Falling asleep on Oprah and Deepak…(#90)

I’m doing the 1,549th Oprah and Deepak Meditation Challenge and I must say that I’m really enjoying it.  Granted, I had to listen to the last five meditations in a row about an hour ago, but now I’m all caught up and officially a centered and balanced human spirit…even though I technically didn’t close my eyes and meditate.

Some might consider this as cheating but I think that listening to Deepak’s sultry angelic voice in my ear should count as a mindful activity.  In fact, regardless of what I’m doing, whenever I hear his voice, I’m pretty sure that my blood pressure plummets to near-death levels, a majestic fog and a bright light enters the room, and I immediately want to sleep in eternal peace.

As a matter of fact, his voice in still playing through my computer’s speakers and I’m pretty sure that I am sleep-typing right now.

What I appreciate about this meditation series is the recurring theme of accepting yourself.  As someone who always feels like the weirdo in any given room, this is a comforting message.

On a side note, I know that I am doing horribly on this blog challenge.  However, I decided that not only am I going to stop being so tyrannical on myself but I’m also going to trust that the world will not end if I do not write random, unedited, off-topic blogs when I’m half-sleep.  (Wow! These meditations REALLY are working!)

But because nothing – Nothing – NOTHING happens by chance, this meditation series has made me give a lot of thought as to the type of writer I want to be known as.  Though I write a lot about my kids, I don’t consider myself a mommy blogger.  That’s not a diss, I love mommy bloggers.  It’s just that I’m sure there is no room left in that sandbox for anyone else to join.

I enjoy writing fiction with sprinkles of spirituality, however, now that I’m on the Christian fiction circuit, I do wonder if this means that I can’t curse.  I know that’s VERY Gentile of me to say, but I’m wondering if the characters in my book need to drop an “OH SH——!” Is that considered offensive?  But didn’t Jesus curse?  Or drink wine?  Or DJ parties?

Okay, never mind…

(And yes, I’m kidding…)

Despite my past of writing about race and politics, I’m sure that I couldn’t do that for a living without also becoming an alcoholic.

So what type of writer should I be known as?

In a world that is always telling you to define and brand yourself as SOMETHING, just being yourself feels less and less on trend.  And though the world keeps telling me to create an elaborate title for myself (Can you say, Experienced Online Literary Content Creation Professional”), the greater signs from the universe keep telling me just to be myself.

…I’m not sure that I even know what that means, and I’m pretty sure that being yourself doesn’t pay well, nevertheless, I’m going to roll with it.

 

 

 

 

Easter (#91)

Okay, so yes, I am sucking at this 100 Day Challenge.  You don’t have to say it, cause I know that I am.  So it’s okay.  Self-realization is the first step to awesomeness, so hopefully this means that I am well on my way.  I have so many (epically random) thoughts and so little time to jot them all down.  However, because I refuse to throw in the towel, let me just go ahead and upload about this one topic that has been on my mind…

Easter.

I love God.  Even when we are beefing, I wonder what he is doing.  Is he somewhere creating another universe in his spare time, just in case we mess this one up?  Is he upstairs laughing at all of us, especially during presidential elections?  Is he testing my obedience by having the same homeless person approach my car every time I get off of I90-94 on Monroe Street?

Easter feels different to me this year, and I can’t quite figure out why.  Perhaps its has something to do with the fact that it’s coming 3 weeks early, or that this year is already flying by.  Maybe it has something to do with this being the first year in over a decade that I didn’t give up anything for Lent?

Oddly enough, all I have been thinking about for the past few days is whether Jesus starting hooking people up with double and triple blessings the week before his crucifixion.  Weird, I know.

Have you ever gone into Starbucks right before someone is about to finish their shift?  Or have you ever been served in the deli at Whole Foods by someone who is about to quit?  They might throw five extra pieces of sliced turkey meat in your bag, or the barista may upgrade you from a tall to a grande, just because she is about to go home.

In that same spirit, I wonder if Jesus spent the week before his final Passover walking down the streets of Jerusalem like Shaft (with his posse behind him), pointing at random people around the town and then — POW — their backs would no longer hurt, no more upset stomach, grandma’s bunion was healed instantaneously.

 

Random, I know!

