Big Mouth

One of the things that I remember most about being a kid is that at times my mouth felt big.  Really big.  Not in the figurative sense.  In the literal sense.  It felt physically big.  I thought it was really wide and if I didn’t look in a mirror, I imagined that it stretched across my face from ear to ear and that my little baby lips would blow up until all anyone could see when they looked at me was my gigantic mouth.

Insanely curious and maybe a little too outspoken, as some kids are, I was chided by adults for talking too much or being too loud.  I was too boisterous, too much of a tomboy, they said.  I should sit nicely like nice young ladies do.   To my young mind, that translated to a sense that grown ups didn’t like me or didn’t want me around.  As an adult, I realize it’s slightly narcissistic to be a child and think that adults with real problems like bills and Presidents on the evening news would take time from these lofty exploits to dislike a scrawny little yellow chicken with chinky eyes and puffy braids who didn’t ever seem to shut up.  But as a narcissistic five year old, well…that was my cross to bear.  Or maybe it was true.  Maybe I was just a douchebag of a kid.   Maybe nobody liked the loud, opinionated blowhard five year old who was so tiny, her clothes, already sized for a toddler, had to be tied to her little body with string.   Yet had the nerve to always be in someone’s face telling someone what she knew.

Maybe that’s why I always had an overwhelming sense of not being liked by grown ups or even other kids for that matter.   It would rear up periodically and sometimes stop me in my tracks mid-sentence.  To make matters worse,  any ridiculously small slight justified that sense and proved I was right.  There is nothing more dangerous than me when I am right.  For example, the day my parents told me that I was going to be a big sister.  Even at five years old, I knew what they were really trying to say.  That I was not enough.  That even my own parents disliked me so much that they were going to try again.  They were actually growing another child in hopes of creating one that they could like.  From that point on, everything became about the baby – the baby this, the baby that.  I was right about something so wrong and it hurt so good.

When my dad retired from the army, we moved from the base housing in Fort Dix into an apartment complex in nearby Mount Holly, NJ, while my dad finished up his last year at Trenton State College.  The apartment was on the second floor so we had to walk up a flight of steps to get to it.  That is my most vivid memory of my first impression of that apartment.  The stairs.  And that there were white people.  I’m not exactly sure why I started to notice white people at this time.  I’m sure there had to be white people on the base but I don’t recall any.  At our new apartment complex, there were two girls around my age, Cindy and Wendy.   The two girls lived with their parents in the end unit of Building A while my family occupied the end unit at the other end of the same building.   One of the sisters, Wendy, was in my kindergarten class at school.  She was the mousy older sister to the fiery red-haired, Cindy.  Fiery describes her personality, not just her hair.  People always referred to them as a set like salt and pepper but Cindy was always the salt.  She came first.  They were never Wendy and Cindy even though Wendy was older. Even way back then, the younger Cindy was a boss bitch and was, frankly, bad as hell.  Keep in mind that I was five when we moved so Cindy was just three, maybe an early four so I wouldn’t be surprised today if she was somewhere serving time for armed robbery.

One day the girls and I were playing outside on the lawn between our two apartments while their mother and another neighbor chatted nearby.  As we set about the serious business of organizing our game of whatever, Cindy pulled on my arm pretending that she was going to whisper something in my ear but instead she blew into it.  Hard.  Spit flew out of her mouth and hit the side of my face.  I let out a yell that was certainly too loud for little girls playing in the courtyard of Building A.  At the end of my yell, I heard Cindy and Wendy’s mom tell the other adult disapprovingly, “That girl has such a big mouth!”  Just then, I could feel the weight of my mouth. My lips felt too large and it felt like they were spreading across my face.  I remember the shame I felt that others could see my growing mouth.  It wasn’t just my imagination.   Even though I could never catch it in the mirror, I knew it was really happening.

I tried to act like I didn’t hear what Cindy and Wendy’s mom said.  I tried to keep playing but eventually the weight of my mouth and the shame of it all got the better of me.  I ran across the courtyard and up the stairs to our apartment and stood in front of my parents, gasping for air with my hands on my hips.  I stared at them willing them to look up and see my mouth. I panted even harder to get my dad to look up from studying or my mom to look up from cooking dinner.  Neither one did.  I announced breathlessly that I needed water.  My mom handed me a glass and gave me a once over.  Saying nothing, she returned to washing the rice.  I waited for her to say something about my mouth but…nothing.  I gulped the water loudly and released a long, loud “aaaaahhhhh!”  Still nothing.  I slammed the cup on the counter and announced, “Finished!”  As I turned to leave the kitchen, my mother called out,

“Genie-yah…”

Finally!  I turned quickly so that she could see the gravity of what was happening to my mouth.

