Immigration is easy. Acculturation is hard.

america som

(I’d add enslaved people here, too.)

Yesterday, I was watching this op-ed video from The New York Times, about the African migrant crisis taking place in northern Africa and the Mediterranean. It was galling and eye-opening, to see people, my people, on a small little inflatable raft leaving the coast of Libya for Italy. This video is about 15 minutes long–and you should watch it, even though content warning–you will see people (needlessly) drown, antagonized, and beaten.

World immigration patterns can be easily lead back to how Europe and America have had their little grubby hands in people’s governments, installed dictators, and caused political and social upheaval–and that’s just the post-colonial part of history. 

What’s happening on America’s southern border is mostly America’s fault. Our involvement in Central American affairs has caused a vicious boomerang effect of displacement. The same can be said for what’s gone on in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. The same can be said for what’s gone on in Haiti.

And that’s why I’m here in America now, because my parents were escaping some unlivable conditions as medical professionals. They were part of a brain drain in the 1970s that Ghana has yet to recover from. In that video, there was a Ghanaian miner talking about his experience of being on that raft–it was harrowing to listen his story and the story of other sub-Saharan Africans.

Seeing this video reminded me of the cost of immigration–not only for those who immigrate, but for their children as well.


I’ve been of the mind since I came down here to Florida for grad school and wrote about my own family’s experiences of living in the States that basically, it wasn’t worth leaving Ghana to live here. It was out of the frying pan of one post-colonial shit show into another much longer post-colonial shit show–although it was more of a slow grind which took years to manifest.

A lot of what my family went through, I still sometimes think it may not have been as bad in Ghana. We lost the familial and cultural ties that would have at least protected me and my brother from a man slowly losing his grip on reality. We would have had my mom’s mom, our aunts and uncles, our cousins, and all the other extended relatives that we don’t really have now. My mom has said that being in America made my father’s mental health issues more profound.

But then I think about all the people willing to risk their lives to leave countries like Ghana and Guatemala. They aren’t stupid to try to leave so they can actually have some semblance of a life. My parents weren’t stupid or foolhardy to leave Ghana to try to make it here. It just was that the options, as they were then as they are now, were pretty bleak–and even bleaker now.

My parents immigrated quite easily because they were medical professionals and my dad served in the Air Force. But you’ll never have someone’s green card waiting for them at the airport like my mom’s was waiting for her. That brief era of openness is over.


This morning, after waking up from a dream about my former youth group pastor and his now ex-wife, along with my former pastor and his wife (by the way, it was a nice dream), I realized that my lack of thriving here or dreams realized right now is tied to so many things outside of my control.

Yes, there’s the racism and the sexism–things I wasn’t really brought up to think that they affect me personally, but clearly they do.

But it’s also not being American enough and at the same time, knowing that this fish-of-water experience is very American. That’s a big thrust of the memoir I wrote in grad school. 

So why the dream about my old church? I thought how much I was left out of social situations as a teen because of my parents–mainly my mother–being so controlling about my whereabouts. And to be a teenager in America is very much about freedom and hanging out with your friends.

When I was in my 30s, I went back home one Christmas and I was hanging out with another friend who told me about how she and other friends of ours were always hanging out at this lake that I had only been to once. It’s mainly because I lived on the other side of town and didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 18. But it was apparently a big part of their social experience that I didn’t get to be a part of–AND I had only hear about it almost two decades later.

Yes, there’s the pain of having missed out on some social gatherings. There’s also the social education I feel like I missed. There was a lot of American naturalization and socialization that I just did not get as a Black American woman. And that knowledge gap has been costly.

I’m pretty sure I have the mind and heart of a Ghanaian, but if I went to Ghana, I’d be seen as American.

And that’s not just a Ghanaian phenomenon, by the way. 

Last month, I was interviewing this British man who I couldn’t quite place his accent because it almost sounded Australian. But he had been here for about 14 years. He said that when he goes back to the UK, people say he sounds too American.

It’s like what my second thesis advisor said–when you leave the land, the land will forget you.


So America is my land. But unless I have a family of my own here, I will probably never have deep roots here. And I believe that’s why I lament when people leave my life, because I’ve had to construct my own sense of cultural identity and place without the land that has already forgotten me–a land that really never knew me–with every word I would say in Ghana being some shibboleth of betrayal.

I don’t have any lasting traditions of my own, or familial memories of what we do–except one (highly appropriate for this time of year) where my mother would drive me and my brother around neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights.

Other people have been better at this creating roots and traditions in a new land, but I’m terrible at it, mainly because so much of it was centered around church and Christian culture (and thus, white American culture) . So leaving that has made me even more rootless.

It just seems that whomever I meet now, it will never be like having a true family of origin, like my grandmother, like my extended family (which is quite large just on my mom’s side).

To them, like to the friends who were in my church’s youth group, I’m auxiliary. I’m not a part of their base. I’m not foundational. And I never will be.


