Aug 31, 2009

Crushed Potential

I was waiting at the train station one evening last year when a 30-something Black man approached me. I was a zombie, staring off into the distance after a long day at work. I barely noticed him until he was directly in front of me.

"I asked damn near 50 people this afternoon for some change and didn't get not $1. I'm homeless. These mothaf*ckas got cars & houses..." - mothaf*ckas alerted me to pay attention - "... they act like it would kill 'em to give me a dollar. I don't know why I'm asking you" - actually he was demanding - "but can you spare something so I can at least get something to eat?"

Based on his hostility, he fully expected to be rejected. I couldn't retreat or escape without humiliating him so I just stood there & looked at him. It felt like there was a bubble around us. My full attention was focused on him. I thought at him, I see you. Seeing him seemed important. Not withdrawing seemed important. So I turned more fully toward him, giving him nonverbal cues of engagement.

In those silent seconds, his story unfolded as if he had downloaded it directly to my brain. It was so damned frustrating. He was trying and nobody was helping. He was so angry that people wouldn't help him. Angry that when they did, they didn't give him what he needed. Angry others wouldn't give him what they wouldn't miss any damn way. Angry that they withdrew when he approached or pretended he wasn't talking to them.

I remember feeling distant alarm, but not fear. I didn't believe he would hurt me. But I was gut-certain that he would hurt someone very badly. And soon.

I gave him $2 and wished him luck. I don't think he thanked me. I boarded my train with the bubble of calm still around me.

That encounter was a deep contrast to the young 20-something brotha who stepped to me at my local strip mall on Saturday.

He called out to me cheerily,"I like your glasses ma'am. Where did you get them?"
I thanked him and told him where.
"Where is that?"
I told him the store.
"And where is that?"
I told him the city.
"How do you get there?" I began to tell him a well known route that would take him there.
"You know what bus go there? 'Cause that's the only way for me to get there. I don't have no car, no job." He was laughing. "I get food stamps and everything."

Crushed potential.

It's the phrase that comes to mind when I see the stereotypical poor, uneducated, probably recently un-incarcerated Black man. The problem is epidemic. The stats are well known. Raised by single moms. Crime. Violence. High school dropouts. Jail. Unemployment. Addiction. Deadbeat dads. Premature death.

What happened to these men's dreams?
Was there no one in their lives to steer them?
Was there chaos in their families of origin that left them vulnerable to negative influences?
Was there a generational curse?
What are their purposes in life now?
What's going to happen to their sons and daughters?
Who is going to stop this cycle?

I don't have the answers to these questions. Does anyone?

Do you?

Aug 26, 2009

Being 37 Means

  • I trust my gut.
  • I don't "should" on myself anymore.
  • I can feel drawn to man without sexualizing the connection.
  • Lots of stuff is really starting to sag.
  • I drop what drains me... without apology.
  • My world view is wider, wiser, saner.
  • I can see the bad thought habits that helped me cope as a child but now hold me back.
  • Hair is sprouting where it shouldn't and turning gray in surprising places.
  • For every wrong turn there are lessons learned.
  • I recognize the start of a "kick me when I'm down" thought cycle and I can actually say to myself "shut up ego"... and the negative spiral will stop (sometimes even in mid-sentence).
  • I laugh at myself at times because I get sick n tired of my own damn bullsh*t.
  • I understand my cycle of creativity & energy.
  • I listen better to the wisdom of my body.
  • Patterns repeat in our lives until we pass the test.
  • Knowing what I suck at (and no longer needing to forgive myself for it).
  • Having faith that when a thing is meant to be, a "missed opportunity" will present itself again.
  • The time for my next incarnation to begin is now.

Aug 14, 2009

Married to a Martian

My husband thinks he's a Martian. Literally. He believes he is from the planet Mars.

This is not a new development. He's been telling me this for years. It's been a little like pillow talk for us. He can go at it for 3-5 minutes at a time before my laughter gets a little uneasy.

