Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Freedom Begins In The Mind

One of the best things that could ever happened to me happened yesterday. I spent a grueling day in a "workforce" program, designed to keep the needy focused on job hunting forty hours a week. I came home at 5 PM, exhausted, not only from that but all my other responsibilities and problems: juggling my few therapeutic clients and figuring out a new place to live since my landlord is or has become mentally ill and/or hell bent on getting more money from me than is in our lease agreement.

"My God," I proclaimed as I entered the house, "I am sooo tired."

I walked past my son's bedroom and saw that his pregnant girlfriend was still here. He had snuck her in late the night before. I went to my bedroom and leaned back in my very comfortable office chair at my desk.

My son entered the room. He came behind me and put his hands on my shoulders, rubbing them, something I can't recall him ever doing before. Usually it's a hug when he shows affection. I guess it's because I was sitting down.

"Sounds like you've had a hard day," he says, with warmth in his voice.

I turned to him, my eyes flashing anger, and said, "That won't work this time. You need to get a job, immediately."

His gentleness changed in a heartbeat.

"Ma, don't start," he snapped, in an angry, warning tone voice.

"Yeah I'm starting. I've been going through hell, and today and yesterday you've sat on your azz. No more."

He said, "Fuck you," and walked toward the door, and as he exited, threw out one more insult, said quietly enough so his girlfriend could not hear him: you can suck a dick.

This was the moment I became free.

Free of being a victim of his mood swings, and forgiving or excusing his parasitic, disrespectful and entitled behavior. It has dragged me down emotionally and destroyed me financially, off and on but never ending, since shortly before he turned 14.

It ended yesterday, quietly, for I said nothing back to him. Usually I'd admonish him; this time I said nothing, and instead found a strength from seeing clearly the man he has become, not the helpless, neglected child that I adopted many years ago.

At that moment, I freed my heart from loving him, and he became an adult. He doesn't know any of this yet. He will as soon as I move, anytime within a month.

That evening I picked my daughter, Cassie, from her friend's house, and drove to a new grocery store in the area to buy her a cherry pie for her birthday. In the parking lot, I told her of the conversation, the plan to leave him on his own, and my new found freedom.

Then I said, "Cassie, I know you have seen me put up with a lot of shit from your brother over the past several years, and apologize for this. I want to let you know that I have never, never, tolerated this kind of abuse from a boyfriend, and don't ever want you to do that either, not from anyone. Xavier was different because he was a child, my child, and the mother in me could not turn my back on him. I made a terrible mistake bringing him with us to our new place in August. It won't happen again, because I am free."

"How can you be free," she asked, "when he's still living with us?"

"Freedom begins in the mind."

I offered my hand to shake on my sincerity. She smiled in surprise but refused it, shaking her head.

"No, Mamma, I don't believe it. I think he'll play you again and you'll take him with us."

She could see the strength in my eyes when I shook my head and said, "No, not this time. Not anytime, not ever again."

She shook my hand and held it for a long time.

Later that night, Xavier came to my room and apologized for what he said earlier. I waved my hand away, dismissing him.

"What? I'm apologizing!"

"I don't accept it and I don't need it," I replied. "It keeps happening and it will happen again."

"No it won't!"

"That's what you always say. I'm through."

I turned away.

He started to curse me again, but then stopped before he could get the words out, and instead left the room. Perhaps he thinks I only need to "cool off".

He couldn't be more wrong, because I am free, and by extension, so is my daughter.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taking The Hardest Path

When the strongest one in the family can no longer carry all of the burdens, it is critical that another person carries at least part of the load. If no one steps up or is able to, the center falls apart, and this family is no more.

Sometimes that second person in the family need only to carry themselves.

Such has been the case with my son, Xavier, the past weekend. Each day he gets ups, presses a white shirt and puts on a tie. Then he seeks employment.

I have scared the hell out of my son. He thinks the odds are high that we're moving to a shelter 'cause Mama is broke. It's the only way I could wake his azz up. I'll be financially hurting like crazy if and when I pay for boxes, bubble wrap, tape, a moving company, and a deposit on yet another place to live, but I'm pretty sure the County will offer some assistance.

Yesterday evening, he spoke not as a spoiled, entitled brat without a care in a world or regard to my suffering, but as one who is trying to fit his feet into adult shoes.

"Ma," Xavier said as he watched me throw away things I don't need nor want to take when we eventually leave, "I can't believe this is happening, but I know that God will see us through this. Keep your faith."

