I’ll Do My Crying In The Rain

January 28th, 2018

The universe is apt to send me messages when I need them most, and it’s to these message that I listen.

About my son – yesterday while practicing with the Amazons for our inaugural parade, a woman approached me the NOMA cafe and said, “I know you. I have read your writing. And we were at an event together when my son fell through the bleachers and your son was the first one there to help him.”

About my blog – Katie approached me in Trader Joe’s today to tell me that she knows me. “I used to read your blog. I had moved to Mississippi but I used to live on Moss and I think I wrote you once, and you said you could hear the Cabrini bells ringing. I sent you that anonymous painting.” See painting below whose title is the tile of this post.

About my look – A stock person in Trader Joe’s brought me a dozen roses and said, “I know you are going through a lot right now.” Why yes I am, I thought, but said, “I actually have an auto-immune condition, which is why I don’t have hair.” She said, “Still you deserve these.”

About my faith – I dropped Tin off at Sunday school and went to a shul meeting about becoming a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. The church two blocks down from me, First Grace, is the only place of worship that has become a sanctuary in a city that is a declared sanctuary. First Grace is housing José (#JoséIsMyNeighbor signs are everywhere in my neighborhood). At every turn I’m confronted with those people and places who actively counter the Trump administration narrative.

I Did Not Know How To Be The Mother of a Black Son

January 2nd, 2018

https://medium.com/@racheldangermond_49279/i-did-not-know-how-to-be-the-mother-of-a-black-son-bc76471cb3aa

View story at Medium.com

Dear Mom, I Miss You

November 30th, 2017

How fragile we are, between the few good moments.
~Jane Hirshfield

On November 30, 2009, my mother became an ancestor. Exactly one week later, on December 7, 2009, I met my son. These major life changes did not happen in a vacuum, they came when there were bills to pay, a friend’s daughter to grieve for, the aftermath of a tragic flood, a marriage ended, a love lost, a brother in prison, ongoing family mental illness, and profound darkness that seemed always ready to obscure the light.

At my mother’s funeral, I stood to speak, and my sister shouted, “You killed our mother!” I wrote the eulogy here and her husband commented that I made it up. I can look back on it now and see the humor in the moment. A friend described it as the most bizarre funeral she had ever been to that while I was standing up at the podium and my sister and brother were shouting at me, I was making the crazy sign as I spoke, unflustered.

My mother had given me medical power of attorney because she knew I was the one capable of putting a Do Not Resuscitate on her chart after two code blues and six months in the ICU with permanent tubes in every orifice. My mother had also given me so much more. She gave me fortitude.

After spoon feeding and cleaning up after my mother, I found myself spoon feeding and cleaning up after my son. Her presence surrounded me while I put the spoon to his mouth, swaddled him in a blanket, changed his diaper, and held him close to tell him I love him. She had taught me how to love; how to be a mother. She and her mother, my beloved grandmother, both said in their old age that the singular thing in their life that had made them happy was their children.

Next week, my son and I will celebrate our family anniversary, his adoption birthday, his homecoming. These events only one week apart are indelible bookends in my life. And always between the lowest point, my mother’s passing, and the highest point, meeting my son, are the days of ordinary living.

Eulogy for Little Harry

November 17th, 2017

Eulogy for Little Harry
A Super Nova Kitty Cat

Our love bug, big blue-eyed Little Harry, left us tonight.

He was four months old when he came to us. We named him Little Harry after my brother’s Siamese cat “Little” and also since he was Tin’s Hanukkah Harry gift.

We hoped he was a Hanukkah miracle.

And he was.

He used up three of his nine lives but didn’t make it through the 4th.

He brought the miracle of love into our family. He was a gift.

We are grieving.

He had the habit of putting his paw on my cheek to beg for my touch. He liked to lie in the middle of any game that Tin was playing. During the day he would hop on my desk and insist I pay attention even by coming between me and my work, tossing all of my paperwork and calendar to the floor and chewing the headset chord of my phone in half to make sure I noticed him.

At night he would hop on my bed and tuck his nose into my neck, slip his paw on top of my chest, and purr me to sleep.

He loved to be carried around like a baby.

But he was no angel.

He was a straw stealing, glass breaking, Ziploc bag hiding, paper shade ripping, slipper thieving, houseplant eating, kitchen-counter lounging, toe attacking, consummate shedding, Lego munching, sink occupying, night crawling, head pouncing at all hours of the night gato malo.

He loved dogs.

