Summer Science

School is finally out. Summer is upon us.  My kid is thrilled. No more classes. No more making up reasons to not go to school. No more learning. No more reading. No more research.  Or at least no more forced education. Just free time and staying up late and sleeping in. Or at least that’s what I thought was happening. Apparently, he’s been doing a little reading and research on his own.

I posted a picture on my Instagram the other day of a little collection of items he had in his room…tape, foil, soil, lights and I made a joke about him growing weed. I went through this with my older son when he was in high school. The closet was converted into a mini grow house. He had a bunch of sprouting pot plants and spent a lot of time figuring out how to grow them. But he was about 16. So when I made the joke, I didn’t think it was time for that again just yet, but Mel saw the Instagram picture and asked me why I was in his room. At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about and then I remembered. I politely reminded him that he will have privacy he wants when he grows up and moves out. Until then, I’m going to be all up in his shit.

One of the perks of being a young mom, as I’m sure any young mom will tell you, is that it was not that long ago that I was pulling some form of deceit against my own mother. So it’s not so easy to pull the wool over my eyes. I also don’t have the preconceived notion that everyone else’s kids are all fucked up and mine is perfect. I’m quite sure I’m raising my own little brand of fucked up but I have their best interests at heart. So when Mel showed me his little closet science experiment and pulled out a handful of pot seeds, half germinating half waiting for their turn, I didn’t freak out. For a few reasons:

1.) It’s hard to successfully grow a marijuana plant

2.) In order to successfully grow marijuana in his closet, he is going to be doing a lot of research and reading which is something I cannot get him to do for a class he hates

3.) It’s weed. He’s not in the kitchen trying to figure out how to make crack or meth. He’s learning how things grow.

Sure there’s the legal issue. And if I thought that in three months he was going to have ten pounds of pot growing in his closet, I would definitely shut his operation down, but as it stands, he has less than three months of summer. Smack dab in the middle of it, he will be leaving for a week to visit his sister, so unless he figures out a self watering system and a light timing system, they will die and he will have to start over again when he gets back and then school will start and he will neglect it until next summer. If he does, however, do the research and figure out the kinks and manages to produce a bud bearing plant, it will come in handy when he starts his culinary classes in high school and we will all get pot brownies out of the deal. I would call that a win/win situation.

So maybe I’m not going to win any parent of the year contests, and that’s perfectly fine with me.  He’s doing hands on learning. If he is anything like my previous gardener, the process goes from soil gardening to hydroponic to just saying fuck it. So I’m not too worried about the FDA showing up. Plus, if he figures out this whole gardening thing, I won’t have to work so hard to keep shit alive. He can help. It never hurts to have a healthy dose of botany under your belt, right? I was a little concerned about where he got the seeds from, but again, I was not born yesterday and I quickly figured out that they probably came from his little buddy in South Knoxville. I’ve always had a feeling his parents dabbled a little. They have a lot of traffic coming and going, but the kid is a good kid and from what I could tell the kids were in the dark. Obviously that has changed if he’s giving my kid pot seeds, but then again, he could have gotten them anywhere. Hell, I have had some sitting on the window sill

Nobody Gets Left Behind 

Nobody Gets Left Behind 

I never really understood or even had a slight grasp on what PTSD was. I knew it was post traumatic stress disorder and I knew it had many causes, but I never really thought about it in regards to soldiers. I know when people use the term, they are typically talking about soldiers, but I never thought anything past that until today.

I went out with a soldier this evening. He’s the one I told you about a couple of days ago who is basically Prince Charming, smart, funny, well read, well traveled, you remember right? Well, he’s also a soldier. I don’t think I knew that initially, but I guess that’s what happens when you take the time to get to know them before jumping in the sack with them. Who knew? You all probably did, I’m still learning. Anyway, he’s a soldier, he’s only been back (retired) for less than six months. In the course of our conversations, he had mentioned PTSD a time or two, but it was only as an explanation as to why he was probably not going to be too comfortable going to the farmer’s market on a busy day or why going to clubs on a holiday weekend was not his thing. And of course, I accepted his explanation. Plus, it wasn’t time for me to try to sweet talk him into anything just yet anyway, but I was sure if I asked, he would do it. Not because he wanted to but because I wanted him to, and he is the sweetest man ever. And I was totally going to play that card at some point. Until tonight.