"My faith ain't gone nowhere," I replied, thinking that for a lifetime he has depended too much and exclusively on me. If he thinks God will make it just as easy on him now, he's got a major wake up call coming.

He nodded, then said, "I've been looking at my ID card several times a day... I look at my birthday on it to remind me that I'm 21. That means I'm grown. I have to get a job and be able to take care of myself."

What an odd way of dealing with reality, I thought. Instead, I said, "That's true. Good luck."

He said other stuff, but that's the highlight I remember most. He was parroting back many of the common sense things that I and others have said to him the past several years.

My danger of actually hearing him talk the talk and seeing him take action, is that it has me entertaining the idea that he will evolve into the kind of person who operates best under extreme pressure.

Years ago I had vision of him working in a rescue type job, maybe as a medic, fireman, or good soldier. He still might end up on a path like that. Who knows?

Meanwhile, I fight my codependent urge to take him with us where ever we go. It's a battle I silently fight several times a day. The thought will creep into my mind: "See, he's growing up and better already. Dressing up and actually looking for work. Talking to me with respect, not like an ungrateful and appallingly selfish teenager."

And then I recognize the trap of this thinking. It's crystal clear when I see it in others. It has been my blindspot in loving and nurturing my son, to both his detriment and my own. He's like a plant that I have over-watered. If ever there was a time that he does not need to be rescued, that time is now.

My enabling thoughts hit me hardest early yesterday afternoon. My daughter Cassie and I snuck off to see a new house for rent. The man who owns it is a contractor, bought it for what had to be one of the greatest deals in the area, and renovated it. The place is knock-dead gorgeous, spacious, and located a block from the Metro.

If I sublet to a professional who paid his or rent on time, we could afford it. That's a big "if", in times when people are being laid off in droves and can't find work. I live in Maryland, just outside of DC, and even my friends married to lawyers or have one who just graduated law or business school are in distress that their loved ones are out of work.

And then the self-destructive thought based on wishful thinking snuck into my mind:

I could sublet to my son! It could work, I delude myself for a few minutes, because if Xavier was 100% determined to get and keep a job and not relapse again and not get disrespectful and abusive and clean up after himself and not bring home questionable friends when we're not there and and and...


He has no track record to suggest he could pull that off, and I'd be in a deeper financial and emotional hole than I am now.

I'd also be a piss poor role model for my 14 year old daughter. I can just see this whole cycle repeating itself ten or twenty years from now. She'd could end up with a deadbeat boyfriend, husband, son or daughter whom she enables to remain dysfunctional, and she'd be good at it because she would have learned how to do this from me.

No, I pray silently to myself when moments like these strike. God, please help me stay strong, to not fear that he will perceive my moving on as abandonment, and as a result, succeeds in yet another suicide attempt.

I haven't decided if Xavier's baby-on-the-way is another wild card that is a blessing in disguise. His girlfriend confirmed it the other day. She is most definitely pregnant - and not two months, but nearly three and now just barely showing. I can almost feel the life inside of her.

He has got to get his shit together or he'll lose her for sure. She has zero plans to abort it, and is waiting until she's a little bit further along so her parents won't pressure her to do so. If Xavier plays his cards right, he'll be working, self-sufficient, and marry in the spring when she turns 18.

Damn, but my family situation is sounding more ghetto by the minute. It's almost funny. Almost.

All we need now is me succumbing to stupidity and letting Xavier move in with me wherever I go next, then his girl getting kicked out and him bringing her and their baby home, followed by him getting locked up over some Mickey Mouse marijuana charge, and the picture will be complete.

I ask myself, how in the hell did even this much happen to me?

Yeah, one answer: from a social systems point of view, my son wasn't an infant when I adopted him. He came with tons of emotional baggage from a mother on drugs who had few resources, followed by neglect in two foster homes, then spotty services in the school and mental health systems. I'm fairly convinced he would not have all these issues had I adopted him as an infant.

On the other hand, you never know. Even educated and stable people produce children who have emotional and mental vulnerabilities, i.e. learning disabilities, mood disorders, and alcohol and substance abuse problems. You get what you get and you deal with it.

Meanwhile, the exploitative, potentially violent and manic landlord in the basement has been quiet as mouse. He's hardly been here. I have no idea whether my telling him in writing on the 23rd that I went to the police about his threats has made him back off, or if he's still a time bomb waiting to go off again.

As I said in the comment section of my last post, he is the problem in my life that came out of left field.

That's alright; God is control of this game... and I fight the urge to choke up now with sentimentality as I think, God surely wants us to win.

