Past Lives and Past Friends

March 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Self | 3 Comments

It makes me sad to think about all of the people that I’ve cared for in the past that are no longer in my life.  I’ve got an address book full of people who have meant a lot to me, but who I haven’t spoken to in years.  People from my time at Wesleyan, summer camp while in high school, my summer in Utah, and from Mexico.  All of these people I was extremely close to for at least a while, but now I wouldn’t know how to find them even if I tried. 

I wonder what it takes for a relationship to transcend a particular set of circumstances and become one that exists no matter where we find ourselves.  I think that those friendships that have petered out mainly did so because they existed at a time in our lives where we were mobile and in the process of defining ourselves. 

What has triggered these thoughts for me?  Well, I brought my life history in pictures to our apartment from my mom’s house and spent some time looking at photos taken over the course of ten years or so.  I had a bunch from my first (and only) year at Wesleyan…pictures of people with whom I shared intense times, conversations, laughs, and drinking binges.  There were dozens of pictures of one friend in particular, the guy who lived across the hall from me.  We were extremely close for that year, then when I left Wesleyan, we stayed in touch and saw each other occasionally.  Of course, communication died shortly thereafter. 

What was so strange was that the very next day, I checked my email and found that he had invited me to be his “friend” on Facebook.  What an odd coincidence…the very day after I had been reminiscing about our friendship, he has located me on Facebook.  So I shoot him a message, sharing this oddity of synchronicity with him.  His response?

Nothing.  Absolute silence.  What I take from this is that some, if not most, of my friendships from my late teens and early twenties are meant to stay in the past. 

And I also wonder what it takes to make a friendship endure.  I really believe that had I stayed in Cancun, I would have felt like I was a part of a circle of people with whom I’d continue to share experiences and love.  But here in the US, we’re all so damn busy.  This, coupled with the fact that most people from Rhode Island still have the same circle of friends and family that they grew up with, can make life fairly isolating and lonely.  And those who have relocated here may very well not stay for long. 

There’s something to be said for a small, tight social circle, but how do you make that circle expand? 

My First Meme

March 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Blogging, Self | 3 Comments

So my meme cherry is officially getting popped!  My deepest apologies to La Canucka for ignoring her children meme, but I just couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t be trite and totally coming out of my ass.  I don’t fully understand this meme thing, but I like to talk about myself as much as the next girl. 

What are your top 3 favorite foods?

  • frijol colado, scrambled eggs, and homemade tortillas
  • nachos or anything with cheese, really
  • chocolate cake

What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

Breathe, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat.  Yep, I’d recommend it.  I’d pretty much recommend that people read anything unless it’s total crap.

What are your top 3 favorite places?

  • Tucson, Arizona
  • the mountains in Utah
  • my couch

What was the last lie you told?

I honestly can’t remember.

What are your favorite 3 sports (to watch or participate in)?

I’m generally not very competitive and I feel no drive to kick major butt so I’m not very good at team sports.  I’d have to say: hiking, canoeing, and lawn games like badminton and croquet. 

What was the last movie you watched and would you recommend it?

I am Legend. I think that was it.  I remember watching a comedy after that, but I can’t remember what it was.  Sure, I’d recommend I am Legend.  I have the same philosophy about movies as I do books.

List 3 things you can see outside of the nearest window.

My car, a church that’s been renovated into apartments, and a half-assed cityscape.

Where was the last place you went?

Out to dinner with Homeboy in a Mexican restaurant in Providence.

What are your top 3 favorite “good causes” or charities?

The one I work for, of course: the Woodlawn CDC.  The International Institute and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.  Keep it local!

What was the last thing you did for someone else?

What was the last thing I didn’t do for someone else?  I wish I could remember the last thing someone did for me (other than mommy of course)…but waaah, waaah, waaah, no?  The last thing I did for someone else…brought a client to the School Department for his working papers.

Name 3 places you have never been that you want to visit.

Cape Verde, Central America, and India.  Although I’d pretty much go anywhere.  Except for Indiana.  I don’t care much about Indiana.

What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling?
A bazillion Staburst wrappers from our Friday afternoon candy eating orgy.

Name 3 things on your bedside table.
My journal, the book I’m currently reading, and condoms.  Was the last one too much info?  If so, then the third is my alarm clock.
Describe or name the last piece of art you looked at.

