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An epilogue

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Caral, Peru. Photo by J. Calderon, 2014.

“..we found you lying

Choking on the dirt and sand

Your former glories and all the stories

Dragged and washed with eager hands

But, oh, your city lies in dust…” “Cities in Dust” by Siouxsie and The Banshees

A terrible situation I have experienced for many years recently ended. (Year of milagros) Though I claimed I would samba in joy, I didn’t. Nor did I throw confetti, pop bottles or make it rain.  Certain routines feel awkward. Certain places bring back memories.  The reality of victory is simply that, a reality. Life has moved forward quietly.

I do ask if it’s really over. I wonder if my work with this particular situation is done.(My second career as an exorcist)Call it PTSD (though I don’t like to, given my personal experience loving someone with true PTSD) or shock, I have moments when I brace myself for more fighting.  After years of experiencing abuse, it will take time to resolve these reactions.

I wonder about the other party. Has this person reflected on choices made and actions taken? Can this person heal?  I don’t have it in me to truly hate this individual. Deep inside, underneath layers and strata, yes strata, of God only knows what, this person is in so much pain. It is a pain so visceral and so overwhelming that it has terrorized others for decades. That’s some mierda.   I will continue to lift this person up in prayer. Fix this person, Jesus.

Though I say “icant”

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My secretary gave me this paperweight for Christmas. To know me is to love me.

or “I’m unable to can”

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Team Petty. T-shirt collection to prove it.

for a laugh or to keep from cursing on the daily, I know I can. Taking on a malicious individual has taught me that I can stand strong. I can fight back without compromising my better self. I can win.

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Holding the door open

I am a woman of patience. Too much patience, I sometimes think, but in my line of work, it is essential. That being said, I grapple with my tendency to be mild with folks, even as they work my last nerve.  I can occasionally channel my #innermongoose.(A fearless favorite) On a day to day basis, I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

Since Election Night, I have experienced many emotions. Grief is a messy process and it is different for everyone.
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Through social media, well-meaning friends and  acquaintances have posted, either in their own words or via shared images and articles, that it’s time for everyone to move on.  I have been asked to choose love, to hug more, to open doors for strangers, and even to pray for the president-elect.  I have been questioned about love for my country, regard for unborn children, and even the way I am parenting my child through this crisis.  And, sabes que, I have had enough.  Ya me tienen harta. Tu no me mandas!

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Not you, not anyone, other than the Lord and sometimes my mama or daddy.  Tu quien eres?
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Tu no me mandas.
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I can cry, rant, curse, laugh, and react in any way I want. I can take to the streets in protest. I can declare the president-elect #NotmyPresident.  If you don’t like what I have to say or do, GTFO.  Vete. Largate. Borrate.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I am done.

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This morning, I unfollowed a fellow blogger. She’s likable and well-spoken.  I respect her enough to head out on my way. She’s entitled to her opinions. She is standing strong in them.  So am I. There’s nothing to be gained by trying to change her mind and sharing my judgments with her.  She will believe as she does. I will believe as I do.  With one difference. She has a privilege I do not.  It’s easy to tell people how they should be feeling and acting when it’s safe for you to do so.  The most dangerous of the president-elect’s followers won’t attack her.  While I can exit stage left on any conversation that makes me uncomfortable, I can’t escape reality.

In the days, weeks, months, and years to come, I have to be prepared for the worst that could happen. I have to arm (yes, I said “arm”) my only child with the knowledge and skills to grow up into an empowered woman of color. (Mothering a warrior)These are our lives.  These are our rights. If you can’t understand or respect that, then let’s wish each other well.

Embracing the end times

I’m slightly obsessed with the end of the world.  How can you not be with funny tweets(including my brother’s  Bro’s Pope tweet)and three possible dates in the last two years(check out my musings on the last two finales-that-never-were,And I feel fine! and Baktun to the Future)The third date, you wonder?  It’s one of my own pondering during this wild week of Pope Benedict’s resignation followed by the meteorite disaster in Russia.  I don’t know that I actually believe the end times have arrived.  Perhaps it is more inspired by the fact that my days in teaching are numbered, though that is by choice.  The world, as I know it, is ending.

After months of agonizing over my unhappiness about my work situation, my dream job opened.  Ironically, the application was due on what should have been the end of the world, version 2012, December 21st.  It was an opportunity for a new beginning that I could not ignore.  I am proud and happy that I was offered the job.

In the weeks to follow, I will wrap up this hectic transition period and move into my new position, leaving behind a school district in which I have been a student, teacher, administrator, and teacher.   There will be tears, doubts, and moments of fear.  But as with all endings, both real and imagined, I will let it happen, then venture forth into my new life.

Back to School w M!