Maybe not in the way I would like, but in a way that will free me from prolonging the agony of parenting a grown-azz, immature young adult, from my son remaining a child, and my daughter from subconsciously learning that it's okay to tolerate chronic dependency, being taken for granted, and sucking up disrespect from others, even when it's from family.

And pride is an issue. I have too much and have only shared what we're going through with family and one close friend. As I have talked with other friends over the holidays, I listen to what they've been up to and plan for movie dates and a party. They have no idea what I've been going through.

It's kind of weird being competent and strong all my life, only to have things fall apart now. I'm not sure if my need to be doing fine or at least give the appearance of being so, is a good or bad thing. This is very fairly common in my family and social circle. We're all high achievers. We're stoic. It's like we rarely reveal hardships until after a storm of life blows over, and the damage has been cleaned up, that we share that we've even been in a storm. Nearly all of us work in helping professions, too.

I have to think about this value system more, where helpers hate needing help and become so embarrassed when they do. On one hand it makes you utterly self-sufficient and independent, but on the other hand, it slows down the problem-solving and healing process because you've walled off some of best resources with secrecy.

I hope that your having a peak inside my life helps many of you struggling with your own problems. Your comments and the few emails I received, even the most critical, have been enormously helpful in me not feeling so alone, and in staying on this very hard path. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When Dreams Must Go Into Hybernation
And Landlords Go Psycho

I posted this between midnight today and noon, then got embarrassed and ashamed, nor wanted to be a downer to others, so I took it down. A few of you emailed me and asked that I please repost it, because it's life and it's real and sometimes both hurt so much. As one dear reader said, "it had the effect of a strong cup of black coffee on me at 3 AM." Another offered some work we can - and will - do in book collaboration. Thank you all.

I will get through this. I must. I may not have been emotionally smart enough to avoid some of the mistakes I made, nor did I have control over outside circumstances that can destroy the best laid plans of anyone, but dammit, I am smart enough to survive and survive well.

Okay... the truth. Tis' the season, as my 2 AM post said yesterday, but all has not been well in my life lately. I need to stop fronting like everything is peachy. It ain't, and it sets a bad example for this blog, which generally ain't about regurgitating the news and only telling about happy shit while commenting on some poor soul I know personally or in the news who is catching hell.

As if I didn't have enough trouble with one landlord this summer, I am having a crisis with the latest one. He used to be easy-going, friendly, and nice as apple pie. This changed virtually overnight, and currently my family is scared to death of his rages, insane demands, and threat of killing our dog as an implied threat of hurting me.

But before I explain the last part of that last sentence, last week I started having problems with Xavier's mood swings and bad temper again. I told him, finally, that I couldn't take it anymore; he had become mean like he used to be, and no way I could endure what I did when he was in his teens. I was serious too, and he knew it.

Xavier downed all of his medication in a suicide attempt. It was manipulative as hell. He knew I would never kick him out under those circumstances, because when he gets this way, part of him really doesn't care if he dies. He refused to give me back my phone so I could call an ambulance, and took a shower.

This time he got the floor wet, which leaked downstairs into the basement where the other, meaner, manic-depressive lives. That son of a bitch has us so terrified that when he came up to rant and rave at us, neither of us mentioned that Xavier had 40 pills in his stomach. Xavier, even in what could be his last day, didn't want us getting kicked out, and stood there wrapped in a towel, apologizing. Poor kid.

You can't get more accommodating than that. Ain't that some shit?

Of course I had to tell the loony landlord after the ambulance came, who yelled that he wanted us to move because of this and the decorative bong he saw in Xavier's room.

"This is a major violation of your lease!", he screamed before returned to his basement.

Bitch please, I thought, he used to be the biggest drunk and druggie in town I learned after moving here. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if he's still snorting coke up his nose.

Needless to say, our landlord-tenant relations hit a new low, which I didn't think could get much lower. Even before that, Rocco had been telling me he wants us all to go to bed at 11 PM because he doesn't like hearing us upstairs. Crazy shit like that. You'd think that paying my rent before the first, and keeping the place sparkling clean and quiet would be enough. Not for that bottomless pit with a fucked up personality and problems that look like mania to me.

Then there was the big snow storm that hit my area late Friday night. I went to bed early. Xavier came in maybe 1AM. Rocco, who lives in the basement, and came in 3 AM. Normally I'd have no idea when he comes or goes because he uses the kitchen door. I awakened, hearing a lot of noise in my living room.

I go out there, just as he's stomping back through the kitchen.

"What's going on?", I ask.

"You left the got-damned front door open!", he yells.