I was planning on doing my poetry thing tonight at PoBoys and Poets. He mentioned sneaking in to see me so I wouldn’t be nervous. Then I went all day without seeing him so I just invited him to come with me. And of course he said yes. No sweet talking necessary.

The night went off without a hitch. I didn’t throw up on my shoes and nothing major happened at the place, so all was well. We left and drove around talking for another hour or so. We were practically in Sevierville before he turned the car around and headed the other way, but he’s interesting and I love hearing him talk, especially with a British accent, so time is not an issue, but I was tired and he could tell and we eventually ended up back at my place (not in my place).

We were sitting outside in the car talking and out of nowhere, gunshots. I live in the “gun zone” of the city so it never really bothers me to hear gunshots. These were particularly close tonight, but it was his reaction that startled me. And it wasn’t that he freaked out or anything, he just basically hit the deck and ducked down in the car to avoid getting hit. In hindsight, I guess that is the rational thing to do no matter what, but he was immediately taken back to a place that I know nothing about. And it was scary, I’m sure for both of us, but more so for him, I imagine. I was just scared because his reaction was so terribly unexpected. But it was eye opening for me. And he was immediately ready to leave. So we said our goodbyes and he took off.

It made me realize what this holiday we are “celebrating” today is all about. It’s not about barbeques and drinking and the first day of the pool being open. It’s about persevering and conquering. It’s about the things we don’t know about that they can’t forget and can’t bring themselves to share with us. But he did share one thing with me that I had no idea about. I haven’t been around too many soldiers and the ones I have been around haven’t been as open as this one or maybe I wasn’t as nosy as I am with this one, but in the midst of one of our conversations, he was telling me a story about an attack and how he lost quite a few of his comrades. Then he said something that I cannot stop thinking about. He said that after being blown to pieces, body parts are collected and put on a flight back home, because nobody gets left behind.

Years and years of Memorial Day celebrations did not prepare me for that story. Nobody gets left behind. How many cook outs have I been to? How many pool sides have I sat by on Memorial Day never once thinking about the real reason. The idea of the reason was always there. Thank the servicemen and women who have fought and died for this country, but I never thought about the brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers and sons and daughters who received their loved ones back in numerous pieces. Nobody gets left behind. No open casket funeral. No getting one more look at the person who was their life. No more hugs. Only memories. And what about those memories for the brothers in arms who were the ones that were given the task of collecting those body parts to send home to family members? Imagine what those memories must be like on any given day. And how do we thank them? We blow off fireworks in our neighborhoods or randomly shoot guns with no consideration that maybe, just maybe, that will be the “thing” that sends them over the edge or sends them “back there” mentally.

I will no longer go to a cookout on Memorial Day. Nor will I sit poolside soaking up the sun. At least not until I’ve done something of importance to say thank you for the sacrifices made in order for us to be able to go to a cookout and sit poolside soaking up the sun.

So thank you to the service men and women who do the unfathomable for this country. And thank you to the family members who kiss them goodbye not knowing or having any guarantee that they will get to hug them upon their safe return.  The sacrifice is not forgotten by this American.

*Photo credit : taken from Seymour Johnson AFB Facebook page. 

My Sunday Service- Reggae

Whenever people ask me what my favorite music is, it’s a no brainer for me and I quickly answer, “reggae.” The question that usually follows, if there is going to be a question, is “why?” My short answer to that is because reggae saved me.

