F*CK YOU AND YOUR IVORY TOWER

I refuse to apologize for this post to anyone except my mother, for whom the title may be too offensive. But as I’ve enlightened even her as to her cushy seat up in the Ivory Tower of White Privilege, I give zero f*cks. Except for maybe my language but that’s what happens when you’ve absolutely had it with society.

I work in customer service and that generally means two things: 1) It’s my job to be helpful and 2) It’s my job to be polite. Unfortunately both requirements apply to everyone, even the openly bigoted ones. And boy have they been having a field day lately, all out in the open frolicking hand-in-hand as they make literally all. of. us. uncomfortable. #CheckYourselfBeforeYouWreckYourself

A “field day” event happened today and it blew the cap off of the lid I’ve been trying to keep on my emotions post-November 8, 2016. A customer, flanked by her bougie daughters and aloof husband, had been steadily getting on my last nerve ordering me around and talking to me as if I were beneath her. But then this happened as she was attempting to describe the sales associate that was helping her before I was:

Customer: She had dark hair. It was kind of long.

Me: Was she young?

Customer: Yes…and she looked not-American.

Me: …you mean Latina?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s my job to be polite and my job was not worth losing due to this woman’s disgusting display of bigotry. So I held my tongue and refrained from giving her a piece of my mind. And I swallowed hard when she later scrunched up her nose at a fellow human and walked away from them because they were—God forbid—scratching their head and presumably of a lower socio-economic status than her (she who was obsessed with sales and discounts, riddle me that). And I tried to not lash out when another associate, who happens to be an immigrant from a European country, said this woman had refused her assistance before she found me at my register. But I had it when she inferred that not-American is synonymous with Latina. And now we’re here.

Last time I checked, Americans come in all shapes, sizes, and skin colors. But the problem lies when well-meaning white people open their mouths in an attempt to be our allies after situations like the above happen. Confused? Let’s back track.

If you, in your odd curiosity, have ever asked me, “Are you adopted?” as if my lily white mother would never willingly have a baby with my deep bronze father; or “Are your parents still together?” as if a black man is incapable of willingly showing up as a husband and father; or “Are you and your sisters all the same skin color?” as if you’re hoping I break out some on-trend ombre family photo that’ll make you feel cultured; or even “What race do you identify with?” as if I choose who I am in the same reductive way you choose your socks in the morning, I’ve got news for you: you’re part of the us vs. them problem. If you seek reassurance that age-old tropes and stereotypes about my race don’t apply to me and my family because we’re on your List of Good and Okay Minorities to Associate With, you’re perpetuating said stereotypes. Sorry (not sorry).

If you, after saying something uncouth, have ever had the words, “I’m not racist, my (insert personal relation here) is (insert minority here),” come out of your mouth, I’ve got news for you: you’re racist. If you have to associate a race with a person in your life that you’re fond of in order to justify your feelings for other members of that race instead of just seeing said race as part of the larger collective of humans in general and treating them kindly, then you’re racist. Sorry (not sorry).

You can’t fix a system that you (unconsciously?) perpetuate. So, allies, if you’re still with me, I have a charge for you. But…before you get too fussy about what I’ve written so far, you must know and accept what we’ve come to know and accept: you can’t fix the behavior or mindset of Mrs. Cold Spring Harbor up there (yes that’s the town she lives in #OnBlast #NoShame). She and the many people like her are too far gone. But you can fix the small ways in which people like you go about their business in the world. If you boldly change your line of thinking and acting—and you’re a white man or woman—then other white men and women have a higher likelihood of following suit. Because sadly, that’s how it seems to work.

But before you ask for help in changing your ways, here’s me (all of us?) saying, “Nah, b. We’re tired. Figure it out yourself.”

Sound harsh? Tough.

Sincerely,
That Fly on the Wall You Didn’t Realize Was Biracial

BE, HERE, NOW

I wish I could say that I remember living in Queens, but I don’t. I know that I did certain things like skip home from the public library with a stack of books around the age of 3 and play in snow that nearly came up to my tiny little shoulder around the age of 2. But remember, I do not.

I don’t remember moving from Queens to Suffolk County, Long Island with my family around the age of 3-and-a-half! nor do I remember painting my new, all-to-myself room a shade of purply-pink. But what I do remember is a constant, pervasive feeling of Not Quite Liking Where I Was.

I’m one of those people who is always reaching for what’s beyond me; always seeking something better or grander and always thinking it can’t be found where I am. I don’t know why but I’ve never really liked Long Island. Well, that’s not true. I like the geography, and some of the towns, but the people—sorry to say it—embarrass me a bit. The rough and tumbled accents; the crassness and propensity for strong language; the general lack of grace and gentility; the culture of god only knows what that’s always felt very much Their’s and not at all Mine—even though a peek through a few of my family’s photo albums would tell a different story. But let’s just say that’s because I was an eccentric teenager trying, for a minute, to fit in to a place where I never fully could.

