No nekkidness today.
About a year ago a friend of mine sent me a link to a website of her former neighbor/friend http://www2.caringbridge.org/il/vickip/ . She explained how her friend was going through a tough time, she was in her 7th month of her second pregnancy when she was diagnosed with Colon Cancer. Almost reluctantly I clicked on the link, afraid of what I might find. Afraid that someone else's plight may be too intrusive on my life. Lord knows I had enough plight of my own. But I clicked and I read and ever since that moment this woman and her family have been in my heart. The baby was taken early so she could start treatment and although the baby survived and is actually doing well, the mother's fight against cancer ended yesterday. Left behind are a husband and two little girls, 3 and 1. Life is so goddamn unfair isn't it?
I think about my life and the things I've been through, the pity I've often felt for myself - I'm ashamed. When you strip away all that we are, all that we've been, all that we may become, what is left? We build walls to protect ourselves, we tell lies to avoid truth, we run away to avoid standing still, we search for ways to survive. And still we are the same fallible human beings. No matter how many times we jump off cliffs and manage to survive, we must face the reality that somewhere, life will lose to death. It's a battle we often ignore because we all know that ignorance is bliss right? And then one day every truth you've ever avoided manages to stare you in the eyes every time you look in the mirror and it's then that you realize, there is no avoiding the inevitable.
I've been so wrapped up in my work and my life lately that I've failed to make my rounds to all the blogs I love and I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry that I can never seem to remember how precious life is until someone else's tragedy lands squarely in front of me, reminding me how lucky I am. I am bruised, I have fallen and gotten up more times than I care to remember, but I am alive. I have chances to right the wrongs, chances to create new memories to overshadow the bad ones, chances to love the people I've hated, chances to choose honesty over lies, chances to become something other than I am right now - something better. We let so many chances pass us by and then before we know what has happened, there are no more chances.
I encourage you to click on that link above. Read the story, feel that family's pain, and make your life less about chance and more about choice.
This morning I walked out to get in my car and right by my car door was a dead yellow finch. How depressing is that? I wasn't even aware that finches came around our place. Mostly I see those dreadful rats with wings otherwise known as Pigeons. It's funny how my daughter thinks those nasty birds are the prettiest things ever! I suppose when you are young there are many things you deem as 'beautiful' until eventually the rest of the world's view crushes the existence of your own opinion and sooner or later you end up playing along whether you wanted to or not. Sometimes it's hard to remember what you believed before someone else told you it was the wrong thing to believe in. I think we live in a society where people feel down right uncomfortable if everyone else doesn't think exactly the same way they do. It's sad isn't it? We learn at an early age to lose our individuality and become 'like' everyone else. People call you a freak or 'eccentric' if you happen to follow your own rules, believe in your own things -regardless of the majority. I suppose I'm guilty of both, following the crowd and expecting someone else to think like me.
I want not to be one of those in the majority. The real test on how much I believe in individuality will come when my daughter comes home one day with blue hair and her nose pierced. God give me the strength to celebrate her uniqueness instead of fear it.
I actually had a date with my husband last week...hard to believe isn't it? One of my favorite artists who remains to be an 'unknown' was playing a free show at a local hangout and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to see him.
Amos Lee has become the kind of music I listen to when I need to 'feel' things. Did you realize that music has that kind of power? When you feel numb, some music has a way of reaching down inside you to give your heart a good 'flick' to get it to started beating again.
I first discovered Amos one morning when I was playing hookey from work and I switched the tv to the Today show. They were doing a series on Rising Stars and Amos Lee was the feature of the day. He comes from Philly and when you hear this guys voice, every single thing about him shares a glimpse of what the real Philly is like. My favorite song is Keep It Loose, Keep it Tight. There's a line in that song..."Sometimes we forget what we got, who we are - and who we are not." I think all of us can relate to that can't we?
So enjoy the music and as always if you'd like to download it and have a listen for yourself go Here .
Sorry I've been bad at keeping my blog up to date...but hopefully my week will slow down and I'll be off to visit you all tomorrow.