I don’t claim to be a religious person. I guess maybe I never have been. I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school, and attended mass every week, sometimes twice a week. I remember in middle school being forced to go to confession. It’s not that I think confession is a bad thing, but I wasn’t doing any sinning in middle school. So ironically, when I went to confession, I would make up lies about what my sins were in order to follow the rules. Religion was beat in to my head from a really young age and I’m not ungrateful for it.  I got in the habit of it. It formed a lot of who I am today, I believe. There was even a point when I felt like God would call me to church because he had something to say to me that I wasn’t hearing elsewhere. I would walk in to church, dab my finger in the holy water, make the sign of the cross and find a seat as close to the back as possible so I could quickly make my escape as soon as the holy procession passed me. When it was over, I felt relief like when you are a non-smoker in a smoke filled room and walk outside and can finally take a deep refreshing breath. And I felt guilty relief because it was over. At some point, church stopped being refreshing or fulfilling at all and when I would go, I would not feel like my cup had been filled and, to me, that was the point of church.

I thought maybe it was just Catholicism, so I visited other churches and other denominations. If I  was invited to church with someone, I would go and I probably still would today, but nothing felt like home. And isn’t that what God is supposed to feel like? So I stopped looking and I stopped searching.

And then I met Bob Marley. Not personally, because he had already passed on by this time, but I met his music.  I met roots reggae and I was home. I had never felt closer to God than I did in the moments when I was listening to that music. I listened to other artists, but it was Bob who moved me and woke something inside of me. That was when I was in my twenties. So I sought out more and more of it and very quickly I was converted.

The God I met through reggae was not a vengeful one like the bible would have me believe. He didn’t scare me. He was a friend. He wanted me to make my mistakes. He wanted me to figure this life out the way I needed to in order to become the person I am today or the person I am still becoming. And I’m not saying that I have become a Rastafarian, though I do identify with a lot of their ideologies, there are a few that I don’t identify with and never will, but when I find myself in a dark place, reggae is where I turn. And when I’m happy and feeling lovely, reggae is still where I turn. And it’s not just about religion. It’s about love and peace and fighting for what’s right and making a little difference in this big indifferent world.

If you’ve never listened to reggae, I probably cannot explain the transformation that would happen to me when I would seek  out reggae shows, live music or just DJ’d parties and the band would start or the music would begin and I would find myself lost in the music. While lost in that music, I found myself. I would listen to the words about Jah (God) and I would feel the music in my soul. I would dance and worship at the altar of the band or the DJ, and when it ended, I would have that feeling that I wanted when I walked out of church. I was renewed. I was changed. I was saved.

There used to be a pretty decent reggae scene in Knoxville back in the day, but it has since fizzled out and reggae itself has changed too. There’s a lot of dancehall, which is still good, but that’s not the music that saved me, though it does still make me shake my groove thang. If I want reggae, I have to travel to get it and I have. And although the music has changed from the original roots, there are still a few contemporary artists that make me feel things when I listen. They still give me that “church” feeling that I seek. So I go to church daily through my headphones and I skip that holy procession on Sunday at the Catholic church or any other church right now for that matter.

Please don’t think that I’m trying to convert anyone, if that’s even possible, but I have to give credit where credit is due. I don’t think I would know Jah if not for music. And I don’t think I would be such a warrior if not for the music. I don’t know if I would be so conscious of what’s going on in the world. I may still be walking around with my eyes closed like a lot of people if it were not for the music. I would not be accused of being perpetually happy if it weren’t for reggae. I wake up with it and I go to sleep with it and I am at peace.

Currently in my playlist is pretty much anything and everything Bob Marley, Kymani Marley (and not just because he’s my soulmate) has a newer album called Maestro that is delicious, Morgan Heritage also just dropped a beautiful new album called Simply Roots, Protoje Seven Year Itch, Chronixx Dread and Terrible, and the last guy is not necessarily reggae, but he’s a mixture and he has a message and I like him, Mark Balet. I know I probably sound like a commercial right now, but if you want to know me, you should get to know them because they are currently a part of me so I would highly recommend clicking on each of their names and listening to a sample and maybe buy one or two of your favorites. It just might change your life.

