t fit (and we were both doing it at the time) is an incredibly draining process, and we lost touch.  When we would see each other, we were both frazzled and distracted, trying to fit our square selves into these round holes of our own creation.  The hugs were tight, but more out of relief of being with a person that accepted and knew us as ourselves, not the facsimile.

We ran into each other at the store somewhere around the summer of 2005 and made tentative plans that included food and libations.  LOTS of libations.  Of course, tentative turned to never.  Those who know me, know how terrible I am at keeping in touch, so when I moved to Maryland, of course the plans faded to black.

So it when he crossed my mind this weekend, it was very random.  I kind of remembered hearing that he’d left New Orleans, but the details were fuzzy at best.  He lived here, he was moving there, no one had answers.  Our friend who introduced us didn’t even have a current number on him, as she was going through her own craziness.

Lance, though still married, had come out a couple of years back.  Additionally, my sister was not one to gossip, so when she asked me, “Have you heard about Lance?” though I didn’t know what to make of it, I knew it couldn’t be good. And when she told me the news, I couldn’t catch my breath.  And when I could catch my breath, I went to Google and typed my friend’s name in the search box, and I paused.  And my fingers hovered over the keys, because I couldn’t really type the word that would lead me to confirm the news about my friend.

“Murder.”

The very first link contained the news about my friend’s bullet ridden body being found in a parking lot.  They found him. No one knows who.  No one knows why.  Four sentences.  He was a husband, a father and a friend.  He was loving and would readily give you what he had or find it for you if he didn’t.  He got four sentences.  Five if you count the added fact that a man in a white tee and blue jeans was spotted fleeing the scene.  His grandchildren, whom he will not hold at their birth, will not be able to give testimony to the goodness of his hugs, or how his laughter would crack through the air and force you to laugh. What he means to people just really can’t be covered in four sentences.

That shit couldn’t be covered in four billion.