I didn’t give up anything for Lent because after giving up cookies, caffeine, fried food, Starbucks, Facebook, alcohol, and more, I realized that I have successfully figured out the art of going cold turkey for Jesus.  Instead of being a time a reflection, Lent became a yearly diet.  However, what I needed this year was to be back in close relationship with God, so my only goal for this Lenten Season was to really believe that he was on the other end of the phone when I called.

I wish I knew how to quit you…American politics. (#92)

I’ve studied politics since I was in seventh grade.  I was told that I received a perfect score on my Constitution test, I actually enjoyed Modern World History in high school, I took A.P Government classes and would go on to become a political science major in college.  Eventually I would go to policy school to learn about…policy…as you may have guessed.  I learned how to think about it, how to analyze it, how to quantify it, how to decide if it was equitable, how to pay for it, yada, yada, yada….

My point is that I know more about policy and politics than I do anything else.

And for the past four years, I’ve been trying to break up with it.  “Be free Blackbird, be free!” I tell myself, splashing water on my face when I’m up late at night looking at CNN.  I’ve tried to tell myself, year after year, over and over again to no avail that I’ve left that life behind, but good ways die hard, especially when you still paying for them (or not) via Sallie Mae.

Leaving my policy-ing and government-ing (yes, I know those aren’t real words) ways behind me hasn’t been a process to say the least.  For almost four years I’ve operated a blog that has been a mesh pot of pieces about politics, race, and culture as my secret way to quench my thirst.

But now, I think that I’m finally ready to let it go.

I think.

Birthed out of soul-wrenching frustration and indignation, I gave my political blog a provocative name, one that I would cringe to share with my old coworkers from the public sector.

Past experiences led me to question the integrity of everything related to the field which I had professionally aligned and believed that the entire system needed to be gutted.

Many days, I still have difficulty believing that things in our political system can change.  However, looking out to the future, I am more hopeful than ever that I am a wrong.  So like an old friend, I feel the time is drawing near to finally let the politico in me go.  I’m sure it will find a better, more kinder lover out there — much better than me. I don’t even know what a non-political me feels like, but with time, I can only hope that letting it go of that part of me won’t feel so bittersweet.

Writing Prompt: “Sex, Love, and Pain – Part 2” (#93)

My husband is writing with me this morning.

The writing prompt, chosen by him, is “Sex, Love, and Pain – Part 2″….

….so here we go…

First of all, why “Sex, Love, and Pain – Part 2”?  That sounds like a 112 demo tape from the early 1990s.  Or the next Jodeci album.  Also, why the “Part 2” — have you been married before and didn’t tell me?

Speaking of marriage, it’s a rollercoaster.  I love my husband this morning, but I didn’t like him from Wednesday night to Thursday afternoon because he wouldn’t share his stovetop freshly-popped popcorn with me.  Well, he would have shared it, but I saw the look in his eyes and I knew that he didn’t want to share it with me.  It made me so sad because I always share my snacks with him without hesitation.  I even offer to make his breakfast plate in the morning…WITH COFFEE.  I mean, popcorn eating in the bed is supposed to be “our thing”….

SO HOW ARE YOU NOT GOING TO SHARE YOUR POPCORN WITH ME?

You hear it all the time:  Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.  This becomes a little tricky when you are married because there are times when it’s late – like 11:59 pm – and you are still mad as hell.  But then you realize that you are really too tired to be mad for real.  Then you remember that you read a story on HuffPo about someone not waking up from their sleep then you throw your hands up and say, “Dear God, I don’t like him but let him wake up tomorrow because most of the time he is a really great person.”  And after you find yourself giving God at least ten reasons why you want your spouse to wake up in the morning it’s pretty much impossible to stay angry.

On sex: I can’t write too much about this because my mother and mother in-law tend to read my random blogs and they are both Sunday School teachers.  (Hi Moms!)

On love and pain:  I thought I loved my husband before I got married but thinking back, it’s probably fair to say that I just realllllllly, realllllly liked him.  I loved things that I knew about him and I really loved the way that he looked.  Even now after seven years, I still think he is cute, and I still like to get busy late in the midnight hour.  But the depths of his heart wouldn’t be revealed to me until after we endured our fair share of struggle.  Struggle that I wasn’t always 100% confident that we would get through.

But if it wasn’t for those difficult times, my love for him wouldn’t have been refined.  It wouldn’t be discerning enough to know when to love him like his momma versus when to love him like a friend and his lover.  Without those difficult times, I wouldn’t know to pray for him before I went to bed, even when I was mad at him.  I wouldn’t know that the best way to get him to fix me popcorn tomorrow is to fix him some popcorn tonight.

