Land of the Free (laughable). Home of the Brave (how sure are we about that?). This … a country that would rather make it illegal for a woman or a person with a uterus to make their OWN decision about what to do with THEIR body because well, it can versus implementing gun laws that could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
*Comments are closed because I don’t feel like arguing with anyone who does NOT have a uterus or arguing with someone who DOES have a uterus but does not realize the impact this decision will have on everyone.
I am exhausted — running on fumes. I often feel like there is nothing in me left worth sharing — worth contributing to this world, and I know I am not the only one.
There are grim reminders everywhere — we have one life — just this one life, and while we are out here trying to live it, someone else is figuring out a way to take it from us. All of us. So when the craving hit me completely out of nowhere like a wrecking ball slated to crush into its next assignment, I pushed my weary body up from the chair, threw on a t-shirt, some pants, socks, and slides, and drove to the nearest Harris Teeter. I was taking a chance — betting big, and the stakes were high. The stakes are always high.
I searched for the one thing I tend not to allow myself to have, waltzed over to the self-checkout lane, paid the tab, and walked hurriedly out of the store, and swiftly to my car. I made it inside and back outside, unscathed — alive — but still fearful.
It could have been me, it could have been you.
This is my thought process of late. Oh, please don’t get me wrong, I have lived with this line of thinking for years, but after the recent deaths of my cousin, my aunt, a writer friend, and a few other people who were near and dear to me years prior, I hate feeling like I’m rocking the boat — testing the waters. I don’t want to live in fear. I shouldn’t have to live in fear. But you take a global pandemic, mass shootings, an infant formula shortage, the harassment and outright killing of people of color, and finally, you have a goddamn scaredy-cat in your midst, and that scaredy-cat is me.
When I think about the tragedies that make up this nation’s current events, I am overwhelmed with sadness. It could have been me, it could have been you. Although I count my blessings daily, it angers me that so many people will never again hug, kiss, and be with their loved ones because of the mindless and heartless acts of those who lack something they need or want or just want to take.
When did we become so incredibly selfish? Can anyone remember? It dates so far back. I am sure I’d get the timing wrong, but help me out — throw me a damn bone. When?!
I will forever have this thought in the back of my mind whenever I venture out to any store within a 10 mi radius of me. I will forever be reminded of children so violently taken away from their families when my little cousins and nieces and nephews leave home in the morning. I will shudder just a little if ever I set one foot back into my church. I will force myself to bite my tongue instead of rebutting when a privileged angry, White man feels the need to flaunt his arrogance and ego at the gas station.
I am surrounded by things that scare the hell out of me, yet I am obligated to move forward — to continue as if none of these things ever occurred. So yeah, you damn right, I bought the slice of cake.
My dog is old, going blind and deaf, and clings to me like a second skin.
For fourteen years, I have had a fur baby who has been more than the beauty of a noon sky to me, and she is moving through this aging phase of life in a way that is breaking me down. I don’t have the words. There are none that can properly describe watching her deteriorate right before my eyes. Perhaps you’ve read about Jernee, perhaps not. There is only so much I can share in an essay without going over the word limit most people care to read, so I won’t waste your time with any of the fat — we’ll just get straight to the meat of the situation.
Jernee has cataracts, she is losing her hearing, and has a cystic tumor on her back right paw that the vet feels he should not remove because it requires putting her to sleep, skin grafting post removal, and a ton of other off-the-wall things that would cost me both my arms and legs and she may not even wake up from it all afterward. Yet, if you saw this sweet baby, you would not know much of what I detailed unless you spent more than a few moments with her.
I have had to think about the inevitability of her death — it is imminent and in the near future. Many of our lives could be described this way, but I have spent much of mine caring for, loving, and being with her. I envision scraping my limbs up from the floor and removing anything remotely close to my living self from the dumps I will probably meet once it takes place. Death comes for us all — it has to come for her, too.
She is still eating — still enjoys a little exercise — still likes to be cuddled and kissed, but all in small doses. If we go overboard with any of these things, her breathing becomes labored and she will sleep for the entire day. Since I have been working from home for the past 19 months, separation anxiety is an understatement.
She bites her paws or attempts to harm herself if I am not within earshot or directly in her line of view. I’ve begun placing an e-collar around her neck and putting her in her crate if I need to run a quick errand or spend some time away from her enjoying someone — anyone else. It hurts like hell, but I am protecting her from her, and how do you explain this to a senior dog who just wants you to stay put and never leave her?
Well, you don’t. You can’t. It’s just life, and it’s the part of life no one ever mentions to you when you look for a companion to keep you sane enough to stay alive.
