The Benediction: Love is Love

ImageI’m not a fan of marriage in general.  I did it once, for all the wrong reasons like so many people who refuse to admit so. I think the institution has become as trite and jaded as “the American Dream“, chock full of false expectations, superficial wants and desires that have little or nothing to do with the happiness of the people who are lassoed into filing the papers. So why, you might ask, am I taking the time to write about marriage equality? Two reasons: First, the ability of a person to marry whomever  you want is basic as hell. For real … why are we even having to debate this bullshit in court, America? I mean don’t we have bigger fish to fry? It is truly embarrassing that we as a nation are having to take to go to court to argue something that is a private matter between individuals with the contrasting arguments being just as bigoted as the counter arguments to the abolition of slavery, integration, interracial marriage, and women’s reproductive rights (wait … we’re STILL talking about that shit too. UGHK … America, just fucking UGHK.) I won’t get into the white male privilege of it all or the presumption that America is an exclusively “Christian Nation“, but I will say that if certain believers in the “America of Our  Forefathers” don’t pull their heads out of their asses, it’s going to be a loooong decade or so … for them anyway.

Now to my second reason. In the same way a person can be spiritual and hate religion, I believe with my whole heart in love and don’t believe that marriage is  requisite for a lifetime of loving another person. One of the first times I’ve been stuck dumb by the love I witnessed within a relationship, was one where the couple was of the same sex.

It was roughly 2 am in the morning and this woman came in through the emergency room sicker than hell. She had pneumonia and was so weak that she could barely do anything for herself.  While I was assessing her, her partner who’d been parking the car came in. She quietly moved to the opposite side of the bed from me and took her hand.  I was just about to stick the sick woman for blood when she sneezed. I froze immediately, to keep from sticking myself or the patient, and looked up to see her partner cleaning snot from her face and clothing without even flinching.  She was caring for her with a look on her face that reflected pure love. Sounds sappy, but it was as if I were supposed to see it.  In that moment something inside of me said “that’s what I want”, “that’s how I want to be loved by another human being.” Those two women were in that thing together for better or worse, and if a love like that can’t be confirmed through marriage then the whole institution should be outlawed.  It has been years since this incident, but I never forgot it or how it affected me.

This past weekend I had the honor of attending the wedding of my friend Séan and his now husband Christopher.  It was my first gay wedding, and I have to say that it was one of the most simple and sweet ceremonies I’d ever attended. Words of love and encouragement were exchanged between family and friends .. like any wedding. There were jitters, blunders, and late arrivals …  like any wedding. And I, of course, bawled like a complete idiot … like I would do at any wedding. As the debauchery and merriment of the weekend unfolded, I found myself wishing that human beings in their infinite pursuit of control and understanding wouldn’t insist on making others miserable along the way.  Love can’t be defined by a court case or really anything rational, if I look at my own life as an example.  Love just is.

Rosie.

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What faith ain’t.

I’m tired. I’m tired of pep talks. Anxiety attacks. Positive self talk vs. Negative self talk. Healing Mantras. Hard work.  Fits of crying. Fits of laughing. Fits of screaming. Fits.  Patience (yeah, I’m REAL tired of that bitch).

At an early age, I was sold the bullshit idea of faith being this thing that sagely folk sit stoically by and “have”.  They clasp their Bibles, Korans, Torahs, Self Help Books, Meditation beads or  whatever sacred possession they have and trust all nice and floaty like.

Well I want my fuckin’ money back, because faith ain’t none of that shit. If it is, it’s only that for a small section of people (e.g. The Pope, Deepak Chopra, Oprah, and Prince).  For the rest of us regular muphuckas , faith is a battle to the death between your needs, wants, and the “higher good”. That last item is a fuckin’ lu lu.  You never really know what the “higher good” until that one issue you were grappling with is ancient history.  Then you get the gift of “lessons” and “ones to grow on.” UGHK!

In the meantime you get to be utterly miserable … if you choose to. Right now, I can honestly say I’m choosing misery (it’s a subconscious choice … my default mode if you will). I’ll pull my head out of my ass momentarily only to reinsert it at a later date. Samsara? Purgatory? Limbo? Call it what you will, but I heard that even the almighty Billy Graham found himself in spiritual dilemmas so befuddling that he would lie prostrate on his bedroom floor for hours talking to Jesus.   (Wait … I haven’t tried that yet :/ )

Whatever the hell it is and whatever obstacles the task presents, I intend to keep the faith. As shitty as the process is at times I know the alternative, at least for me, is worse.