[Time’s up…I just read my husband’s piece.  He just wrote a prelude to a book. WTH?]

 

 

My Daddy has no respect for the hustle…(#94)

 

No matter how many times I try to convince people that I actually DO write at home, people unintentionally make a lot of assumptions about my time.  I, as far as they are concerned, live within a time vortex that is void of physical limitations, responsibilities, gravity, or time constraints. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for me to be asked to:

1.) Watch someone’s child on a moment’s notice,

2.) Drop off a package at FedEx,

3.) Look up and compare airline ticket prices,

4.) Make a life-changing decision for someone else.

Considering that I oftentimes do need a break from teaching a human how to be human or looking at the blank pages of my Scrivener screen (that’s a writing program), I normally try really hard to not take these arbitrary requests personally.  Besides, I figure that no one in my mental rolodex mocks my declarations for daily productivity as much as my Daddy, who as a retiree also tends to treat me as a retiree.  (Regardless of how many times I try to convince him that I really AM doing something other than watching The Family Feud while at home.)

I love my Dad with all my heart so that’s why I talk to him several times a day about new car models, Good Morning America and Sports Channel highlights, or whether he should eat a Subway and Potbelly sandwich for lunch.

With each detail that he likes to ponder about his meals, I remind myself that helping him decide these “important” issues is the least I could do since he gave me life and 30+ years of support.

Should I get an extra jar of hot peppers for the house?  Hot? Mild? Medium?

What type of chips do you think I should get?  

What’s the name of that cookie your momma likes to get?

(With each question I weep silently…)

It’s usually only once the last detail of his meal is decided / or topic of choice has been fully discussed does he acknowledge that my youngest has likely been yelling, “Want iPad!” or “Uh oh, I boo-boo’d” in the background.

“Well, I see you are busy,” he says coyly.  “You should have told me you were busy.”

“I should have?” I always ask sarcastically. 

“Yes pookie,” he usually replies.

I roll my eyes and laugh because we both know that I never will. 


 

 

I’m NEVER going to finish this second book (…without Jay Z and Jesus) (#95)

It’s 7:34, I just opened my laptop, and all I can think is

“How in the [BLEEPPPPPPPPPPPP] am I going to finish another book?”  

[As I hear my oldest child yell at my husband, “I AM NOT AN ALIEN!” from the other room.]

I can’t settle on a point of view, I keep falling asleep during my writing hours, and…

[As the recurring question, “Mommy, am I an alien?” continues to ring through the air.]

and…

[As my youngest kid runs down the hallway, wet and naked.]

…because I’m nervous about introducing too many new characters into the next book because nothing is worse than not being able to keep up with all the characters in a book.

It will get done, it will.  

I just need someone to bring me the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Chalice of the Last Supper, and the single thug tear that Jesus wept when Lazarus died to make this happen.

It feels impossible, it really does, but just saying that makes me want to listen to Jay Z’s verse on the Diamonds from Sierra Leone Remix.  

As a matter of fact…

[Hearing Shirley Bassey’s voice in the background]

[Hearing Jay Z’s voice]

“The pressure’s on, but guess who ain’t gon’ crack? [laughs]
Pardon me I had to laugh at that
How could you falter when you’re the rock of Gibraltar
I had to get of the boat so I could walk on water
This ain’t no tall order, this is nothin to me
Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week
I do this in my sleep…”

[Hands waiving in the air.]

Yes!!! Jigga man, yes! 

[Opened my eyes to see my youngest trying to put a Veggie Straw down a floor vent.]

Yep, finishing this book will be nothing short of a miracle…when it happens.

 

 

 

 

Penises, Paginas, and The Walking Dead (#96)

I am the mother of two boys.

If you don’t belong to the “All Boys + One Girl Club” then just close your eyes, imagine every insane thing that you think a little boy might do in his lifetime, then roll it into 24 hours and multiple it by two.

Add a chocolate milk addiction, a perpetual curiosity with their anatomy, and an eternal attachment to your breasts, then you have finally entered my household.

I love my kids…I love them. I love them. I love them.

[As my youngest walks into the room and falls out for really no apparent reason…]

[Chanting to myself….I love my kids…I love my kids…I love my kids…]

Being a parent can be scary. While you try to nurture your kids’ natural inclination to look at the world with wonder, you also have to teach them to look at the world with a certain degree of caution. No sooner than you ween your kid off the teet, you have to consider how soon you should wait before you teach them about Stranger Danger, anaphylaxis, and the small parameter of people who are allowed to touch their bodies.