So you see, that’s why I bought that slice of cake.
We have been through enough, and there could be more on the way.
Even though we’ve waded through the murkiness of the rough waters, we’ve placed ourselves on lockdown and in quarantine, we’ve worked when we should’ve rested, and we’ve fought for our voices to be heard, there could be more of the same on the way. No one can know. We can all sit back and pretend we’ve been through the worst of it, but the state of America will only fester and become an even crueler and more aggravating boil on our collective asses if something drastic and onboard with positive change does not occur soon.
I have met my fill of deaths. I have cried rings around my eyes and lost my voice. I send text messages to friends and family as check-ins. I stop by my cousin’s place to make sure she and the little ones are okay. I call the elderly in my family to hear their labored breaths on the other end tell me, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” I live in 15-minute increments because 24 hours is too long to pray for continual life.
I have been eating home-cooked meals catered to me and my loved ones, drinking more water, exercising (walking holes in the soles of my shoes because of the frustration welling up within me), and I have lost 12 pounds. I’ve done all of this and I intend to do more. However, will America let me live? Will you see my name pop up in your feed this time next year? Will you even be around at that time? We don’t know. We can’t know.
Because your local grocery store could be your memorial site. The nearest gas station might be the place you land a black eye and multiple bruises. Church on a Sunday morning with family and friends may end up being a crime scene. And you may count 19 dead children and 2 teachers in your sleep.
Sure as shit, I deserve this slice of cake, and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.
senseless violence drawn by the hand of man. when will we ever learn? when will it ever get better? children dying, people losing their sense of self — all because power is more important than life.
how will we get through the grieving process if we’re continually grieving? how will we heal if a wound is torn open every few months? why are we existing if we cannot live the lives laid before us?
when will power become less of an asset versus human life?
all of these questions still have no answers, but there are people who can answer all of these questions yet they refuse to do so accordingly.
and what will we have? more lives lost, more people grieving, more wounds opened when all we should be doing is healing and getting through life as best as we can.
people say “Post-Pandemic Era” however, there are people still dying from the Coronavirus. there is no Post-Pandemic . . . there is only now. if we do not do something about where we are currently, we will lose and continue to lose all aspects of our genuine selves.
and where will that leave us? cold, alone, despondent, irritable, frightful . . .
fearful of sending our children to schools, fearful of going to shop in our local grocery stores, fearful of entering the temple. when does it end?
this is not my America. I do not feel at home here. there is no place for me here — no love.
how can I call a place home when a person with a uterus is punished for having one?
I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired I’m sick and TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED!
He is a man of few words. I see him on my morning or mid-day walks with the dog and he doesn’t wave — doesn’t make small talk — just grunts an uneven hello and shoots his eyes up toward the sky. I never pry. I don’t look for things I don’t need to find. Perhaps this is his way of survival. He walks two dogs; one, a noisy son of a bitch, the other, a genteel sweet body of patchy fur. The dog stares at them, huffs her approval, and paces off in another direction. This is ritualistic for us. Me with my limply left lower limb — she with knees that pop and ache when the weather isn’t warm. We push through the neighborhood that has shaped our lives for the last four autumns.
The noisy son of a bitch spends time on his balcony alongside the genteel sweet body of patchy fur. I guess he puts them outside to get away from them — to give them some sense of unity and comfort with their surroundings. However, we, my neighbors and I, endure intermittent cycles of loud barking. I know what it’s like to have a dog misbehave when all you want is for him or her to behave — to provide solace and peace. But a dog will be a dog, and if given the opportunity, he or she will bark. He’s speaking. He’s announcing who he is, and we all had better pay attention. But on a Saturday morning or a Sunday afternoon, it’s the last thing I want to hear.
Nosy neighbors will open their mouths.
Someone, at one point, must’ve slid their lips into the ears of the property manager because for a few weeks — nothing. I thought the man had moved. I was wrong. He is still here. The noisy son of a bitch still barks loudly intermittently and I am growing used to it, but I wonder . . . should I? Where did the man come from and what is it in him that allows him the ability to not care about his community? Don’t get me wrong, I won’t assume he isn’t caring — I am assuming he doesn’t care about those of us not close to him in relation.
I struggle with thinking things and not announcing them when I feel as though they need to be shared. I had been partially raised by a few elderly family members who often spoke their mind and well . . . I feel like one day, I am going to just say, “Hey, sir . . . why do you let your dog sit on your balcony and cry out to us? Can you not hear him or are you just ignoring him?” It is taking everything in me not to do this. I am mindful of the times in which we live, and I do not know his regular temperament.