One Love.

No More Weekend Blog?

I’ve been kicking around the idea of not posting on the weekend. It seems a lot of people don’t read on Saturday or Sunday and if they do, they are catching up on other, previously missed, blogs. So I wanted to just throw it out there and see

a.) what other bloggers who read this blog think about Monday through Friday blogging and/or what do you do?

b.) what do you, the people who read this particular blog,  think about not having a weekend blog to read. Does it matter to you? Do you prefer to have one to read daily?

Any input you could give me on this, would be GREATLY appreciated!!

Also, while I’m spreading appreciation, let me go ahead and thank you faithful readers for sticking it out with me! You guys are rockstars!

 

A Cinderella Day

Today was an odd day. It started like any other Thursday, but ended like a Disney movie or should I say, at a Disney movie. It was both.  I had been giddy for a day or two because I had been texting with TK the DJ, but it became glaringly clear that he was really only in it for the moment or the sex. He wasn’t in it for me. He’s just another 10 O’clock man. So, I’m letting it go.

I think I mentioned the other day, that I met a man the old fashioned way, in person, at work. It’s not like I just met him the other day. He’s a regular customer. We’ll call him Derek, because that’s his real name and a nickname just won’t do.  He has been coming in since I started working there last November, but we finally exchanged numbers the other day and he’s been texting me. My co-worker says it’ll never work out because he’s too nice and there’s no way I would like anyone she approves of. But, my way of doing things hasn’t been working so I ventured out of my comfort zone and gave a nice guy a chance. If I was building my ideal man, physically I might make a change or two, but that’s only because he’s a tad shorter than me, but in every other way, he seems perfect. It could be partly because he’s not American. And foreign guys always seem nicer to me, but maybe I’m bias?

I was out and about paying bills today and he offered to give me a ride because it was rainy. I was almost done with my errands and told him that I didn’t really need a ride, but we could hang out if he wanted. I was off yesterday and we had kind of made loose plans to go to the farmer’s market, but I mowed my grass instead and then took a long nap and didn’t want to put on shoes or leave the house. So I didn’t, but today, I had some time before work and I figured I should at least offer. I didn’t know if he would be busy or have time, but he wasn’t. He came and picked me up and we went to eat at Chipotle. The furthest Chipotle around. It was like we drove for 500 miles to get a burrito bowl, but it was cool, because he’s interesting. He’s smart and well read and well traveled and cultured and he thinks I’m amazing. Not like any of the men I’ve ever dated before. I always say I don’t have a type, but I do gravitate towards a certain type and this guy is opposite that type. This guy takes that type and smashes it into little bitty pieces.

We spent a couple hours together and then he dropped me off at home so I could rest up before work. I laid down for a few minutes but then I was so tired I was afraid I would sleep through my alarm so I just got up and got ready for work. I was headed to the bus and he sent me a message and asked if I wanted a ride to work. I don’t think he lives very far from me. Or he’s a creepy stalker who was circling the block. Either way, he was there relatively quick and gave me a ride to work. I ended up being early so we sat in his car and talked for a few minutes before I had to go in. We sent a message or two while I was working but I was pretty busy tonight and was trying to avert a disaster so I didn’t have much time to respond.

When closing time rolled around, we had about 10 minutes to go and three or four customers still in the store, when his familiar face walks in to make a last minute purchase of things he probably didn’t even need, but he wanted to give me a ride home. Even though as I write this, I’m thinking, normally I would find that kind of popping up uninviting, but he’s not a bit creepy so I’m giving it a pass.  He drove me home and we sat outside talking for a few minutes. It was a little after nine at that point and I don’t know how we got on the subject of movies, but I mentioned that I wanted to see the Jungle Book and he says, “If you’re not too tired, let’s go.” Of course I was pretty tired, but I don’t have to be to work until later in the day so I can sleep in, plus how often does a good looking, super nice guy come along and want to willingly go watch a Disney movie with you? Exactly! Never. So I ran in the house, changed out of my uniform and put on some regular clothes and we went to see the Jungle Book.