Enjoy the music...and don't forget to 'feel something' while you listen.
When you are pregnant, you can think of nothing but having your own body to yourself again. To be able to sleep in any position you want without someone kicking you. To eat what you want without fear of heartburn. To walk farther than a block without your back aching from the distance. But after giving birth you realize that the biggest part of you is now somehow, external. You'll spend the rest of your life trying to figure out a way to keep your child close enough for comfort and most times you'll fail.
In my life there have been many moments filled with disappointment. Hopes and dreams broken by fate, fading into the background because life just has a way of doing that to a person. Although I managed to survive and somehow come out the other side while keeping some part of myself in tact, I never wanted to experience disappointment through someone else's eyes. There's something about watching a child hope for something, then witnessing that same light fade from their eyes, that can break your heart in an instant. I know it's part of growing up, part of being human - to experience disappointment. But why? Why do people make promises they cannot keep? A promise is a contract right? Why do so many people care so little, so much so that they are willing to disappoint a child? Maybe it's because the person breaking the promise is rarely the same person who has to stand in front of that child and watch the hope flee from their eyes.
I want to protect my children. I want them to hope for things and to never be afraid that having faith in something, costs too much. I'm just not really sure I know how to teach that lesson. How can I tell someone else how to have faith when so often I have so little? People disappoint you. People break promises. Are these lessons I want my children to learn? Maybe the lesson is really for us, not for them. Maybe we need to learn what making a promise means.
I finally found a song that touched my heart just as much as the one I constantly play on my blog. Although I'll always consider Alice Peacock's Into the Light song one of my 'theme songs' I thought this new song, the one playing in the background fit perfectly in blogland. Listen to it and tell me what you think. Just in case you are curious the name of the band: . I found them by accident while channel surfing one night, trying to block out a fight I'd just had with my husband. The voice in my head was barely noticed over the volume of my anger and then I stopped on the Publice Broadcasting channel and this band was playing this song. Needless to say it stopped me in my tracks and as I listened to the words, mysteriously my anger subsided. Finally the voice in my head began echoing the lessons learned from my past, lessons shared from my blogger friends, lessons I need to learn over and over again. Being angry can strike you deaf, so much so that you'll miss the voice of reason.
I suppose it's fitting that I'm sharing this song, this band, on Musical Monday. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. You and I, we all have voices and here in blogland we choose to integrate them to make the most beautiful music on earth.
I was reading Caterpillar's blog and her posting about the tough decision she's faced with - ending a relationship that will not go where she wants it to, or staying out of fear that she'll lose the friend she's found. Reading her words has brought back so many memories. Memories not created so long ago. Memories that will probably never fade far enough into my past that some remnant of their pain will not linger. I know that it's not just women that do that, stay in relationships because they keep hoping it will eventually be more than it is. I know men get hurt too. I know this because I have been the one to hurt someone, the one to take and never give. I've been the person that we all despise not because I wanted to be, but because protecting myself made me selfish. It's easy to hate someone because they can't love you the way you want them to but it's much harder to understand them - and then let them go. I think we all get so tied up in the 'understanding' part that we actually start to believe once we do understand, we'll be able to get them to love us the way they should. I've learned something the hard way. Understanding why someone does something doesn't take away the wounds they've inflicted. It doesn't erase what we know or what we feel, it simply exists. We all scream "Understand me." We thrive for it, we claim that if we have it then all is right with the world. But we're wrong. Understanding someone means you don't hate them for their choices but it does not mean acceptance.
So I'm rambling. I suppose I just want to send Cat a message because I'm fearful that it may take much too long for her to 'understand' what I'm saying. In this life there are choices. Choices to stay. Choices to go. Choices to sacrifice. Choices to be selfish. Choices to understand. Choices to be confused. Choices to love ourselves. Choices to abandon ourselves. Choices to listen. Choices to be deaf. Choices to see. Choices to be blind. Choose wisely sweet Caterpillar. Some choices can only be made once.