“…put the cup in the sink!”

I faced her squarely now, gleefully anticipating her panicked reaction to my huge mouth.

Nothing.

Sulking, I went to the room I shared with my older sister and waited.  Eventually my mouth returned to it’s normal size so I moved on with my life.  I lived with the syndrome, though, of the big, heavy mouth throughout most of my childhood.  People constantly saying I had a big mouth and the feeling of heat and heaviness as my mouth stretched across my face.  Even though everyone pretended they didn’t see anything unusual on my face, I often retreated to a private place, perhaps the bathroom or even inside my head trying hard to become invisible until I could feel my mouth return to it’s normal size.  By five years old, I already knew that my mouth could become too big to bear and that I should retreat until it returned to something manageable.

 

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Run For The Border

There is a man in a wheelchair, he cannot walk.  He met another man who is pushing him the entire way.

There is a sixteen year old boy who has never been to school due to gang violence in his town, he wants an education.  He is traveling alone.

There is a woman who put her two children on a truck.  The truck pulled away as she was trying to climb on.  She lost her children.  A woman along the way noticed the children traveling without their mother and took them into her care.  She splits rations intended for her two children amongst all four.

This not a hustle.  It’s desperation.  And as horrific as it is, it must be better than the life they are leaving because…why else on earth would they do it?

That a president decides to meet this desperation with armed forces leaves me flabbergasted.  A constant truth in this administration is that privilege begets entitlement begets contempt for those who are not privileged.

Do better.

 

Stay Woke – The Final Frontier

Listen…we have to get real about climate change. You, me…all of us.
I still have friends throwing away plastic bottles and using paper plates because they “don’t feel like washing dishes.” We need to work with each other on this.
If we are not mindful, each one doing our part…we can all be wiped out. Dead.
Read this because Climate Change Is Real
The other day, a friend got on me about asking for a straw to sip my martini because I didn’t want to mess up my lip gloss. Yes, that really happened. I really mindlessly put my pout over the planet.
Sometimes our disregard for the environment is accidental but let’s point it out to each other. Let’s educate each other.
But more importantly, you can recycle every single thing in your life, it won’t matter if we don’t pressure companies like Amazon who sell convenience (think about all the packing material that comes in your boxes) to make major changes and lead innovation to save our planet – it won’t matter. Amazon and companies like them have put millions of tons of refuse into the environment.
Now…if I come up missing…y’all send Keith Morrison to interview Jeff Bezos.
Forget Trump and all the battles we keep losing. No planet, no politics.
We’re going to talk more about this.  I promise.

Food For The Soul

I like trap music. And I love Dateline. Not that the two are related although I’m sure if I reach for that shit like a pack of Oreos on the top shelf, I could make the connection…

Ok, wait…Let me start over.

I like trap music. And I love Dateline. But at the start of this year, I decided to do away with them both.

And not just because I found myself doing strange things, like practicing jiggling body parts that quite frankly, at my age, jiggle on their own and not in the good way. Or side-eyeing folks that I know have dead bodies in their trunks because their FB profile picture looks like it belongs in a Dateline photo montage.

But because I am making a conscious decision to consider what I feed my soul before I sit down to a smorgasbord of pop culture madness. I once heard said that every single thing we eat is either curing or killing our bodies slowly. If the same applies to our souls, what is the impact of all of the “junk food” we expose ourselves to?

What if it’s true…what if all that shit we see on TV or social media or hear in the music we love or the people we interact with is either curing or killing our souls?.

I Have Seen The Light…And It Is Me

I have changed.

Ok…maybe not all the way yet but I’m working on it.

I’m trying to be less of a snarky bastard and more a positive, dare I say, pleasant voice in the cacophony of InstaLife.

As I get older, I find that I’m just not with the shits.  My third eye is opening and I’m learning to see and accept what is rather than resist and fight about what ain’t.  That’s right.  I’m a light worker, bitches…ok, so I’m still working on it.  It’s a long road from where I was to where I’m trying to go.  And my Uber has not yet arrived…so I’m walking and, although I’ve jettisoned a great deal of crap, I’m still carrying some of my baggage with me.