P.S. It was as good as I remember it being in my childhood. I was like a child watching it.

He was sweet in the movie and he held my hand and rubbed my arm and never tried to go any further. Not that I would have had sex in a Disney movie even though there weren’t very many people there, but the point is, he didn’t try and lately the only men I’ve been out with are men who would have definitely tried if I could have talked the into taking me to a movie at all. We left the movie theatre and he brought me home. He didn’t try to get me to invite him in. He didn’t try to get me to go to his place. He thanked me repeatedly all day for taking the time to spend some time with him. And he showered me with compliments that were genuine, not the compliments that people give when they are trying to get something in return. I was walking in the door as the clock struck twelve, just like a Disney princess.  And as I’m getting ready to go to sleep, I’m still grinning like a crazy person because I could not have planned a better day if I tried. I guess there’s something to be said about spontaneity. And about trusting in the universe.

How Do You Say “Fuck Yourself” in Poem?

When I started writing poetry, I think I was in middle school. I may have been even younger. I don’t recall. I’ve blocked out most of my past. I only remember when I see or hear or smell something that reminds me of it. But I’ve always loved poetry. I always liked the rhythm and the rhyme of it. And I’ve always been in love with the idea of love as long as I can remember. The practice of it has never quite worked out for me, but I’m optimistic, one day, it may. Oh, but the idea of it is something I’ve loved trying to capture with words. Not just my own love, but other’s love too. If I see it, I want to write about it. I want to capture one little moment of it to save and remember forever so that even if the love doesn’t last forever, that moment, good or bad, will always be there as a reminder.

So I write love poems. I never write them with the intention of ever sharing them with anyone, but then one day I did. I went to a poetry slam and I read one out loud. It wasn’t anything major, but it held the contents of my heart in that moment. And even though that moment was over, and I had moved past it, it served as a reminder of “him” and the situation… This was the poem

I told you I was done

but you refused to believe it

I told you I couldn’t take anymore

and you chose to ignore it

I tried to tell you that time does not heal all wounds

but you thought I’d get over it

Well, I’m over it now

Heartbroken times gone.

I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror

 I no longer felt the urge to spit in the face that looked back

I thought about all that you’ve done to me and I reached behind me,

patted my own back, and congratulated myself on being done with you.

And I fucked him

Like you fucked all of them

just to be sure

You were done with me too

 

There was no rhythm or rhyme to the poem. It was basically just me bleeding onto paper when I wrote it. And every time I read it, it takes me back to that place. I remember the boyfriend. I remember the guy. I remember the whole night. The whole relationship comes back in a tsunami of memories. It’s funny how you think you’ll never get over being hurt. You’ll never get over losing someone. You’ll never be the same person you were with them. I think only the last part is true.

And as I have been looking over some of my old poems, a lot of them are about ex boyfriends or ex lovers. I have a tendency to always write love poems at the beginning or end of my relationships. It’s then that my muse is in full speed motion. My pen is always silent when I’m content.

Then I thought, once I get past this public speaking problem I have.  Wouldn’t it be fun to  hold my own poetry event? I could call it,  “You Are Cordially Invited to Go Fuck Yourself” and I can invite all of my exes and give them front row seats. And I will recite my poems. And they can watch and listen and work as a team to try to figure out which one of them I was talking about.  And then I laugh and laugh and laugh about it.

But I’d have to get over the public speaking thing first which doesn’t seem like it is going anywhere. And then I would have to find said exes, especially the ones I had kids with. Those guys are like rabbits in a hat. One minute they are there and the next minute…. poof, like they never existed. Maybe it’s just another one of my terrible ideas, but my terrible ideas always turn out to be the most fun and memorable.