"That's a damned lie!", I yell back. "I'm tired of you lying on us! Stop it! It's not even cold in here. It would be cold if the door was open!"

"That's because the heat is on, you stupid bitch!"

He starts screaming how he drove up and the door was wide open and the tv on, "wasting electricity!"

The man is obsessed with utility bills and has been scheming since mid-October to force me to pay half for them, when it's not in my lease and he'd made a big hoopy-dee-doo how he'd pay for this when I signed the lease. He had yanked the tv cord out of the outlet. My friggin' outlet.

"It's not cold enough in here for the door to have been open," I reiterated. "You're lying."

There was no snow or even wet foot prints inside my front door. This man, I am 99% sure, made up this shit to try to justify once again why I should pay half of the utilities after coming home and hearing our tv on in the living room. If he had gotten the damn calibration in the AC/heating unit fixed back in August when I told him, when the fan just kept blowing for hours or days before the AC or heat kicked on, his bill wouldn't be so high. Can't convince him of this, though; he's a know it all.

My dog doesn't like him anymore either. He barked at him, and even his own dog was hiding from him.

Then comes the new threats.

"I'll kill your damn dog... I'll bring a pitt over here to eat him! You need to move the fuck out of here as soon as possible."

I asked him if he has ever gotten along with a tenant.

"None of them last long," he said smugly. "Only one for a year, that gay guy who used to live in the basement before you, and another for eight months; no one more than three months. They don't follow the rules. When you don't follow the rules, you're out of here."

If I had a buck for every time he said the word rules and broke his own, I could fill up my gas tank. The man lives like a pig but does the white glove dust test on my shit. I just watched him and listened, because he sounded like one of those deranged. obsessive serial killers in a psycho movie, ranting about rules.

The more he talked, the more threatening he became. He said, "Oh, you don't want to me to become the person I used to be..."

And he told me where to google to find his name, and later that night I did. He stabbed former tenant or roommate several years ago. He was arrested for this, and that's all the article said. His telling me this was an implied threat that if we don't move, he could go bezerk.

That's when I began getting chest pains too, that I still have, though not as bad as the weekend.

This year has been hell. This Christmas we are dirt poor because I have to use every dollar to save and earn more money for a new place to move, preferably in January and no later than February.

It is three days before Christmas, and today Xavier and I were applying for emergency assistance. I felt so ashamed. I have never in my life asked anyone for anything. My son was so angry - with me - for being in this predicament, that he didn't even speak to me until after our all day ordeal at the welfare office was over and we were half way home.

Finally he started talking.

"You're supposed to be the strong one," he said sullenly. "The role model. You've spent too much time on the computer when you should have been working two jobs so we'd never had to go through this shit, but noooo, you want to blog! You want to write fiction! You wanna be a big time author one day! All you do is dream and hope! Look what it's gotten us. Nothing. We're damn near broke and at the mercy of a psychopath. Ain't no telling how this will end, and I swear, Ma, if that son of a bitch lays a hand on you, it's gonna be me an him."

How could I argue with the truth?

Yeah, I could have blamed Xavier as the #1 person in a line of several who led me to where I am, and I'd be right, but what good would this do?

What good would it be to say that when I did work full time, he raised so much hell before I got out the house in the morning that I'd be drained, and that during the day he'd have his questionable friends over smoking and drinking and leaving everything a mess, and when I got home, there would always be more drama?

Just asking him to wash his own dishes or go to school led to more than one hole in the wall or broken window, a call to the cops, and/or a psychiatric hospitalization.

For him, being reasonably cooperative is akin to surrendering his manhood, a pattern he established just before hitting 14 years old. I swear, some males can not function without an alpha male in the household to keep them in check, and he has been one of them, to my demise. I don't know why a small percentage of men are inherently sexist; it ain't like I didn't give him Cabbage Patch dolls or take to him to museums along with the boy stuff. It's like it's hardwired into their brains to dominate at any cost, even when it's to their disadvantage.

I should have refused to let Xavier stay after he turned 18, but when a now-ex girlfriend who he lived with briefly ran away from a relationship with his controlling azz, he walked in front of moving car, and is only alive by God's mercy.

I should have refused to let him come with us when I moved this past August, but he had no where to go, swore he'd changed, and I didn't want him on the street turning to crime to survive and maybe hurting someone in a crime-gone-wrong, or ending up in jail or committing suicide.

Once again I am there... that horribly uncomfortable place where I have to choose between my life and my son's life, but I really don't think he'll change, at least not more than a few weeks or months when I get a new place.

