In Which Life Stopped but Didn’t

Somewhere, hidden deeply on this blog of rambles and rants is a wise quote. A quote so wise that I’m pretty sure I didn’t say it and that I just paraphrased it. And I’m going to paraphrase it again because I literally cannot remember what I originally wrote.

“when a person doth die, it feeleth as though thine world should cease. Alas, it doth not.”

Moral of that story is that I couldn’t hang with Shakespeare on my best day.  A greater moral is that life truly does move right along with someone dies, and this truth is disturbing to say the least.

After finals wrapped up and I finally conquered Chemistry with a passing grade this summer, I thought that life was on it’s way up hill. Things were looking better and brighter. I felt like I was a young David and my stone had just pierced the delicate flesh on Goliath’s forehead.  Yes, I was victorious that Friday. And then Saturday rolled around. It was hot, of course, and sunny. I mean, it’s Mississippi. It’s hotter than….hot things….My stepdad came in the house, smelling like wildlife and magnolia trees, and told me that he was taking the neighbors fishing.  He’d already been fishing that morning, but was really excited about finally going to this secret fishing spot way out in the woods that our young neighbor knew about. I love to fish, but in that heat I let him have it all to himself. I figured I’d catch a fishing trip with him in the brief weeks between that weekend and the start of the fall semester. So we shared a good laugh, and I joked about him having to drive back to the house to get his phone that he left on the charger. As I watched him through the peep hole of the door, to ensure that he would not be knocking at the door for anything else he had forgotten, I didn’t quite realize that our jovial exchange would be our last.

Earlier that week I’d been having an odd feeling. I kept asking myself what I would do if David (my stepdad) died out of the blue. It was sort of the feeling I got right before my Grandfather passed away, but he had been sick for over a year so death was looming over all of our heads like a storm cloud waiting to erupt. I chalked the feeling up me just being paranoid. When you have anxiety, you’ll ALWAYS think, “well, what if the worst thing that could happen actually happens.” Never fails. It’s the unfortunate part of anxiety.  Well, Ma and I were customizing a pizza order for dinner when the neighbor’s mom came knocking at our door, looking agitated and pained.  As her and ma conversed, I thought that perhaps she was just wondering when David would be delivering her son home, as it was getting dark and the rain, which suddenly began pouring down minutes before, was not letting up.  But my anxiety started escalating as I heard them talking, and I knew something was wrong. And when I heard Ma say the words, “heart attack,” my heart sank. I rushed into the living room to stand beside her as she talked on the phone with the neighbor who had gone fishing with David.  From what I could understand, something had happened and they were thinking it was a heart attack.  Of course, I’m mulling this over like, “A heart attack? Okay, we’re going to go to the hospital and he’s going to have emergency surgery and everything is going to be okay.” Wrong. What Ma failed to tell me is that the coroner was already on their way to the fishing pool. That the neighbor had done CPR for 20 straight minutes to no avail. And that David was already gone.

Driving that long ass forty-five minute drive to the middle of Edwards, MS was like an out-of-body experience. The whole time I just kept thinking this isn’t happening. This isn’t real. This isn’t really happening to us. When we finally made it to the scene, the police standing at the road immediately took off their hats and began with the apologies. But Ma was a woman on a mission. Through their explanation of what happened Ma stopped the sheriff and asked, “Okay, where is he?” They pointed us up a long, gravel drive way and allowed us to walk up to where David was laying. Even as we saw him on the porch of the pond owner’s home covered in a black tarp the reality of the situation did not set in. Ma was praying and went bent over David, moving his head so that he faced her. Saying his name and patting him, praying that he could be that Saturday’s Lazarus. But it was not to be. And when they had to move him to a body-bag to prevent the ants from attacking, I just knew deep down inside, where faith and denial intertwine, that he was going to move. That a miracle was going to happen and he was going to bust the zipper on the bag or cry that he couldn’t breath in there. But it didn’t happen. Ma walked around, dazed and calling David’s friend for the name of a funeral home. I was dazed as I saw them lay him on the back of the firetruck and drive him to the front of the driveway to await the funeral home. And we were eerily calm. I’m sure the police officers out there were puzzled as they asked us if we were okay, and we said in even tones, “Yes. We’re fine.” And the wait. THE WAIT. The funeral home did not arrive until 10:00 PM.  So we had to drive home in complete darkness. And if I thought the drive there was bad, the drive home was worse. First off, we got lost, SUPER lost. My phone battery had died and Ma’s was dying, but thank God, we arrived in a church parking lot that was clear enough for us to pick up an internet signal. After Ma’s phone directed us to our designated street which would lead us to the interstate, it died as well. On a night that can make you question the inner workings of God, it also affirms that God was looking out for us. But we silently drove home. No music. No talking. No prayer. Just silence. And this thick cloud of disbelief. He was just fifty-five. It was a beautiful day. He never showed any signs. He is no longer here.