I’ve had a real nasty, persistent naivete about people, especially white people. And it means that I act a little too recklessly (and that’s partly due to not really having a foundation or homebase). But grad school was a rude and needed awakening to the perniciousness of whiteness.

It was like I had lived with a dormant fungal infection that bloomed when I moved to a different part of the country. It was an education my dad was trying to give me, through little talks we had about his growing up and his life in America. But because it was so wrapped up in bitterness (which now, I can almost not blame him for), I couldn’t really understand it until it basically made my grad school experience a waking nightmare.

A lot of that, again, was tied up in the church, so by leaving that behind, white supremacy was on full display, and the inherent unfairness and hypocrisy that is its bedrock. I got hit in the head with it many times.

Honestly, it’s partly why I’m in this dump of a house with this semi-retiree shut-in. But when I look at the big picture of where my life is situated–the deep shame I’ve felt for my lack of success is completely unfounded (although sadly, it’s hard to let go of).

Instead, I should be proud of myself.

My story is one of resilience despite ridiculously shitty odds, unfathomable obstacles, and just good ole American fuckery.

It’s not about what I didn’t get or didn’t do. It’s about the alchemy I used to get where I am today despite all of the shit that was in my way.

If I can go back in time to change things, there’s not much I could do to navigate my lifeboat in another direction. Maybe I would have had a little less suffering, but not much. Essentially, I would have to have had different parents and have been born at a different time and under different circumstances. But then, I wouldn’t be me. 

So, at the not-so-tender age of 41, I give up.

I don’t care if I don’t fit in here in the U.S.–or anywhere, really. Humanity is quite tribal, and yet my own parents come from two different ethnic groups with two separate languages, two different naming (of children) systems.

I’ve always been out of place…

As I’ve grown older, I’ve strived to fit in with myself–with all the sensitivities, the anxieties, the rages, the passions, the penchants, the peculiarities…in my own private country, population of one.

So now, I’m most always concerned if I am betraying myself. I want to stick up for myself more because at least I can rely on my own loyalties.


So what can I do, in such a fractured world that doesn’t really want me to succeed, with the clipped and edited lineage that I have? As I have always done–the best that I can. If I am not doing my best, that’s really the only way that I have failed.

Although I’ve definitely tried too hard, there’s some relief to know that right down to my cells, I’m divided. This is not supposed to be easy just because I had smart parents, that I am smart myself, that I care about people, that I really try not to be an asshole.

I have essentially thrived in a hostile landscape.

Even though I’ve “given up”,  I haven’t given up on living.

I want to not only be happy, but I want to remain sane and safe. I want to continue to take good care of myself in the best way that I can.

Maybe it’s impossible to find roots anywhere, to have my own lasting community with anyone. But I still have to try because I’m a human being. This is what we do.

I’ve had a lot of barriers and constraints, and yet I’ve thought I was a lot more free than I was. And that’s important because I’ve been so hard on myself because I know what I am capable of–but I’ve never really been a full place of freedom and expansion to be that person.

And, I may not ever experience that seemingly mythical place of true, open space to flourish. And, that’s rough to hear. It’s tough for me to fully accept. I’m a relentless fighter, and I know that’s what’s kept me alive.

But there’s some grace in this acceptance. It means I can stop putting pressure on myself to be this superhuman. 

Now, it’s time to figure out, within this cramped space, who I’m supposed to be, who I already am.

My little childlike heart doesn’t like to hear it but…life is unfair and hard and cruel. But, because it is also brief, you’ve got to try to make a life for yourself with whatever you have, with the shitty hand you were dealt…as you sit with people who know the game better than you and with the cheaters.

I’ve been really mad at myself for not knowing how to play the game, but I’ve done all I can to learn. My parents, even in their narcissism, did the best they could to teach me, but the way Ghanaian society is, it’s never just up to the parents to do that, to offer guidance, love, and support. So they were doing their part without the orchestra of the rest of the family to support us. And truly, nuclear families are really just a recent American construction, but they’ve always been failed states. Family has never just been about parents and their children.

And, I’m pretty sure if my parents knew how complicated America was, especially for Black people, they’d be better at conveying that knowledge and wisdom to me. But they were trying to figure it out for themselves and used church as a crutch to get through. It kinda worked, kinda didn’t. I can definitely hold them accountable for being narcissists, but nothing else. America is a hostile place to live if you’re not a rich white cis straight male. 

So the people trying to escape Central America and Africa are just like the people who escaped Nazi Germany and famine-stricken Ireland (which I would blame the UK for)–just all trying to live a better life in hopefully a better place. I’m still not sure if America is that better place for me, but I really am done with blaming myself for being “too much” and “not enough” in a such a capricious place.

I mean look at who is POTUS right now, along with his whole corrupt family. I’m definitely not the problem.


I remember hearing when I was 18 or so about how being 40, you learn about how much you don’t know. And I can attest to this truism. I know so little.