Rosie.

Give it away now.

Ever since this post and the circumstances surrounding it I have been or have made an earnest effort to be less attached to material things. I’ve found myself giving away earrings I once thought I could never part with or losing some other “treasured item” but being okay with it, sort of like the baby who gets their pacifier taken away, after a few days they’re fine.

Alas, I think my tolerance for letting go is wavering. After conceivably the worse weekend I ever spent in a hotel (there were children, there was screaming, there were ungodly bodily secretions), I lost two of my favorite bracelets. Grounded me would be okay with letting them go, accepting that these items had had their time in my life and it was now time for them to move on to the next owner. The thing is, I’m not grounded me, and I can’t get those two fucking bracelets out of my mind.

So I ask my self:

Q: Is it about the bracelets?

A: Not likely.  It’s really about how tossed I feel with this impending move, my son’s general unhappiness and the difficulties he’s having in school, and the feeling that I have zero control over anything that is happening in my life right now. The least I can do is hold on to the things I love, huh Universe? Are you even fucking listening at this point?!

But I digress …

I am not going to return to the hotel in a desperate search for my two favorite bracelets that were so fucking awesome and made noise when I clapped and it seemed like I had musical instruments with me everywhere I went and fuuuuuck!!!!

Re-digressing …

The reason I’m not going back is because I, at my foundation believe that I am going to live and more beautifully simple and musical jewelry will come into my life. It’s just that I need to live with the uncertainty of when and how this new jewelry will show up.

Q: Am I even  talking about jewelry at this point?

A: Not likely.

I just want this transition not to feel so fucking crazy or at the very least once again enjoy and be willing to do the things that I know help me feel better. So when my new jewelry shows up I’m ready to handle the abundance of its beauty and musicality, but be willing to let it go … all the way … if I need to.

– Selah

Rosie.

Rosie’s CIAA cautionary tale.

Let the record show that I have not, in the time that it has been hosted in our fair city, chosen to participate in the activities surrounding the  CIAA’s (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) annual tournament.  The reasons are varied, but not limited too: Hating crowds, Hating myself in crowds, Hating crowds of drunken black people , Hating crowds of pretentious black people, and MOST important – I hate being in crowds of black people who’d spend $75-100 on a day party, but who will hem and haw about financially supporting local programming for children. This year I waxed sentimental and decided to go because all the buzz seemed so exciting, that one party sounded like what the business is (it was dope as hell, I won’t lie) and I won’t be here next year … so what the hell, right?

The night started out well enough. I did somethings to ground myself in sanity (prayed, burned incense, listened to the ATLien’s album), then headed out to an event called Grits & Biscuits. All southern hip hop, all night. Yessir! After I had sufficiently twerked away my cares, I exited the party into a sea of half naked self proclaimed “bad bitches” and the men who loved/lusted/thirsted after them.

As awesome as all of that was, my friend Danielle and I were ready to go and process the levels of ratchet debauchery we’d just taken in over artery clogging food stuffs. We’d ran across a group who was in need of a jump and I was glad that I was able to be of assistance (being the ever faithful good Samaritan I am) with jumper cables I had in my car.  However … when I got to my car I realized … I was actually in need of jump, as my car wouldn’t start.  Things promptly went to hell from here.

With the help of two eager young gentlemen I get the car started again, and head out into the mean side streets surrounding the NC Music factory that at this point looks a lot like Juicy J‘s rendition of Kolkata. I’m visually overdosing on bare tri-fold midriffs and men doling out piggy back rides to colored girls who considered crawling with them rainbow pumps became too much, when … my car stops in the middle of the street. Just stops. Right in front of this dude who is drunk out of his fucking MIND and believes, somewhere in his delirium that my car has arrived to pick him up.

I, distracted and disgusted, could not process why this man was getting in my car, and before I could say two words, he was in there. CHILLIN’.

I’m like:  Sir … get out.

No response.

To add to the fun, his drunk friends get into the act,  facebooking  and tweeting videos of all the festive shenanigans as I sit, mouth agape, looking on. The good times were soon to get better, when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department gets involved, those champions of justice.  They actually SWEAR that my new friend is actually my estranged boyfriend/hook up and that I need to attempt to manage the situation.