He loved the front window where he would watch the world go by.

He loved the back window where he would lie in the sunlight.

He wanted outside badly, but his Leukemia prevented him from that luxury.

When he got sick we wrapped him like a burrito and carried him around.

When he got sick we let him sit on the back steps with his cat leash on.

When he got sick he broke our hearts.

When he got sick he was no longer a kitty cat. He was a sick cat.

Little Harry was a Super Nova – burned so bright – and left a big Black Hole.

Non-Attachment

November 10th, 2017

I started this blog in 2004 and then I started writing another blog about raising my son. Then I spent three years writing a book called The Elephant in the Playground. Then fellow published writers suggested I write instead a different book, a book that was more my story, so I began writing essays towards a memoir. And in the meantime, I wrote another book, Meditations on Race and Parenting.

This year one of my essays, completely off the topics I have been writing about over the past few years, was chosen to be included in an anthology called Letters to My Ex.

As I dragged my feet through the well worn path around Bayou St. John yesterday listening to Ram Dass, courtesy of my friend, Susie, who always throws Dass at my problems. Dass spoke about non-attachment. Ahhh, the thing that we seekers of a higher plane of living so desire but so rarely achieve. Dass says just work hard, work at what you do, but do not be attached to the outcome.

Non-attachment.

That’s nirvana.

This is what I am writing for.

That is what I’m living for.

Do not be afraid to create your own heaven

June 12th, 2017

for those big eyed dreamers
trapped in a city of small minded snares,
do not be afraid to create
your own heaven

~ Kataalyst Alcindor

Imagine there is no there, there

May 22nd, 2017

I inherited wander lust from my father, a wandering Jew.

I grew up in New Orleans, Managua, San Salvador, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Manhattan, San Rafael, San Francisco, Miami and was two months from being born in my father’s birthplace, Havana except fate had other designs.

And yet New Orleans is where I have always called home.

As this country spins away from its axis of love with an administration plagued by hatred, whose followers trail in indifference (bless their hearts), New Orleans turns towards the light. Four confederate monuments came down in the past months despite the blindness of white people who cling to a narrative that the American myth has no malice in it. To them I say THINK THAT YOU MAY BE WRONG. This was the first of many intended mortal wounds to White Supremacy. Let the dancing on its grave begin with us.

Flannery O’Connor wrote:

The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.


~Domenico Zindato

#takeemdownnola #burywhitesupremacy

My ancestors taught me

February 26th, 2017

My ancestors taught me how to rub two nickels to make a dollar.
My ancestors taught me how to move my hips unselfconsciously to music.
My ancestors taught me to listen to birdsong.
My ancestors taught me to love profoundly.
My ancestors taught me to appreciate babies.
My ancestors taught me to eat with gusto.
My ancestors taught me to read for joy.
My ancestors taught me to adorn myself.
My ancestors taught me to groove with sensuous pleasures.
My ancestors taught me to stand barefoot on the ground.
My ancestors taught me to feel sunshine.
My ancestors taught me to forgive.
My ancestors taught me to be fierce.
My ancestors taught me resilience.
My ancestors taught me to evolve.
My ancestors taught me movement.
My ancestors taught me tenacity.
My ancestors taught me levity.
My ancestors taught me to look through eyes to see souls.
My ancestors taught me to speak.
My ancestors taught me our history.
My ancestors taught me water is powerful.
My ancestors taught me to see beauty.
My ancestors taught me to worship.
My ancestors taught me faith.
My ancestors taught me to discern.
My ancestors taught me to question.
My ancestors taught me to love the land.
My ancestors taught me to be an explorer.
My ancestors taught me how to create memories.
My ancestors taught me through stories.
My ancestors taught me to write my own stories.

The last frontier is the human heart

August 25th, 2016

I went to a conference on Racial Equity sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation and Isabel Wilkerson was the guest speaker. I wrote this down in my notebook:

The last frontier is the human heart.

And this is what I’ve learned in 57 years around the sun. The road always leads to a place where the heart opens or hardens. We have to be intentional and proceed with love to keep our heart open. While pain and hurt could enter an open heart, joy and love never enter a closed heart.

If you have to choose?

Dreamimage

Everywhere

July 15th, 2016

The news is horrid. The world is on fire. How can anyone heal when there are new wounds daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, lifetimes?

Later that night
I held an atlas in my lap
Ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered
where does it hurt?
It answered
everywhere.
everywhere.
Everywhere.

-Warsan Shire

eyetear