It's easy to look tough when you have red popsicle on your face...really it is. My dear sweet Alice is just as tough as her mama. Good thing...she'll need that 'toughness' in this world we live in.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
I feel horrible lately for not being able to visit all my fav blogs. I swear it's not fair that people actually expect me to work and not go blog surfing all day. Honestly though, I'm one of those over achiever types that can't say no when someone asks me for help. It's nice being appreciated, it's nice when people have faith in your skills - but sometimes I need to step back and take a few moments for myself. I'm entitled, I think.
So I apologize to all my blogging buddies...I promise today to stop by and pay a visit. I may have to skip lunch to do it but I'm going through withdrawals here so sacrifice is necessary.
I wanted to leave you with a quote that I found in one of the best places to find meaningful words - the bathroom stall. Yes people still write on bathroom walls...some things never change. The quote seemed fitting given the events of days past.
"No doubt one may quote history to support any cause, as the devil quotes scripture. "
Most of you know by now I made the call to DCFS about the little girl that lives next door. I was scared, mostly that they'd find out it was me and seek revenge, but I decided that my fear was less important than Savannah's.
So I go home on Friday after work and I'm sitting there with my husband and Alice watching Sesame Street when the doorbell rings. Husband answers and I hear a woman asking him if he was the one who called DCFS on her grandson. I immediately go to the door so he doesn't have to face the piper alone. I ask her what she wants and she repeats the question, "Did you call DCFS on my grandson?" "No," I reply. It may seem cowardly but when you are holding your two year old on your hip, your instincts to protect yourself and your family kick in. So she continues to say that someone in our building did. We live in a two flat so it could only be us or the upstairs tenants. I tell her that I don't believe it was either of us and ask her why she's going door to door. "Well I think it's pretty rude for people to stick their nose where it doesn't belong," she replies. I tell her that it's pretty awful when people don't get involved and a child suffers because we're all too scared to speak up. She goes on to say that her grandson is a wonderful father - I almost choke because it's quite obvious that this woman either has no clue how Savannah is treated or she thinks that threatening to strangle a child is acceptable. At this point I don't care what she thinks, I know the truth. I tell her again that I didn't make the call but I am not surprised someone did because the whole neighborhood heard the threats made to Savannah. "What threats," she asks? My suspicions are correct, she has no clue. She then asks me if I'm a racist. "Um, what the hell did you just say." She accuses me of being a racist because Savannah is part African American. My blood is boiling at this point and my husband asks her to leave. My last words to her - "Ignorance has no color does it?" I think I stunned her because she was speechless.
Part of me is angry at the system for giving my address out as the house that called in the complaint (they didn't have my name). It's no wonder that so many people are afraid to get involved, revenge is scary. I still don't regret that I made the call. Although Savannah is still there living with the same freaks as before, at least now they know 'someone' is watching. God willing, I hope that's enough to save her.
I have a dilemma. I've learned over the years when to keep my mouth shut and when to speak up. It's something I've learned the hard way and trust me those lessons were not always pleasant. But now, I'm really at a loss so I need your help.