Um, a T-shirt design for Pawtucket Peace Week.  Does that count?

What are the top 3 things that your job requires you to think about?
Only three?  It’d have to be: paperwork and numbers, where the hell my clients are going to find jobs in this shitty economy, and how to balance the needs of my clients with the mountain of documentation I have to provide to comply with the funders.

What was the last musical or theatrical event that you attended?

The Peace Rally today where I saw: Love Peace, a group of teenagers who does skits to educate people about interpersonal violence, Project Peace, and various kids who performed just because they wanted to.

What are the first 3 things you would do if you won the lottery?
Are we talking a thousand dollars on a scratch card or the big bucks?  If it’s the latter, I’d pay off my debts, help Homeboy’s family, and buy a house in Mexico.

Describe or name the last serious injury or illness you had?

Thankfully, I’ve never been truly ill thus far, but I did suffer from gastritis from eating too much chile.

What are the top 3 things that you wish you could do?
I wish I could: do a big-girl pull up, stop living from paycheck to paycheck, and be a little more Zen in my daily life.

What was the last thing that someone said to you that you will remember forever?
This is a hard one for some reason.  I have a hard time remembering what people say to me.  That’s why I carry a little notebook to write down things that people say that I want to remember.  The last entry was from yesterday (which I also blogged about) when Your Highness told me that so-and-so was “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” 

I know that you’re supposed to tag your blogging buds when you finish a meme, but really all of the people whose blogs I read and I actually know have been tagged.  So I figure I’ll tag some folks whose blogs I read although they don’t know I exist.  Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think they’d be particularly thrilled about being tagged by a stranger…so this strand of the meme trail will be left unattached. 

Overcast, Overwhelmed, and Weepy

March 27, 2008 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket | 7 Comments

This afternoon, one of my clients got out of jail (both juvie and adult) after a couple of days because of a warrant stemming from a Failure to Appear.  He came directly to see me upon release, admitted in very veiled but unmistakable terms that he was a gang member, and called me both dawg and n****.  I hope that being in with the adult population (they put the seventeen year olds in high security for some mystifying reason) for a couple of days was enough of a wake up call.  But judging from those who’ve gone before, it may not be enough. 

It seriously sucks balls to be poor. 

I did learn a new slang term though, one that I like very much.  He said his PO was “cool as the other side of the pillow.”  I was like, huh? What the hell does that mean?  You know…when you turn your pillow over and the other side is all cool and refreshing.  He said I could use it if I want.

I’ve never seen so many instances of pain masked as anger, and it’s breaking my heart. 

This feeling kind of dovetails with my feelings about the privilege meme that some lovely bloggers have been doing (here, here, and here) lately.  I think what we all have in common is that we all grew up loved, cared for, and respected (even as children, our voices were respected).  We grew up believing that we were good enough, and even more than that…that we were truly special and deserved all the good things that came our way and would surely continue to come our way.  We understood that any adversity would be battled with our loved ones fighting right alongside of us.  For me, that’s true privilege, not cruises or classes or original art over the fireplace. 

Wow, this little rant is certainly all over the place.  But whatever, I can say what I want, no? Screw bad grammar.  Screw being made to feel that you’re not special.  Screw never being given hope.  Screw never being taught to be kind.  Screw being treated as a burden and not a blessing.  Screw the hurt and sadness these guys carry around every day and express in pummeling fists and rapping about guns and being mouthy to everyone around them. 

We’re all as cool as the other side of the pillow, even if no one ever makes us believe that this is so.

Did I Really Just Say That?

March 19, 2008 at 10:21 am | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 3 Comments

Things I never thought would come out of my mouth:

  • “Good luck in court tomorrow!”
  • “Please stop calling me dawg.
  • “Did you just call me your n***?”
  • “Don’t get the kittens high.  That’s cruel.”

I have also been trying to figure out why, without fail, the white boys I have as clients come to me with major attitudes.  Only the white boys.  Everyone else is a perfect angel to me.  They’re usually total pricks to everybody else, but have never unleashed their ‘tudes on me. 

I do wish that these perfect angels would stop doing two things.  The first is telling me the truth all the frickin’ time.  They lie or do something sketchy and then scamper on over to tell me the truth.  I am the holder of various secrets: the plan to slash tires, the undone court-ordered community service, the ass-whoopins and the family traumas.

