About Me

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Philadelphia, PA, United States
I suck at bios. Am horrible at telling interesting things about myself without embarassing myself at the same time. So I stick to the basics: My mind is forever active; always thinking and asking questions. I enjoy reading. Love writing. But if it were up to me, I'd love for a lifetime because love, is an animal that as untamed as it is, it's perfect.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hanging in the Balance

I was at work when I’d gotten the call from my mother. Sitting at my desk, with a freshly made cup of raspberry green tea, I was counting down the hours as they passed and ushered me closer to signing out and taking my 40 minute train and bus ride home. My evening was somewhat planned: Aveeno stress relief foaming bath, dinner, write my nightly letter, and off to bed.

My mother was hysterical, frazzled and could barely get her words together. When it finally did come together, the news was that my cousin, to whom I carry her name as my middle name, was high off of wet, PCP, marijuana/weed/ganja/ooo-wee soaked in embalming fluid – whatever name you want to call it by, had jumped out of her sister’s third floor window and wasn’t responding. The words you just read don’t even look right in print, but it’s the truth. This, is currently my family’s reality as we pray that she makes it through without knowing how severe her injuries are or possibly, how difficult her life may become due to this horrific situation should she make it out. It’s that deep.

With a fractured skull, concussion, internal bleeding, bleeding in her head, partially collapsed lung, partially fractured spine, and broken top portion of her back, it’s a wonder she’s still here. It’s a blessing and a reason that she’s alive.

I come from a family of drug abusers and addicts. The list is long and the affects that it’s had on my family is saddening. But this situation, tops them all. Takes the cake. And truthfully, pisses me off. Some may question, why are you even dishing your family business out there for the world to know? Let me tell you why…

Aside from this blog, I also write for an online magazine, Urban Plateau. And I really wanted to save this piece for our October issue. But the issues in this “blog”, in this “piece”, this “work” are too important to hold off for a few weeks when maybe, just maybe, I may be able to save someone. Or help someone save someone. Or give someone the thought to be proactive instead of reactive. Urban Plateau is an online magazine that gives me a monthly opportunity to write from my soul. And that’s what I attempt to do each and every month. This online magazine, for those of us who contribute to it, we don’t do it for the glory or for the comments. But, because we have something to say and so long as our words reach at least one person, we’ve succeeded. We don’t do this to increase our friend requests or followers on Facebook or Twitter. We don’t do this for recognition or accolades either. But because there’s something to be said. I don’t know how many people read my work. I don’t know how many lives my work has, do, or will touch. I don’t even know if there’s a point to me writing. But I do it. And I’m faithful to it. All of the same aspects apply to this here blog. I do this to share. To write, to be an artist and not share your work, your God given gifts, to be selfish at all costs.

As I write this, my cousin’s life literally is hanging in the balance. Should it falter in any way, shape, or form, she could be gone – forever. But as her life depends on the steady hands and intelligence of hospital physicians, our family is split right down the middle. Separated and torn. Yes, we’re all devastated, but, not all devastation is the same. Not everyone can carry or handle life when life itself becomes fragile and tender like a nerve. And many of us in my family are proving we don’t know how to handle tragedy. That we don’t know how to conduct ourselves in public, or in the confines of our own homes.

In my family, in my community, drugs rule the world while they simultaneously destroy them too. I’ve watched aunts and uncles, cousins, my father, be destroyed by deadly chemical concoctions that are not meant for human consumption. Yet, they consume. They take in. The high takes them somewhere they’ve never been before. Some think they are invincible and won’t burn in a house fire. Some, think they can jump from windows and roofs, and fly. Some think and thought, they could puncture veins and no one would notice.

Yes, it’s just that deep!

Life is not a game to be played with. It’s not Spades where you get rewarded for having more books than you originally predicted. Or 2500 where the winner takes all. This life is not a game meant to be reckoned with. The fact of the matter is from the moment we come into this world, from our first breathe and first cry, we’re dying. And because of this, we ought to live life daily as if it’s our last.

There are so many things wrong with what’s going on right now not only in my own family, but in families and communities across this country and throughout the world. Mothers and fathers are abandoning their children to “do them”, and leaving these same children to grow into adults who don’t know how to be adults. Parents are being incarcerated at alarming rates while state department of corrections can’t build prisons fast enough. So bad that in Pennsylvania, men have been transferred to Michigan and Virginia, and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is building a new prison to which they’ve already named SCI Benner. Schools are failing, below average, with sub-par teachers who do it for a check – or do it and don’t know how to get the job done. The rich get tax breaks while the poor get taxed and are forced to work outside of their county in hopes of earning a better living to support their family or themselves.

Yes, it’s just that deep!

In black communities, we don’t take the addictions of our friends and family serious until the elephant in the room decides it’s tired of sitting still, quietly, not making a sound. It’s not until this fa├žade of one of the world’s most dangerous animals becomes a reality and comes to life to realize and admit that there’s some direly wrong with this picture. Same applies to my family, and hundreds, thousands, millions of families throughout.

Our survival hangs in the balance.
And something gots to give.
Something needs to be done.

