You Are Here: The Summer of My Discontent

For the last week or so I’ve been letting it all soak in (that and panicking over whether or not I’d receive a Grad Plus Loan). After nearly two years of highs, lows, breakthroughs and disappointments I am now poised to take my seat in one of the most prestigious MFA programs for dramatic writing in the world. Any doubts that I had about deserving to be here have been obliterated. Fuck. That. I’ve worked my ass off, paid dues, took praises, and people’s  slick shit talkin’. So why do I still feel like a pimply faced 16 year-old most of the time? As the old adage goes: No matter where you go there you are.

One truth that my experience thus far has drilled into me is human nature’s constant state of flux.  The irony is we seem to be born equipped to detest even the slightest changes and will often do the strangest things, e.g. self sabotaging (my go to strategy btw), to avoid it. I at times literally have to be dragged kicking and screaming into transition. Sometimes I’ll put a toe in the pool of transition only to have Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed shove me, lovingly, all the way in.

And shoved I was this summer. Nothing, and I do me NO. THING. Has been constant since I’ve left the safety of my job, family, and friends in sunny Charlotte, NC.  I have been living a little of everywhere.  I have been jobless since July 20th. Now … in the grand scheme of joblessness, I know this is no major deal but going from knowing exactly where your next dollar is coming from for fourteen years to not knowing when the hell I’m ever gonna work again, for me is terrifying. Calculate in my baseline fear that this shit was gonna fall apart in any second and I would be headed back to Charlotte with my tail tucked firmly between my legs, and it seems that I should very well be a basket case. These are the times that I give thanks for my grounding practices.

Recovery, yoga, meditation, great friends, supportive family, arts, and culture have collectively saved my life this summer. The abundance of it to be found for free is proof for me that the universe wants to love us through the changes that we will inevitably go through no matter what we have or don’t have. More often than not this summer I’ve felt like the kid who’d ventured out to the middle of the monkey bars and lost faith that he could get to the other side. Then I’d call or text someone and find the courage to extend my hand to the next bar.  I got my heart broken. I headed to a meeting, and was off swinging again. My job hunt was essentially fruitless. I dangled wanting very badly to let go, but then I go to yoga and listen while Amy (the most amazing yogi I’ve met thus far) tells me to “root my tree”  and just like that, I am here,  on the other side of the monkey bar … only to realize that there is a playground called life that’s full of them.

The gift of my summer of discontent is my enhanced ability to thrive through unpredictability. Finding peace within while my clothes are scattered to the four corners of Newark, centering when in the midst of the realization that I may not accomplish what I came all this way to do, and taking the next required action with my hands shaking and the tears falling has served to make me ready for whatever is next. Even if I’m not, I know help is available for the Bible, Quran, Yoga Vedas, Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey, and my Momma tell me so.

Rosie.

800px-You_are_here_-_T-shirt

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Martyr May I.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Person: Wow! Congrats on getting into NYU! That’s an incredible opportunity.

Stacey: Aww, Thank you. I’m really excited.

Person: Is your son going?

(Here, as we say in theatre, is a “beat”. The length of the “beat” usually depends on how many times I’d been asked that question within 48 hrs. The extent to which I go to explain my choice is directly proportional to the level of maternal guilt I’m feeling that day, but it all boils down to this:)

Stacey: No, He’s not going (… insert excessive rambling here as needed.)

(Next, the reaction. It varies and is typically some combination of: 1. A “beat”, some type of facial grimace, followed by an expulsion of air … usually from the mouth and then 2: Oh … )

Person: … who is he staying with?

Me: …my mom.

(Now, the conversation either ends here or rambles on in some awkward dance between my guilt and the other person’s judgement/the judgement I perceive them to have, then dies an even more awkward death in pregnant silence.)

This post is not an explanation of why my son will not be moving to New York with me. This post is about the fact that this question is always the first to be raised with mothers pursuing lofty goals.