I can change, by working day and night, and he'd keep a job for awhile... and he'd then back to the same old same old of being a parasite, living off me and not respecting me for allowing him to do it.

I can kick him out of the nest, and let him take his licks from life. I see no other choice, given that every nest I've built for my family has fallen to pieces.

As a therapist and as an ordinary person, I can tell you that it takes two to make any living arrangement or relationship work, but it only takes one person to undermine and destroy everything.

Maybe there is a value for him to see me collapse. I am no longer the strong one, at least not on the surface. This should have been evident when my mid-life crisis hit this year, closely followed by the racist landlord who gave me sixty days to move - and I learned later, a number of other families as well, so they can get a higher rent from new tenants. That was white collar thuggery with a distinct tinge of white racism. I know this because I was a good tenant who paid my rent on time, but there reclaiming of property is totally legal in my area. Not ethical, but legal.

As I said, I could have blamed him back, blamed racism, and now blame this psycho landlord, but instead I listened.

In the end, the blame lies at my feet for not being better prepared for the possibility of shit happening and lightening striking twice in one year, because I have been too busy chasing my own dream of a different kind of success.

I also couldn't argue his points if I wanted to, because my chest was hurting a little and didn't want it to start up again. I hope it's just anxiety. When you don't have health insurance, you roll the dice like that because if you aren't having a heart attack, you will when you get the hospital bill.

In a way, this will sound odd, but I do have some empathy for my landlord. This will probably fly out the window soon at the rate things are going.

Still, he has early stage inoperable lung cancer, but can't afford health insurance, yet earns too much to qualify for medical assistance. He needs his own place where he doesn't have to share the house for income, because temperamentally, he's unfit to live with others. I can see he was an abused child himself but doesn't recognize this because he's too proud of how his daddy didn't take no shit, meaning, abused him. I ain't told him that's my take on it, 'cause I ain't his therapist. Meanwhile, his unfortunate life experiences, decreasing income from the economy and health problem makes him act downright evil, although he sounds like he was an asshole before lung cancer came along.

All of the shit he went through and is going through, and now putting us through, is an indictment of where a variety of social and health systems failed too many Americans. Regardless, he still stinks as a human being, but if you give enough shit to people and don't treat them or their families for their problems, you can't be surprised when some of them turn out to be turds.

As for the new job thing, I had so much hope for a few weeks back, that didn't work out, so I've been back to hitting the pavement, and it's one disappointment after another. It used to be so easy getting social work or mental health gigs, hell, people would ask me to come work for them without me even looking. Shee-it. Not now. Competition is a monster now. I'm actually offended by the groups and agencies who have not called me back. I could run some of those dang places. But nope, they're looking for recent grads who they can pay as little as possible. I'd take that, but not if they don't call me for an interview, ya know?

The last thing Xavier and I talked about in the car was Christmas.

He said, "This is the worst Christmas ever. It doesn't even feel like Christmas. We have nothing."

"That's because you're used to all those great vacations and presents," I said. "We're having a poor Christmas, but it still feels good to me. Our tree and Nativity scene is up. Our living room is pretty. We have a turkey."

He shook his head sadly, like a little kid. "No, it's bad," he said.

"It's not material," I countered, "but neither was the day Jesus was born. A poor Christmas is not the same as a bad Christmas. If Jesus came along now, Joseph and Mary would have been sitting in the welfare office right next to us, applying for emergency housing and cash assistance just like us, so they could get the hell out of that barn. But look at all the good that came from the day Christ was born. That's why Christmas will always be good... unless of course, Rocco totally snaps and kills the dog or me that day. Now that would be a bad Christmas."

I chuckled a laugh; ain't quite lost my sense of humor yet. Xavier, the king of comedy, couldn't muster a smile.

I said, "Somehow the three of us will be fine if we can weather through the next month or two. If I don't find another place, Cassie (my daughter) will make it somewhere with relatives even if I check out of here from a heart attack or violence, or if I have to live temporarily with another relative or even into a shelter. You'll make it too, if you don't give up. But I ain't letting none of this shit ruin my Christmas. Fuck Rocco and being broke, that's my day."

By not blaming him for shit that he already knows he's guilty of, he began to talk a little about where he blew it.

"I have to get a job, Ma, for real. I've wasted too much time. I want to go look right now."

"Uh-huh," I said non-commitally.

"I can't depend on you no more," he added. "You're as bad off as me."

"Yep, that's true. My shoulders broke from all the burdens."

"This can't be happening," he said. "The strongest person in the family has to stay strong."

"I'm sorry, Xavier, even the strongest can only carry so much. There's nothing left to lean on."