But the more I learn about myself and the world I live in, the more freedom I have to be myself, even when there’s poverty constantly nipping at my heels or as I try to withstand existential loneliness’ daily campaign to try to take me out.

There’s some strange comfort to know that it’s not supposed to work out the way I had it in my head, that these “failures” were baked into the cultural fabric of American society.

It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be horrifying. It’s supposed to be dehumanizing and demoralizing. 

You’re not crazy–the system is.

But when you’re an immigrant to America, that’s the exact opposite of what you’re told. And capitalism will just tell you to work harder (for who and to what ends?). 

And it’s OK to say that life right now is a hellscape. It’s not fatalism–it’s reality. And by embracing what is, then you can have the knowledge to change it.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are things I still want to achieve. But I can’t accomplish this to the tune of the “American Dream”.

That I’m still here and alive is something I need to be more and more grateful for instead of resenting. I was never meant to survive this–from my very birth, which was fraught with complications. 

And this is where saying that life is about the journey, not the destination really makes sense. I may never get to that place of “home” or “community” or “family”, but I still have to journey to these places. Maybe they won’t look like how I thought, but I have to believe they exist, and that they exist for me.

It’s why people make arduous journeys leave their war-torn, coup-riddled countries to come to an unfair place like this one or one like Italy. These foreign places are just a little less unfair enough, and they have a just little bit more room for people to just be.


If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal. Also if you’re feeling generous this holiday season, here’s my Amazon Wishlist.

Thanks for your support! Happy Holidays! 💘

 

 

Advertisements

“I’m lighting the long way home”

sia som

Last week, I did this values exercise for my myself and my business. It started off with a plethora of attributes, like accomplishment, service, justice, equity, power, and respect.

I started with 10 words, then ranked them, then came down to five. The first two surprised me, mainly because deep down, I didn’t think these were what I should ideally pick: freedom and financial stability.

This week, I have to come up with definitions for these five words, which may surprise me again.

I’ve been emotionally pushing against having very little freedom and not much financial stability. The thought that keeps stabbing me in my head is that I shouldn’t be here.

I should be living somewhere else, around my people…or off traveling, exploring new lands.

I think of the shut-in housemate who is retired and divorced and drives Uber and Lyft. He’s either driving or in his stinky room, lying on his bed without sheets, blankly staring out into nothing…

I am not in the twilight of my years yet, but I feel like him…just some unused sack of carbon, sitting around, doing nothing of importance.

I feel wasted.

I don’t feel free because financial instability has been plaguing me for the past two years, the two years where I’ve been struggling to create a real life for myself.

And I want to reframe this time period so badly, but all I can think is that this part of my life is marred by continual failure–and it’s all because I don’t have those two values or goals consistently flowing in my life.

I want to be proud of myself of believing in myself, of putting myself out there, of finding work. And some days, I am. Not everyone can be entrepreneurial. Hell, I’m not even sure if I can be. It’s not something just anyone can do. I’ve had people also come to me.

It’s taking time to redefine was success looks like, but I’m even impatient with that process.

It’s really of no comfort right now that I’ve been sidelined, let alone that I am not measuring up to my own ideas of basic self-sufficiency. It eats at my sense of self.

Who am I if I can’t pay my bills or feed myself?

(And what do I think of people who can’t do those things either? How come they receive compassion from me and I can’t give it to myself? Maybe we’re made of things that have nothing to do with money…)

I know something bigger than creating a successful business is being created in my life, but this whole poverty thing is a lot distracting–even though I know it’s temporary…

What’s trying to strangle me, in this period of waiting and wondering, is grief.


In my 30s, two big career  dreams have had to die.

The first was becoming a child psychiatrist. And although I’m happy to be a writer and editor, my passion for mental health can get really technical–and I love that (and uh…need to market that about myself).

I’ll always be a little sad that I won’t be able to help people in the way I had initially wanted–doubly.

Yesterday, someone I follow on Twitter had asked about whether they could cut seeing their psychiatrist since their appointments are usually brief. I told them that sadly, psychiatrists can’t bill for psychotherapy anymore, and now, all they can do is med monitoring, which is checking in to see how the meds one takes are performing. It’s important for them to keep track of how the meds are doing, but the appointments are 10 minutes at most.

And that would have been my life, even more frustratingly so with children.

Also, those dreams are from a woman who barely exists anymore…

At 17, I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to get married, have my first kid, and be done with my medical training by age 30.

But those goals seemed like inevitabilities. Why wouldn’t I be a doctor, married, and have a child?

I’m still a little sad that I disappointed my younger self. Even now, I still think that I really should have been traditionally successful, even with all the ridiculous challenges and obstacles which stood in my way.

What I wanted seemed like a given to happen. And maybe that had to do with how many people saw me as pretty darn great–especially academically.

I still see having a family happening, but the timeline is just jumbled up now. I can’t see that far anymore…

Who I was when I made that plan is not who I am now. And it’s funny that I thought who I was as a person would be so stable.