The second is making me listen to amateur freestyle rap that they and their friends do.  Do I really look like I would groove on raps about bitches and ho’s and Glocks?  Maybe I do, but I really don’t think so.

Which leads me to one more thing I never thought I’d say:

“Perhaps you could switch out the ‘n****’ and replace it with ‘ninja.’  Good beats, though.”

Can I See A Badge, Please?

March 16, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket | 3 Comments

A while back, I posted about my abiding love for Cops.  This love grows stronger every day, and I stil can’t get enough.  Below I share with you a few bits of wisdom gleaned from my viewings:

6 Things I’ve Learned fron Watching Cops

1.  I never want to hear the words, “Police, open up!” directed at me.

2.  Crack is most definitely whack.  As is crystal meth.

3.  Resisting arrest definitely pisses off the cops, but certainly is entertaining!

4.  The majority of people driving around, looking to purchase crack rock have a “friend” sitting shotgun.  That “friend” is not a prostitute, but rather simply a woman the driver picked up on the street corner a couple of hours beforehand.

5.  You can deny that backpack in the trunk is yours all you want, but if the cops find a crack pipe and your wallet with I.D. in it, they’re not going to believe you.

6.  Brillo pads aren’t only useful for scrubbing in the kitchen.

Now, these items may seem elementary, but trust me when I say that it took me approximately 137 episodes of Cops to come with these. 

And check out number one again.  Guess how we got woken up one morning last week?

I thought I heard someone knocking, but Mr. Puppers didn’t bark or get up, so I thought nothing of it.  Then they started banging on the door, so I got up to have a looksie through the peephole.  Just as I did that, one of the men started really banging on the door.  I yelled back for them to stop, and guess what he screamed!

“Police, open up NOW!” 

Turns out they were looking for the baby’s daddy of one of my neighbors.  The same baby’s daddy who I called the cops on a month ago for beating her up on a Sunday morning. 

Before leaving, one of the plain-clothesed cops told me that I should put on something warmer as it’s cold out (I had thrown my vest over my tank top in my rush to open the door).  I reminded him that I had been in a hurry as he had been banging on the door, screaming that he was a police officer.

Pinche chota.

Shedding My Tunnel Vision

March 6, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket, Working | 2 Comments

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it feels like little bits of my brain are coming unstuck.  I’m finding that the path I trace everyday (work, grocery store, home) to be restrictive and I crave open spaces.  The urban landscape that I face every day is not enough, and I’m desperate to frolick in the woods!

I grew up in the ‘burbs, and have spent most of my life in beautiful, natural places.  Places where you can smell the change of seasons, but here in this city, the smells of spring are faint.

As the days get warmer, it’s becoming easier to relegate work and its attendent responsibilities to a corner of my life.  An important corner, but one that doesn’t wholly define me.

I’m amped for the buds on the trees, road trips to climb mountains, and new projects!

If Only I Could Commit…

March 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Life in the US, The Bucket | 2 Comments

I started taking classes toward my Master’s in Professional Writing at UMass Dartmouth when I moved back to the U.S.  I have been delaying actually applying to get into the program for about two years now. 

I’ve wanted to go to school for writing for a couple of reasons: writing is as natural to me as speaking and I love to do it, school is just plain fun and a wonderful way to get some “me” time, and smart girls get advanced degrees.

But now I’m extremely ambivalent about whether I really want to do this.  First, there’s the time commitment.  I used to flee work to get to class and truly enjoyed the escape from my daily life.  But now the thought of missing four hours of life at the community center fills me with anxiety, especially because those four hours of class take place at the same time the center is at its most kickin’. 

I also wonder if I actually need a Master’s in Professional Writing.  It sure is a lot of fun, but is that enough to warrant a heck of a lot of money and time?  While I do enjoy theoretical discussions about rhetoric, style, and tone, real-life subject matter will always get me much more amped.  Do I really want to devote my precious brain work to something I have to struggle to connect to the life I experience every day? 

As I write this, I’m starting to lean towards ix-naying this course of study, but I hate that I’ve got a semester’s worth of coursework just dangling there without having the satisfaction of a completed degree. 

My portfolio is solid and my recommendations sealed and ready to deliver, but I’m still not sure I want to apply. 

This is pretty annoying for me, because I generally know what I want.  Which leads me to believe that I don’t want this degree enough to turn my schedule into a mish-mash of overcommitment just yet.

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