Except faith in the Lord and myself, I thought instantly, but did not say.

I'm not sure why; maybe I didn't want to sound too preachy, and maybe this is a truth he has to learn for himself.

True to his word, I watched him apply to several stores when we got back into our neighborhood, and I did too. Yep, I just might end up as a cashier or burger flipper for awhile to get what I need, to get out of this new hell.

Afterwards, I watched him do on the computer what I've been doing super-intensely for the past month - apply online, for hours. That shit is exhausting, and I don't know why, since you're just sitting there filling out forms and answering those stupid psychological questions to determine if you're outgoing, honest and a "team player".

Hell, they ought to just ask if you want to get paid bad enough to show up on time and do what you're told without question, and skip all the bull that anyone with a brain can fudge.

And they can shove that "team player" concept up their azzes. That's just a phoney code phrase for doing what the top dog wants, period. You get the illusion of choices and being on a "team", but it's usually a rigged game, and if you show you have better and smarter ideas, you'll be hated and they'll try to run you out there unless they think you're not a threat to their position, and they can profit from you - often at the expense of business integrity.

I wish Americans would be more genuine with language, but wishes, like dreams, have to go into hybernation when all the things that matter in your soul can't protect you from disasters.

So, if all this ain't trill (true & real) enough for you, have a great Christmas, Kwanza, and New Years anyway!

With affection for you all,


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis' The Season!

I loved the innocence of Snoopy, Woodstock, and the Charlie Brown crew as a kid, and still do. Wishing you all blessed Christmas!

~ Kit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bitch Is The New Black?
No. Subliminal Sexism & Racism
Is The Same Old New Black

Maybe Helena Andrews came up with the catchy title of her unpublished book, Bitch Is The New Black, which is about chronic loneliness in the college educated African American woman, but as I see it, the imprint on the American conscience will be Black Is The New Bitch.

Yep, once again black women are the recipients of another lie that makes us one dimensional stereotypes. Jezebel, "strong", mammy, magical Negress, and now "lonely black bitch", only this time, bitch is being paraded via the title as some sort of fashion statement.

Hell, no wonder the publisher jumped on Andrews' manuscript and fronted her the money before it's complete: it feeds into their white racism and the "mystery" of black people. See everyone! Even when they're doing good, they're doing bad!

I don't review books or movies unless I have actually read them. This book might be quite good, or it could suck. I dig the theme of loneliness in black women, which isn't new and has been around at least since the 1980s when Audrey Chapman, a professor and radio show host pitched the idea of man-sharing, since there were so few eligible men to go around for the sistahs.

I read the Bitch Is The New Black review in the Washington Post and the opinions of several bloggers and a bunch of their readers. The author's take on the disproportionate loneliness among unmarried, educated black women is on target. Where she messed up in her interview is the frivolous nonsense about needing a "winter boo". Look, either you want a boo or you don't, and if one is seen as a seasonal accessory then you deserve to be lonesome. Hope that part hits the cutting room edit for the book and movie.

What I take issue with is the title. It plants yet another seed in the minds of black people that we just can't get our lives together, and worse, that black women are bitches.

This falsely validates the sexism among some brothas, and I have already seen a bunch of anti-education-in-women comments on several blogs. (Kudos to VSB, who handled the topic with sensitivity and good suggestions.)

Yep, the bitch azz, Peter Pan niggas are coming out of the closet, admitting that they find grown azz women unapproachable and undateable, yet still won't man up to finding a woman smarter or more successful than them intimidating.

Peter Pan, if you recall, never grew past adolescence. The educated black woman, on the other hand, is generally someone who took responsibility for learning how to be a self-sufficient adult.

The educated or uneducated black man who is emotionally arrested in their teen fantasies of what a woman should be like resents the truly adult woman. She thinks he's grown because he has the body and birthday of an adult, and maybe even his own college degree, but she's been fooled.

These two mix like oil and water, with him acting like a sour, pouty middle school kid who views her like a teacher instead of an equal. He's a hypocrite, too. He sees equality as something he wants for his sons and daughters, but not in his woman.

You see it too often: the educated professional man who marries the clerk with a high school diploma, then snickers on those rare occasions when he meets a woman professional who married the guy in the mail room. These are the same men who would have a stroke if their own daughter did the same thing.