Maybe I should have seen these changes all along…

The way I started to see God and people and myself started changing in college, where I felt free, and even compelled, to question everything.

Who I would have married at age 30 would have been a completely different person than who I’d be open to marry now.

I’m happy about that. Very.

I’ve failed myself over and over in how I thought this whole life thing would turn out, and how little control I have over outcomes. That’s a grief that I’m still working through…or working through me.

Freedom and financial stability maybe maddingly elusive for now, but I’m really happy, proud, and even delighted about who I am as a person.

It just seems that I was wrong about would be around for this better me.


The second grief is over lost communities. The first one was lost after I left the Church. I’m mostly over that.

I’ve said on this blog often that I came down to Florida thinking I’d find these fellow writers that would be my community.

I’m finally the person I’m supposed to be now, choosing the career that I should have chosen decades ago.

So where is the parade and trophy and applause?

What I got instead was an intense and bewildering spiritual initiation that I’m still in the throes in.

It’s still taking time to heal from the betrayal and the rejection–both from myself and from others.

But as I said last week, I have to remind myself that I don’t really belong to most people. And I’d rather take solace in that truth instead of clinging to the lie that I’ve lived most of my life–that I am some everyperson.

When I embrace that prickly truth, though…I do get excited that there’s still hope that the home I find within myself will be found in other people, too.

My people are out there; they really are.

But a lot of my life has been about sifting through who is not for me. And that has been rough.

Last week, I talked about this friend who had come on Facebook, accusing me of ending our friendship when they had been really rude towards me, and yet there was no evidence of that terrible conversation–and that really freaked me out.

I thought we could work through our differences, to find a place of healing. But those missing messages let me know that they were trying to scrub away the dirty parts of our friendship, the part that actually caused it to end. And, well…I can’t someone who scrubs the only record of our friendship for years like that.

On Monday morning, I told them that we were done and that I was no longer going to read their messages.  I unfriended them and their partner. I barely looked at what they sent back.

“I am shocked…” is all I saw. I plan on deleting that whole thread sometime, but that message goes unread for now–as I had said it would.

If anyone had read our conversation, no one would be shocked about how things went down.

To cut off someone who I’ve known for most of my life but seems to be in some self-hating loop of how they are trying to be everything to everyone (the same thing I heard three years ago)… came from a place of finality and resolve.

I deserve friends who are trustworthy and honest with themselves.

The old me would have fought harder for our friendship. But just like three years ago, I realized that I had been trying too hard without many benefits.

And that’s one thing I told them–friendship doesn’t have to be this hard or complicated.

That made me quite sad for the next few days–unexpectedly. I had left things pretty much in their hands in 2016. I was done then. But to resuscitate this corpse of a relationship and then kill it again…it took its toll. I had to drag myself through my daily routine.

And it wasn’t just them. It was just the overall trend of people leaving or having to usher people out of my life this year.

It’s getting pretty old.


If I feel sad about how my life has turned out, I can give myself permission to feel that. And that’s been tough, to be honest with myself about how bad things have gone, about how much unfairness I’ve had to endure.

Sometimes I think those truths will crush me. I’m tired of trying to outrun them.

On the other hand…if there’s an opportunity that I can see coming on my horizon, I can give myself permission to feel a little hope.

Part of me–OK, most of me–wants to fast forward to this really crappy and disappointing part of my life.

Yet I keep marveling at how life continues to worsen and how I continue to become a better version of me.

This isn’t to glorify my suffering or anguish–or even to make sense of it. All I can do is endure it and hope it ends sooner than later.

I’d really like to be cruising on Easy Street right now. I’d really like to not have my character shaped and reshaped. I’d really like to not be growing so damn much spiritually.

But this is all I have, including my sadness and anger that this is all I have. To be able to embrace whatever I have in front of me, with some grace and dignity–that may be a better rubric to grade myself with than whether I have the freedom to take off and travel at a moment’s notice or even that I have “my people” around me.


I was trying to say this last week, but one thing that’s been bugging me is this idea and truth that you need others to have true and lasting success. No one is a self-made person.

Everything I’ve been trying to do with business seems to be dead, or at least dormant–in my eyes, anyway. I know there are signs of life starting to stir…but it doesn’t alleviate the nagging questions of how I will pay my bills every month. Every month since May, it’s been a mystery.

When those nagging financial pressures make me lose sleep and grind my teeth, it’s hard to have the patience that one needs to build something that will last.

Yet I’m growing a garden. I’ve planted a lot of seeds. And I just have to keep showing up, watering and weeding…and things will grow.

And yet every month, the mystery of the bills being paid gets solved. Somehow things work out–not the way I want to, usually, but they do work out.

I’m not homeless. That’s really the only rule I can use to show that things are OK.

But I’m ambitious! Darn this relentless ambition! And I see other people succeed, so I start to ponder–why not me? And why not now?

This meme (which looks like it’s from The 700 Club) is how I feel:

jesus

I’m in my garden with maybe a sprout or two peeking out from some rich soils of hope and desire…and that’s it.