That’s the problem I guess, Long Island never felt like mine. It wasn’t a place that I could lay claim to, so when a dear friend recently said to me that there was something “so Long Island about you,” I felt my blood boil because to me, there isn’t. Worth noting: she isn’t from here.

You see, my closest friends growing up weren’t in my school district, one wasn’t even in the same state as me. My earliest boyfriends were also from different school districts, most weren’t in my grade either. My own family is mostly from the city, if not different states all together. For college, I shirked convention and hightailed it to a private school in North Carolina, much to the surprise of what felt like everyone and their mother’s who attended in-state public universities or ones within a few hours’ drive of home.

So when I came back to Long Island after college, I did so with my tail between my legs with all intentions of at least working in the city. But that was a thing that very much didn’t happen as I worked for the town I grew up in for 2 years—literally, I was in Town Hall. All the while scratching that itch of mine to leave (again). So I dated someone who lived in Brooklyn. When I finally moved to Brooklyn myself for school, it was largely a disaster and I found myself back in Long Island sooner than I ever wished to return (which at that time was never, mostly never, with the exception of birthdays and holidays and the occasional trip to the Hamptons).

So I was back here. Living in Long Island, at least working in New Jersey (words I never thought I’d say). But when that commute just got to be way. too. much., I was fully here once more—goodbye Brooklyn Boy—dating here, working here, living here. All the while scratching that itch of mine to leave (again). So I dated someone else who lived in Brooklyn; and then someone who lived further east in Long Island but had an apartment in the city; and then that one who lived in Harlem that was so good until it wasn’t good at all. And then I was fully here once again.

But not quite! Because I was still hoping for something better/different/farther away to come my way somehow. Until, quite literally last night, when a very important person in my life—mind you, this is a person I never thought I’d see again (life, you’re funny)—stopped me in the middle of yet another one of my “Why am I here? I can’t stand it here,” diatribes and looked directly at me as he said, “There’s nothing wrong with being here.”

Here.

It has literally cost me so much trying to not be here. I’ve chased down every possible avenue to have an excuse to not be here—religion, education, romance, work—and all of them have ended with an exasperated, financially-strapped, heartbroken me looking up at the sky saying, “Really? Here? Again?”

But yes. Here: apparently where I’m supposed to be now (thanks for nothing Ram Dass). My parents moved my siblings and I here, as in Long Island, for a “better life” and my stubbornness has left me trying to leave this “idyllic suburb” every chance I’ve gotten. Yet my Parent—capitalization necessary as I’m talking about God y’all—has kept bringing me back, saying all the while, “Child, will you just be Here.”

So I shall be here; and not reluctantly this time. Because maybe there’s nothing wrong with being in a place that doesn’t quite feel like Mine. Because maybe it’s not supposed to, and maybe it can’t feel like Mine yet if I am to truly make my mark on it. And maybe, just maybe, this is the biggest test of all: being fully here, in this place and in this moment, even though it’s a here I never really wanted, and finding its light and all the ways I can love it.

Aha.

P.S. Necessary listening…

 

[QUOTE] I HAD A DAY [END QUOTE]

When you’re trying to MacGyver your broken glasses so you can somehow see after accidentally tearing your last pair of contacts and then later contemplate rinsing off the breakfast bar you dropped on the floor so you can eat it anyway (#fivesecondrule), you know your day is going to be an interesting one.

Or in my language, you know you’re about to have a day. And because you’re a trooper, you put on your bravest face and try to make it work anyway. But because you’re a human being with limits, you end up crying in a Starbucks a few hours later over a likely fictitious scenario. Demurely, of course. Because God forbid anything else.

Whenever I have such a day I count myself lucky that, even though a good number of my friends are scattered about the continental United States, I still have a handful of people that can support me in person through said Starbucks sobbing. But human relationships have their limits. So this is where I too count myself lucky that, even though I am at times more wandering than unwavering, I still have a steady relationship with my intuition, the Universe magic, and God.

So much so that when I’m struck by spontaneous whims that are rather ambitious (read: driving 1.5 hours eastbound for a grand perspective shift after said day) I don’t even blink twice. I just…go. And when I just…go, I can feel the story that I. must. share. writing itself inside me as I live and breathe something different — something holy — for however long I feel compelled to.

And because most storytellers are inspired by other storytellers, I’m going to use the 4 Lindsay McCaul songs I listened to tonight to punctuate the story from here out.

Say My Name: You say my name and tell me there’s a better place; lead me to Your sweet embrace. I can hear You calling…

There were moments when my car was barreling down the Long Island Expressway, and then slightly less maniacally down Montauk Highway when I, fully cognizant yet nearly dreamland bound, recognized that my soul was out in front of my body galloping like a wild horse to meet God out in East Hampton.