I indulge him because his occasional boasting that he's from another planet is as close as he gets to being silly. When he starts up, I can see what he was like as an imaginative 12 year old boy . He is the most un-romantic, un-silly guy I know. So he gets his kicks every now & then by joking about how he's an alien because he has some mysterious 3rd band of blood (which is physically impossible, humans should only have 2, 3 bands should not exist ever, doctors are astounded when he tells them that, it's probably as rare as being born with 2 heads). If he has fun with it... well, who's he hurting?

I ordered him a book a few weeks ago about ancient astronauts. There is a vast nut wing conglomerate of believers in ancient mysteries & space-galloping ETs who are keeping tabs on us (popularized by Erich von Daniken). The speculations and "evidence" are wild! I watched a History channel show about it once. As a creative person who always wondered "what if aliens really do exist", I can definitely dig it.

But my husband? He was switched on by the book in a way I've never seen. He LOVED the book so much he didn't want it to end. The book talks about how the Old Testament heroes like Moses, Noah & Abraham who had contact with God actually came face to face with aliens.

The ark of the covenant was a nuclear weapon. That's why the Old Testament Levite priests had specific uniforms that included breast plates & helmets. That's why that one guy who stumbled & acccidentally touched the ark of the covenant died on the spot. That's why the plagues that affected the enemy group who stole the ark of the covenant resembled radiation sickness.

I can see now that it was a bad decision to purchase the book. We all want to believe we're special. But the fact that he went to another planet to find his uniqueness is... not normal. The real problem is he's a psychiatrist. So who exactly would believe me if I began to have serious concerns about his claims? These beliefs don't interfere with his ability to function in society. He doesn't talk to himself, have a tic or twitch, or need to confirm the toaster is unplugged 40 times before he leaves for work each morning.

I'm just a wife & writer. I have a pretty vivid imagination. Give me a snippet or tidbit of information, my brain just goes, filling in the blanks, piecing together a fantastic storyline that could appear between the pages of a book or in a soap opera. I'm the writer... and even I don't believe this visitors from outer space mumbo-jumbo.

This bizarre belief has been under wraps for 35+ years. Whatever happens in 2012, I sure as hell hope aliens are involved. Otherwise I'm going to have to start dosing his morning cup of coffee with my prescription of Lexapro.

Aug 13, 2009

Have Your High-Tech & Longevity Too

I saw Bill Gates speak once. Barack Obama, he ain't. Still, it was an electrifying experience to be in the same room with the richest man on the planet.

He talked about how computers & software could enhance our daily lives. TV could be interactive like the web, tailoring programming to our preferences. Dry erase white boards could be equipped to drill down into a network to pull data you want to present in a multimedia format during a meeting in your office. Workstation desktops could collect information about how we work & make recommendations to help us streamline.

When you're there, you catch the vision. You believe with technology, we have the ability to make ordinary humans better than we were before. Better, stronger, faster. Hell, let's all be bionic!

No offense Mr. Gates - I think you're amazing, I love the work you & your wife are doing through your foundation. But frankly, I don't want my couch telling me I gained 6 pounds over Thanksgiving & autotuning my TV to Denise Austin's workout because I need to get off my oversized arse.

I try so hard these days not to be a cynic, but I don't think we can ever have all the benefits of a high-tech society without the drawback of a high-speed, high-intensity, high-pressure, instant gratification culture that goes along with it. Be honest. Does anyone really think the benefits of technology can ever outweigh good old capitalist greed it's attached to? and how can technology help us dial back a puritan work ethic that drives American employees into burnout? If it exists, I'd like to see it.

It's a fundamentally optimistic way of seeing things - that we can live better, longer, overcome our dis/inabilities. This optimism was best captured by the dean of a local school of public health who facilitated a discussion in a class I took last year. He was so enthusiastic about how so many of the world's health problems could be solved with a public health approach and the right use of technology.

But look at the cultures we want to emulate because they live the longest ( The lives of these people tend to be the simplest. They tend to rely the least on technological advances. They do things like walk everyday. Grow their own food. Eat diets loaded with fresh vegetables and fruit. Hang out with their family, go to church on a regular basis & talk to their neighbors. They're embedded in a community with many sources of social support. As a result, they live longer.