The people that live next door to me are...well there isn't any other way to put this, they are white trash. I hate labeling people but I'm not sure how else to describe them. I live in an up and coming gentrified neighborhood but there are still a few houses that remain where the people owned the property for 20+ years. I don't judge people, normally, but I've found it increasingly hard not to pass judgment on these people. In the house there is a grandpa, two grandsons, a mother, a boyfriend of the week, and the house owner who lives upstairs and only comes out when he feels like smashing his car into his fence because he's completely hammered. Oh I almost forgot the most important person, there is a 3 year old girl named Savannah. I'm always friendly to them and I say hello to Savannah every day. Most days she's found outside in the backyard with her grandpa because her father happens to be one of the grandsons and is all of 19. Her mother doesn't live there and comes around once in a blue moon. The sons, one of which who is the father, are quite frankly - trouble. I see them chugging beers, smoking pot, cussing up a storm - all in front of the kid. I've often had to ask them to refrain from the nasty language while my daughter plays in my backyard and they've politely obliged. Honestly I feel really sorry for Savannah. She's such a beautiful little girl and so clearly neglected. I've watched her fall down and hurt her knees, begging for her daddy to kiss it better, only to have him push her away and tell her to get lost. I say nothing because it's not my business right? But now, it's different. Last night I was out watering my flowers and I hear Savannah crying. She's throwing a usual 3 year old fit because she wants something of her dad's and he won't give it to her. Normally a parent would ignore these tantrums but instead her dad puts his hands around her neck (not tightly) and shakes her and tells her if she doesn't stop crying he'll strangle her. He pushes her away, he yells at her that he's going to beat her bloody if she doesn't shut the F*ck up. He grabs her arm and tells her he'll break it if she doesn't leave him alone - and she never stops crying. He yells over to his mother, his grandfather, to take the kids before he beats her - they return blank stares as if they've seen it all before. No one tells him to stop, no one picks the child up and comforts her, no one does anything except look on. Finally her dad takes her in the house and locks her in a room, I hear the door slam, I hear her screaming to let her out (their windows were open), and he returns to the outside to sit quietly on the back step and finish his cigarette. The blood is boiling inside me, my heart is racing, I want to run over and scoop that child up and keep her from harm - but can I? I finally go in the house because I cannot stand to look at them any longer. I cannot stand there and keep my mouth shut, I'm not that strong.
So all night I tossed and turned because I do not know what to do. Do I stay out of it? Do I continue to watch these people neglect and abuse this child or do I call DCFS? What if I say nothing and Savannah really is hurt? What if his threats really do come true? What if they already have? There is no doubt in my mind that she is neglected. There is no doubt in my mind that the type of threats he throws at her are verbal abuse. There is no doubt in my mind that he is absolutely not fit to raise a child. But can I interfere?
Who will protect our children? I can protect mine but do I have a right or obligation to protect yours?
I know it's Half Nekkid Thursday but today I don't feel like revealing much. Waking up to the news that yet another terrorist plot has been averted in London kind of makes me want to be anything but naked. As I sat and watched the news in surprise tainted with bits of horror, I thought to myself, why does this news shock me? This world we live in has been changing ever since someone flew two planes into the World Trade Center. It shocked us then right? And for awhile we went on with our lives as if it never happened. Sure we claimed that we'd all change, we'd be nicer to one another, but our good intentions were short lived and sooner than later we were all back to being the same. We blame our problems on politicians, on oil prices, on an economy - but the blame really belongs to us. We may think we're different, we don't fight wars based on religion or ethnic background, do we? But how many times have you walked out your door and passed someone on the street or stood next to them on the train and never noticed what they looked like? How many times have you cursed at the person in the car that pulled out in front of you and you let it ruin at least half of your day? How many times have you listened to an ignorant comment that was either directed at you - or wasn't, and you let it affect who you were even if it was only for a moment? I'm guilty.
There are many times that I lie awake at night wondering what kind of world my own children will grow up in? How will I teach them to be kind and compassionate when there is so much hate surrounding them? I can prevent them from watching the news but I cannot keep them from living in a world where hate inspires so much action. How do we change? How do we make our world safe? How do we stop placing blame and take responsibility? It's up to us you know? This world is ours.
Over the weekend I attended a surprise birthday party for my dad's 65th birthday. His birthday was actually on August 2nd so we had to make him believe that we'd all been too busy to acknowledge it. I learned that even at age 65 a grown man pouts. Turns out my dad complained to just about everyone he knew that no one did anything for his birthday. It's kind of ironic really because my dad has forgotten my own birthday quite a few times in my lifetime but that's a whole other story. So anyway, we all show up at my dad's place while he's out golfing and he was pretty surprised by the time he came home. I could tell he felt kind of stupid for complaining to everyone about being forgotten but as he always tells me, what's done is done. It's strange celebrating one of your parent's 65th birthday because even though you know that everyone gets old, somehow you never see it happening to your parents. You don't think about your parents getting sick and you most definitely don't think about them being old enough to collect social security. I see other people's parents and they're old, but not mine. I'm not sure why we live in denial for so long except maybe it's because we don't ever want to think about losing them. As I sat there watching my dad squint trying to read the birthday card I'd handed him, I realized that my dad is human. He will get old, he will most likely get sick, and some day he will pass on to the next life waiting beyond this one. It's not a pleasant thought coming to that realization but I suppose it's inevitable.