My daughter is not quite four. Next month, she will be but in the meantime she is the youngest child in her Pre-Kindergarten class at a Catholic school.  She had been eagerly anticipating this transition but got nervous in the days preceding her first day and tearful the night before.  Needless to say, I was worried as I accompanied her to her first assembly on the blacktop for prayer, flag salute, and announcements.  Gradually, she began to look less terrified and  more relaxed.  
By the time we returned to her classroom, she immediately began to play in one of  the learning centers.  I  have left jobs, schools, and relationships and no ending quite felt like it when my little girl looked me in the eyes and said, “Goodbye, mommy.”  It took strength to not burst into tears in front of her.  

After spending an hour at the parent mixer(I talked with a few parents and scored her a free plaid jumper), I headed home(yes I finally did cry on the drive) to comfort myself with some K-horror.  Because when the going gets tough, I will immerse myself in a movie, in this case an eerie Korean ghost story. Then my mom rejoined me and we went back for noon dismissal.  When we arrived, M was back to her old self: upbeat, confident, and light-hearted.  Of course, that first day of school popsicle given out by the staff didn’t hurt. 

M told me she would like to go to school every day.  And so begins the next phase of our exciting adventures together.

True friends, old frenemies, and very little middle ground

“Have you ever been stabbed in the back by someone you thought was really cool?” Jody Watley with Eric B., “Friends”

“My friends are real I know, true self you have shown you’re alright with me” Janet Jackson, “Alright”

By the time I became thirtysomething, I thought I had friendship down to an art and/or science. But friendships are relationships which involve imperfect humans, patience, compassion, and that quality some people fear more than hair loss, erectile dysfunction, or spiders, commitment. Sooner or later, I have been known to strike up a friendship that is lacking in a strong foundation or one that may compromise my values. Even as I get closer to 40, disappointment with so-called friends still happens from time to time.

In 2007, my loyalty was tested to its limit. Some friends proved not so true: judgmental or absent or just plain cruel. I ultimately surrendered to my own weakness and proved unreliable, burdensome, and vindictive right back. But health promotes health. My longtime friendships have survived and strengthened. My relationship with my mother has deepened to the point where she can accept my part-time shacking up with only one retort. When I have offered kindness, acceptance, and selflessness, it has been returned tenfold. Now, as I undergo a major life shift, I know I will be surrounded by genuine friends.

And what of those who have deleted me from their cyber and cel phone address books? I hope they find what they seek in themselves and others. I wish them well.

A happy ending for Miss New York?

Whether we believe her name is Tiffany Pollard or Kenya Simmons, or if we think she’s a “horse-haired heifer”(to quote a fellow blogger, a transvestite or a messy diva, the woman we know as tv’s New York may have finally found a man. On the finale of I love New York 2, she chose the lesser of two evils, Tailor Made.

I had my doubts. After watching her borderline personality theatrics with Buddha in Miami, I figured she’d choose him and return for a third season when it all went south. But she chose the man with the gifts(Manolos!) and has supposedly moved in with him. More power to her. Tailor Made only has one child, as opposed to Flavor Flav’s half-dozen. Their parents got along so New York won’t alienate the in-laws the way she did with Tango. And even if he’s skinny, scrawny, and slimy, Tailor Made treats her with respect and affection. When all is said and done, that’s all most women want, to be cherished.

This is a joke, right?

What is it like, I wonder, to wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and say to your bug-eyed self, I’m going to call that person I haven’t spoken to in 7 months? No, I’m not going to call anyone I have no business calling. Besides, my eyes are small and almond-shaped. I look nothing like that squirrel in the Ice Age movies. Ambivalence, bless his poor confused heart, does. He has eyes like that–and apparently a brain capacity to rival that of the funny little rodent.

Now I don’t detest Ambivalence. The brief little situation involving Ambivalence didn’t end so badly. There was no drunken screaming match in downtown Oakland, no crying session on a Nashville hotel room floor. I haven’t talked about him too much in therapy. He just disappeared, taking my Oscar party grand prize gift bag with him(and he doesn’t even appreciate Tarantino, the p****!) When he text messaged me an early Christmas greeting, I laughed it off, made my usual bitchy comments, and moved on. He must think I haven’t because last night, he graced me with another message. This time, he wanted to know what I was doing. Oh I had answers for him. Instead, I kept eating my salad at Pasta Pomodoro, laughing about it with Hopeful.

Did he wake up yesterday morning and think that yes, she must still be free to talk to me? Did he smile as he typed out the message, wondering what I might say? Was he drunk? Lonely? Did he suffer a head injury? Maybe someone double-dog-dared him? And was he still smiling when my reply never came?

Celia Cruz once sang, in “El que siembra su maiz,” “…la mujer en el amor se parece a la gallina, que cuando se muere el gallo, a cualquier pollo se arrima.” In other words, women move on. I’ve moved on.