Archive for 2014
I was born into a genetic framework that made a cushy and lush home for Anxiety. My mother had it, others in my family have it and I certainly have it. It. I’ve learned over the years that IT is its own thing – a creature that once fed will grow fat and ornery – and I’ve tried everything – slaying it, ignoring it, and even medicating it. The truth is that the best advice I can give you is to leave out the welcome mat for Anxiety.
Because anxiety is a reminder that we are not living in the present.
For example, I met a man and sparks flew and he instantly wanted to marry me and run off to the beach, and I freaked, and then he was leaving to go back to Florida, and then I softened, and then he was wanting to rush into a relationship with me, and then I freaked, and then he was up down and all around and so my anxiety got set off – what is he doing in my life, what am I supposed to do with him, and where is this all going????? As soon as the questions start about what next, the anxiety flares like a bottle rocket hissing and spitting fire all over our ankles causing us to jump up and down. The flip side is that when I just enjoy his presence as a gift when it is here, present, anxiety subsides, joy mounts, and all is sweet in my world.
Similarly, here we are at the end of the year and what awaits next year? Why of course – debt, work, dieting, getting back into a rhythm, and all those other bugaboos that have made anxiety creep back up, ramp right up, and flare on up and suddenly I’m moving around that tightly wound little path I have formed in the floor – a similar path my mother took. A circuitous route to nowhere fast. I’m circling myself – fearing the future – I’m in a word, anxious.
Should I stop, be here now, and take some beautiful breaths, perchance force myself present, I could get out of this screw before it locks me in.
Anxiety is about tomorrow.
Regret is about yesterday.
Today is a gift.
I’m grateful for ______ is a prayer that needs to be firmly on my lips.
Breathing needs to be my medication.
A friend and I sat at dinner last night sorting through our anxieties about work, love, and life and we had no answers because we were wound too tight in the web of our own deceit. We have lied to ourselves about who we are and what we want. We’ve taken on our bad memories as future indicators. We have painted our canvas with bottles of used up paint. We have bought into what others have said our “loves” and our “lives” and our “success” should look like – we’re guilty of using external yardsticks and we’ve bought into the selling of a one size fits all “dream” – and for that we feel like big FAILURES. Unsure of our desires and doubtful of our ability to write our own narratives.
This means we have fallen off the path.
And so, today, a few days before the new year, I am recommitting to the strength of my own character and my self knowledge and my gut to find my way out of the dark and back into the light. I’m going to change anxiety girl – the stick figure – back to the well rounded self-actualized woman I am becoming.
Today is my mother’s 79th birthday. Or it would have been had she not passed right before her 74th birthday. My usual celebration is to get dolled up in all her jewelry and finery and go out somewhere nice for dinner – only right now I can’t afford it because of a beach trip I’m taking in a couple of days – so I’m going to just channel her all day and try to find that calm she seemed to exude (even though inside she was a ball of nerves).
Today is going on the third week that Tin has been out of school and I’ve been operating with pretty much no back up. All hail single parents!
My mother wasn’t a single parent, but I know that having my dad was sometimes like having one more volatile situation to deal with – so all hail my mother for dealing with so much all the time.
In the meantime, I miss you mom – I wanted you to be a grandmother to my child – we missed that opportunity. However, I celebrate everything else. Love you.
Gus Bennett photographed Tin and me for the NOPP and that day, I made two friends – New Orleans style – and now people are multiplying by the dozens – so far more than 400 people have seen the photo posted on Facebook and many have commented. It’s amazing to me how yesterday I knew hardly any of these people and suddenly our lives are intersecting right here in this small section of the world.
You are not just significant but magnificent
You are the embodiment of Love
Especially when it doesn’t feel that way
You are not just embraceable but irreplaceable
You are indispensable
Especially when it doesn’t feel that way
In you, I find myself
Through you, I know myself
With you, I am whole
Especially when it doesn’t feel that way
by Raphael Cushnir
My friends were over last night and left me with an Argentinian saying – algún culo va a sangrar. Translation: someone will get fucked in the ass.
Yes, you may say, tasteless. My friend recoiled even mentioning the saying – she said it always repulses her, but you have to admit, it is one of those sayings that pretty much needs no interpretation.
We were speaking about college suicides, university sex scandals, taking a lover in lieu of a husband, raising kids, teenagers and buying a car in no particular order and the upshot was, at the end of the day someone is going to get it up the you know.
I was in Bear Valley with a friend of mine who now lives in San Diego and I said I am unconventional and he said, “No you’re not. You’re married, you are middle class, and you live in Marin.” Boom. He sank my battleship. But I wonder why was I living that conventional life? Why was it that on my journey through marriages and multiple cities, why had I stopped at that moment in my life to live a conventional life?
I don’t know.
I will tell you that if you do not live your truth – algún culo va a sangrar.
Maybe it’s the mark of maturity to fly your freak flag – I think I have ventured out on the precipice many times to get mine hoisted but sadly shimmied back, getting splinters in my ass the whole way. But now I think I am ready to walk the plank – upright or cross it dancing a jig.
If you don’t own your power, then who does?