Shock is the most powerful stage of grief I have ever experienced. When my grandfather died, I wasn’t at all shocked. I was expectant. And I was shamefully glad. He had been suffering for months with no relief. His kidneys were failing. He was in pain every second of the day that he was awake. He’d lost more than fifty pounds. I was happy that he no longer had to be in pain in an Earthly vessel which no longer functioned in a manner conducive to living. And when my biological father died I was only five years old. I understood that he was no longer coming back even though I didn’t understand death (and Ma didn’t tell me either), but with the support of our family who assisted us financially and emotionally I adapted to the loss. But when David died all I could think about was how he laughed on his way out of the door. How we were just planning to call him to see what he wanted for dinner right before the fateful knock at the door.  And to make matters oh so worse, we got up Sunday morning and the sun was shining. Cars were driving to wherever their destinations were. And life went right along. Monday came and we searched frantically for life insurance information and life moved on. Tuesday, my brother and Ma had to finalize a funeral home and life moved on. Wednesday, the stress took a toll on my brother and we had to take him to the emergency room. Shortly after getting him back home to rest, Ma and I rushed to a meeting at the cemetery. And life fucking moved on and in my mind I thought this is the most messed up thing. I felt like the whole world should have stopped. I wondered how we could live on, move on. What I needed to do about school. What ma needed to do about the house. Did we need to move back to our hometown? Did we need to sell everything? Panic consumed me and I just wanted everything to cease for just a minute so that I could catch up with the chaos that had unfolded. But it didn’t. It never does.

And then Friday, the day before the funeral, my sister gave birth to a six pound, nineteen inch healthy little girl and I realized that I needed to accept that life does not stop when a life stops. As the newborn baby squirmed in her bassinet, trying to warm up under the heater, the epitome of continuance sank in. Probably for Ma more so than me.  As crazy as it is, we have to move on, and it even sounds heartless to say. We have to move on. Our bodies are still functioning. Our lungs still filling up with air. Our hearts still beating. And we are still living even when we don’t know how.

Every time a person would ask me am I okay I smile and say yes. I joke. I laugh. Not because my stepdad meant nothing to me. Not because I’m made of stone. But because I can cry anytime alone. Anytime. All hours of the day and night. But I’d rather laugh and smile with others, enjoy that moment in life when I have it because once it’s gone it’s gone. Time will not pause for me to grieve. This isn’t to say that everyone should just stop crying and accept death. We each move at our own pace and mourn in our own ways. It’s perfectly healthy and normal to cry or to not cry. So don’t let anyone tell you how you should grieve. And I was fortunate and blessed enough to have enjoyed a moment of banter. To have seen his smile and heard his laugh. And when I think of him I see his happiness. His mischief. His annoying habit of busting into the room while I’m taking a quiz, talking on speakerphone with one of his fishing buddies. Or how he always ended a text or a phone call with, “10-4 good buddy.”  I’m glad I got experience having a dad, even if it was for a brief time. And I’m especially glad Ma got to spend a decade with someone who loved her and cared for her. To think that the day that would have been their 12th anniversary was the day she placed a rose on the casket before they lowered it into the ground is gut wrenching. But we’re still here. And we have each other. Plus, all of our family came to town and it was good for us all to be together again. It was like a signal that we needed to do it more often and on more joyous occasions. But we’ll have that chance because, once again, life remains. It hasn’t stopped at all.

I like to think that David is celebrating in Heaven. That he hates he left early and suddenly, but that he knows that where he is now is paradise. I’m still nervous about the future and what it holds for Ma and our family, but I plan to make the best of it. I’m still enrolled in school, and I know that David would want me to finish (he was more excited than me when I returned). And Ma has so many people looking out for her. Trust me, we got mobbed at church yesterday and our family has been texting nonstop.  So while life going on is pretty crazy, it’s also kinda beautiful in a way. But definitely more crazy.

 

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In Which the Point is not Arrival

I think I can talk about tattoos all day. All day, everyday. Tattoos are awesome to me. Some tell stories, some don’t. Some look like an one-eyed inmate with cataracts did them and other’s look like they cost thousands of dollars for a celebrity artist to complete.  But ultimately, regardless of meaning or appearance, all tattoos go through the stages of itching and swelling.  Which is one reason why you probably want to make sure it looks the way and means what you want it to because you’ve got to do some suffering in the process of it retaining it’s permanency. I’ve currently just got two tattoos, a fact I’ve stated before so I apologize for my insistent redundancy. I want more, but I’m trying to save money right now so ink is currently at the bottom of my list of necessities.  Since mine are visible, as they are on my forearm and wrist, I get a couple of ink admirers who will compliment them. And most often I hear, “I want one! But I don’t want to go through the pain.” I usually try to calm their nerves and assure them that if their pain tolerance is high that they should be okay, but most often I think, “if you can’t endure the process, you can’t get the results.”And that’s true for most things in life.