Anyway, there’s another poetry event this weekend. I’ll be doing another poem if I don’t chicken out. It’s also about love, in a way. This one is actually an idea that came to me from a blog I wrote. I’m not going to share it here today, because if I keep my  nerve and if I have someone there to record it for me, I’ll post the video and the words probably as Sunday’s blog. I’ve decided every now and again, there may be a smattering of poetry here for those of you who like poetry. And you can steal it or share it or send it to your ex boyfriend and call it a day.

My Dirty Little Secret

Not many people in my circle know that I suffer from anxiety. And those that do, probably doubt me. I’ve learned to hide it well over the years and even to deal with it and accept it.  And maybe mine is different from most or I treat it differently, I don’t really know. I think I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and social anxiety disorder or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a doctor about it.  Most of the time, I can keep it in check. I used take medicine for it, but I hated the medicine and how grey it made everything more than I hated the anxiety. So I got rid of the medicine and learned to love the anxious pieces of myself.

Sometimes I can even forget that I have anxiety.  Until I’m standing in a new place and I’m paralyzed with fear. It’s always like a game of tug o war in my head. There are so many things that I want to do, but I don’t want to do them alone, but I’m not a good planner, and I’m not good at keeping in touch with people. So I do this balancing act between being a social butterfly and being reclusive.

I love people. I love being around people. If I’m in a familiar place, I’m comfortable. I can be friendly and be myself. But I hate going to places alone, well, new places anyway. I guess a lot of people dislike being in a new environment. I guess it’s normal. I don’t know if anyone gets heart palpitations and sweaty palms and has a hundred dreadful scenarios of what could happen go through their head just to order a sandwich. I’m not sure how much of that is normal.  And I’m also not sure if it makes me even crazier that sometimes I do it intentionally. If there’s a place I want to try out and I can’t find someone to go with me, I will force myself to go. It’s a ridiculous conversation in my head that goes something like, “ok, you can do this. Thirty minutes and then you can leave.” And I do. I’m sure people in bars get especially aggravated with me because instead of sitting at the bar, I always grab a booth. Even when I’m alone. I like feeling invisible. It’s where I’m comfortable. And sitting at the bar leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable and when I get home, I have to breathe deep and mentally talk myself out of falling to pieces. But once I’ve been to a place a time or two, it’s not so dreadful to return again or to return alone. That’s why I’m always at the same spots. I always go to the same places. My comfort zones. The places that make me the least anxious.

Sometimes I feel like half my life is one big therapy session and the rest of it is just a big game of pretend. It’s like I’m in a constant battle in my head. Someone commented yesterday that I needed to get out of my head and enjoy life and I really would love for it to be that easy, but I’m always in my head trying to get out. And I do enjoy life. I’ve even learned to enjoy the feeling of my chest caving in right before a panic attack. It used to scare me because I thought I might die from it, but now it’s soothing like ocean waves and I ride it until it passes. Ever since I learned how to feel it without letting it get to me, I haven’t had a full blown panic attack. Once I made up my mind to just accept that anxiety is just a part of me, it somehow subsided. Once I decided I wasn’t going to avoid life in order to avoid anxiety, it eased up. I’m still anxious all the time about everything. I try all the time to get out of my head. And I’ve mastered the silence and the meditation. I can zone out and not think about anything, which helps sometimes. I think I first learned how to meditate on the back of a motorcycle. I think that’s why I love them. Because I am just where I am. No thoughts, no emotions, no anxiety. But when I’m not actively meditating or cruising the mountains as someone’s back seat rider, I’m in my head. All day. All the time. Worst case scenarios. What ifs. Would haves, could haves, should haves litter my brain and I can’t turn it off. I think it’s partly why I don’t know what I want or why I can’t find what I think I want because every scenario makes me anxious and panicky. What if I get exactly what I want? What if I don’t? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m too anxious? What if, what if, what if? What if I could get out of my head and just live without questioning every little aspect of my life and without questioning everybody’s motives? Maybe I’ll get there one day, but today is just not that day and tomorrow is not looking all that hot either.