High-tech industry & culture is driven toward growth, always increasing, always plunging forward to get the jump on the next great thing. There is a season for working at that rate. But it's not something that should last forever. Endless growth. What in nature grows endlessly? Cancer cells. Cancer is the proliferation of cells that just keep dividing endlessly. They no longer function, they just keep dividing & growing.

Can you have it both ways? Can you have your high-tech and longevity too? This would mean living simultaneously at both ends of the technology spectrum. If this "magical" universal "shift in consciousness" actually takes place in 2012, and sustainable agriculture, economics, communities really takes hold... sure. It could happen.

But at this very moment, (to quote NuNu from one of my all-time fav flicks "ATL") "not gon' happen... neva".

Aug 8, 2009

They Want Their Country Back

Obama didn't lie when he declared to the world on 11/4/08 "Change has come to America."

The web definition of conservative is: "resistant to change". The 2009 remix on conservative playing at healthcare town halls near you is: "resistant to change & highly pissed."

My honest reaction to these outbursts? Somewhere between laughter & pity. But these aren't a bunch of Joe the Plumbers looking to milk their 15 seconds of fame. The anger behind the mayhem is from-the-gut honest. Anger like that metastasizes. It elects Republican presidents like Reagan and George W. Bush to 2 terms in the oval office. Anger like that needs to be watched carefully.

Conservatives are crying out because they're losing "their" country - an America that reflects their values, their culture, their skin color, their religion.

They're right.

Let me break it to them gently: getting disorderly @ these meetings can't abort the end that's been building for decades. After the 2010 census numbers are crunched, the inevitable future so many conservatives fear (maybe even hate) will be confirmed:

21st century America is brown, bilingual & speaks with an accent.

It has a Black President. It actively intervenes in the markets to prevent the collapse of mega-companies whose failure could trigger global catastrophe. It participates in a world economy increasingly dominated by developing Asian countries. It doesn't "call the shots" the way it used to. The America you long for is never coming back.

Conservatives, if you learn nothing else, learn this one truth before you die: Change is the ONLY thing that is guaranteed. All empires rise & fall. The world is changing. America can evolve to adapt or die. (It's evolving anyway. Adapting is a choice.)

Conservatives, your children will have the privilege of witnessing first hand what many of your parents went through as new immigrants to America. They'll live among a fresh wave of immigrants assimilating into America, beginning their pursuit of this American dream, enriching our society with their experiences & their culture.

If the truth is too devastating to accept, I urge you to pray the serenity prayer to help you deal. Maybe one day you'll see the beauty of this new evolution in 21st century America.

Aug 4, 2009

Weird (oh)

The problem with "New Age" spirituality is that it's weird.

You don't have to wander far before the stuff gets spooky or just flat-out ridiculous. Animal psychics, mediums channeling 3,000 year old sages, aura diagnostics, magnets, angels, fairies, spirit guides. Once that fairies door opens, leprechauns, werewolves & UFOs can't be far behind.

As a spiritual seeker, I've dabbled. Mysticism is a strong leaning in me. I believe in the interconnectedness of all things. When you add quantum physics & the boatload of phenomena science has yet to explain to the mix, there's stuff out there that frankly blows my mind. It appeals to both the scifi geek & deep prayer/trance meditator in me.

I picked up some crystals once because they're beautiful rocks. What's the harm in having something pretty to remind me to stay positive & not neglect my creativity? I meditated with the crystals in my hand. I even positioned them on my "chakras" a time or two. Frankly, I did notice "something" (tingling, internal pulling). But was it "crystal energy", the power of suggestion or my body reacting because I've got a cold rock sitting on my sacral chakra?