We are a very destination oriented people. My pastor calls us the microwave generation. We’re in a hurry to get what we want, with less work. So instead of throwing those frozen chicken pot pies in the oven to cook, we’ll put them in the microwave though we acknowledge that they taste better fresh from the oven.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing because our generation is continuously creating systems and inventing technology which does things faster and more efficiently. I remember dial-up internet with AOL. God, that was a dark period in history….Ma used to fuss at us everyday during the summer because she would be calling the house to check on us and couldn’t get through because we were on the internet. Doing what? God only knows. I can’t even think of any useful or entertaining things that we had on the computer back then. But other times, faster and easier isn’t always better. Yet and still, no one likes a journey. NO ONE. You. Yea, you right there. NOT EVEN YOU! I can think of a thousand things I would like to do which require patience and practice, and it’s the patience and practice part that gets me every time. I’m currently trying to learn to play guitar and chord transitioning is eating me alive. My fingers start fumbling, my chords are distorted, I can’t move fast enough. It’s even more frustrating than when I took piano.  But I also realize that if I want to play guitar like Lianne La Havas then I need to continue to practice. God didn’t see fit that I should be a musical prodigy (thanks for nothing 4-C Jesus!) thus I have to hang in there and keep practicing.

Maybe our issue is that we can easily see the success of our peers on social media. We look at their Mercedes or their budding careers and can only see their achievement or their “arrival.” But rarely do they allow us to see their journey.  Some of them struggled in school and failed a class two or three times.  Some worked low-rung jobs to pay for school. Some may have dropped out and then re-enrolled without anyone knowing.  These are things that we often do not witness. And quite honestly, we ensure that no one knows that we might be scraping along in our journey, too.  I’ve never posted a job update or school update on Facebook. I rarely talk about my personal struggles on other outlets because you always have someone who comes along with a shady post saying that people should stop crying on Facebook about their problems. Or worse, once they hear about someone’s struggle they use it to demean or berate them. So we internalize the feeling that not arriving is shameful. While I’m not advising anyone go out there and start stripping to pay for college, I tip my hat off to women who do.  I don’t have the stamina, flexibility, or upper body strength for that so I probably wouldn’t make enough money to buy a 6-piece nugget from McDonalds. But they work a legal job, save their money, and use it for their books, rent, daycare funds, tuition, whatever it is they have to pay for. And I can’t look down on their arrival because their journey did not fit my idea of what I thought a journey should look like. I very much look at common illegal activities such as drug dealing the same way. Yes it’s illegal and no I wouldn’t advise it. But some people are doing what they can to get what they need. They just want to keep their lights on or help their parents with the mortgage, and they don’t have access to a job for whatever reason (because note that the largest portion of drug dealers who are busted come from lower income neighborhoods with poor school districts) But sidenote: if you deal with drugs and you get a certain amount of money, take a portion and invest in stocks or a business. This way you can let your money make money without you being involved in a dangerous illegal activity.  So there’s that. But the issue also stems from our society being so focused on the goal. We see all sorts of wealth and riches flashing before our eyes on television or on the internet. Yet, the same society that exposes us to the “American Dream” doesn’t provide everyone with the proper, legal avenues (journeys) to possibly attain it. So you end up with crime for survival. That’s my sociology tidbit for the day.

All in all, we all have to start somewhere to end somewhere. It would be nice to start at the finish line, but it’s impossible. And yes, some people are fortunate to start closer to the finish line than you, but it doesn’t make them better than you. And if they arrive earlier it doesn’t mean you’re inadequate.  We should accept that much of life is a process. Very little in life doesn’t require waiting. So instead of yelling at the cashier working the register or the CSR who picks up after you’ve been on hold for thirty minutes (mostly because it’s not their faults. And if it is, still be kind. Don’t make people’s life hard just because you’ve got your panties in a knot) understand not everything is immediate. And don’t judge someone else’s story or journey. If they’re still working their way through the muck and mire that is adulthood, then strap on your rubber boots and help dig them out. Or encourage them. Pray for them. Share your journey with them. Let people know they are not alone and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.  And don’t be shady about it either. Don’t get on social media talking about your new car and how you worked harder than everybody and they’re still struggling and “hahaha look at me now!” Don’t be flashy about your arrival. As much as I think Black Youngsta is the funniest person on the planet, I think he needs to watch himself carefully. It’s okay to relish in your success, or even reveal the extent of your achievement so that your peers who had similar struggles will know they can make it too. But don’t use it to down others (especially women. I dislike when they use “bitches and hos” so much. We understand you don’t mean all women. But this misogynistic culture has got to stop). And please…PLEASE….if someone shares their journey with you, intentionally or unintentionally, don’t be the nosy neighbor who has to find out every detail. If you see scars on someone’s arm which probably means they used to self-harm don’t ask them a thousand questions or stare at them. It makes people self conscious. And don’t think you’re entitled to every detail in their lives if they do share a bit with you. It’s weird. Stop it.