Stop at any moment and make an assessment – my child is running like a banshee in and out of the house to play with his friend, the puppy is in the kennel barking to get out, Heidi is under the table trying to find her spot, and we are getting ready to go see a movie. Meanwhile, a friend on FB posted that a friend of hers was killed in a car accident in New Orleans – here, just two days before Christmas – imagine her family and her friends – imagine how the next days, weeks, months and years roll out.
Gone in the blink of an eye.
I made a reservation for Gulfport and invited Sty to join me. Life is too short. I want my toes in the sand. I want to start the new year in the arms of desire.
We all have the power to live as if we were dying.
May your force be with you.
Santa’s Little Helpers
‘Twas the night before Christmas in Bayou St. John
Where no creatures were stirring, on-shore or beyond.
As they nestled together all snug in their beds
Bungled passes and missed tackles danced in folks’ heads
And if anything hung from the chimneys with care
It was hope, clinging onto a wing and a prayer.
With a final Hail, Mary and sad Good Night, Moon
The ex-senator crashed as the whole city crooned
Not Blue but Red Christmas. The doctor who won,
With scalpel in hand, dreamt of more cuts to come.
And in dreams, Vitter’s bid to be governor was hampered
At town hall events where he wore only Pampers!
Asleep were the chief of police who retired
Just in time to miss scandals, his cops who weren’t fired,
And the folks they forsook. Each and every one braced
For the next blow we’d take for the debt the State faced
Thanks to Jindal, whom nobody saw anymore.
As we settled to sleep on the crescent-shaped shore
In our City that Care had forgot, it would seem
We would do best to block out two thousand fourteen.
We had battened the hatches on Bayou St John,
With the house alarm set and the sensor lights on,
When a bellow resounded: “Whoa, Prozac! Stop, Paxil!
Cymbalta and Zoloft, steer clear of the axle!”
To the landing I flew and posthaste to the door
Where, what do I see gathered out on the shore?
“It’s a new team,” says Santa. “I needed a lift,
And this is the group that showed up for the shift.”
But his tale takes Kris Kringle so long to complete,
We are forced to plop down next to Lexapro’s feet.
“It all started,” he says, “when the elves wouldn’t ride:
They assumed, at the border, they’d all be denied!
Elves of color were sure they’d be taken for thugs
As they climbed from dark chimneys; the girls feared date-drugs
Would be snuck in the milk left with cookies and cake.
(That Doc Huxtable pill was a tough one to take.)
Then it snowballed. They asked, “Could our sleigh disappear
Like the plane from Malaysia that vanished this year?”
“In the uppermost skies, could Ebola glom on?”
“Could our party be kidnapped by Boko Haram?”
“What of ground-to-air missiles above the Ukraine?”
“Or an ISIS attack?” “Or, suppose we’re detained
By CIA agents who torture and beat us?”
But, then, guess what happened? —The deer that would lead us
Gave notice! Beset by depression and panic,
They feared they might plunge us into the Atlantic.
I phoned a temp agency Rudolph approved
To request cheerful deer that could fill some big hooves.
On the plus side, they sing the song “Happy” all day
Which encourages us—but they can’t lead a sleigh!
Yet despite two left feet guiding each of those deer
They can clap—and it works, since it got the sleigh here!
In a blink, Serotonin kicks in and they rise
Climbing over our banks through the overcast skies;
As they bump through the clouds on a course to Havana,
“Happiness is the truth” sing the reindeer and Santa.
© S. Lyman New Orleans 23 December 2014
Tin has a book called The People Could Fly, which are American Black folktales. In one of the stories, a lion keeps jangling everyone’s nerves because he keeps beating his chest exclaiming, “Me and Myself, Me and Myself” until one day Bruh Bear and Bruh Rabbit get him to meet Man whose gun teaches He Lion a lesson in humility. The cadence of these stories reminds me of the first time I read a Toni Morrison novel and thought how in her hands fictional narrative reads like poetry. It’s also how in a recent meeting about Ferguson when a colleague got up to speak from her heart, it was Spoken Word.
I wonder about this blood that runs through us, especially today with the news that Obama is lifting the embargo from Cuba and I think of my blood that’s all tied up in Spain, Cuba, Israel, Turkey, Louisiana and thereabouts. Stanley asked me today would I consider living somewhere else and I said I have – I have thought about this a lot. I am raising a Black child in a city that is the best and worst place to raise a Black son. I’ve thought about this when the waters rose all around us and we had to flee. But at the end of the day – New Orleans feels like Havana. New Orleans feels like Istanbul. New Orleans feels like Senegal, like Ghana, like Nigeria. New Orleans feels like this blood that beats through me. Sty said when he went to Paris he could feel New Orleans there. Exactly.
In the tale of the lion, the narrator ends most sentences with “like that” – it seemed to me to be a narrative trick, but recently I noticed that it’s a phrase Stanley uses a lot. “I was hoping we could go away to the beach, like that” Stanley tells me. And I always have to bring it on home, well, it’s like this, I’m here with my son, who is out of school, and I’m baking bread and I’m working on a report. And Sty laughs real easy because it’s all good, baby. He’s cool, like that. Easy, like Sunday morning.
Meanwhile I’m Monday.
It’s I who am wound up like a top with blood that flows like molten fire burning canyons into my bones and leaving me restless and always bouncing back from the brink of whiplash – self imposed, of course – I’m like this, when I really ought to be like that.