Life is a process.

Thanks For Waiting…

In my last post, I asked you to sit tight.  In my defense, I wanted the story to have a happy ending but I didn’t know how long you would have to wait.  Anyway, here goes…

I have become keenly aware of the unfolding of life as I experience this year of firsts without her.  The first Independence Day without her.  Her first birthday without her.  My first birthday without her.  Soon, the earth will have completed one revolution and we will return to that fateful point in time, Easter Sunday, the day we lost our baby sister.

In the days immediately after, I woke up every day, feeling anxious and restless.  Waiting for the spark, any small circumstance, meaningless in every other context, that I knew could start a wildfire of grief that would not be extinguished.  I lived those days in constant fear of that spark.

But this story, my friends, has a happy ending.  Here’s why…

In these last few years, I had reduced my little Noodle to a list of symptoms and medications.

“Did you take your medication today?” I often replied abruptly to her welcoming, “Hey, girl!” greeting and adorable little face, rolling my eyes at the pack of Newports on the table as I walked into the house she shared with our parents and her son.  Because I loved her, then and now, and I wanted…no, I, in fact, YEARNED for her to get better and be well.  But she already knew that her body would eventually betray us both.  Betrayal can only come at the hands of someone you love.

I spent countless hours researching her illness, trying to talk her into experimental treatments and new medications, wanting her to stay and fight – not knowing, or rather not accepting, that she very elegantly and courageously decided that her physical body wasn’t the battleground that mattered to her.  She understood that we are not our bodies that we are our spirits.  And she set about sharing her spirit with everyone that came in contact with her.  She was completely accepting of everyone exactly as they were, flaws and all.  You never had to be anything or anyone other than you were to be accepted by my sister.  This was her spirit – total acceptance.  That’s why everyone loved her instantly and always.

But really, all this spirit stuff, though?  Ugh…I couldn’t…so intent was I on salvaging the body with which she had long since and happily parted ways.  Her medical records indicated “Do Not Resuscitate” because she was larger than this physical life and she looked forward to being on her way.  Everyone saw it but me, but watching her let go, I learned her in an instant. See, I didn’t meet my sister for the first time until that Resurrection Sunday.

I know, right?

Since then, I am with her every day as she is with me.  I am coming to know her better now than I knew her during her short time with us.  I see her…finally.  And she is lovely and perfect.  In spirit and indeed. I promise her every day, I will never make that mistake again.  I will never allow the physical realm to interpret the person that God intended.  That ability to see others is her legacy.  It’s her gift to me. I mean that.  I see her and I see you.

All of that said, this is the last time I will share publicly about my sister’s death (although I’m always willing to share about her life.)  Thank you all for the kind words and show of support these last few months.  I am finally going to be okay.  She will see to it.

Now, quick…somebody say something funny!

My Little Noodle

“My [sister] has died. And I don’t think I can go on.”

I once read these words in a letter from a grieving friend. They popped into my mind as I sat in the hospital waiting room. My family had gone but I remained to nurse an irrational fear that my baby sister was still in that room because she was always accusing someone of leaving her somewhere for dead. As we entered the sixth hour after the flatline, “You take as long as you need, sweetheart,” turned into hushed whispers at the nurse’s station and stolen glances to make sure a security officer was nearby.

I pulled the blanket up around her shoulders and warmed her hands in my own, keenly aware that this would be the last time I would touch her. I couldn’t bring myself to leave. I literally could not will myself to leave that place. Not until I heard her say, “Can you get a blanket for me before you go?” just as she did on countless other visits. Time stood still while hours passed. My uncle arrived at the hospital and said in his heavily accented English, “It’s ok. You can go home. She’s not in there anymore.”

And with that, I finally understood how futile it all was because my little Noodle had left. The grief came in a sudden tsunami right in that moment. I stood still and felt myself violently tossed in the waves of sadness. Wave after wave crashed into me and forced me to hold my breath. I was completely powerless to change the course of this storm. I was helpless against it…so I let go. First unable to cry then unable to stop. I quit fighting it and let myself be pulled down to a still, dark place beneath the storm where I could silence the deafening quiet in my head and quite possibly, maybe breathe again.

And I closed my eyes.

Sit tight…there’s more.