I have watched my mother, and countless other mothers “sacrifice”, martyr their peace, happiness, and in some cases their physical existence for children who didn’t benefit one way or the other from said sacrifice. In some cases this “sacrifice” was ultimately the child’s downfall. Why? Because all that additional motherly love was enabling, that’s why. Mothers and specifically single mothers have for far too long worn the badge of the martyr, forfeiting any dreams or potential they had before they gave birth. It’s as if your goals and desires for yourself can’t exist in the same space as parenthood, or if they can, those goals and desires had better damn well be minimal and involve a papoose. (I just pictured my 5’8” 155lb 14 year-old strapped to me as I navigated Washington Square and died a little.)

Ye verily I say unto all the mothers who think they have to give up happiness and personal satisfactions in order to be a “good” mother … fuck all of that … in its entirety. I am a 37 year old woman with a lot of life left (hopefully), and a lot of shit I want to do. I love my son immensely and will not cease to handle my basic parental responsibilities, while also continuing to do everything within my power to guide him into a successful life. That, for me, is what parenthood is about. I refuse to give up my life as a testament to what a wonderful mother I am. I would rather live a full and purposeful life that can serve to inspire and empower my child into a better way of living. My pursuit of a full and purposeful life just happens to involve me being away from my kid for a while. This is not an ideal situation, but it is not Life’s job to serve up ideal situations. Besides, I’m pursuing graduate education for baby Jesus’s sake, not smoking crack. (Unfortunately, the latter in the eyes of some, seems to be a more acceptable reason for a maternal hiatus :/.)

Then there’s the shitty male/female double standard. If I were a father, even a single father, I don’t think anyone would give a second thought to me taking off to school or even better enlisting with the military and leaving my son with family. In fact, it’d be encouraged. This, in the eyes of some, makes a father joining the army, potentially being deployed to war, and killed a better choice than me, a mother, pursing higher education. I don’t blame fathers. Hell, I don’t even blame the people who ask me this question. It’s kind of just the way things are. We exist in a patriarchal society where the man goes out hunts the meat, clubs us over the head then …

Maybe you think I’ve written this assuage my guilty conscious and maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t give a fuck* what anyone thinks. Maybe I do, but I shouldn’t because it’s my life. Square biz, I don’t know a parent who doesn’t have regrets about choices they’ve made raising their children. I know I will have regrets a plenty, possibly with the decision to leave him in Charlotte for two years topping the list. Time will inevitably reveal the decisions that will land my ass in a shitty nursing home per my son’s request. However, If I look at my parenting job so far I can honestly say the danger of me stewing in my own juices while medical staff is on break is pretty remote. All I can do is check with my gut, check with Sonny Jim, and pray for the best

Rosie.

*Please read the linked article ad nauseum. You will either become completely reckless, stop being afraid of what people think and live, or both. Shouts to KNKYTHT for sending it to me, it was the highlight of my week.

Consider the possibilites.

“Consider the possibility that we can change the aspects of our lives that we most take for granted.” –– Dr. Angela Davis

I figured I’d take a moment to jot down some of the thoughts that have been jostling around in my head for the last few days. It’s become glaringly apparent to me how small my life use to be and how I very well could have died without achieving much or really even enjoying something as simple as a vacation with my family. It wasn’t until I was an adult that my family and I even went anywhere together outside of the south to visit other family. (I do not count the one horrific trip to Wildwood, NJ I vaguely remember that began and I feel ended with me toileting on the side of the road.)

The point is, it just wasn’t something we thought to do as a unit or if it did come up the obstacles to actually executing it seemed so insurmountable that the effort to make it happen seemed futile.  This mentality infused my thoughts about college: I didn’t even apply when I was in high school because it never occurred to me to apply (and not an adult in my life either apparently). My career choice:  Despite always being a strong writer in school, and even being told by my 11th grade English teacher that I should be a writer.  The idea that I could make a living with my words seemed far beyond me. That was for other people.  Sadly, I come from a culture of folks that continue to think and believe in the same way, and no, I don’t mean black folks.  I mean people who were just not made to feel  that happiness, abundance, achievement,  spiritual and emotional fulfillment could exist on this earthly plane, and if so … not for us.