I have this message ringing in my head, that I can’t be successful on my own. And then I have this isolation that isn’t really by my doing–it’s just what poverty does.

When I look around me, it’s that widening circle of people I’ve been feeling and seeing.

So if I haven’t found my peeps, and my business is dormant, then it’s my fault, right? This is what I think.

There must be a way to solve this. So what more can I do?

I frantically look for answers to improve marketing–and find the answers, and start implementing them…

Its fertilizer for the garden. But the growth still takes time.

I’ve practically given up socializing with others in person. That’s where I don’t feel aligned with Florida anymore. I don’t miss seeing anyone in town.

I just don’t have enough imagination to think about who my people are in that regard. And that’s OK. If I’m a moving target of a person right now, even though I definitely deserve love and support, then there’s no reason to pull anyone new into this maelstrom.

It seems what matters more now is focusing on my desires, on what I want (besides, well, other people along for the ride).


So maybe there’s another reason for this terrible feeling of stuckness. And I know, I know…I keep coming back to this place as if I haven’t been here before.

So as I’ve said this before…maybe I’m not supposed to be moving–leaving Florida, traveling, getting on with my life.

Maybe I’m not stuck at all.

Like I’ve said numerous times, this year has been about alignment, and I’ve been so misaligned…and, well, I hate being “wrong.” I hate feeling like I’m deficient or less than–especially in comparison to my own standards.

But that whole idea of trying to be more for people who aren’t even trying…that’s one thing in my life that has been getting some serious realignment–especially as I’m struggling. I have a standing invitation to put myself first a whole lot more.

Another persistent thought I have is how if everything was “OK,” all these old wounds wouldn’t be addressed, that I’m even looking at having very little money in the wrong way.

Again, I don’t want to glorify my suffering or suffering in general. Poverty really shouldn’t be, period.

I just know myself. When everything is OK, I’m not really paying attention to much spiritually. Life is lived a little more on the surface.

We usually reach out for spirituality and greater meaning because everything is not OK.


I just erased a rather depressing section of this post, but it was good to write out how I truly felt.

But this still won’t be that cheery…

TL; DR–As adolescent as this sounds, I really hate why my life is right now. But it’s my life, and I will continue to keep trying to change it for the better.

This seems to be the hump that I can’t get over. This is my life. And, it’s the only one I have. I don’t have few spare ones queued up like I’m playing some video game.

The last time I felt like this–helpless and stuck–I was an adolescent. I was 18, stuck at home on a forced gap year because my father was (and still is) mentally ill.

And of course, I had a huge spiritual growth spurt, probably one of the largest I’ve ever had.

I never really thought I’d be able to leave home, but then spring came and my dad’s unquiet mind changed. And I was freed.

The hump I can’t get over is that although this is my life, there’s a lot out of my control– just like when I couldn’t go to college “on time.”

I keep wrestling with what’s out of my control and the ghost of what more could be (and should be) under my control.

And I’m tired. This isn’t a fight I can really win.

And oh! How I wish I could be zen and just accept everything as is. I’m trying to write and think and pray and crawl my way there. But I keep getting lost…

My unwillingness to accept things as they are has kept me alive. It’s also made me miserable.

It’s hard to accept that I’m doing the best that I can and that it’s enough–because that means the way things are…well, how can I examine all those things, truly? There are so many variables, known and unknown, influencing me and my life.

In that grey space, in the unknown…there’s grace waiting for me. And I keep dodging her. I feel there has to be another way except through.

So, as I take grace’s hand, I know that I can’t keep waiting or hoping for things to get better.

This is my lifewith all the uncontrollable, pathetic, and shameful parts that I wish didn’t exist. And I don’t have to be strong all the time. I can cry, even if it’s just on the inside, over dead hopes, dreams, and relationships.

Maybe I can bury them, like compost, in my garden…

I’m a little too American to end this post without some sort of hope. The hope is that as I feel disconnected from mostly everyone, needed healing is taking place; great self-understanding is growing. And I can’t really see any other way for these things to have taken place in my life.

By the way–I don’t the Universe is taking me offline because I’m so toxically codependent. But I do think that as I am more whole and healed, I can have more whole and healed relationships.

In the meantime, I have to try to keep sane, because I still want to not live here, to move, to be free and financially stable. But, I’m not used it being this alone. I’m scared I’ll get used to it. And maybe I should get used to it, so I can be choosier about who is in my life now.

I need to use this forced solitude to my advantage.

So if I shut out what I think should be happening and what is happening with everyone else and embrace what is happening with me–both the glorious and the unbearable–then I feel I’ll be able to do this life thing a little bit better.

Sounds so easy to do, but that’s where grief comes in. I’m grieving an old way of living.

It’s funny and strange: every time I write about the state of my life, I feel my higher self trying to gently shake some sense into me. I feel so stupid that I don’t get this; it’s as if I don’t want to get it.

My hopes are indefatigable.


