I want to be a part of it …

Operative words: WANT TO BE.

See. To me it seems that the closer I get to New York City, the further away it is. Nothing is lining up the way I thought it would, and that little girl in me that was always taught not to ask for too much or expect much of anything out of life is sitting on a curb picking her nose and mumbling “told you.” And I’ve learned that slapping the shit out of her is not the answer.  Loving the shit out of her is. Helping her to see that there isn’t anything that’s too above her to reach.  Including big bad New York City. No, right now it doesn’t seem like I’ll ever be a part of that mad life that is captured so beautifully and simply on sites like Humans of New York. The little girl says “All the good ideas have already been had. You’ll never come up with anything original. Why bother?”, while the ice cream cone she grasps desperately in her right hand melts. She says I don’t deserve it. My resumé begs to differ.

In three weeks, I’ll make my way from the underbelly of Upstate New York into the New York metropolitan area.  I currently have no job prospects and far less money in my bank account than I’d anticipated. Everyone says: “It’ll work out, you’ll see.” Let’s hope they’re right. Let’s hope that the nightmare complete with me sitting on dingy street corners yammering to myself  donned in a floral print muumuu , wilted coffee cup for peddled change in hand that I have painted in my mind doesn’t actualize, or even worse (at least to me) a long bus ride back to my point of origin, dreams yet again deferred, with the little girl sitting next to me unfurling her thick braids saying “I told you.”

I can be a part of it. I will be a part of it.  You’ll see little girl.  You’ll see.

Rosie.

tumblr_mnxy68aMLU1qggwnvo1_1280

If Wendell can, so can I.  (photo courtesy http://www.humansofnewyork.com   check it out. dopeness ensues.)

Kiss my suppressed anger … please.

About ten years ago I was fired for the first, and prayerfully the last time.  It went a lil something like this:  I worked at No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina. It was set to be a busy shift and we were short, so good times were definitely not on the horizon. I’ll keep in mind that it’s been some years since this happened so the details are hazy, but the long and short of it is the therapist that was in charge that day opted to give herself a fairly cushy assignment while giving the other therapists bullshit.  Not uncommon in my line of work, but digressing … I made her aware of this.  We exchanged words, nothing too over the top, but we did.  I took my assignment and proceeded to take on the 12 hours of the shift.  She didn’t call me all day.  She didn’t come through my unit. I didn’t in fact see her until the end of the shift as another co-worker and I were walking out.  I’ll preface the following with the fact that we were black females. My fearless leader for the day was a white female.

Admittedly, me and other said black female threw heavy shade on the way out the door, but nothing that should have ended with me looking for employment.

One day later …

I come to work.  It’s an ordinary day.  Patients are on ventilators. I’m taking care of them.  I’m doing what I do.  The moment I signed my last vent check on my last patient at @4:30pm, (this I remember because I can remember looking at my watch and thinking what the fuck?), I am called to the office.

Mr. D. Whiteman, the manager of the cardiopulmonary department, a man who seemed like he could have been the defensive line for his college football team is sitting behind his desk. He is sweating and clearly nervous.  He asks me to have a seat.  I do.  He then begins to unfurl the most blatant bastardization of facts that I’d ever had pass through my ears up to that point in my life (my son would later best him in this capacity).

The above tale of shade throwing and home going was spun into the following fairytale:

Brunettey Locks & The Two Big BAAAD Coloreds 
by D. Fensless Whitewoman

Once upon a time while working her job to the best of her ability, the fair and innocent Brunettey Locks was headed home to feed woodland animals and contemplate world peace.  Suddenly there was a raucous noise behind her.  It was cackling laughter. “It’s them!,” she thought, “The Two Big BAAAD Coloreds!” she’d been hiding from them all day, but they’d finally caught up with her.

“Eek!”, she thought, “Maybe if I’m really quiet they won’t notice me.” Brunettey locks got reaaallly quiet and walked reaaallly slowly, but to no avail.