And by God was it beautiful there. The midnight sky, speckled with stars, pressed deep down on the wild ocean at Main Beach, but didn’t contain its spirit. The waves of said ocean, far out in the pitch black, played tag with one another down the shore. And I was sat upon the hood of my car oblivious, for once, to the strange, dark night that I was alone in.

It was magic and exactly the kind of awestruck I needed to shake myself out of my day and into the lesson that God had for my heart that night: how to stay graceful under persecution (real or imagined). I set out for dinner, satisfied and satiated in the soul.

I got ready to head home a few enjoyable moments after chowing down on pommes frites and Malbec. And I switched songs (and moods alongside it).

Every lamb-in-the-lion’s-den moment I’d experienced in the last year flooded my brain and came out through my eyes with the longing, needy crying of a child with skinned knees, who is sitting in the lap of its parent who let go of the bike too soon, asking “But why?”

Take My Hand: For a moment I was brave and strong but now everything is going wrong. Didn’t You know that I’d be scared? Couldn’t You see I was unprepared? I’m not asking for reasons You hold or the safety of land; I just need You to take my hand…

All I could see were the moments in the dark where I felt alone and lost making decisions I wouldn’t normally make and spending time with people I’d otherwise dismiss (for very legitimate reasons). And furthermore, how those moments in the dark, though distant, are still affecting me today. I just couldn’t understand why God let go when I still clearly needed training wheels.

Hold on To Me: All I’m standing on is all my good intent as I get swept away time and time again. I know I need You now to do what I can’t somehow. So hold on to me ’cause I’m not good at holding on, I’m weak. I guess that’s how this is supposed to be; when I am barely holding on You hold on to me…

I gripped the steering wheel tightly, nostalgic for the last hour, because I knew I wasn’t just heading away from the Eden that was the quiet starry night. I was heading back toward real life too. The one with a thousand tiny hells — those moments, people, and opportunities that separate you from God — waiting around each corner.

And I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t want to leave the God of East Hampton, who showed me an amazing night sky that took my breath away and left me gazing at it longingly like a lovesick puppy, for the God of Huntington, who tests me and my grace, patience, sincerity, and devotion on the regular.

But then — isn’t there always a but then? — about halfway through my trip, I caught a gleam of a bright star in the corner of my eye and remembered the shooting star I saw earlier when I pulled over before fully, fully leaving East Hampton. And with a wave of relief and release, my signature smirk — the one that’s both fully content and slightly mischievous — crept across my face.

Where Do You Go: So where do you go when there’s no voice from heaven? Where do you go when all you have are questions? Maybe the silence is His mercy and there’s beauty in His mystery; You should know you’re not alone wherever you go…

I realized I took the stars with me. Better yet, I realized I have always taken the stars with me. Because it is all real life: the Eden’s and the tiny hells. And with that being true, it was no longer a day, but a Good Day.

YOU’RE A SEEKER, HARRY

Maybe it was when I sat in my mother’s lap after losing both my great aunts within a month of each other, at the age of 10, and consoled her from a Place deep inside me on the permanence of Life and the illusion of death…

Or maybe it was when I truly understood the gravity of knowing exactly what your God voice does and does not sound like, at the age of 26, during those numerous vulnerable and mindless moments in the car, and in the shower, and in the kitchen washing dishes when I felt so overloaded at times that I could barely breathe…

Or maybe it was when I threw myself onto the floor in a puddle of tears, at the age of 21, in a desperate search of something and Everything and hysterically asked for a surefootedness I then believed could only be rooted in the Way, the Truth, and the Life…

Or maybe it was when I walked bravely into school, at the age of 12, with a face riddled in tiny red bumps—a telltale mark of the Fifth’s Disease my body was fighting—unfazed by the questions and sneers sure to come within the mean hallways of middle school…

Or maybe it was when I was cozied up with my not yet deceased great aunt at our kitchen table, at the age of 7, asking her question upon question about the mind and heart hidden under her habit while dipping a seemingly endless tray of strawberries into melted dark chocolate the night before my First Holy Communion…

Or maybe it was when my friend and I stumbled upon the silliest of marvels in the middle of a somewhat backwoods North Carolina town, at the age(s) of 19, in a massive Jesus statue and sought solace for our confused souls in that parking lot overwhelming night after overwhelming night…

Or maybe it was when I watched with wide-eyes and listened with an open heart, at the age of 13, to the rites and rituals my friends were diligently completing for their bat mitzvahs…

Or maybe it was when I began collecting crystals again as I used to as a child, at the age of 25, and marveled at the incomprehensible calm one could have when meditating with a cool stone in hand a thankful and proverbial 2 minutes before the worst heartbreak of my life would barge in, knock me clear to the ground, and leave me grasping at dust in search of a solid rock…

Or maybe it was when I finally sat down to write this post right here, a good 3 days after it began brewing in my mind, at the age of 27, with at once lightening fast and molasses slow fingers across a keyboard in a sweet reverie on my inner Wild Child, and all of her passionate undertakings—misguided or otherwise—and her unwavering ability to always stand back up—worse for wear or otherwise—ready to sing praises to a Great Grandness…

That I first realized I was a Seeker.