This is when drunk man in my car starts flexin …
… like he’s on Instagram
He’s angry now …

He’s all: Get the fuck off me yo! Get the fuck off me son!

I promptly exit the vehicle, cause I wanna live and shit. There are now 3-4 officers in a heated debate with the drunken gent in an attempt to get his drunk ass out of my car. The officers are STILL swearing I know said drunk and disorderly negro, a fact I adamantly deny. After realizing the real possibility that their friend/brother may be tased or shot they beg the police officers to let them remove him from my car.

Negotiations are successful, the drunkard exits my vehicle.

CMPD: Ma’am I’m gonna need you to get back in your vehicle and move along.

Fuck. My. Life., I think to myself and am surprised by my ability to remain calm (probably had to do with my own non-desire of being tased or shot) and tell the officers that the reason why I didn’t take off and drag the dude down the street when he attempted to get in my car in the first place was because it would. not. start. (SIGH).

The officers FINALLY realize that hey … she really didn’t know that guy, and wait, her car won’t start! That’s why she was in the middle of the road! They determine that they will  offer me the assistance I need to get to the side of the road when just then, a clutch of ratchet pussy decides that my predicament is funny …

“Aw sheet that bitch done ran outta gas!”

“Ha. Ha. She slippin’!”

I verbally abuse the shit out of them.
It was quite satisfying.

The rest of the evening, that did not end until 5:30 am, ended with little more event than: me coming to the aid of two scantily clad “bad bitches” whose phone was dead and ride “had done gone” by allowing them to sit in my dilapidated vehicle, and me thrice having to give a Charlotte based tow truck driver direction to a major Charlotte landmark.

The lesson: I’m not sure there is one. Just a lot of individual shit that could have happened on any other day happening to me at the same damn time.

To all CIAA in CLT visitors: I enjoyed you, now please … go home. ❤

Rosie.

*Warning: The preceding song should only be enjoyed in controlled environments and under the clear understanding that you are probably not now nor will you ever be a drug dealer that … enjoys … two “bad bitches” at the same damn time.

Wait … Am I Your “Magic Nig -ga -ger -roe”?!

Start here:

This, by the way, was and still is some of the most potent realness I’ve seen in a film. Ever.

Now on to the:

Magical Negro: The Magical Negro is typically but not always “in some way outwardly or inwardly disabled, either by discrimination, disability or social constraint,” often a janitor or prisoner.[7] He has no past; he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist.[8][9] He usually has some sort of magical power, “rather vaguely defined but not the sort of thing one typically encounters.”[8] He is patient and wise, often dispensing various words of wisdom, and is “closer to the earth.”[4]
-courtesy of Wikipedia

Now the post:

This morning as I  nodded in and out of post third shift consciousness, I perused the good old face space to see what the people in my virtual (and a few in my real) life were up to and I see friends of mine “liking” shit like this:

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and I’m like:

cropped-4-up-on-1-7-13-at-12-44-am-8.jpg

I pride myself in knowing and embracing a wide variety of people who represent varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, and political ideologies. It is, however, becoming increasingly difficult to understand how it is that people who I work and socialize with can be so unwavering in their “conservative” views,  “conservative” views that have them peeking through the curtains of racism, sexism, and classism’s bedroom window if not sitting in their living room, but still “love” me in the way they say they do. Then it hit me … am I filed away in the minds and hearts of these folk as not being one of those kinds of blacks?! Am I their “Magic Nig -ga -ger -roe” like the Magic Johnson’s, Prince’s, and Oprah’s that have come before me?!

I simply cannot understand how people who show me so much genuine love, concern, and camaraderie can co-sign policies and ideologies that are aimed square at the disenfranchisement of people just like me.  YES, as magical as a nig -ga -ger -roe as I may appear to be, I am or have been the 47% at some point in my life. Let’s check my qualifiers shall we?

Rosie’s top ten “those” people qualifiers

1. Grew up in low-income housing to …

2. A single mother who …

3. While working and during brief periods between children received food stamps.

4. I am a single mother who had a child …

5. Out of wedlock! O_O (no dead husband, no failed marriage [that came after the kid … and he wasn’t the father x_x] , just good old fashion fornication with no intention of extended dedication.)