“There she is!”, croaked Big BAAAD Colored 1. “Let’s get her!”, the other Big BAAAD Colored groaned. “I’m gonna bust a cap in her ass!”, the perverted urban menace Big BAAD Colored 1 announced. They erupted in beastly laughter then proceeded to chase the chaste and ever fair Brunettey Locks to her vehicle! Guns blazing, big bubbly lips giggling, massive brown thighs rubbing together.

Brunettey locks, by the grace of Billy Ray Cirus Jesus, escaped the wretched beasts, but was shaken to her very core.

The End.

Now … am I being  just a smidge facetious?  Yes. Is the story she told nearly as ridiculous? Yes.  After being told that story I received, courtesy Mr. D. Whiteman’s trembling hand, a piece of paper  to sign.  I was being “suspended”.  In his anxiety about my menacing nature he accidentally pushed my co-worker’s suspension* form in front of me. Both of the Big BAAAD Coloreds were being removed.  Never to return to No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina again.

 
*Suspension is a fancy word for “fired”, gentles.  “Suspension”  prevents big baaad coloreds from showin’ out as security escorts them to their cars in utter humiliation in front of all their co-workers!
 

Two weeks ago:

I come down to the emergency room at Current Workplace Hospital after being called for a nebulizer treatment. My patient isn’t there, which I found slightly annoying, so I rolled my eyes and blew out air as annoyed people do.  The calling nurse (we shall call her Nursey Poo) , whom I did not ask for feed back, decides to announce that the patient was there when she called.  To which I reply, “I wasn’t able to get here the moment you called.” To which SHE replied “I didn’t SAY you had to be here right away.”

This is a trap.  She is begging for it.  She’s baiting me even.  I refuse, because thanks to my experience with Brunettey Locks, I am fully aware of what color I am and what a show down like one she’s bucking for would mean for me. I go to follow up with the manager on duty, and before I can do that my patients return.  I treat them, and return to my gripe session about Nursey Poo seeking out a manager to talk to when over storms Nursey Poo to the major desk area of the “busiest emergency department in Major City, NC”™, in a decided rage.

“Are you over here talking about me!?”

“Wah?!”, says Blackey Locks*, “No ma’am, I’m in the middle of patient care and we will not be doing this right now.”

*Blackey Locks = Stacey Rose RRT
 

I walk away, wanting ever so badly to buss her in her mouth so hard that the end result would be her portraying varying forms of The Predator for Halloween the remainder of her life.  I wish I could say it ended here. Nursey Poo follows me into a crowded supply room and proceeds engage me in a shouting match.  My memories of No Name Hospital in No Name, South Carolina in the forefront of my mind, I do not engage.

She rants loud, hard, and fast directly in my face in a manner that my own damn Momma rarely has.  There are references to my “attitude” and the fact that I had the audacity to roll my eyes when I came down stairs. This immediately signals my rage.  I am metaphorically biting my tongue.  I am goin IN, inside my head.  I have called her every form of  bitch conceivable. The only thing coming out of my mouth?

“Ma’am.”

In a manner that a McDonald’s drive thru attendant my try to quell a customer irate about the absence of pickles on their McPig Heart sandwich. I continued at varying octaves and inflections for what seemed like an hour as she let loose. It descended into insanity when she too got on the “Ma’am” train, drowning me out completely.  I then made her aware of the fact that her behavior was threatening.  To which she replied, “Good, you should feel threatened.”

Friends!  Let the record, my own damn record, show that if I had even danced around this kind of behavior there is a significant chance that I would have been looking for a job the next morning, or have spent the evening in the Major City, NC jail. (I’m mean I’ve spent time in there for even less). Nursey Poo was allowed to “cool down” and return to her work. My assignment was changed (to be transparent, I volunteered for this.) I have yet to hear what the repercussions of her action were and at this juncture, I don’t really care. And yes, whether or not anyone wants to admit it I wholeheartedly believe the bias lies in race.