I’m so grateful that I was “found” and made to believe that in this life I could go after whatever it is I desire. The even greater realization was that the satisfaction dwells in the pursuit, and not the goal. All these themes came up last evening when I attended Dr. Angela Davis’s lecture at Davidson College.  She was amazing, unabashed, and everything that I want to be when I grow into my big-girl self.  She spoke of the freedom fight of Black America  and how it is a galvanizing force in the fight for human rights globally, something I have believed for a very long time.  There was so much said that filled my spirit I  felt sure my heart would burst.

The above quote is what tied all of Dr. Davis’s beautifully simple yet profound words together for me. Although the “wrong” in the world and in our lives seems unconquerable, the hope is  found in latent potential for good/better/the best that lives in us all.  The possibilities  can be unleashed with just the slightest bit of action on our part, like finishing that degree, like making our beds, like spending that extra hour with our family, like spending that extra hour with self. Seems like a load of jive to you? Test the theory, the results may shock you ;).

Rosie.

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

You B**** You!

*the following is a reflection of my experience as a triple minority (black/fat/female), any similarities to your experience(s) or that of your loved ones is purely coincidental. Yes, I do realize that my views may be irrational to some, but this here is my blog … I write what the hell I want.

Some folks make we want to draw the purse strings of my human decency closed … Around their neck … Until they are dead. Case in point (and keeping it one hundred, the reason for this post): My dearest friend Eric and I arrive at a high end apartment complex on the high end side of town. We unemployed/lower middle class plebes actually have a friend that lives there. Upon entering the building, walking past an intense argument between a young Asian gentlemen and a female building attendant bickering over the gentleman’s squatters rights, we approach the elevator. The doors open. Dog. BIG dog. REALLY big dog, one of those sombitches that could stand taller than a human being. I don’t know dogs (i.e. breeds, temperaments, blah, blah, blah), but I do know my history with dogs. It’s dicey at best.

Upon seeing the beast my knee jerk reaction came in words:

“That’s the biggest dog I’ve ever seen in my life.” (a slight exaggeration, but it was preeety damn close to accurate.)

Then came an unexpected rebuttal:

Really?” (dripping with sarcasm)

Pan up from the annoying shoe gloved feet, to slender frame draped work out couture, to JINORMOURS diamond encrusted left ring finger, to almond colored skin, to oval face, to the jenkiest weave I’ve seen in three months.

again, in that bitchesque tone she says:

“Really?!”

As if I were her child and I was carrying on over some non-existent ghost under my bed.

“Yes, really.” I managed.

“He’s a Golden.” she quips …

…like I should have known that at birth, when I honestly didn’t give a fuck what breed it was and didn’t in fact own a pet of the furry variety until I was 22. It wasn’t long before I realized that the dog should have been the least of my worries.  It’s master had already proven herself to be a bigger bitch than it could ever dare to be.

Already exasperated by a day full of assorted strangeness we board the elevator.

“Two, please.” I says.

*blank stare* (I mean blank fucking stare, as if I’d been speaking Mandarin.)

Now, regular well adjusted human beings on an elevator standing next to the buttons will often extend the courtesy of pushing the button for the floor(s) others will be heading to. This bitch was not a regular well adjusted human being. The dog actually had a better shot at being one.

“Oh, I don’t work here.”

In that instant I became more disgusted with her than I had been with any human being in a very long time.  Her snobbish tone and don’t-you-know-who-the-fuck-I’m-is glare made me want to break something … like her face, her fingers, her legs, well you get it.  And I’ll be straight up and say that it’s mainly ego that made me so furious with her.  Nobody likes to be belittled openly or covertly and this is what this chick was doing.  Somehow the circumstances of this … woman’s life had lead her to believe that extending common courtesy was grossly beneath her, and I’ll go further to say she believed that my friend and I were beneath her.

