Todos los Dias

Every morning, no matter how I try to avoid it, I am forced to listen to the crazy woman across the street rant, rave, and rail at her children. I believe she is mentally ill. She has referred to herself as a time-bomb, ready to explode. I guess these morning outbursts are the prelude to the major eruption. Is this the new motherhood?

This household is thug central. Too many have died prematurely from this house. Too many from this house have made jail and prison their constant domiciles. Thieves, murderers, drug dealers, gun runners, abusers. These are the fruits of this household’s family tree.

After listening to the morning harangue, which lasts from 30 to 45 minutes, I’m in a mood most foul, and I wonder how the children feel. The past two weeks, for example, I have never heard SB, say good morning, I love you, have a good day. I’ve never heard her ask do you have everything you need, is your homework in your backpack, do you need lunch money? Instead, I hear her screaming about how much work she has done cleaning the house, how the utilities are all still on even though she doesn’t have a job. Oh, I do recall her telling her daughter that she had love for her, but that she didn’t like her at all and wanted her to move out though the daughter is only 15.

Now, I think I must be quite odd because no one seems to be disturbed by the madness except for me. Perhaps no one else hears what I do. Acoustics are such that if SB has her front door open when mine is also open, all of her noise comes into my home. If I close my front door, and stifle in the heat, I can still hear her through my bedroom window that is all the way at the rear of the house. Her voice is always filled with angst, rage, and screeching. There is no escape.

So, I listen and wonder why I have been chosen to witness this new behavior that really isn’t new any more. This new way of parenting has been a staple of lower-class life for a couple of decades now. Fewer and fewer of these families exist in the community because they have been forced out by losing property that belonged to their parents, or they’ve died out. But the few that are left more than make up for the loss of the others.

Keeping a cheerful spirit is difficult when in the midst of the maelstrom. I don’t judge. But I am negatively affected by all I’ve observed coming from that house. If ever I get enough money together, I’m outta here. Thirteen years of observing bad luck and worse behavior is enough.

Thoughts of The One

If the One had an eye, I can nearly imagine what it must be like, because of photography and graphic effects, to zoom, from the unknown firmaments that surround us, onto my doings on this earth. A macro-microscopic zoom. Of course, the One, if possessed of a brain or mind such as I am familiar with or can fathom, would need only to think, “Be,” and whatever thought of would come into BEing.

Whatever could make the One, the Creator of All That Is, directly or indirectly, interested in my doings? The time needed to focus on my shenanigans is unimaginable as the One is timeless and can Do or Not Do, as it wills, if It were possessed of a will as I can conceive of one.

Personallly, I do believe the One is not amused, if indeed the One possesses a sense of humor as I know it. My own sense of humor is pretty whack, but the One and I would likely agree that what passes for reality, the quality of interpersonal and international relations on this earth is troubling, not at all funny. Perhaps this is why horrors persist; the One has left us on our own, abandoned us, and we’re acting out our heartbreak and frustration at this eventuality.

For all the professions of faith, many folks act as if it is the case that the One has abandoned them, left them alone like the devil never did.

The Morale Officers

Ever met a Morale Officer? It is this officer’s duty to see that the troops are happy or, at the least, not dismally unhappy. To help maintain healthy mental and emotional behaviors while in the midst of struggle, the Morale Officer plans diversions and activities for the troops to help lift the oppression of battle and add a bit of light and levity to an otherwise brutal situation.

Once I quit my man, I discovered I had need of such an officer. It takes time to recover from a romance, no matter how long or short the affair. My man was raising his voice at me, calling me names. He couldn’t kiss me right. One night, he didn’t come home. I had to leave him.

I petted and cossetted that man as if he was a spring lamb, but he was never satisfied with me. He didn’t like the way I dressed (too modest), the way I spoke (to low and like a white girl), the way I ate (too international). He yelled at me to talk like a Black person, otherwise he wouldn’t hear or understand what I was saying. He actually seemed to want me to behave like a street woman. I had to leave him.

Having nearly lost myself, collapsed myself into his world, I needed to get me back. Whenever I feel like I’m losing my sense of self, I head to the library. Reading prevents the loss of self and can often help when regaining self is imperative.

I have to walk 20 minutes to get to a library in the local strip mall. The library doesn’t even have a bathroom for patrons. You have to go to Mickey D’s or Food 4 Less if you need the toilet. But there are books, videos, and free wi-fi, so off I go.

Along the main highway there is plenty of traffic, liquor stores and churches on every other corner, some homes, and many apartment complexes. I wonder how people live with their front doors so close to the sidewalk and pedestrian traffic, how they sleep with the constant traffic noises, how they breathe so near the pollutants of the road.

About midway in my journey, I pass in front of a large apartment complex, in front of which are usually a number of men. They stand around, smoking blunts and cigarettes, pants hanging way below their waists, profanities flying. Often, there is someone who is very high on some substance. They are said to be “on one.” Once, I encountered a brother draped over the trash receptacle that stands in the corner in front of the complex. His pants had fallen to his knees as he leaned his upper body along the side and top of the container. I was returning from the library when I saw him and stopped to ask if he as alright or needed me to call 9-1-1. I stood with him for about 5 minutes before a oouple of men who knew him came from the liquor store across the street and informed me that he was on one and proceeded to help him get himself together. After their arrival, I continued home.

When I pass, I always speak to any man I see. I don’t want a scene and it costs nothing to speak. It’s always, “Good morning/Good afternoon, Brothers.” The first time I did this, there was a visible change in attitude and I was greeted in a like fashion. Then, I began to get compliments. “God sure did bless you. You’re summery and stylish, and you’re pretty, too.” My favorite is,”You’re a real woman!” If the corner men could see my virtues, why couldn’t my man? “If yo man ain’t treatin’ you right, I will!”

They were so good for my morale with their ego-boosting comments. I started going to the library twice a day for a while, just so I could hear something sweet said to me while I worked to get that man out of my system and regain my sense of me.

The Corner Brothers, often high as Coota Brown, eyes red as crimsonite, sagging and looking crazy, became my Morale Officers. In passing, they treat me like a queen, pulling their pants up, saying excuse me, always with the compliments and sweet words like brothers used to use in the ’60s. With their help, and immersing myself in my books, I got that man out of my system, regained my composure, and took back my life.

In the most unlikely locations, among the most unlikey people, it is good to find Morale Officers on duty.

Mud Bath

Shirley struggled into her swimsuit and waddled down to the river for a quick dip before the children were up and demanding her attention.

She sidled up to the river bank and edged over the rise, descending into a culvert shadowed by tree limbs.

Slowly, she lowered her girth into the cool water, careful to avoid the root tangle pouring from the bank. Sinking blissfully into the muddy waters, she began rubing the mud over her arms and legs, vigorously rubbing to provide warmth and sloughing, grabbing mud with both hands and rubbing it over here face and neck, then plunging into a slightly deeper part of the river, swimming out a ways to wash away all the mud.

Flipping onto her back, she floated freely, enjoyng the vivid blue of the sky, contrasted with the grey slate of the water, too dark to reflect the brightness of the sky.

In the distance, the calls for her floated high and clear over the rise. Reluctantly, she turned and swam toward the bank, pulled herself ashore, and started the short trek back to home, family, love.