Friday, May 30, 2014

Maya Pt II

The previous post called out for another even as I wrote it.  I just knew there would be a second piece.  I rarely do this - read never.  Anyway.  I could have jammed it all into one longer post, but I wanted to give the previous post some air space.  It felt needed.

Maya saved me.  She was the first of many hands reached into the darkness to help me up and out.  Her hand dipping in over and over.  Her words touched me to the core in high school.  I refused to continue on in my all white, all girl, all Catholic education.  I wanted to see and touch and hear and taste something more than that one note.  I sought more urban integrated schools.  I opted to live in dormitories with amazing young black women, and Asian women, and athletic woman, and scholarly women, and lesbian and straight women, and a few dudes for good measure.  I dated people who interested me.  My first boyfriend was from Persia (read Iran), the next from Norway, the next a Marine, a farmboy, an athelete.  All lovely shades from white to caramel to blue black.  I loved them all.  I hung out in college beer dens, tended bar for a while at a local watering hole, took in drag shows downtown and Shakespeare in the park.  In other words, I don't feel like I missed out on anything.  Maya gave me the courage to see the world as more same than other, to jump in with both feet.  She gave me permission to be greedy.  That world view persists today.

The rhythm of Maya's words, so exquisite led me the syncopation of Langston Hughes, led me to the mighty John Coltrane, led me to Alvin Ailey, James Balwin, the Harlem Renaissance, the list goes on.  All expanded from the single point that was Maya.  She was my ground zero.  And what lovely ground zero she was. My world definitely better because of her and I hope the greater world around me made better by me for her influence.

Judging by the outpouring of love, I know I am not alone.  So very many good ripples in her wake and no room for sadness.  The very definition of life well lived.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On the Death of Maya Angelou Pt I

I cried today when I heard that Maya Angelou had died.  Not little rolling down my cheeks tears, but gulping snotting sobs of grief.  That response surprised me.  A lot.  I didn't know this woman.  She was a world renowned poet.  She was a public figure for chrissake.  So why?

I "met" Maya Angelou in 1977, a Catholic high schooler required to read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  That book.  That book.  What do you say about a book that transforms your life?  I still can't believe it was assigned reading, not in that place, not at that time, not by those nuns.  What did my classmates know of physical or sexual violence, of silence.  They lived in a perfect world filled with laughter and golden light untouched by anything dark.  They blew their perfectly upturned noses in silken handkerchiefs and wiped their asses with $20 bills or so it seemed to me.  

Only I knew different.  For me their world was fake, every smile forced over bared gritting teeth.  Teeth gritted to keep myself from screaming.  The greatest and most ill lit carnival ride I have ever taken.  It was a place with a skim coat of pretty over a pail of grave worms as I tried unsuccessfully to conform to something narrow and small.

Then I was assigned that book.  I devoured it in a single setting.  Here on the page was truth.  It both was my life and wasn't.  I couldn't believe that someone had that kind of courage and honesty.  I was glad-angry that I was not alone.  Finally, I was not alone.  I was not alone.  In that moment, I stopped trying to conform.  I no longer needed to.  I WAS NOT ALONE.

It would take me 25 more years to muster that kind of courage, to speak my own stories of sexual abuse and silence.  Those stories made possible by that thin little book I was required to read, made possible by Maya.  For that I love.  For that I grieve.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Unexpected Blessings

So I have promised myself to post here more often.  Although it will not be cross posted to FB, so sorry you will have to dip in here and see what I'm mulling.

Today as I was walking in the wind was blowing a bit, shaking the trees and water droplets were raining down from the leaves.  I got hit by exactly two of these fat drops of water.  One dead center of my head.  One dead center of the cleavage.  And I remembered that the day before a similar thing had happened only it had been a single drop that landed right between my eyebrows - about the place one would wear a bindi.

Those three individual drops felt like the most beautiful cosmic blessing ever.  And my watery soul rose up inspired and bloomed within me as an answer.  And my lips bespoke them -


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wed Post.

OK.  So it's been a while since I checked in here.  Apologies to the ten regular readers.  ;-)

This week has been a game changer for me.  Monday I was officially notified that my job will be terminating July 11 - a scant two days after my birthday.  It sucks like this sort of thing always does.  And I have moments where I deeply and grievously lose my shit, like laying in bed with the teddy and the covers over my head losing my shit.  I say that so that what follows won't feel too preachy and more the balance that I'm trying to bring in.  BTW- I don't see anything wrong with the aforementioned losing my shit behavoir.  IN fact, I'm quite sure it's necessary to purge the goo.  Some purges are more explosive than others it all.

What I don't believe in in using the covers over my head as a way to escape here and now.  I do like to escape in exactly this way, so it's good to know this about myself.  There will usually come a point where I have whined a bit, slept and that little voice says Get up M.  OKOKOK.....sometimes it's more like Bitch if you don't get outta this bed right now, I'm gonna show you what sorry looks like.  That's the point where I have the opportunity to rotate things around a bit if I get up and take it.  If not, I usually get more of the same morose, self-pitying BS and who wants more of that?

This time I am allowing the sads to have me sometimes, I am listening to the little voice, and I am being proactive - very proactive.  Mostly I'm focusing on the things that make me happy instead of this new curve ball that I can't seem to hit yet.  But I will.  I know that in my bones.  So here is a short list of what has made me happy so far this week.

  • Cuddling with my mom.  This makes us both happy.  
  • Taking out the socks that I have been saving for a special day and wearing them instead of just fondling them. 
  • Cooking.  Weird I know.  But Monday after I received my notice, I went home and made a huge pot of red beans and rice.  Every ingredient, even the elusive really good andouille sausage, turned up in my cupboard or freezer.  So I am fed and nourished with something tasty all week.  Bonus - FARTS!!!  Why yes, I am occasionally an eight year old.
  • Working.  I know that seems an oxymoron that I would find satisfaction in a job that is letting me go.  But there is a voice inside me (Not the one that kicked my ass outta bed.  This one sounds like my dad) that insists that any job worth doing is worth doing well, that there is pride in that.  I know that voice is right.  That doing science well can be its own reward because let's face it, we live in a science hating (or at least blind) country and a career in science should be shunned at all costs.  There aren't many superstars of science who make boatloads of money.  But still some of us choose it, or it chooses us.  Most of us struggle to keep things in the black.  Most of us do it because we love it.  Most of us transition jobs numerous times, not because we are bad employees, but because there is no longer funding for our position or our boss is retiring or things like that.  In any other job, 30 years of exemplary glowing work would not lead to this - job loss and ever more diminishing salary.  But it does.  And still I stay.  Because in the end science is one of the things at the very heart of what makes me happiest.  

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...