Black women are simply not allowed their anger, not in its full capacity.  We’re always being asked to stifle or suppress it in some way, especially in the professional setting.  Professional black women are held to particularly high standard of decorum at the work place. No matter if any real level of wrong that might have been done to us, no matter if we, like any damn body else, are having a bad day.  We don’t want … no we can’t afford to be viewed as an angry black woman … God. Forbid.  Other women’s anger could get them called a bitch, odds are not to their face. It may even get them a stern talking to by the powers that be, but a black woman’s “attitude” signals inherent danger. A danger that, gone unchecked, could dissolve the universe creating a gaping black hole in the galaxy. (Well maybe this is slightly true … but that’s another post.)

Immediately post face off, I wanted Nursey Poo’s job.  I wanted her first-born. I wanted her to experience levels of suffering that would make Jean Valjean shudder.  Then, like all feelings, my anger passed and I got to what the root of what I really wanted.  I wanted the ability to experience frustration and even full-out anger without fear of retribution.  Now should I have carte blanche to show my ass in the manner that Nursey Poo did? Hell no.  That type of behavior is inexcusable for anyone.

Alas, I’m not sure when or if ever we’ll get to an America where we can escape the stigma of our stereotypes.  Hell, maybe that kind of world wouldn’t be as interesting, but one where our feelings didn’t unnecessarily put us at risk at loosing our livelihood or worse.  That’d be a world I’d sign up for.

Rosie.

I’m not justifying this level of crazy, BUT when people don’t know how to STFU …

http://youtu.be/mZjgi-tQR9o

T’was a necessary day.

I’m not even sure what I want to write here, but here goes.   In recovery I’ve heard it said that we have good days and we have “necessary” days. Necessary days are days where the not-so-great things come up that challenge all that good shit you think you believe. Today was “necessary”.  I took a verbal battering from someone very near and dear to me simply because we disagree on something. Something that in the end is my business.  I listened to a barrage of insults, accusations, and ill premonitions while saying little or nothing. I was called a “monster”. I was told that I needed to pray and rely on God in the same breath.

The entire time I felt like I was physically being slashed to pieces. I couldn’t breathe. My mouth went dry, but I continued to listen and actually maintained my decorum. I casually began to pack up my things, all while continuing to listen. That was my mistake.  I continued to listen. I knew that what was being said about me was in no way true, but I continued to listen.  I took on this person’s shit.  It danced with every bit of self doubt, shame and  guilt I ever had.  It rented property in my head, and affected my mood all day.

By 4pm (this happened at 11am) I wanted a drink in a way in which I hadn’t in a very long time. Me drinking doesn’t equal going to a bar, having a cocktail and taking it to the house.  Me drinking means me finishing a fifth of whatever, asking where the party’s at, getting in my car to drive to it, and blacking out.  Even though I had no intention of going out and getting a drink, this is a dangerous head space for someone like me to be in, or anyone for that matter. There is nothing a drink or drug can do for anyone (much less an addict) to solve a problem or fix a feeling. After today, I know I believe that at my core and I’m grateful.

I did all the healthy things I could to take care of myself like: talking to folks, making a meeting, praying, cleaning my space,  taking a shower, and writing about it. It’s 9:19pm, and I’ve officially gotten through this very necessary day with the bonus of seeing where its lessons fit in my life. Going forward, I know I must work on certain things so as not to continue to have the same “necessary day”. The main thing is developing the ability to give people their shit back.  Yelling, accusations, insults, and ill premonitions are sure fire guarantees that somebody is trying to give you some shit that ain’t yours. Run like your life depends on it.  It just might.

Rosie.

Get Up. Stand Up.

I just had the best conversation with my son while dropping him off to school. A conversation that I wished someone had had with me when I was a kid.

Rewind:  When I was in about the 4th or 5th grade I had a language arts teacher named Ms. Fiaño. (I will not spare her the dignity of anonimity.) Ms. Fiaño had the old iron sides approach to education; “spare the humiliation spoil the child” was her way.  One day while I was busy being a chatty 4th grader with other chatty 4th graders, Ms. Fiaño decided it was time for someone  to pay the price for disrupting her lesson on dangling participles (or whatever the hell she was teaching that day.) She turned to me and said something like “Stacey, maybe if you could get your mouth shut you wouldn’t have gotten a 56 on the last test.”