As always my dad left us all with some words of wisdom, words I file away under "things to remember". He was talking about his life as a boy, his poor family moving here from Ireland with exactly $53 to start a new life with. He said that growing up he believed that he knew everything. He knew that life could be hard so he decided to be harder than life. When he was in his twenties he started to wonder if maybe he didn't know as much as he thought he did and that left part of him vulnerable. When you don't know everything, you risk losing what you've already obtained. And now that's he's an old man he can't remember if he ever knew anything at all and that vulnerable part has become what's left. He said that all the time he spent trying to convince himself that he was hard enough to survive his life, should have been spent accepting that being hard is what makes you unable to survive at all.
So my dad is 65. He's what some consider old but luckily for now, he's healthy. He still has the flaws he had before, some seem larger and more apparent now. But as I look at the father that's been in my life for 38 years, finally I see that the 'hardness' has escaped him. The edges of who he is may still be like stone, but the inside, it's pure marshmallow.
I know that I never change the song on my blog but I think it's because I need to hear it. Each day when I load my URL in my browser and that song starts to play, I stop and listen to the words and they never cease to move me. Ever since I was a kid I either had a theme song or a poem that I made myself read each day. I've always been a words type of person, expressing the things in my mind and never really being able to 'get it' unless it was literally spelled out for me. I suppose that's why I love blogging; the chance to write down my thoughts and read other's just the same, inspires me. I wrote this little diddy last night so I thought I'd share because it seemed the perfect way to end a long week.
There's something I cannot grasp.
My hands reach beyond what I know, what I feel, what I've practiced - because I know there is something more.
Something more necessary than the indulgences I've given myself as reward.
As I peer over my shoulder glancing at the road that's brought me here, I wonder how much of that path was truly the "Road less traveled."
So many times convenience rather than courage has chartered my course.
When I look back I have to wonder, what was I afraid of?
Fear has changed me but then again, it's changed us all.
Sometimes I open my eyes in the morning and there is no trace of what came before.
And part of me is scared.
If it's all gone, who is the person that remains?
Maybe there's a way to remember and still be free.
Maybe what I cannot grasp is acceptance.
I must remind myself of this and make a promise to never stop reaching.
This is my son. Isn't his face beautiful? As I lay there looking at the monitor while the tech swirled her little wand around my belly, my heart fluttered with excitement at seeing this tiny being tucked safely inside me. I didn't care whether it was a girl or a boy, I just wanted a healthy baby but when they said "It's a boy" I saw my husband's face light up. He loves Alice and she's his princess but I think every guy wants a son too. One of each...aren't we lucky?
I have to admit that boys scare the heck out of me. I have not been able to figure out how their minds work in my 38 years of living...I doubt I'll be able to get it all sorted out now. At least I'll have a shot at bringing up my son the way I'd want a man to be, compassionate, repectful, and loving.