So now Hollywood will be bankrolling a film with this outrageous title to further divide the sexes in the black community. I can't help but wonder if they'd have paid a lick of attention to this book idea if it had been titled,

The Loneliness of The Educated Black American Woman

with a long subtitle of:
How Generations of Racism, Crappy Schools, Job Discrimination, Liquor Stores & Drugs On Every Corner, And Injustice & Mass Male Incarceration Screwed Up Black Relationships

Despite the title, I wish Helena Andrews well, because she does have experiences and a message that will resonate with many black women. Unfortunately, the Peter Pans won't hear it, and the unintended consequences may be further spreading the propaganda message that black women are indeed, bitches.

Given all this, I'd love to see a book on the back story of the publishers who were so eager to to promote it. Surely they must see successful black women as bitches, too, or they wouldn't have so readily embraced it. That's the book I want to read or the movie I want to see, with them toasting their glasses to yet another profitable black exploitation media venture.

I'd title that hidden story within the story:
Subliminal Sexism & Racism Is The Same Old New Black.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Until The Next Time...

Hi folks. I'll be doing some fairly intensive job preparation until the holidays and may not post before then, or even during the Christmas season if I can sneak in a vacation.
Of course, if something BIG happens in the news, I'll squeeze in time to write a commentary.

I have many timeless essays on the right sidebar. I write often about personal things but always tie it in with big picture, the political and social culture that shapes us all, including many of you to whom my stories apply.

I enjoy comments on older essays, not just whatever current one is on the page. By all means leave one if it moved you, and I'll comment back.

Until the next time, I'll see you around, probably at your blog.

Take care,

~ Kit

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Question To Readers About God

I found my way to Deacon Blue's fascinating blog last night and read this interesting post about God, titled, Balanced, Not Superstitious. It's a good read. I commented:

Me: I don’t know if you’ll agree with this or not, Deacon Blue, and would enjoy hearing your opinion. I think God, evolution, science and math are compatible and not mutually exclusive of one another. I think God likes the latter three and is part of them.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Beach Towel Metaphor

The Beach Towel is a little worn from time and use, but still durable, pretty and fluffy. It's been great for the fun vacations, picnics, early afternoons at the local pool, for wrapping it's figurative arms around two young kids to warm them up, and for drying off the dog when wet.

It picked up a few stains along the way - spots from wiping bloody noses or small cuts. The many tears it wiped away from falls by the household kids left no such spots but the towel remembers them.

At times it's been used as a bathroom mat, for there was nothing else for them to stand on when the floor was cold, and their small feet - their very foundation - were bare and unprotected. It never liked this very much but tolerated it.

The Beach Towel became particularly tired a week ago. The oldest kid who grew up into a six foot, 165 pound young adult, did what felt like a rain dance on it for three very intense days. She was left quite soggy, but began to wonder if the water came from her own tears or tears he was hiding. It was a mystery because he showed no outward signs of crying.

The only way to dry her was to wring out the water, less mildew attack and begin to rot her from the inside. Everyone knows that mildew is one of the greatest enemies of beach towels everywhere. To succumb to it beyond a certain point is to risk emotional and even physical death, so she squeezed and squeezed out her feelings into words, which were her tears.

It was a painful process, but she, and many other beach towels she'd known had been through it before, so she knew it was necessary to survive.

Afterwards, she didn't feel so fluffy, and everyone knows that fluffy for a beach towel is happiness.

She did the next best thing she knew to do, which was take a warm bubble bath followed by a nice tumble in the dryer. She had two trusted bubble bath products to call, and allowed both of them to scrub away her mildew-like pain, and a trusted, book-like dryer to warm her up with His everlasting compassion.

Refreshed again, she told the Rain Dancer no more.

This is when she learned he thought he had outgrown tears, but in fact, his emotionally and verbally stomping her was just another manifestation of them, and part of why she had become drenched.

The water of pain that she had wrung out were his tears too.


At Least He Had A Reason

The above is a metaphor I made up that can be used to describe many family and close relationships. Although I blog a lot about events that affect me personally, my signature mark is to include something that readers can apply to their own lives.

The Beach Towel Metaphor is another way of describing in my past two posts and this one what I've gone through recently. My son, Xavier, relapsed into alcohol abuse on Thanksgiving and acted like he had lost his damn mind over that weekend.

I thought he was lying when he finally told me his girlfriend thought she was pregnant, and this was the "reason" he relapsed. For him, it triggered bad memories and new fears. His previous girl of 2008 whom he'd hoped to marry, but out of the blue dumped him, terminated her pregnancy presumably by him, returned to her baby's father who'd just been released from jail. It was horrible for him but also for me watching that wreck in action.

Thus, when his new girlfriend since the summer - I'll call her CeeCee - said she thought she was pregnant, he flipped out and took out his stress on me, the figurative Beach Towel.