And because boys are…well, boys…as soon as my kids begin to pull on their penises with curiosity, I try to make a big deal out of their discovery.

“Hey, that’s your penis! Say, ‘Hi Penis!'”

As most Child Psychologists recommend, there’s no “Mr. Winky” in my house. Taking ownership of the one thing that will likely be their best friend and best enemy is something that we try to start as early as possible. When they interrupt a phone call with a non-emergency, I calmly ask, “Has your arm or penis fallen off?” After taking stock, my boys know that if everything is still attached, that their request can probably wait.

And it’s worked out fine so far, that is, until my oldest boy came home inquiring about “Paginas.”

Suddenly his frequent  bursts into the bathroom weren’t just to ask for pickles, but to ask, “Are you peeing from you PAGINA?”

These questions would follow me throughout the day, and have become increasingly more difficult to answer.

“Why do women have PAGINAS?”

“Did God take away your penis?”

“Does your PAGINA belong to the urinary or digestive system?

Suddenly, my cool, calm and anatomically-liberated thinking began to unravel. Do I go the religious route, the medically approved route, is this the time to mention Caitlyn Jenner?

Overwhelmed at his sudden curiosity about the anatomy of the opposite sex, I defaulted to a response that is tried and true, one that has been handed down from generation-to-genearation.

I said, “(Boy #1) The word is vagina. Va-gina. Girls have va-ginas. They are girl’s super-secret personal area and it does strange and scary things. Just like no one should touch your penis, I hear that you might die if you touch a girl’s va-gina. And this is a good thing, because girls have horrible cooties. Even the cute ones.”

Somehow, he was appeased by the answer and I was able to walk away from the conversation without further trauma to either of us.

And since cooties = zombies….

Can we give it up one time for how PHENOMENAL “The Walking Dead” was last night?

Oh Maggie…Oh Carol…Oh Glenn…my bet is that one of you all are not going to make it through the next episode. I’ve come to the conclusion that (on 99% of the shows on television, Wheel of Fortune included), if someone makes you the beacon of hope then you are going to die…or hit bankruptcy. As soon as they showed us the ultrasound of new life in the last week’s episode, and everyone was on the bus smiling as they drove back to the Alexandria Safezone with Jesus to vote on whether they were going to kill all the Saviors….I shook my head. I knew that they were goners.

Although I hope that I’m wrong! But with Negan lurking in the background to make his on-screen debut, I’ve already put all three characters on my prayer list this week.

If you need a little inspiration…(#97)

Around this time of year, most Chicagoans are already planning ahead to the first day of summer (since Spring IS NOT guaranteed in our dear city).  Though this has been a fairly mild winter, most of us recognize that we still may have between 1-3 additional months of cold weather with the possibility of a random blizzard popping up out of nowhere.  (Thanks Canada!)

Despite the frigid temps, I can already smell the fajitas at Uncle Julios on North Avenue and can already taste the Rum Punch at Ja’Grill in Hyde Park.  I wish I could go and get a mani/pedi right now for my yet-to-be planned vacation and am already trying to lose weight in honor of the beignets/grilled oysters/crab/fried catfish/gumbo/pralines that I’m going to eat in Louisiana.

So whether you are in the Windy City or elsewhere and are like me — depleted of Vitamin D and in desperate need of a change of scenery and a strong mojito – check out this list I came across of world destinations, close your eyes, and imagine yourself someplace you have never been, with people you want to be with, doing things you probably shouldn’t be doing.  🙂

World Vacation List

 

 

 

Good morning ramblings…(#98)

I have always been a very early riser but my kids take early mornings to the next level.  The littlest one usually comes creeping into our bedroom around 5:00 am to try to steal our vacuum cleaner (don’t ask me why).

On days when he doesn’t feel like early morning housecleaning he simply climbs into our bed, sits on top of me and says, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy,” until I decide to stop faking like I’m sleep.

My oldest, sleeps a bit later and doesn’t creep out of his bed until closer to 5:30 am.  By the time he slumbers into our room, he is dressed in his spiderman robe, a winter cap and gloves, and is usually carrying an obscene amount of children’s books with him.