Happy Half Nekkid Thursday
My niece was here for a long weekend and I was excited to see her. I don't get to spend as much time with her as I would like since she lives 3 hours away so I was hoping this would be a chance for us to catch up. She's starting high school in the Fall so pretty soon hanging with her aunt will become a thing of the past. You remember how it is right...your parents and any other adult related to you suddenly tops the 'Uncool' list. Anyway on the ride back to my house I asked her how her therapy sessions had been going. She's been having a hard time dealing with her home life since her dad married her step-mom about 3 years ago. So she tells me that the therapy is going well and that her psychiatrist has now put her on 3 medications. One for AD/HD, one for depression, and one for mood swings. I have to tell you that I'm no fan of doctors that push meds on kids to make them behave the way we think they should. I've known this kid since she was born and I've been there for all the heartache she's endured. Her problems are emotional not physical and although I agree that sometimes our experiences do lead to the need for medication, I do not believe it should be the first priority. What happened to healing the mind and heart instead of trying to medicate it? My niece takes so many meds that basically she has no emotion. She has no highs, no lows, no expression of anything. How in the world can that be healthy for a 14 year old? Isn't it by experiencing those emotions that we learn how to deal with the things that life throws at us. Those emotions are not always pleasant but I believe that they are necessary. How will a child learn what sorts of actions hurt us emotionally and which ones are beneficial? I can tell you from experience that the pains of my past have allowed me to become the person I am today. Sure I wish some of the pain didn't exist but do I wish I'd felt nothing at all - NEVER. I also heard my niece describe herself a few times as 'border line Autistic'. She said her therapist told her she has Autistic tendencies. I happen to know a lot about Autism and there is no way this kid has any form of Autism. They said she doesn't show affection, she focuses too much inward...hello....you have her drugged up what the hell do you expect her to do.
When did we become a society that believed for every ailment, for every emotion or action we do not want to experience - there is a drug to cure you. What is the cure anyway? To me it seems too many of us believe that a cure means being able to exist without feeling anything. Sounds a lot like denial if you ask me.
I was all ready to post about my weekend with my niece which ran over into yesterday but then on the train this morning something happened. I had an encounter with a small mind. As I stood on the train platform sweating (it's already 85 at 7:30 a.m.) I was kind of pleased to see a train pull in that actually had open seats. As I got on the train and took a seat next to a lady who decided she needed a seat and a half to accommodate her morning commute, I refused to be ungrateful for a place to put my bum since it so rarely happens. I glance across the aisle and see a young man sprawled out on two seats as he drifted in and out of consciousness. A woman friend sitting in front of him told him to move over because someone was going to get mad that he was taking up two seats. He responded that he didn't give a damn. I suppose the look on my face showed my annoyance at his comment. Honestly people like that really piss me off. So his other friend who is sitting behind me says, "that chick had a stupid look on her face when you wouldn't move your arse." He replies, "that's because she's white." As much of a realist as I am I was still kind of shocked to hear such a racist remark. You see I'm one of those people that don't look at the color of someone's skin. I don't see Asians, Middle Easterners, or African Americans...I see people. I know I'm naive thinking that everyone has the same pair of 'non racist' glasses I have on but when you hear someone blast a comment like that in your face, it really hurts. I just shook my head in disgust and then he tries saying something about me to his friend behind me. His friend obviously doesn't catch on because he then says, "the one sitting in front of you." Gee...I wonder who that could be. So I respond, "What about me sir?" I happen to be the kind of person that rarely has the will power to keep her mouth shut. In my opinion this world is made up of too many people that keep their mouth shut. Anyway, he stutters. It would appear that I caught him off guard. He didn't expect me to face him head on. I was supposed to be intimidated by his stupidity. He replies, "oh I was just pointing out your shoes." Wow...what a comeback. His friends start to laugh, another girl says I can't believe she said something to you. He replies, "I'll let the first one slide." Funny thing is, he left me alone after that. People on the train were giving me glances like...we know they are idiots but the only thing I kept replaying over and over in my head was his original comment to me.
I cannot stand the fact that this world is made up of so many small minds. Minds that have no room for love or respect because they are filled to the brim with hate. Who teaches them that? How does a child learn to despise someone because of the color of their skin? I know for a fact that my own child has no awareness of skin color. I will never teach her about skin color. I will teach her that people look differently not because of what's on the outside, because of what's on the inside. Our minds color our skin and when you see shades unpleasant to the eye, it's because a small mind has no appreciation of a rainbow.
As long as there are small minds there will be war. War among those of us who have room in our hearts for love and those that have every crevice filled with hate.