Fear…and other shit I might need to just get over.

If I hadn’t told you guys before, I was a bit of a nervous Nelly when I was a youngin’. Yep, I was wimpish and bookish and didn’t blend in so seamlessly with my project surroundings. My Nana, ever the over bearing watch dog knew this. When I was in elementary school, every day before I left her apartment in the concrete jungle I would engage in the same ritual with little deviation. Looney Toons would be first. I’d laugh anxiously as Bugs Bunny gave the business to Elmer Fudd just one more time, subliminally terrified of the day ahead of me. Not for any concrete reason most of the time. I just was. Then, Nana would toast, and on more occasions that not, burn me a strawberry pop tart. As my time to head the bus stop drew nigh, she’d would call me to her always slightly sticky kitchen stable. There I’d discover her with her well worn bible cracked to the same passage, the 23rd psalm. We’d read. I wouldn’t feel any better than when we started, but she seemed to.

Fast forward to now. JEEZ! It takes everything in me on some days to slow down the fear train going on inside my head. It starts off when I open my eyes:

OhmyGodwheredoIhavetobetoday?DidIremembertopaythatbill?

ShitIthinkmyaccountmightbeoverdraft?Ican’tcheckit!IfitisI’lldie!I’mlateforwork!

Ihaven’twritenonmybloginamonth!

I’mafailureasawriter!Mylifesucks!Ican’tdothisanymore!

Ohsshhhhhhiiiiiitttttt!AAAAAHHHH!!!!!

…and this is just the first 30 seconds.

Thankfully, most days, I get at least 30 minutes if not more to settle my thoughts before I have to face the world. I journal. I pray. I meditate. I avoid the news before 9 am. These things allow me to get out the door. Once I have though, it’s often hard for me to settle down again before literally falling out at the end of the day. ¡No es bueno mi amigos!

The fear creeps back in, usually around noonish, and sucker punches the shit out of me for the rest of the day. What’s a girl to do? Well, I already have a plan don’t I? I just need to implement it more. I can also take a look at the things I’m afraid of. Is it a realistic fear? Can I do anything about it? If so, do it! If not, let it go! Simply answers to a complicated process. However I feel so much better when I’m at least attempting to do something about what going on in this dilapidated building between my ears. NOW, those ritual mornings make so much sense. In hindsight, I think my Nana felt better because she felt like she was doing something to help me. As a parent, I now know what it’s like to try to ease the sometimes unrealistic fears of a child. I love and appreciate her for the effort and for introducing me to the concept that it takes more than just white knuckling through out of fear to make it in life.

Life, I’ve found is just a series of decisions, one after the other until you’re no longer alive.  When I make those decisions based on fear, I’m usually miserable and confused. I find balance when I live for the day and move through one well thought out decision at a time, trying my best not to over complicate it as I go.  My anxiety will probably always be with me to some degree, but I embrace it today like it’s the nervous little child I was, reassure it that it’s going to be okay, and tell it to GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP!

 

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Better than Ripley’s

3:30 am Amelié’s french bakery.

After another successful evening of dancing and general enjoyment of one another’s  company, my friend’s and I headed to Amelié’s as we often do. While checking out my sundry sweets, I looked up at the young man behind the counter and saw it. “It” was a chain that I had purchased at the Goodwill on South Boulevard about two years ago. The chain itself was simple with a fairly ornate silver cross on it that on the back said “I’m a Catholic call a priest.” I’d lost “it” and been had been half way hoping to find it after I made a more sincere effort to clean my bedroom than I normally do. There it was though, around the neck of another. But wait…let me back up.

19 years ago:

On Mother’s day in 1992 at 16 years of age, I became very ill due to an allergic reaction and was given last rites. My family was told to prepare for my imminent death. Needless to say, I’m still here. When I ran across the chain in Goodwill, I was going through some pretty tough growing pains. The chain reminded me that no matter what, something bigger than me loves me and want whats best for me. So after purchasing the chain, I almost never took it off. That is until about two weeks ago. I took it off, slipped it into my pocket, and never saw it again. Fast forward to early this morning…

3:35 am Amelié’s French Bakery

I told my story to the counter person. He reluctantly offered me the chain back. His apprehension made me know that it had now become his something to hold on to. I knew right away that the chain was no longer mine. I told him I had no intentions of taking it back, and the story of my near death experience. His eyes became wide as saucers. He then shared with me the near death experience he had at age 16 (which was clearly not as long ago as 16 was for me!) I was overwhelmed to say the least. Something huge had just happened, and I was standing in it just then, and I felt honored and grateful for it.