But right–that American ending that I promised.

I have been learning to savor the good things, like any conversation I have, a cup of tea or hot cocoa, a smooth falsetto voice from Roosevelt, or any meal I have.

Just last week, for the first time in a while, I thought about how I had finished a couple of assignments and got paid instantly, and was able to buy food for myself within an hour or so. It was all instantaneous and miraculous and beautiful–eating the literal fruits of my labor.

I have been able to be grateful in true and meaningful ways that come shooting up from deep and real parts of me, like geysers.

What really gets obnoxious is how despair (and poverty) can shade and color even the good things in the darkest and bleakest of blacks.

And this isn’t even taking in what’s going on in my state, country, and the world. Things are bad, and I’m aware, as navelgazing as this blog post is (and has to be).

I have to have a monk’s type of concentration to see the good. I definitely don’t have it right now, but it is being worked in me.

Last week I was playing this game where this character who turns into a dragon was being controlled by this woman. This older woman who worked for the woman told the man that to overcome the mind control, he had to look at the good in every situation, no matter what.

The character had his pet killed and his best friend betray him, and he was able to turn those situations around. He remember the pet as it was when it was alive, and he understood that his friend thought that he was doing what was best for his sister.

Granted, I can’t be terminally Pollyanna about my life right now (or ever), that really stuck with me.

But I am trying to see more of the good that is being created in this little tiny room that has become my life. Practically speaking I can at least say that I’ve learned how to pare down my life what I need.

Every second that ticks by, every breath I inhale and exhale without thinking, every electrical pulse that shoots through my brain–those are the seemingly inconsequential but essential building blocks of my life.

I have to savor as much of the good as I can.


I may have mentioned that this latest song by Sia, “I’m Still Here” is my anthem for 2018. I need to mention it again because this is the frame that I need.

It’s a song that I can easily listen to on repeat. She’s so great with anthems about endurance and resilience (“Titanium” by David Guetta comes to mind).

There are so many of us who are silently and secretly fighting battles. I hope this song brings your some comfort and strength.

Here’s the chorus:

Oh, the past it haunted me
Oh, the past it wanted me dead
Oh, the past tormented me
Oh, the past it wanted me dead
Oh, the past it haunted me
Oh, the past it wanted me dead
Oh, the past tormented me
But the battle was lost
‘Cause I’m still here

Well, thank Goddess: I’m still here, and I’m lighting the long way home.


If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

a frog’s life 🐸

So, last Friday, I needed to take out the trash because the bums I live with don’t do it often enough, causing this place to be overrun with stupid drain flies.

Every three months, it’s my turn to take out the trash and keep the kitchen and other common areas clean. The two bums barely do their part, but I’m not here to bitch about them.

I’m here to talk about what I found when I went out to take the very full and filthy trash on Friday.

I found this little guy:

2017-12-01 09.37.35

I’m not really into critters, but this is Florida, where there are plenty of them. But seeing this particular critter was strange since I don’t see frogs much around, ever. Lizards and skinks and birds and hawks and opossums and raccoons? Sure.

It has been incredibly humid for what should be our dry season, so maybe that’s why this frog was hanging out in the lid of the trash can.

So yeah–not a fan of critters. I just didn’t want this frog to jump on me. So I dropped my trash bag, took a pic of the frog, and then braced myself to open the lid. I was panicking a little, but I opened it quickly, tossed in the trash bag, and let the lid clatter shut.

And the frog stayed on!

I tweeted this photo and went on with my day, weekend, life. Just a one-off, weird sighting.

So trash day is tomorrow, so again, I took out the trash this afternoon. Pretty quotidian stuff.

Look who’s back?

2017-12-06 16.09.30

I’m actually shocked because I’m not expecting to see the same damn frog five days later. This time, I know it’ll stay put when I open the lid. So I open the lid, toss in the trash, and close the lid. And sure enough, the frog stays.

But this time, the frog and I have to take a trip to the curb. I roll the trash can down our driveway and the frog stays on for the ride.

I’m concerned, though. Our trash pick-up involves a mechanical arm that picks up the trash can, empties it, and puts it back down. Maybe the frog will hop away in time?

I’m not really an Earth Mama, but I probably should be. I do enjoy taking pictures of nature the most, more than people.

I’ve had encounters with hawks showing up in our backyard. I saw my first hummingbird hanging out by a camellia bush. I saw a black racer (a harmless snake) on the street and then in our yard.

Lately, I’ve befriended the squirrels in the backyard. They race back and forth on our wooden fence. And by befriend, I mean having staring contests.

It’s like Wild America! around here.

But to have a frog be in the exact same spot twice in five days–it’s a little weird.

There’s some symbolism and meaning related to the frog, but I’d rather just talk about what the frog means to me.

I look at this frog, with its big pale eyes, huddled in this trash can lid. Its front legs are tucked under its head. It’s not really in the mood to go anywhere. It seems settled. Anthropomorphically speaking, it looks contemplative and a little sad, like it’s almost sleeping with its eyes open.