6. I have immediate family members in jail (that I actually maintain contact with and love very much because contrary to what your “conservative” media outlets would have you believe, people don’t cease being human because are incarcerated! … take all the time you need to process that one.) hell I’ve even …

7. Been arrested! (no jail house tats though, but my street cred is up and that is GOOOD), Oh and I …

8. Don’t like working! (for other people, that is), and I …

9.  Have been on Medicaid as an adult (quite shamelessly, I paid into that shit for 12 years prior, what?! So know that when I was on it, you’re conservative dollar was technically still free willy), but worst of all I …

10.  Voted for Obama to ensure my continued leaching from the great America built by the Founding Fathers off the backs of my ForeFathers!

Again, take a moment, a day if you need to process.  There are more qualifiers, but those may bust your heart wide open and leave you with no hope for savage… I mean American minorities. Think I’m overreacting and “making it racial”? Stop and take a look at the “conservative” base and tell me what you see? I may be going out on a limb, but I think to some point I represent some type of saving grace to my conservative friends (who I actually love and accept despite what their views are). I am, I believe, in their eyes “a credit to my race.” I am well spoken, fairly well read, and goddamn it I make them laugh! What they don’t realize is that it’s not always comfortable for me to be the funny nig -ga -ger -roe. What they don’t realize  is that there are many times that their sweeping indictments of  people who “leach off the system”, or how their tax dollars are paying for this ones healthcare, or the cadence with which they say our president’s name … as if trying to scrape shit off their tongue, often leaves me hating their asses for brief intense periods.

But then I let it go, because my intense hatred will do nothing to elevate the their mind state about the broader reality of minority life, and it’ll run my blood pressure up which we know all black folks suffer with anyhow. So, I just try to live honestly as possible, calling “bullshit” when I see it … when I have the energy to do so,  and serving as an example of the many varieties of  “those people” who exists.  I know I seem angry, well fuck it, I am, but underneath this anger is a pressing need to be understood in the same ways I seek to understand.

If I can manage to separate the political ideology from the living breathing person that I know, then why is it that so damn hard for some to conceive of the fact that I might not be that magical. Maybe, just maybe, blacks and other minorities are not just some mass of bottom feeders that seek to drain an innocent America of all its xenophobic glory. Iono, one day it’ll all make sense I suppose. In the meantime, for those who are ready, consider this an open call to conversation. It’s a call that I will continue to make until I’m no longer able to speak. If we want change we can believe in, we have to believe we can change, and speak that change into existence.

Rosie.

Now go laugh at racism’s sting dammit!

Physician Disagrees.

ImageIn 2002 I sat for the clinical exams for my RRT (Registered Respiratory Therapist) credential. The easiest part, at least for me, were the straight forward questions on the shit that could easily be found Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care textbook. The shitty part, and the part ironically that would tend to foreshadow what my career in respiratory care looked like, were the clinical simulations. The clinical sims walked you through theoretical scenarios. Some of the patients had blatantly obvious problems like pneumonia, COPD, asthma the stuff you knew you were signing up for as a therapist. It got fuzzy when babies with ambiguous symptoms came rolling through your virtual ED and all you could rely on were your clinical assessment skills. So, Patient Q came barreling through the door with a persistent 3 week dry cough, low-grade fever, and other symptoms that could mean everything yet nothing.

I’d go through a specific symptom, apply the solution that I thought was correct, and would receive the heart stopping response of:

PHYSICIAN DISAGREES

By the 3rd or 4th “disagreement” I thought for sure that I’d killed my virtual patient and shat away the hundreds of dollars that I’d spent on the exam. As it turns out my patient survived because of the choices I made. I walked out of the H&R block testing center fist pumping like 80s Judd Nelson. Now let’s apply that to my real life in respiratory therapy shall we:

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve had an opinion that was the “right answer” in the direction of patient care but was summarily ignored by the physician charged with caring for the patient. The difference in real life is that lives will not be miraculously saved by a test that happens to know which care plan is better. In fact …

*Bombshell Alert*

People get very sick and or die because of physician pride, incompetence, or apathy. I wish I could say that I haven’t seen it as many times as I have in this now almost 14 years as a therapist, but it’s true. When a physician would rather Google how to operate a particular type of life support rather than ask the real live person on duty who has experience with the equipment how to proceed (yes, this happened … to ME), then there is a major problem with how the healthcare team functions and the real losers in this game are, as always, patients. Do I blame all physicians? No.