Stone silence. All eyes on me.

I was mortified. This would not be the only belittlement I would suffer in her class, and I’m almost 100% sure that I wasn’t the only one but dammit this is my blog and we’re going to talk about me!

The point is her battle axy approach to discipline did nothing but further isolate me from her and any desire to learn what she was teaching. No, I shouldn’t have been talking in her class, but that  didn’t give her license to humiliate me.  Contrary to popular belief, humiliation isn’t always the best teacher. I’ve used the tactic myself in parenting, and now I find myself back peddling trying to convince my son that I don’t think he’s a total idiot. Sigh.  At least I finally got it, right?   Zi, if you’re reading this at some point in the future, I’m sorry.  You rock. Always have. Always will. The world is yours. Go get it!

Fast Forward:  My son has found himself in the position of having to deal with humiliation imposed by educators.  While I plan on dealing with it, because as a parent it’s part of my job to protect him, I also told him what I wish someone had told me.  You have a right to stand up for yourself. It doesn’t require disrespect or confrontation, but it does reinforce in you that you are a person worthy of respect when respect is given.

I think I planted a seed today.   I think.

Rosie.

The Zion Chronicles: …and we’re back.

When I was a kid this time of year always seemed like a new beginning to me. I returned to school, with a fresh mind, a willing heart, and a glimmer in my eye. Often my hopes were dashed by 3rd period, but this did not keep the post holiday after glow from returning each year. I have since transposed this yearly hope shot to my son and my outlook on his education. Each year he’s been in school this time of year has often spelled a new beginning. This year, with things being the way they are, I’m not so sure.

This is the first year that he had work to complete and turn in over the holiday. A science project specifically. A science project that he left all instructions for in parts unknown. This slip in consciousness had me emailing, texting, calling (technology I tell ya!), and hair pulling until we finally came up with a full set of instructions. A tedious 3 days later we look at a project that was complete, but definitely not what I would have him hand in. I decided to let it go because while it wasn’t what I think he was capable of I watched him work. He was definitely putting forward his best effort.

He would stop to ask me to repeat instructions again. He’d work a little more, then stop again, and ask me what I thought…again. I began to realize that he was working to make me happy. To satisfy what I thought was right. When I took a look at the whole process it dawned on me he’d sought my advice down to the medium he chose to use to create the project. It made me incredibly sad to watch this kids scurry around trying to get it just right so I would approve. This was not the parent I wanted to be, but it was the parent I’d become. Somewhere along the line I’d stripped my child of the ability to stand confident in his own decisions.

That’s the shit that sticks with a kid into adulthood. I know because I am/was one of those kids. At 34 I still feel more settled in decisions that I make that my mother agrees with than ones that I make that she doesn’t. What’s crazy is even when I am 100% correct in my decision I still doubt myself. Example, I refused to get Zion a PSP for Christmas because of his lack of effort in school. She disagreed. She felt that since she’s never penalized us for Christmas that I shouldn’t penalize him. I sat for about two weeks in a mud puddle of guilt and frustration, but I didn’t buy the damn game! I also didn’t provide him with a lavish Christmas because it wasn’t warranted, and it would have reinforced some behaviors that for sure didn’t need reinforcement.

Thank the powers that be for growth. To think, if I hadn’t done some growing up and out of this codependent pattern behavior, I might not be writing right now. I might not have chosen theatre as a career option at 30. We are not our parents. Our children are not us. I want nothing but the best for Zion, but there is going to come a point (and I feel it’s coming soon) that what he feels is best for him and what I feel is best for him is going to veer off in different directions. I have to accept it or the next few years are going to be hell on earth. Hence me letting his science project be exactly what he made it. His.