So how'd I end up with this interest in "new age" spirituality? I've been experiencing mysterious & persistent time prompts on a regular basis for 2 years. Coincidentally glancing at the clock at exactly 1:11 or 2:22. Waking up at exactly 3:33 or 4:44 or 5:55 almost every night. When I noticed it recurring, it "went viral" & I started seeing triple numbers everywhere (license plates, receipts, digital recorder, headlines, online, books). What do you call it when you have dozens of "coincidences" repeating like that month after month? I call it a pattern.

I Googled 777 synchronicity and got a hodge podge of weirdery. Some of it's cool (realizing how many people are experiencing the time prompts). Some of it is asylum stuff. Some people assemble around the world at sacred sites to dance & meditate to open the otherworldly "gates" on earth so we can reach the "critical mass" of earthlings who are spiritually awakened. In 2012 (12/12/12 @ 11:11 am to be precise), an evolutionary leap in human consciousness will take place (aka "the shift") . Those of us who are "awake" will "ascend" to another realm of consciousness. The spiritually unaware may be stuck here in a post-apocalyptic hell on earth.

I don't believe spirituality is one size fits all, so I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to people's religious beliefs as long as harm against others is not advocated. While some of the new age stuff "rings true" to me because of my spiritual experiences (I've seen stuff that should not be possible), most of this stuff just goes too far. Like the Christian who "cherry picks" scripture to live by, I navigate the New Age seas by hanging onto the stuff that's useful (affirmations, visualizations for healing) & ignoring the rest.

Since I only believe "a little bit" in the New Age weirdery, I like to think that makes me only "a little bit" weird. (those who knew me as "a little bit weird" to begin with... you just hush!)

Photo 1 by Gavin Andrew Stewart
Photo 2 by vramak

Aug 2, 2009

The Missing L

*** you are entering the tmi zone ***

My libido went MIA about 4 months ago. I started catastrophizing, envisioning the worst case scenario. Are my ovaries ok? Maybe I'm perimenopausal. But I'm only 36! If it was just stress from the job I quit 4 months ago, things should be back online by now, shouldn't they?

Maybe the reason is I'm out of shape, so I started doing "everything right". Eating right (lean proteins, lots of veggies, dialing back on the caffeine & dairy). Hitting the gym at least 4 days/week. Chugging H2O like a camel with empty humps. Vitamins. Flax seed. Fruit & vegetable juices. The works. Still, I got nothing but flatline from the waist down. Last week, I thought dammit, this has gone on long enough. I want my drive back!

So I went to see my GYN. Dr. J is a handsome, affable, charming, 50-something Jewish man. He brings this 400 watt energy into the exam room when he enters. He's the kind of person you're instantly comfortable with (BIG plus because you don't know him so well and you have no panties on under that paper lap sheet). You can't help but like him.

He chats me up while he does his thing, examines my boobs, takes a peek, takes a probe, takes a sample, then asks if he can get personal. Do I still love the guy or is he a schmuck? This problem is VERY common in his patients - most times, it's not hormonal, it's emotional. I explain yes, there's still love there, but we've been together 15 years. Might be a simple case of "the thrill is gone". He refers me to get a mammogram, sends me to get my blood drawn, and promises to call me with the results of my hormone levels in 10 days.

It took all of 8 minutes.

The thing is, other than stick his finger in my butt, he didn't DO anything. But sure enough, my libido has been miraculously resurrected (it's not 100% back to normal yet but the desire is at least there).

Hmm. Is there a secret "on" switch "back there" no one ever mentioned before? Unless you count the speculum insertion, there was no G-spot action. So what exactly was "the fix"?

In my experience, most docs are technicians not healers. Energetically, something goes on in the presence of a true healer so "healing" takes place. Call me crazy but I think my GYN is a true healer. Because he managed to jump start my libido in under 10 minutes. And all it took was an old-fashioned "digital probe"! It reminds me of something I read a long time ago about how Victorian era doctors used to "cure anxiety" in women with pelvic "massages" (vibrators were a popular curative advertised in women's magazines).

The moral of this story & my heartfelt advice: If you ever experience drops in your drive and your GYN is a true healer (& good looking to boot)... keep him, girl, keep him!


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