I blame the set up of the healthcare “system”. Doctors are all too often placed in a position where they cannot be vulnerable, where they can’t say “I don’t know” or appear not to, hell where a patient with no medical knowledge whatsoever can waltz into their office and tell them what to prescribe. This type of system sets doctors up to be on the defensive. They have the image of the authoritarian on all things medical to uphold after all. It’s a sucky conundrum and a large chunk of the reason why I didn’t proceed to medical school.

The only solution I see in this age of information where the patient truly is more well versed about their disease process than the doctor, is a more team based approach where the doctor is still at the helm, but know when to trust the advice of specialist that have seen certain things a time or two more that she/he has. I’ve seen this set up before, mainly at teaching hospitals, and from what I’ve experienced it works. Granted, it then places the responsibility for competency in the lap of staff, but I’d rather have my opinion respected and expected than to just be a “knob turner” at the mercy of a doctor who is burned out, apathetic, and just doesn’t want to be called anymore. Mutual respect to the benefit of those we are charged to care for: Is that too much to ask? Me thinkest not.

Rosie.

I see you, you see me … and that’s cool.

I see you, you see me … that’s cool.

You’ve read my stuff, or you haven’t but surely may after this ;) , I goodly suck at relationships of the romantic variety. I know all the issues behind why and I have prayed the prayers, cried the tears, and burned the effigies.  There remains nothing left for me to do but do the work.  In the process of this work doing I’ve come across a book that I’d actually be given about eight years ago called If The Buddha Dated.  I won’t get into the particulars, but one thing I noticed, and which actually tickled me a little is that old adage “you attract what you are” is kind of true, but not in the negative douche baggy way people tend to dole it out.

While reading about compassion, unconditional love, mutual understanding, and facing fear in relationships I realized that these things are often very difficult for me to practice with the men I date because I often can’t practice them with myself. I attract people that I generally want to take care of in someway or another.  They’re usually creative types (me), who are great at what they do (Me), who seek out affection/satisfaction from multiple and usually self destructive outlets (ME), and who are often resistant to any healthy/balance/positive change or growth (MMMMEEE!!!)

The issue has been established.  Now what’s the game plan.  First and most important I continue to fight bravely for my sanity and overall well being while looking at myself with a compassionate eye and speaking to myself in a compassionate voice. I stay OPEN but VIGILANT in my dating situations.  I kindly refuse the literally attached, because they have been the worse type of self inflicted pain in my experience. The rest is just about learning. What my likes and dislikes are, and honoring that. What’s comfortable, what isn’t, and honoring that. And moving through fear!  There’s an excellent passage in the book that goes a lil something like this:

Dating with a Buddhist consciousness means a willingness to confront anything inside that kindles fear or anxiety.  When we start wanting to run away, be deceptive, tell lies, or put on a mask, we need to walk right into our fears, sit down, and talk to them until they become our friends.  This doesn’t mean we have a goal of getting rid of fear; rather, we accept it as a part of our unfolding journey.

Boom.

Just last night I found myself entangled in a conversation with a man that fascinates me beyond words, but rather being IN the conversation and enjoying his company, I kept trying to find ways to make him more fascinated with me out of fear that who I am isn’t enough. I fall into that pattern so often it’s like breathing.  What’s crazy is he was clearly just as uncomfortable as I was!

Last thing, and I’ll step off my makeshift soap box. Landing the man isn’t the goal. There will be no prize, no acceptance speeches to make, and no academy to thank when you have landed said man or woman. In fact, the prize will come in finding out that they are just as fugged up and human as you, and you still wanna stay. As my friend Antoine told me, “Don’t romanticize that shit, relationships are work.”

They damn sure are, and as my experience bears out, can break you in half  if you don’t go in without your priorities straight and your expectations low.  From observing relationships of people close to me I notice that the best ones are ones where people have and retain a strong sense of self and enhance their mate. It gives me hope, that if I pick up the pieces of my enfeebled soul that I will have an equally enfeebled soul to bang life out with … or not.  Either way through my continued engagement in seeking out a relationship I am given the opportunity each time to form a more “perfect” union, with self.

Saying this to self as I say it to you,

Rosie.