He went to turn the project in today. So many of the kids hadn’t done it that she gave them until Friday to complete it. It figures. He brought it back home and resigned to start over. I gave him total autonomy, but advised that if his second draft failed to be completed the first one would have to do. Maybe I’m letting go too much. I’m not sure how involved I should be. This whole business is like stumbling around in the dark to find a light switch in an unfamiliar space. Hopefully I’ll just stumble along and not bust my ass completely, and pray god, avoid causing any permanent damage to Zion’s tender developing ego.

With a lingering hint of after glow, and hope that this week’s testing turns up some answers to Zion’s educational woes…

Rosie.

The Zion Chronicles: Throw everything at the wall…something will stick.

Today finds me in a very reasonable non-desperate place in my parenting situation. I’m truly grateful for this. What we’ve been up to? Well, much of the same. Threatening. Screaming. Yelling. Punishing. Sighing. Crying. Sadness. I got profoundly sad, then depressed over my son and his inability to “get” it. I spent about a week or two in bed feeling sorry for myself and my ineffective parenting skills. I wallowed. Oh how I wallowed. I found no point in going on. I felt worthless. I wanted to die (no bullshitting). I. I…was the most self centered muphucka on the planet for two weeks. The bottom line is, they aren’t my grades. I don’t have to suffer any of the consequences of them. My job as a parent is to guide and to be there when needed. Both of which I always do, even at my most paranoid and overbearing.

We stayed in the fight. Even when we hated each other, because honestly looking back over the last few weeks; I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have run away or gone emo if I had me for a mom. In the midst of our everyday grind something came to me. We hadn’t played, genuinely played, for a very long while. Maybe because somewhere inside me I felt that I wasn’t doing my job if I allowed him to goof off. What I didn’t think about is that I was doing him and our relationship a severe disservice. Play is JUST as important as work. When I took an honest look at my child’s life I saw that it was mainly work with scattered instances of play that I would stifle as quickly as they arose. What an f’n Scrooge I’d become!

So, I as an experiment (we’ll see how this works folks) decided to play a game with him for 15 minutes for every homework assignment he completes. This accomplishes few things: First, It allows him a break. Second, it allows me to play with him and give him the time with me that he clearly wants (as can be seen by his eagerness to complete assignments per they’re requirement so we can play) and I get time with him, which I want :). It’s been pretty cool so far too!

We’ve been playing Table Topics (which I didn’t initially think he’d like, but it was what was here). If you’re not familiar with Table Topics it’s a game that’s basically a stack of questions that the players go around asking each other. Some are about life experience, others about thoughts on topics, dreams, aspirations. It turns out Zion loves this game. He digs finding out things about me and telling me things about him (he actually confessed stealing a power ranger action figure when he was younger!)

Sidebar: I am having him tested for a learning disability. He resents me a little for it, no matter how much I explain it doesn’t make him stupid, but he’s a kid. I get how he feels. No one wants to be different. As a parent though, I MUST be sure all my bases are covered to ensure he’s getting everything he needs from his educators (and hell yes you have to jump in with both feet when you’re dealing with CMS!)

I can’t say what any of this done for his grades yet (with an overall more healthy emotional well being I’m sure they will at least stabilize, I pray!) I’m seriously trying to let that go for now, but it’s worked wonders for our relationship in just a short period. I’m also doing a lot of work on me. So I don’t take his comments, rants, and attitudes personally. So I don’t feel like I have to fight every battle tooth and nail. So I don’t feel like I have to physically assert my dominance when he’s just doing the things kids do. I won’t be disrespected for sure. However I don’t have to disrespect him to gain that respect. Pretty good feeling.

Yes, I’m still here. Still in it, but now working with my son, instead of against him. It’s working. For now.

Rosie.

The Zion Chronicles: The Good The Bad and The Ugly Betty Dude

I’m still standing. It’s better some days than others. This past Friday it got pretty damn intense. See whenever Zion is away from home for a little more than 24 hours he some how forgets the rules and regulations of the house. He was gone for 48 hours over the holiday with my brother so I had my work cut out for me. He came in wanting to not do anything but laze around and allowed to do so until late afternoon. Then it was time to get to work.