So that’s all for today.  I’m off to do literature and algebra before I watch my cartoons.

 

In Which I Haven’t Been Reading DM

That’s right. I’ve been slipping. I’m not even going to lie.  BUT…well, I have nothing to add behind that. I’m working on a project at the moment so my mind is elsewhere.  As a result of me not reading DM at the moment, I’m going to do a separate post. Yep. I’m stating the obvious.

My birthday was this past weekend and though I do not celebrate it, I do use it as an excuse to treat myself to something. “TREAT YO SELF!” I’m not even going to admit that I habitually treat myself regardless of the occasion. I am a recovering online shopping addict. Nope; let’s not admit it.  Since I was scheduled to work on my actual birthday I went last Friday and got my tattoo. Well, actually I just half of it done because I refused to pay $400 to have the whole thing done.  Like who would evaaaaaaaaaaa….The original idea was to have the design layered on my left wrist to resemble bangles. It would be black bars and floral vines alternating: three black lines and two vines equating to five total because five is symbolic for grace.  Anyway I ended up with two black lines and one vine because Jesus said, “nah son.” Well my frugality said that, but Jesus probably agreed.  So right now I’m just going to say it means the holy trinity. I plan to get the rest finished later this month though. I have one other tattoo on my inner forearm: a sword with wings. I’ve already told what that tattoo means so I’ll spare the details on it.  I remember when I first got my tattoo with two of my friends.  Everybody told me that anxiety before getting the tat would be worse than the actual pain which is absolutely true.  To say that getting a tattoo is not painful would be false. It does hurt, but depending on your tolerance for pain it will range from “wow this is so annoying. Please hurry up!” to “Lawd, I’m dying. Take me now, lawd. TAKE ME NOW!”  My friend Bianca was the latter. She got a cross on her ankle and we had to literally close her mouth to keep her from screaming out loud.  It was entertaining because she thought the process would be like someone drawing a stick cross with a pencil, but boy was she in for a shock.  On the other hand the pain registers to me as absolutely annoying.  So while Jeff the artist was digging into my poor flesh while trap music played in the background I was outdone. Like come on, Jeff. What are you doing? You need to be tattooing me with three needles at one time to hurry this shading along.  It took roughly around an hour for him to complete and I love it especially because it’s permanent (at this point, I have no choice but to love it) but I honestly love tattoos. I only have two right now because I’m not wealthy enough to spend my funds every time I get an idea for a new one, but if I did I would probably have my left arm sleeve complete by now.  I believe that tattoos, for me at least, are symbolic to healing after something.

I don’t like my brother in law to know that he’s right about something because he went to Ole Miss.  If he went to MSU I’d probably say he was right about everything but he wasted that opportunity now, didn’t he?  HAIL STATE! *clears throat* But my bro in law told me that he used to get tattoos as a form of therapy.  He specifically meant the process in which the tattoo heals because he felt that as it healed he did as well. When I told him that I wanted to get some new ink he immediately knew why. He asked, “What are you going through?” Probably because he’s nosy, but I’ll give him an A+ for his intuitiveness. Now, I don’t particularly look at the healing process as much as I do the initial pain and the final result. Everything in-between is just a necessary evil.  If you’ve got a tattoo then you’re familiar with the entire process; from the actual “needling” to the last day of the two week healing time so you’re aware of what I mean. Well, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself so let me backtrack a little.  I get tattoos as a substitute to self harm.  I’m the type of person who harms and wants to see a physical result of the harm so that I don’t forget. Forget what? I have no idea. I just like to see a mark of some sort.  I decided to translate my more creative thoughts into tattoos so that I can focus on something that would turn out beautiful and still have a story behind it. Maybe that’s why I like self harm to leave marks because then I have a visible remnant of that current moment in my story (HA! Still managed to sneak some story metaphors in. High fives myself).  Moving on.  When I get the strongest urges to self harm I think about tattoo ideas instead.  People ask me all the time why I get tattoos, but I don’t disclose this information to them.  If they choose to see me as a sacrilegious hipster then I let them have that assumption. I reveal myself as I see fit.  This time when I got my ink I bled quite a bit. And my wrist was swollen for three days. The swelling is just now letting up enough to where it doesn’t look like I’m wearing a compression garment on my forearm.  Now I’m in the healing stage in which the top layer of skin is peeling and itches like crazy. I mean like crazy. I forgot how much these things itch.  Thankfully, the time the week is up the damaged skin will have fully peeled away and all that will be left is the new layer of inked skin underneath.