I don’t know how he will react.
I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. He could be a father who lost his firstborn to violence. He could be an uncle who helped raise a wayward nephew, but now has custody of his grandniece. He could be a public safety officer dealing with the struggles of every type of human being you can imagine, and at the end of the day, he just doesn’t have the energy to care. He could be just old and grumpy and unfeeling.
I don’t know.
I search for evidence of happiness or playfulness when I see him, yet his eyes just squint into two tiny specks of solemnity. At every opportunity, I offer a kind, “Hello,” and I seem to pull it back into me when it has been magically swept from his ears. He lives in seconds from what I can see — never dwells in one spot too long — rushes the dogs to relieve themselves on some misguided scale he’s balancing. One day, one of them will tip that scale. I hope I’m not around to witness it.
Initially, I thought he was just having a bad day, but this cannot be so. No one has a bad day every single day. No one is ever truly discontented every single day. I had been taught to respect my elders — to acknowledge them, to help where I see the need. He doesn’t require help. He doesn’t seem to need it. He doesn’t even seem to want to be acknowledged. I steer clear of people who I cannot get a clear read on, and unfortunately, he is one of them.
I am trying to understand my place in this.
Who am I to want to know this man’s life — to want to understand how one’s brain operates to allow him to keep his barking dog on the balcony for an entire neighborhood to endure? I am no one big and bad — I have no authority, but I pay rent to dwell in this community just as he does. I also find it an actual sense of neglect to just leave a sentient being in/on a space/place where it can continue to alert people who don’t want to be alerted.
As an Empath, I crave to first try to feel another’s pain or make sense of it. When I cannot, it bests me — defeats me. There is also this air about me to cure what ails another. I am no savior and this has been a hard pill to swallow for years, but I am not. Currently, I am trying to understand my place in all of this. Am I just the neighbor who lives two buildings down and one across who thinks this is a serious nuisance? Or am I a part of this community deserving of respect, love, kindness, consideration, and understanding?
The latter is what I choose. Shouldn’t he?
I could never leave Jernee on my balcony if she were in a barking fit or even if she began barking intermittently. My first thought would be to remove the noise so it doesn’t disturb my neighbors. My second thought would be to find out what’s wrong with the little one and try to resolve the issue. I realize everyone does not have the same thought process.
I won’t assume. I shouldn’t.
Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Even when we think they’re unworthy or total assholes (I grit my teeth as I type this — some people can take you to a place of utter disgust). There is always something brewing and stewing in the lives of others to cause them to act outside of our descriptions of “normal behavior.” I won’t assume this man is uncaring of others. I shouldn’t. As I stated earlier, I don’t know his life or the makeup of it.
All I can do as a person living in the same apartment complex as him is to understand the why of it all. And later, know I am not the type of person to leave my dog out on my balcony to disturb the peace. I know who I am and I know how much I care about my pet.
In time, I hope this is enough for me to breathe in deeply and know the incessant barking never lasts long — it’s just annoying as hell.
This nation, as I see it, is going to Hell in a handbasket. It will be carried by the same naysayers who believe the all-knowing and loving God is for their hypocritical ways and do not oppose their actions. The God you serve is not the God I serve. My God is more than likely weeping as he watches His children carry on like fools, senselessly taking the lives of others, running amok without fair cause, and denying human beings basic rights.
You are playing a flute that holds no sound, yet you want me to listen. Where is your melody? How does it benefit me? When will it actually do something worthwhile?
We elected a president who, when it all falls down, has sided with a judicial system that purposes a select few. He has said out of his mouth, to respect the system, to acknowledge what has been done peacefully. For real? Like, for real . . . real? Acknowledge a system that has NEVER worked in anyone of color’s favor? Acknowledge a system and respect it that could not bring forth a verdict that actually makes sense?
It is 2021, yet we are reliving days of Antebellum. There is no escaping this. This is what they want. And to get to where they intend to seek refuge, they will continue to whittle us down like pieces of wood.
I’m so tired of people making excuses for America. America has ALWAYS been this way. She isn’t changing. Her ways are not so distant from the 1800s–they’re only slightly different.
I walked through my neighborhood today, still seething in anger from an unjust system. I tried to remain calm. I tried to look to Jernee for some semblance of peace. But I found it . . . in the last leaves of autumn.
**I don’t intend to argue or go back and forth with anyone about my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I know what I’ve lived, witnessed, been forced to do, and experienced. Racism is still alive and well. I don’t need anyone to tell me what is and isn’t.