Let me back track a little. I’d visited his school Tuesday (after some erroneous ass story about his Spanish teacher not allowing him to take an exam for Science…wah?). I was irate and ready to climb the walls. It’s been really difficult to strike a balance between worrying the hell out of his teachers giving and them enough space to do their job. It get’s even hairier when certain teachers won’t contact you when it is clear your child is failing their class (D or less in my home, I don’t know about these shady ass CMS standards). I even had a teacher claim she was about to go to administration on my son because of his excessive talking in her class. Really?! So we don’t even pass go? Don’t even collect $200? We definitely don’t talk to the child’s parent. We just go to administration. Nice. Did I mention said teacher responded to me via email with this sentence of sorts:

Good afternoon Mrs. Rose, Zion grades are poorly because he didn’t bring his homework and he didn’t finish his classwork, he talk to much in class, he needs to use his time correctly in order to finish his work, already I need to move him to another desk.”

…and she’s teaching my child. *sigh*.

Well back to our story. By all accounts he needs to make some real changes in classroom behavior and organization. Things I already knew, but how do I make it happen?! I can barely get him to do homework (which apparently he’s only pretending to do.) It’s on him right? That’s what I’m supposed to be doing. How do I decide where I should intervene though. When do certain things become a parent’s duty? I have taken everything from him that bleeps or zings and he now has to “pay” to get them back and for basic things (i.e. watching television) with time spent working (school work, house work, etc.) Is this enough? Is it too much. *Sigh* Appointments with the educational team are made. I sigh. I cry. I dig in. Which brings us back to Friday.

My mom gave him the option of going with her to the store to pick up some energy and get him out of the post Turkey day slump, which I totally get, but he refuses to go. I’m laying down for work while all of this is going on so I arise from my mild coma. Then the stand off begins: (cue the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)

Me: Zion, you need to go ahead with your Grandmother.

Zion: I don’t wanna go!

Me: You’re going. You’re not gonna lay around in here all day.

Zion: I’m tired! I’ve been gone for two days…

Me: What?! You act like you’ve been to war or some shit! If you don’t get your shit on and get outta here…! (yes I cussed, I’m working on it. Call DSS if you need to.)


Zion grumbles into his room, puts on anything literally and slams himself next to his Grandmother and begins to mumble. This begins to irritate her and she reascends her original invitation. She doesn’t want him along aggravating the hell out of her, and I truly don’t blame her!

Me: Okay Zion, then you can go ahead and get your homework started.

Zion: I’m going with Gram!

Me: Oh no you’re not!

Zion: Yes, I am! I don’t wanna stay here!

Me: It’s fine, you’ll just do do your homework when you get back. Either way. You’re doing your homework.

My mother once again denies his company. He shoves himself against her and begins a round of hostile mumbling. I have exceeded the boiling point. I box his ears like he’s Oliver twist (again call DSS if you need to.) Stunned by the turn of events Zion goes into his Sophia routine: (cue the theme for The Color Purple.)

It took all this just to get him to get to his homework and stay focused. I don’t like having to be this parent. I don’t like that looking at him after all this his face read an intense hatred of me. I found myself growing this tiny fear in the pit of my stomach while getting ready for work. I’d been following the story of Michael Brea (the dude who sliced his mom to bits because she was full of demons). Mind you I don’t think Zion will rule me demonized and slice my head off in the next week or so (I’ve hidden all of our samurai swords just in case though), I just think that hostility toward parents now-a-days has manifested itself in slayings or other family tragedies. Maybe it’s an unfounded concern, but boy did he look consumed with the fires of hatred when I told him he needed to read two chapters instead of one due to the lag time over the holiday.

Where is the line between normal tween/teen aged moodiness, and “Is this lil negro plottin’ my murder?” *SIGH* I dunno. What I can do is try to control my anger a little more, and it has gotten lots better and pick my battles. I try not to be a complete tyrant, which is why I allowed him to leave the house for a few days. He needed it. I needed it. It’s Saturday. We’re back to the grid iron in a little over 24 hours.

Rosie.