Much of life of is like getting a tattoo. Its initially painful, then uncomfortable, and if you make it through these two phases then you’ll be completely healed and left with something amazing that you’ll keep forever.  There are short cuts to tattoos such a henna and temporary tattoos that wash off after a week or two, but you don’t have as great as a reward if you go the easy route.  I’m literally enjoying the fact that my wrist is rubbing against the side of my laptop because I’m not actually scratching it, but this is as close to scratching as I can get.  I’m fighting the urge to not claw my arm off right now.  But because I don’t want to possibly interfere with the finished product then I’m just bearing through it.  I wish I could skip the pain and the itch and just end up with the tattoo, but it’s not possible.  The same way that much of the goals that I want to attain require that I suffer a while to reach them.  And no one likes suffering.  When I’m suffering I like to sleep all day and give people the side eye when they speak to me. I don’t deal well with suffering even though I am quite used to suffering. It’s also important to remember to clean your tattoo and keep it moisturized to ensure that it heals properly.  In the same way that you need to take very good care of yourself to be sure that you come out on the other side with all your limbs intact.  Have you seen an infected tattoo? It’s beyond description. Google it. (I’m too much like my Sociology teacher. I’ll tell you something is gross and then force you to google it.)  If you don’t follow proper care procedures then you’ll only add to your trauma and risk your own demise.  If  you don’t eat properly when shit hits the fan or you’re not taking your meds then you’re only adding to your burden. It’s not what you want to hear, but it’s what you need to hear. (All notes to self because I’m guilty of both of those things….)

Our pastor likes to speak about holding out through trials and tribulations with the analogy of a pregnant woman. She told the congregation when she was pregnant that she was tired all of the time. Her back would hurt, she had heartburn, and her feet stayed swollen.  All she could think about was life prior to being pregnant. It’s like when your allergies or your sinuses start to wreak havoc in your life and you lose the ability to breathe through both nostrils. It’s only then that you think about life before being stopped up. “Why didn’t I breathe that air a little more happily? Why didn’t I smell the flowers more often???”   Then to make matters worse she was in labor for a long period of time.  And we’ve all seen a movie or television show scene of a woman in labor.  I was in the room with my sister when she was in labor with my nephew and she was high as a kite so she was doing A-okay BUT the lady who came in after her was yelling so loud that I’m sure her baby went deaf for a good two hours.  She sounded like someone was digging a knife into her side for twenty straight minutes.  But after all the pain that she went through she was holding a wrinkly little bundle of joy in her arms.  Even though all babies look like aliens when they’re first born. In the words of my mother: “Jamison came out looking like, ‘take me to your leader.'”  It took me ten minutes to understand what she meant. I can’t wait until Jamison is in his teens so that I can tell him about that. The analogy all boils down to the fact that you have to go through some hurtful situations before you can reap your blessings. Well, I hate to say it but I feel like I’ve been labor for a really really really really long time.  Like, my baby is literally overdue. A good ten years overdue. Like come on dude. Get a move on, kid.  Even with me saying that I know that most good things don’t come easy.  As I said no one like suffering. I’m not a masochist. I don’t get my kicks from being hurt.  But I’ve been sowing things I would like to reap and this growth process is garbage.  Life ain’t fair, but it is what it is.

Anyway I’m off to put some lotion on this thing because I feel like my wrist is not even mine any longer. Who do you belong to? Someone with poison ivy? Jesus be some Calamine lotion…..

 

 

 

Throwing People

I’m stepping away from my story “series” for this post because I haven’t had time to read these past few days.  I don’t want to backtrack unless I’m adding additional information so I’m just going to do a personal post tonight.  Not that those weren’t personal, but they felt more formal than I plan for this to be.  My sister had her marital ceremony today and it was beautiful. It was hot. I’m pretty sure I got sweaty and musty at some point from being in the sun, but as her ceremony is not about me one sweaty, musty monkey don’t stop no show.  As we are still in Florida for the night she decided to have dinner following the wedding. They didn’t have a reception because some of the family said that they would prefer not to attend a reception (like it was their decision to make).  Now, my sister’s dad and my mom are divorced and have both remarried.  So there is her dad’s side and my mom’s side.  Much of my mom’s side of the family could not attend the wedding due to the cost of the staying in the area and the distance. So my brother really wanted us to pull together to go to the dinner. I, on the other hand, did not want to go.  It’s enough pressure on my usual limitations to attend the wedding. I’m not great at small talk and I do best by myself (for reasons frequently stated in my posts). So I definitely did not want to attend the dinner with her dad’s side of the family because they are very close to one another and I always feel like the odd man out even with just my family.  It’s a crowded restaurant with people I am not close to who are extremely connected. That’s like a buffet for self-criticism and anxiety and I’m already not taking my AD’s so I declined my invitation.  Now, my brother and parents are not one hundred percent familiar with how I am or how I feel because I don’t disclose this information to them.  I’d prefer not to have anyone I am close to or related to know any of my personal feelings on anything.  They may know which football teams I despise (Ole Miss, New Orleans Saints, Auburn….). They know I don’t like people touching my feet. But they don’t know how I feel about life in general.  My brother discussed being open and not being isolated. He wanted me to know that he didn’t want to pressure me into attending the dinner, but I felt really bad because I wanted to tell him that I could much less give a flying duck and a partridge in a pear tree about what he wanted me to do. I’m not really keen on considering my family’s feelings towards me. I love them dearly, but I prefer that we don’t be close.  It’s terrible, I know. But I’m not comfortable with them knowing what makes me glad or sad. I don’t like to tell them when I’m down. I don’t like to tell them when I have something good going for myself.  I sometimes slip up and disclose information and the regret is immediate.  The saying, “can’t trust them far as I can throw them” pertains to how I feel. And I don’t have much upper body strength. I can only throw babies, and I prefer not to throw them because…that’s immoral, inhumane, and probably illegal too…..