I know you aren’t supposed to call your kids bad but at a minimum I think I can fairly call mine quirky with strong anti-authority tendencies. Their most favorite activity in the entire world is running around the house naked before bath time. I could write an anthology about how bad, explorative, mischevious my kids are but I don’t want them to sue me when they get older.

(Right now my oldest is trying to talk to me about the solar system.  How do I tell him to beat it without breaking his spirit? #mommaproblems)

Moving on…

So my husband challenged me to a 100 day write-off (to get me out of my writing coma) which probably sounds odd since he is a dentist.  In college, shortly after we first met, he let me read a few short stories that he had written and I desperately tried to convince him not to go to dental school (true story) because they were so good. #thankyouforignoringmyhorribleadvice

This was before I had ANY thought of being a writer myself and way before I realized that writers are typically impoverished.

The last time we wrote together, the superiority of his story made me stop writing for months. I’m not saying this because we sleep together but there is a genius to his storytelling that I hope the world gets to read one day.

On the topic of writing…

It’s almost time to leave to make the kid’s breakfast but I’m excited about writing my second book.  I’ve had 90% of the story in my head for a few months but there is a part of me that still wonders if it’s the right story to tell.  Until I know how the first and last chapter will end, the story can still go anywhere.  I know what I want to write and I have an idea about what people want to read, so I’m just trying to figure out who will get what they want.

About tragic endings…

I’m also thinking about the SUITS finale on USA last night.  (Clenching my heart.) SOOOO GOOD.  Now, I kinda get why people were traumatized by the end of the Lotus.  I NEED for Mike Ross to be okay.  I need for him to get his happily ever after.  Just thinking about him going to federal prison makes me want to cry but, I get it.  We don’t realize just have much we love our heroes, even when they have done bad, until we see them hurt.  But if Harvey Spector would have gone to jail, I probably would have just died in my bed.  That would’ve been too much.

So to all of you who sent me late night emails and text messages about Lotus getting left in the airport, I’m sorry.

…But I had to do it.

 

On being no more, and no less… (#99)

 

 

When I was a child, my father instilled two major lessons in my siblings and I:

1.) Always try to do the right thing (which included getting good grades, doing our chores, and NEVER EVER walking around the house barefoot),

2.) To remember to always “put the shoe on the foot” when faced with almost any life problem.

The platitude of considering other’s perspectives became an attribute so steeped within me that it almost became an otherworldly gift I possessed.  With time, my father’s directive to always see myself in other people, felt like equal parts quest and calling.  So in the 3rd grade, when I became friends with a girl who would become my best friend for many years, I tried hard to understand why our lives looked so differently.

Technically, I didn’t do anything but be born and I wasn’t even as good of a student as her, so trying to wrap my mind around why her family had to struggle financially and mine did not never made sense in my young mind.  As a result, the idea was born that nothing I received in life could be solely attributed to my own effort.  In fact, as I became older, it was easier to speculate that divine luck was on my side rather than to believe that I deserved anything over anyone else.

It wasn’t until recently (and by recently I mean last week) that I realized that the problem with always believing that I was no better than anyone else was that I couldn’t depart from that narrative over the years that it felt like my life suddenly began to go apesh*t. (Sorry mom.)

During the many years where it felt like nothing was working for me remained the thinking that my difficulties and challenges were happening because I truly was no better than anyone else.  My way of understanding myself in relation to others had become cancerous.

For a time longer than I would like to admit, disappointment began to make a certain sense.  Of course things would happen to them and not me, I would unconsciously believe.

Because: Me = Unworthy and underserving

My poor understanding of God and humility almost sent me to the pity party of no return.

Even though I am far from my roughest days, it wasn’t until recently that I came to understand how and why my well-intentioned thinking had led me so off track.  By only believing that I wasn’t worthy of the good things in my life, I subjugated God to the role of an arbitrary hoarder and unreasonable warden of good will and blessings.  By failing to also understand that I am also no less worthy of any good thing, I made it more difficult to trust God to be who he is, the bearer and boundless receptacle of all good things, who gives willingly in his perfect and ordained time.

So while I still believe that I am no better than anyone, I certainly more clearly understand that I am no less than anyone else either.  And as long as I am no less than than anyone else, that means that I am JUST as worthy as anyone else and afforded the same possibility (and probability) of seeing miracles happen in my life, getting free Starbucks on any given day, or being discovered by Shonda Rhimes as anyone else.