Pro/Epilogue: Thursday July 21, 2011 9:48 am

I’d seen a patient, mainly just to give some reassurance about her therapy, and was about to exit her home when I was struck by this gorgeous statue near her front door. She explained that it was Kwan Yin (a bohisattva) a goddess of compassion. Seeing how awestruck I was (and I truly was, for what reason I still don’t understand); she excused herself. She was only gone a moment when she returned with a small bronze statuette of the very same goddess and handed it to me. “Take her with you, she’ll comfort you when you’re afraid.” I took it, thanked her and exited…dumbfounded by her kindness and generosity.

I cannot pretend to understand the power that governs these occurrences. It would be futile to try to put words to something so unattainable. So I won’t try. I and all my agnostic tendencies have come to believe that faith is far simpler than we make it. We have faith that every morning we’re going to go out and our cars are going to start, our day is going to go as usual, and we are going to see our loved ones at the end of the day, none of which is guaranteed. So why not have faith that the people and things that you need find you when you need them most and when it’s time to let these people or things go it’s truly for the best. Basic shit right? We just make it rocket science.

I write this in gratitude for all the minor and major miracles that have happened in my life, AND my ability to see them for what they are.

Selah.

Rosie.

A Lesson in Watermelon Consumption.

Yesterday Afternoon:

I’m at a patient’s house.  She is polite and southern. I am…well I’m a Jersey girl.  Anyway, I walk into her home and I am welcomed…I mean REALLY welcomed. Greetings are had and I sit down for the business for which I came.  I’m digging her so far. Sweet woman, a lil on the saccharine side, but she means well. Then she begins her story:

“If you smile, the whole world will smile with you.”

I humbly agreed. It’s true. Optimism is awesome.  I smiled, trying to stay on track as I am already way behind and the heat is beginning to make my head swim a little.

“I was at a restaurant one day, and a small lil’ white man behind me said ‘You have got the most beautiful smile!'”

Red flag! I have “a shit ton” of experience in conversations like the one that was getting ready to go down. That experience has taught me that 9.5 times out of 10 when people begin to identify skin colors during anecdotes it’s a segue  into “inadvertent” racist land. We were going there, and we would have having lunch with the mayor.

“A tall black man in front of me in the line paid for my lunch.”

She grinned.

I wanted so badly for her to stop.

“When I got all my stuff I walked right up to him and said. ‘Well, since you bought my lunch, I’ll sit here and eat with you if you don’t mind.'”

The remainder of her story is a bit of a blur. Something about him working on a golf course as a caddy and he’s in his 60s. There were sepia toned pictures of lunch counter sit-ins dancing through my mind. The slide show ended just in time for me to hear her say:

“They gave him two huge slices of watermelon, and he says to me ‘I’d like you to share this with me.'”

I died a little. It wasn’t over.

“Yes, that was a great experience for me. My neighborhood is multi-cul…what do you prefer to be called?”

“Black?”

I whimper.

Why is this happening?

“I’m part Cherokee Indian.”

If I could kill her legally, I would.

“You should bring your kids over here.”

Kids?! She’s assuming I have kidS plural! And that I would dare bring said children to her home!  I’m done. I block out anything and everything she says and shot gun through paperwork as she goes on about giving the neighborhood coloreds rides to the store and the lil nigglets calling her Grandma.  Well, I don’t know if she actually said “coloreds” or “nigglets” but it’s what I heard.

Okay, so she’s probably slightly crazy, and her case is a little extreme, but sadly I’ve had conversations like these with perfectly sane white folk. Why does it happen? I’m not sure. My best guess? It’s that unspoken residual racial awkwardness that we as a society continue to refuse to deal with.  The preconceived notions that we all carry about race and racial identity. If you feel the need to prove that you’re not prejudiced, then you might want to take a look at the fact that you might be.

This does not instantly make you a monster, it just makes you a product of the society you were born into. We are all given information by our parents, by society, whomever, that we use to get us through life.  There comes a time that we have to reassess, look honestly at that information, and determine whether or not that information is still useful to us.  Process that shit, work it out, let it go, and stop assuming I got a house full’a pickaninney’s I’m just dying to bring to your house!

Ok. Alright. I know she’ll never read this. So I’m digressing.

Rosie.