The only message I got for me personally was that sometimes, we have to huddle in places that aren’t ideal, like inside a trash can lid, but we have to be patient. We have to hold on when our environments change (e.g., the lid opens and closes).

We have to hold on.

To see a frog near the end of fall in the dry season is strange for me, and honestly, unlike the squirrels and hawks and butterflies that almost accost me, I don’t even know if this frog was sent for me. He or she could be a sign of climate change, I don’t know.

But I do identify with the frog, so much, with its sad, melancholic eyes. My house feels like living in a trash can lid, and that my room has become that little crevice I can hide in and hold onto as circumstances change.

Seeing this frog is not that deep, and yet: it felt like an extension of myself, like some living allegory of my life in real-time. Maybe I’m just seeing and accepting the messages from the Universe more clearly and quickly.

Even today, the synchronicities have been crazy, like everything has become a self-referential loop–even more than usual. Repeated phrases and topics from unexpected places. The frog is a part of that divine loop now.

Maybe, just maybe, the frog could be a harbinger of needed positive change in my life.

Or maybe, just maybe, the frog is just trying to find a place to be left alone and is just trying to hold on.

All I can hope is that it, and I, hop away in time.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. 

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

 

 

the red brita pitcher

just beneath SOMNovember was a busy month, so much so I wasn’t paying to my normal routines. I was just going on automatic.

Wake up. Eat food. Make coffee. Write, write, write. Sleep. Rinse, repeat.

Last month, with its major boon of work, was a blessing and a curse. I needed the work, but so much of it was tedious. It took me away from NaNoWriMo — and I had to even finish that in a flurry last week.

I was busy for three weeks straight, just writing writing writing.

Then there was a bit of a break and things got back to normal i.e., not so busy I don’t pay attention to the world around me.

One morning a week or so ago, I went to the refrigerator and pulled out my red Brita pitcher of water to make some coffee. I noticed it was full and coated with white, hard water stains.

It suddenly dawned me that I hadn’t been filling this pitcher much at all.

I had a rhythm of filling it probably every other day, and I hadn’t for weeks.

Not by choice, but I live in the same house as a rather mentally unstable old man and another old man that I never see, whom I call the shut-in.

The unstable old man is a chronic smoker and has a horrible sense of boundaries, physical but mostly energetic and emotional.

He is a walking sack of bones and leathery skin. He doesn’t take good care of himself. He’s always having stomach issues, and I assume most of it is self-inflicted. One time, he randomly told me that he was fine. He had had some bad chicken that smelled bad.

Maybe I shouldn’t’ve have cooked it, he said.

Apparently, he must have gotten sick, but between noise-canceling headphones and earplugs at night, I didn’t hear anything. I have heard him get sick since.

These owners brought this man while I was away helping a friend move. Oh well, they get their money.

Meanwhile, I’ve had to be like a den mother without much mothering, because the kitchen was always a wreck. So many conversations about cleanliness. Even now, the kitchen has weird gnats (not fruit flies) that I can’t seem to get rid of.

Months ago, closer to when this unfortunate man arrived in May, the other old man and I had talked him about about getting his own Brita pitcher.

Oh yeah, I’ll go to Walmart and get one for myself, he says.

No pitcher showed up. Of course.

Instead, old plastic half-gallon bottles of milk have been used. Our water has a sulfurous smell. Brita is the minimum to have decent-tasting water. Getting fountain drinks around here can mean great soda soured by tap-water ice.

We had Hurricane Irma roll through in September. I left for Chicago because at this point, after 4 months of living with this man, with his chronic smoker’s cough, and an episode of him smoking in his room and in the house, the horrendous smells that come from his “cooking”–I just needed to get away.

I knew the power was going to go out (shitty power grid), and I didn’t want to be stuck with someone who was a bag of inconsideration and instability.

I told the two old men that they could use my pitcher, just in case that water wasn’t potable.

That must have opened a door in this man’s little crackpot mind…

Even though Hurricane Irma threatened to be devastating, by the time it got to our side of town, it was never that bad besides our home losing power for a week.

I was so glad to not be here for almost two weeks, hanging out with friends and working in Chicago. The ole bag o’ bones was like, and is like, this haunting spirit who drains people of their energy.

The shut-in brought me back from the airport where I learned that this energy vamp had been living in the woods near our neighborhood for twelve years.

12 years.

Maybe a couple of weeks before I noticed my stained pitcher, I had to have yet another conversation about taking the trash out more often–which is why the gnats are there in the first place.

I cleaned the trash can thoroughly. Doesn’t matter, though. The gnats are going to be around for a while until I ask for fumigation, which I will this month.

The other old man has given up on his cleaning duties–OK, he never does, because shut-in. But he doesn’t take out the trash either, because technically it was his time to do it.

Maybe these dudes switch months, I don’t know.