I know I usually write about love and life as if I’m looking through rose colored glasses, where I fill it up with sweet words that we get drunk off of. But this is something like love. Matter of fact, it is love. It’s love enough to take off the rose colored glasses, sit them down, and look at what I’m surrounded by and admit that this life, is a mess. And something gots to give! Daily, I’m watching little girls bigger than me, switch and prance hips and breasts that they don’t know what to do with them. They lick their lips and talk slick without understanding the meaning of these innuendos. Yet, no one says anything. No one loves them enough in these rough streets, these war zones, to let them know they’re better than what people see. I’m a woman and I’ve been there. But someone loved me enough, a woman who knew me and my girlfriends only from seeing us huddled in the back corners of the 32 bus. She loved us enough to check us and pull our coattails because no one had done it with her. She loves us enough to guide us and protect us during a time when our mothers couldn’t. She was privy to our young girl mentalities and loves us enough to love us as if she were our kin. She showed us where we could end up should we not abide by life's rules where it gives us very little wiggle room to create our own rules. She showed us that being naughty can be a good thing - when done correctly and at the right time; then, wasn't the right now. She checked us. And because of her, to an extent, one of us is a married mother of three, we all take care of ourselves, and have grown into responsible, respectful and respectable women.

At the end of the day, something has to give. Something has to be done to promise our children and grandchildren, those here and those to be, a life worth living. A life worth fighting for and struggling on behalf of. Our todays are not guarantees to become memories. It's not promised to us that tomorrow and next week, month, or year, that we'll be given the chance, the opportunity to remember today.

And while my cousin fights for her life, and my family bickers worst than a gang of alley cats fighting for scraps, I write none of this for condolences, empathy, or conforting words. But instead, I hope that someone, at least one person, takes something from this because our lives don't have to hang in the balance. They don't have to waver or linger between days. They don't have to be meaningless. So I pray you, the reader, gets something from this. And if not now, someday.

Visit Urban Plateau @ http://www.urbanplateau.com/ It's a well-worth treat!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pursuit of Happiness

happiness: [hap-ee-nis]
–noun
1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.



The Declaration of Independence (1776) states and makes it clear "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I by far am not a history buff. But the "founding fathers" made it clear as day, that to be happy, to be content and satisfied with our lives, we have to seek it. We have to chase, find and discover, and eventually, grasp what happiness is to us (or what we think it is), and hold onto it for dear life. It, like love, has to be sought and found; has to fit us snug and perfect.

Happiness, is a lifelong effort full of trial and error. Happiness, much like love, is one of the few words in the human language that can be and is an emotion and an action, that has a lifelong impact on our lives - whether good or bad.

I have the right to live. The right to liberty, to be independent, to be my own self as she exists. But, I have to fight for my happiness? Fight for the happiness of my unborn children? Fight for a future that I have no clue what it holds?

As a child, my mother fought for me not to be labeled or ostrasized as the "Learning Disabled" student simply because I couldn't enunciate words clearly, because I stuttered worst than a scratched CD skips in the stereo, and the "regular" first grade teacher and principal didn't have the patience necessary to educate me on my level - the way I learned at that time. My pursuit of happiness then was pursued and sought by my endearing mother whose fervent energy I've gladly inheirited. Because she sought and chased after my happiness then for now and later, none of the above apply to me any longer. I've daydreamed a countless number of times about what if any of the women who labeled and limited my possibilties had the oppurtunity or the chance to see me now, what would they think? How would they react? Or feel, knowing that the little girl they said couldn't, did?

Happiness, is not all about self-indulgence or self-satisfaction. It's not entirely about that blush pink on your nails and toes that makes you smile, or the series of sweet kisses he left on your lips before leaving home. It, at times is about achievement and taking that extra step so that somewhere down the line, what's to come is far better than now because of that extra step. This, my mother taught me at ages when no one understood a word coming out of my mouth but her. These things she taught me when she made it known to put a pretty cover page on my monthly book reports though it wasn't required. Extra steps make a difference later.

The pursuit of happiness is nothing but a culmination of a series of steps that have been previously taken and the big picture isn't seen until later. The pursuit of happiness is arduous and hard. It's sad and sometimes depressing. It, causes us to often question life like a journalist approaches a lead story: who? what? when? where? how? and most importantly, why?

It's made clear in the history books we study as children and later as adults. It's printed in the fancy ink of The Declaration of Independence the clear explaination that no one is responsible for our happiness, whatever it is or meant to be, but us. When we're in love, we like to think that our partner is responsible for making and keeping us happy. But what if they croak today or tomorrow? What if 6 months from now that love no longer exists? What if, that person doesn't know how to make us happy? Then what? Who then is responsible and is to be held accountable for making us smile? For making us appreciate and recognize the beauty in the ugliness of life's struggle?

The pursuit of happiness explains itself in a simple phrase and a few syllables. It makes itself clear that the action is to be sought. Chased. Found. Held onto. For dear life. It makes itself clear that the journey is our responsibility and no one elses. It makes itself clear that this journey will be nothing but a collection, a series of actions that should result in us knowing what satisfies and makes us happy. Children know and recognize happiness. It's, what makes them smile and giggle, chuckle and run carelessly through dirt and grass, in and out of doorways, and chase after what to adults is nothingness. Children are able to play with each other and alone, and be satisfied. They, know happiness because they know not the difficulties of this complex world to which they themselves dwell. Children at young ages know what makes them happy. Whether it's the bald-headed doll with no clothes on or their singing, dancing, joking, Elmo, or even, their favorite blanket that makes them secure and safe. They know what makes them happy more than the adults who raise them.

Our happiness should be childlike. It ought to be simple and sacred. Our happiness, should belong only to us. It should not be held at the mercy of others or another. Happiness is the age old trick question when a friend or an educator asks us randomly, what makes you happy? The trick is to already know the answer to the question.