Wander and waiver though I do, as I believe most humans do and should, my heart was devoted to the pursuit, the passionate seeking, of the Love, Truth, and Understanding wrapped up in the Great Unknown long before I took my first breath in this body, for this life.

And because I find myself in this body, and in this life, I am endlessly thankful that there is an endless well of Patience for my many stops and starts. And that there is an endless well of Answers for my hundreds and thousands of Questions. And that there too is an endless well of Paths to the Divine for my Wild and Curious Heart to Explore.

Tomorrow said path may be a spark of inspiration found in the bottom of a cup of dandelion tea. Or in a breathtaking moment of beauty found in the way a curtain gets lost in the breeze. Or in an understanding of the innate Trust within all of us upon watching a child play some 50 feet away from its parent.

But tonight it is the simple deliciousness of a bowl of pasta made lovingly by my father, and the decidedly jumbled words of J.K. Rowling echoing in my head, and the soulful crooning of Josh Garrels flowing into my ears that makes me exclaim, ever so softly, “It is time to begin again.” 

And begin again I shall.

THAT TIME I DECIDED UPON DELUSIONS INSTEAD FOR THE STORY, AT LEAST, FOR THE UNIVERSE

We smoked the screen to make it what it was to be. Now to know it in my memory… – Bon Iver

I should have just stayed away.

I knew it too. All along. That’s the worst, isn’t it? When you feel something so viscerally in your bones you can’t quite explain it or directly point to it but, it’s there. Like a ghost in your mind, haunting you as it floats back and forth, in and out. But no, it can’t be. No he must. No she isn’t. And so it begins, the lies we tell ourselves to keep the loves we want.

Of all of the terrible things in this world, at this moment, I feel as though hindsight is the most terrible. It rips away your self-pity, rips away the distractions you’ve piled high around yourself, rips away the shaky foundation you’re trying to stand tall on, and it says in its cruelest of voices, “Look, you tiny idiot. Look, you beautiful little fool. It was there all along. Right in front of your face.”

But, we smoke our screens. We cloud our glasses. We live in and out of our delusions because for the moment they are more beautiful than the truth. We forget all of the time that we craft our own realities, and life is never kind when our experiences are proven to be just that…our reality, our experience. Not the reality, not the true experience.

And from that moment forward, you can see nothing as the same. The jig is up, the fantasy ruined, the veil ripped, and all you are left to do is look. Over, and over, and over. Because what is passion without torture? Look at the text(s) that said it all. Look at the mouth that told explanations that raised your eyebrow. Look at the shoes you wore the last time you slept, beside them, soundly in your own ignorance. Look at your vacant eyes in the mirror and sigh at your pathetic reflection. Look at those moments, lies though they were, when you had a love in your arms. On your mouth. In your head. In your bones. At least. At least. At least.

Oh, the excuses, rationality, and delusions we cast upon our eyes, our hearts, our minds when we feel what we perceive to be love. Woe to the intense folk, the sensitive folk, the trusting folk, the hopeful folk. Woe always, forever and ever, for the lambs amongst the lions amongst the lambs.

And the most woe upon the little lamb that thought herself a lion as she ventured into the den, unafraid and willing and wanting.

AN UNWANTED SILENCE

I’m sure you’ve experienced the sting of not being listened to. Whether it was carefully crafted advice that fell on deaf ears, hopes and dreams squashed by an authority figure or an expert opinion passed over at work, we’ve all been there. After too many instances, you learn to keep quiet. You reason that there’s no point in speaking up; you stop caring. Shortly thereafter you all but forget what rejection feels like or what your voice sounds like. Your ideas fall into bins before they’re given much thought. Your feelings slip under heavy rugs.

And finally, all is silent. Frustratingly silent.

Your soul — your very essence, your intuitive guide through life — experiences the sting of not being listened to as well. Each time you stopped crafting advice, stopped following your dreams, and stopped sharing your expert opinions, a little piece of you cries out. As a young 20-something, I’ve realized that the reason I often feel without direction is because, after hundreds of little instances where I didn’t respond to the tug, my soul stopped speaking out loud.

But it’s okay.

Because we all wander through life hearing our soul clearly and not so clearly. Life is all about the journey of coming back to yourself. So just open your ears and do what you are being gently guided to do.

Again.