It’s difficult for me to say that I don’t care about what my brother wants me to do because I look up to my brother the most out of everyone I know.  I admire his honesty, his drive, his humility, and his humor.  Back when I was knee high to an adult (because who has ever been knee high to a grasshopper….) I was afraid of the dark.  I would fall asleep with my light on and Ma would come later and turn it off once I was out. Oddly enough now I can’t sleep with any light on. The light from the DVR box annoys me to no end. I have to turn the whole box off or it will irk my very soul.  It’s probably a result of the emo phase I went through. I blame My Chemical Romance. (I’m kidding, I never went emo. I just really like the color black and Coheed and Cambria…) I used to ask to sleep with ma if I woke up during the night, which was literally every night.  After I turned seven years old Ma flat out kicked me out.  It was actually storming to high hell the night she kicked me out, too. And I was sleeping on her FLOOR so I wasn’t even in her space. The lady is heartless. I ended up asking my brother to let me sleep in his room, and it was perfectly fine with him because he sleeps heavily anyway. He wouldn’t have even noticed me if I didn’t wake him to ask. After that, I was like his shadow. He liked video games then I got into them.  He like car shows so I got into them. Now I admit that I genuinely like these things, but I didn’t even show interest in them until after he did. So it’s not that I don’t genuinely care about him. I just don’t care that he cares about me, if that makes any sense.

I’m very defensive about myself. I may not think much of myself, but I do what I can to protect myself. Unfortunately, I tend to protect myself in unhealthy ways. I resort to isolation and silence.  If you ask how I’m doing I’m going to say that I’m fine even if I’m not. Why? Because I don’t trust you to know that I’m feeling pretty shitty. In my mind I’m wondering what you plan to do with that information. Then I’m assuming that whatever you plan to do with it is going to be disappointing to me so there’s no need in even revealing anything to you.  It never fails that I never get the response I ever want when I speak about my actual feelings.  People mean well so I don’t fully fault them.  People struggle to respond to what they can’t relate to so I don’t even count on them to be my “savior” or confidante.  I hate to say it, but I don’t have a three strike rule.  I have an one strike rule. You have one time…ONE TIME to disappoint my feelings and after that I feel like I can tell you nothing at all. Needless to say, I tell no one anything.  I don’t speak with my family/friends about how I feel about the recent police shootings. We don’t discuss politics. We don’t talk about mental health. Unless they read what I write on here they won’t know what I think about much. Even then, I’d probably act like I didn’t know what they were talking about if it came up for discussion. It doesn’t matter what my brother says about openness; I prefer to keep it that way.  I don’t want the hugs or the high fives. I just want you to leave me to my destructive devices.  If you don’t think we’re close, that’s great! That spares me from probable disappointment.

This is the reason why I get that funny look when people ask when I plan to get married. That really funny look. I mean it’s not funny but it’s funny. Who would evaaaaaaaa marry me? What kind of next level desperation…. I go through brief moments of wanting people in my space and in my circle. But I don’t know how well I would do with it being constant.  I’d have to work on my personal issues prior to getting in a relationship because that would be unfair to a spouse. I get shifty eyed enough being in shared spaces with my family for prolonged periods of time.  I’m barely hanging on with staying with my granny even though its to help out. I just like to be by myself. I probably wouldn’t be saying that if this were the end of the world and I had no choice but to be alone.  But people are exhausting. Just as with the dinner tonight. By the time we’d left the wedding I was already starting a mental list of things I did wrong. It’s exhausting, but rewarding but exhausting.  And it rarely feels rewarding.