Whatever. Anyway. This conversation about taking the trash in a timely manner turned into a conversation about the nosy neighbor across the street because the woman living in the mother-in-law suite next door had been taken to the hospital via ambulance. Again. And again, we didn’t know about it.

The daughter of this woman had become friends with the nosy  neighbor, so somehow Energy Vamp had talked to her.

He told her, “You’re nosy, aren’t you?”

So yeah, it was actually a sane conversation. It was also revelatory, because he talked about his experiences of social rejection.

  • Apparently, the cops were called on him for allegedly saying the n-word at a local restaurant.
  • When he was riding his bike, someone called the cops, accusing him of theft.
  • Someone else accused him of theft and he spent six months in jail for it.

He went on to talk about how he knows he can get chatty but how people are basically repelled by it.

I could break here and talk about how his mental illness is preventing him from picking up on obvious social cues.

I could also talk about his feelings of oppression may be pointing to psychosis. He’s not working for a reason.

I could also talk about how this reminds me of living with my father during my last year at home–a forced gap year due to my dad’s own unwinding, unquiet mind.

I could talk about how all of this has been clearly triggering me and that I’m repeating some similar behaviors of survival. And hell, those behaviors worked the first time, and they seem to be working again.

But honestly–I’ve worked through most of that. It doesn’t matter to me why this is happening anymore. It is happening. It is draining. And I don’t need it to happen to me anymore.

I had a brief moment of compassion–it might have lasted days–about that, because we all deserve compassion and connection. It helped me heal some things with my father that I didn’t even think needed healing.

Those are big things. I don’t sneeze or sneer at them, at all. One day I may even be grateful for them.

But at the same time, even though in the past as a social worker, I worked with clients just like him, it’s much different living with someone who has a history of homelessness and is on SSDI.

To have my only interactions be about ADLs (activities of daily living) is a fucking drain–and if I even wanted to consider his feelings, then yes, it’s a drain on him, too. This guy is old enough to be my father, and yet, once again, I’m in the parent role.

It’s a fucking drain. It’s infuriating. I deserve better.

It’s a drain to live with someone who cannot have a presence of mind, period. He is not my relative and, even if he was, it is not my job to be his social worker.

So, I avoid him like the emotional plague that he chooses to be.

I’ve lived here going on three years. Although this address has been the most stable address I’ve had while living in Florida, it’s been the most unstable place I’ve lived in.

Somewhat batty owner. A/C outage in August that could have been fixed sooner. Stubborn pestilences. Change of ownership. Lazy owners. Flooding. Coughing roomie #1 (aka bag o’ mucus). Coughing roomie #2 (fka Mr. Cancer Sticks, now known as Energy Vamp). Smoke filling my room from Energy Vamp.

But somehow this red Brita pitcher, plus the weird gnat that keeps going back and forth in my room as I type this, was what woke me up.

And it’s not just waking up from my crazy November of work. And it’s not even that this guy decided to use my water pitcher without asking. I’ve had to talk to him about that, too, repeatedly. It’s not the white dude entitlement that this loser has.

It’s everything. It’s been years of everything, and as I approach the big 4-0, I’ve had enough of “everything.” And I think the Universe has had enough of everything, too.

This chapter of my life is rapidly closing…

But for now, the red Brita pitcher is in my room, and I’m happy about it, even if having to keep stuff in my room so fucked up.

But this is, as an old friend would say, a flea on a flea. It’s already pretty fucked up. It’s almost imperceptible to add on more to this situation, this chronically bad borne out of poverty nightmare situation.

But hey: the less time I have to interact with him, the more I can focus on me.

For now, though–I live in a land of abject absurdity, but I have been entirely too dour to laugh about it–until recently. The laughter has been starting its return which lets me know that I’m strong enough to leave, even if my history has been stained loss, even if that history seems like wildfires trapping me inside of this house.

To mix metaphors, these stains of instability are not permanent, just like those white water stains. They are starting to be wiped away, and my original, impregnable self is being unearthed again.

Work is improving, enough for me to possibly leave here, giving me the foundations of stability that I need so I can be a better adult for myself.

But now the question is, where to? I don’t know. Yet.

I know that Florida is rapidly filling my rearview mirror, but I’m just not sure where I’m headed to next.

And yeah, it’s a little weird, watching the ending credits of the horror movie I’ve been in for years–but also living in the cliffhanger of what happens to this plucky heroine.

But that’s OK, for now…

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. 

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘

some bad poetry

I’m here

Again, stuck in the orbit of a faraway planet,

Kinda looks like Neptune from here…

I’m circling ’round and ’round and ’round,

With no permission to land, or explore…

And I get sick to my stomach as I do these spiritual

Somersaults,

Alone, in this inky nothingness,

Punctuated by dots of light messages

From already dead things.

 

All I have right now

as some trite transmission to your home base

is half-baked,

really bad poetry

to show you that this interstellar mission

to get home

involves you, somehow.

 

Permission to land?

Permission to land?

Permission to

Land.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. 

If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

Thanks for your support! 💘