And … I’ll go even further in my attempt to be honest with myself about the situation and say her impudence carried an extra sting because she was black.  There is an implied sense (at least in my black experience) that we are all in this together.  This implied sister/brotherhood was grossly violated, and I resented the hell out of her for it.  I’d come to expect this type of behavior out of certain types of white folk, but I’d venture to say that even their sense of superiority wouldn’t have prevented them from pushing  a damn elevator button for another human being.

During that small exchange  some small part of me knew that I probably had more grace and character in my toe nails than she had in her entire self-centered frame. Me having the common sense that God and my Nana gave me I knew the truth, but my ego didn’t.   Thus this passive aggressive post, because sometimes I just have to allow myself to be fully angry. Now I have been, and since carrying resentments are like eating rat poison and expecting your enemy to die, I’ll let it go. I’ll move forward knowing that in the not so distant future when I am a filthy rich and famous writer standing by the buttons on the elevator of my exclusive condominium complex, when someone boards and says:

“Two, please.”

I shall not hesitate to have my well trained, denim clad chimp press 2. 😛

Rosie.

ok … I’m done for real.

V is for Vagina. Keep your religion and laws out of mine.

I was absolutely BUSTING to be in the middle of the melee that is the DNC in CLT when I arrived in Uptown Charlotte this past Tuesday. No sooner than my feet hit the pavement had I been greeted by the mad bullhorn ravings of the pro-lifers. They gnashed their terrible teeth, roared their terrible roars, rolled their terrible eyes, and brandished their terrible photos of mangled fetuses.  They called the president a Muslim as if it were the most wicked thing one could be. They said “Mmmmussslim”  in a tone that eerily mimicked the sound of the word Nigger in pre-civil rights Alabama.  Then in the next breath  spoke about the loving redemption to be found in Christ and how we must protect our children  against the threat posed  by the Obama administration.

For my money, the pro-lifers are far more threatening and imposing than any presidential administration I’ve ever lived through. It is not their religion, but more so the application of it that is frightening.  Using the Bible/Christianity to justify dictating a woman’s reproductive rights  mirrors the mentality used to justify the enslavement of an entire race of people.  It’s that “white-male-forefather” mentality re-imagined and thinly veiled.  It implies that there is one moral code that applies universally when that simply isn’t true.

While there are certain things that tend to apply across cultures (e.g. though shalt not kill, steal etc.) almost everything else really depends on the views of the individuals or groups within a culture.  When those “views” impeded on individual human rights then it’s time to re-evaluate those views; as was done with slavery, as was done during women’s suffrage … Oh wait, we have dealt with this shit already (See Roe vs. Wade).  Then, as was stated and re-stated during speeches and discussions after last night’s DNC coverage, “Why in the hell are we still talking about it?”

My theory:  Because  of those damn monsters!  Those control seeking, white-male-paternalistic monsters inside the minds and hearts of certain men. They  continue to seek to make their religion, their morals, their values the law of the land, all while conveniently forgetting this patch of green wasn’t theirs to begin with.  They resist the inevitable transitions happening in this country sometimes aloud with bullhorns, hellfire, and brimstone or sometimes quietly with laws and legislation designed to “protect” women and children.  Well I, as a woman and the descendant of those that were “owned”, would like to suggest that these folk shove their ideology up their asses.

I’m a grown woman who is mentally intact (on most days).  I’m fully capable of making my own decisions (“right” or “wrong”) about my body. I will resist at the cellular level any attempt to control, dominate, suppress, undermine or otherwise violate my Barbara Goodbush or the body in which she resides. I would hope any woman in her right mind would do the same.

Rosie.

The word of the day is VAGINA. Can you say that Vuh J-eye Nuuuh