Don’t get me wrong. I still care for people, but just from a distance.  When one of my brothers on my dad’s side of the family went to the pokey I didn’t reach out to him. In my defense, it was hard to reach out to him.  I’m not at all close to his mom so I wasn’t up to date with where he was or how he was doing. Plus, I was living 200 miles away at that time.  But I did consistently watch his brother’s facebook page for updates and checked the newspaper.  Him and I were never chummy so it’s not like either of us were itching to communicate. But once he was released he did contact me which made me seriously uncomfortable. I told ya, I’m more comfortable with emotional distance. God, I’m going to end up with a house full of hedgehogs. I would say cats but cats are the kind of pets who plot to kill you in your sleep so I’ll settle for some good old hedgehogs. I’m the person who wishes the best for you, but will never tell you.  I’m like a ball of “what the fuck.”

So I’m done with my rant. I would say, “don’t judge me” but I realize that my habits are entirely unhealthy and irregular so if you did then there’s not much I could say. I would say that I’m going to post tomorrow night, but I’d probably be lying because we’ll be heading back to Mississippi tomorrow. So uhhhhh, monday…..yea….

 

Stories Pt. 1

I’m under the impression these days that many of us are living pretty poo lives.  Not all. Not few. But quite a few of us are.  I’ve been searching for some outside inspiration for a while, and I referred back to Donald  Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.”  I’ve referenced the book in a earlier post from half a century ago so I’m pretty sure no one remembers me even mentioning it. Actually it may have been another one of his books….I forget these things.  I love Donald Miller because I can tell he has a wandering mind.  He kind of drifts off in his books and for some reason that speaks to me.  Probably because I drift off whenever and wherever.  In the book Mr. Miller is speaking about life in the form of a story. When one of his friends spoke to him about some rebellious behavior from his daughter, Donald told him that it sounded like his daughter was living out a poor story.  So maybe instead I should say that we are living some pretty poo stories.

It’s easy and almost guaranteed that you’ll get dragged into the humdrum of life.  Responsibilities kick in. Bills become due.  People start looking for an engagement ring on your fingers. You’ve got to get out there in the “real world” and do some adulting like grocery shopping and scheduling doctor’s appointments.  Growing up is a scam, kids.  I would say don’t do it, but…the alternative isn’t very promising.  Before I moved to a bigger city, I lived in a very small town.  We were/are known for our highschool football program.  I’m probably kin to 80% of the population.  Gossip moves faster than the speed of light.  On the bright side, we weren’t one of those “drive through one stop sign and you’re in another town” towns.  After my brother moved  to go to school he didn’t offer me much advice on where I should go or when. He’s the kind of person who only offers advice if you ask for it and even then he’s selective about what he says.  But one thing he told me stuck: “Amber, one thing I’ve noticed about my classmates is that a lot of them finish highschool and they stay here. They get stuck.  They’re smart and talented but they don’t know how to go further. No one has left and came back and said, ‘Get out of here. Go see more than Mississippi.’ They leave school and go work at Lowes or at a factory. That’s as far as they go. That’s just something I don’t want to do. I don’t want to get stuck here.”  Our grandparents worked at factories/mills.  My mom worked a low paying job at the hospital. My brother’s dad didn’t want anything to do with him. Our uncles and aunts work at mills/factories.  We were born into a humble environment, but our town has a complacent atmosphere. They truly do finish school and get funneled into dead end jobs that leave them stranded in the small town life. I’m not trying to judge anyone who works at a standard 9 to 5 or lives in a small town. I work a standard 9 to 5 and live in a small town. But I wonder why that’s as far as some of us will attempt to go. My brother earned his PhD and now works as a design engineer at an elevator company.  He loves his job. He gets to travel periodically to Germany on behalf of the company and genuinely enjoys what he does.  His wife is from Alabama but is now teaching at a charter school in Memphis. She loves to teach and speaks to her class almost daily about taking the opportunity to do and be better. My brother comes back to our hometown and speaks to the younger kids in our neighborhood about what they want to do in life. A lot of them haven’t thought about it. His only desire is to influence them to think about it, not to tell them what to do.  They are both actively writing their stories and encouraging others to carefully craft their own.

I’m currently working at a hotel and, once again, I am one of the youngest employees at the location. When our General Manager cut our hours all hell broke loose.  He didn’t want to admit that he had cut the hours.  He didn’t want to admit that the pay is…..honestly trash for the workload.  One of the ladies went into an uproar about the hour cut and her minimal raise.  Overhearing her say how much she got paid made me wonder because my check is much less than her’s regularly. I wonder how much she’d rage if she got my wages instead.  Anyway. She was looking into a sitting job in the evening to help add a little cushion to her bank account as she has purchased a new vehicle.  Her friend recently quit the job because she did not desire to deal with the employer any longer.  My coworker came to conclusion that she was just lazy and did not want the money. As she told it, it’s all about the money. And I know deep down in my hipster heart that money is a necessity, but how much is your patience and time worth? It’s a moment of your life being bought by a person, a company, etc.  Money generally is the reason why most of our time and talent goes to shit.  Because time is money and talent ain’t talent if it doesn’t earn money. Just today she asked, “Amber, guess how many hours my friend had this paycheck. One hundred twenty-eight hours!” And I’m just like what the…That’s a lot of hours dedicated to a job in just two weeks. That’s time I literally cannot get back. I wouldn’t even want to work that many hours for a business that I didn’t invest in or do not own. I try not to even say anything against her philosophy because I do not have kids. My car was cheap because of hail damage and by the grace of God is paid for. I don’t have rent due. I can’t tell her how to address her struggle because I don’t have her struggle. But it got me thinking. Why do I choose to live life as I do? I didn’t finish school because school coupled with depression/anxiety is a MFT (miserable fucking time).  I write, though admittedly not faithfully and not professionally, but I don’t focus on building a life around it.  I actually write lyrics that I do nothing with, but save on my phone. I’m willingly and thoughtlessly living a poor story.

Now I do take risks from time to time.  In the wise words of myself, you only die once. That’s right Drake; you were close. There was a guy that I had this huge crush on during first grade.  It’s really quite funny to think about because my cousin liked him too and we were in all out war over him.  Now I’m just like…why? who has got the energy…..Moving on.  I was on a sugar rush from too many white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and after some coaxing from my friends messaged him out of the blue. We talked a while after that, but it really didn’t go anywhere. I get a bit embarrassed when I think about it. In fact, if I could go back in time I’d probably toss my phone across the room or delete my Facebook.  Like that Direct commercial. “We’ve got the power to turn back time. Something something something press rewind….Grampy Tim….” I can’t remember the words. But that commercial is genius.  The experience was uncomfortable and unrewarding, but it didn’t kill me. I cut my locs off after having them for three years on a whim at five in the morning. Now I’m a bald head scally wag, but I reckon it’ll grow back.  I applied for a job that I was no where near experienced enough for, and got a call back. Unfortunately, the company had to make changes and the position was cut. Nothing is guaranteed but nothing new happens if nothing new happens. Chances are I’ll fail and look silly. I’ll probably get rejected and have my feelings hurt. But that’s happened when I’ve done nothing at all. I may as well get out here and  fail with pride. Like that episode of Spongebob. “I’m ugly…and I’m proud. I’M UGLY AND I’M PROUD!!!” God, I need to stop watching television……

I get on here all the time and whine, complain, and make corny jokes at the risk of losing every single follower I have (like I have many….) but….well actually I don’t know where I was going with that.  I’m not comfortable speaking about feelings and sensitive experiences.  I’m not a very trusting or confident person. But when one person or two like my posts I feel better because it turns out I didn’t make a complete ass of myself. Someone out there relates to or agrees with my ridiculous rants. Risks can be rewarding. Not financially perhaps, but possibly in other ways.  It may just grant a smile and a laugh which may not seem like much but can help heal a hurting heart. You liked all those h’s didn’t you? Yea, it was clever. *clears throat* No one likes to be the loser.  No on likes to get a “no” or worse, silence.  But everyone wants better.  And for some strange reason sometimes the rejection and reward start to intertwine.  It’s not just about jobs and money. You need a job and you need money.Don’t think I’m telling you to get out here and rob the local Subway. But you also need good health and happiness. And sometimes those factors do NOT intertwine. So you end up with some changes to make.

Many of us don’t have the cushion to take risks to change our stories. Everybody’s situation is different.  A kid living on the streets because his parents are on drugs is living a poor story at the fault of someone else.  Maybe you’re helping care for an elderly parent and all of your time is consumed.  Or a mentally ill child.  I don’t know what you’ve got going on and I’m not trying to knock you over the head. We each move at our own pace.  I just want to say that if you WANT to go back to school, go back. Apply for those grants and scholarships you don’t think you’ll get.  If you apply and don’t get them you won’t be any worse off than not applying at all, now will you? Talk to your supervisor about a raise. Talk to your GM about a promotion. Write the book. Message the girl/guy.  Dye your hair. Grow a beard. A really cool beard. Not that wimpy beard. No one likes wimpy beards. And make sure you condition it and keep it moisturized.  Enter that competition. Get out there and make a fool of yourself. I do it all the time. It’s not even intentional. At some point I just end up doing it…..

I’m starting to get flustered. I can’t really recall where I was going with this post, but that’s probably the result of watching this new show on ID while writing this post.  Hopefully when I come back tomorrow I’ll have a clear head. I’m still trying to work on this bad habit of tossing in profanity. I’m trying, y’all…..