He could have just cried and I'd have wiped away his tears, but his young adult male pride would not allow him to do this. It is unfortunate that so many men are more afraid to cry than to go into battle, but this is how Mother Nature designed them for the most part, and how every culture reinforces this.

However, between my adamant message of no more, and her message of, I love you and I'm keeping it, he is back into sobriety, taking his medication, and actively looking for work again to save up for their own place.

CeeCee turns 18 this spring and graduates high school in June. If she doesn't change the script, next year he will become a young married Beach Towel for his new family.

If I laugh at their wedding if they really go through with it, which I know he would in a heartbeat, you'll know why.

I'll help where I can, but my job parenting this once neglected three year old foster child with fuzzy red hair from malnutrition that later turned naturally black from my good home cooking, and seeing him through many tough times until he turned 21, will be done.

I can't honestly say I'd have chosen all those problems had I known what was ahead, but this is true of every parent. You get what you get. You make a commitment and you seal it with love, then pray for strength and the best.

Like other young families, Xavier and CeeCee have many challenges ahead. I think he has learned by example how to be a good Beach Towel.

If not, may God help them, as He did me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trolls, Haters, Anti-Abortion or Pro-Choice Fanatics, And Shame

I never had an experience with an anti-abortion fanatic until Sunday. He was as sneaky as the sneakiest of a racist troll. This mofo used my blog and my last post for his agenda platform, and that post didn't didn't mention a damn thing about abortion. To add insult, he then essentially told me not to believe my lying eyes and that I wasn't reading his words right.

I am one given to introspection. Some of his points were very thought-provoking, and when I cool off, I will mull over them some more. Oh, I deleted them in my last post - there were so many - because they grew increasingly offensive and made wild and incorrect assumptions about me, my kid, and my past abortion, but I did save the emails.

The reason? We can sometimes learn something from people who are extremists and piss us off royally, once we sift through their garbage.

Here's the formula for the more intelligent hater or troll. They have at least two basic techniques.

One is they set up a blog that has little content. Then they go trolling through blogs with points of view or the type of people they don't like, and they leave comments that mix the truth with lies or covert hate, like racism or sexism.

The other is they set up a blog that has a similar name of a blog that others enjoy. I ran across one last week that I thought was about black humor, and found it on the blogroll of an unsuspecting black blogger we all know and love.

So I got to reading the current post of this blog, and this person cited outrageously high crime stats for black against white crime. He had a link as though that was an authoritative link, so I clicked on on it, and it was to another blog! Not the Department of Justice (DOJ) who has the real crime stats, but to an obscure-looking little blog with a link to PDF format article with those same stats.

I read the cover page and who authored it, and quickly googled the name. Well, well, well. The "foundation" that authored it was founded by a white supremacist who is on the ADL's hate watch list, which includes other supremacists, organizations, and Nazis.

That damned blog had a bunch of links to look like the blogger had done his research, but put a spin on the most mundane of articles, even one by Fox News that was actually more progressive than his.

The thing is, that post had truth mixed in with lies, so if you scanned it without looking for how he justified his point of view or reading the links, you might walk away believing the lies he told. That blogging bitch is either a white racist or worse, a self-hating black person who promotes white supremacy while at the same time, having a blogroll of black bloggers. Wolves in sheep's clothing.

And this is how our heads get polluted, and how we as black people, black men, and black women, get confused and start arguing among one another over how bad things are when often our source of information is propaganda.

The trolls who work at Fixed News may or may not be bloggers, but as far as I'm concerned, Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly are masters at this at technique #2. Two smart men who speak like gentlemen on camera, and mix lies with truth because have contempt hidden in their hearts. Oh, they got outted over a year ago, but skated for a long time under the radar, and for a lot of white folks who live in a bubble and don't understand racism or classism all that well, they still think those guys aren't so bad.

Back to trolls. I view them as obsessive types who like an audience. I think the best remedy is to delete their numerous comments on one post when it becomes apparent that they're not sincere - as in sincerely mis-educated but wanting to learn, or sincerely wanting to do something other than harass the blogger and distract from the post and put a chilling effect on it so that readers think, nah, I don't wanna get into that conversation!

However, there are whites who really don't understand a black point of view (I'm speaking generically), just as there are men who really don't understand a woman's point of view. Yeah, I know a lot of them just fake like they "aren't aware" so they can continue to be offensive and stress out folks, but some really don't know any better and are just giving an opinion that sounds dumb or mean to our ears.

I have a lot of patience with people like this, maybe because I was so incredibly stupid and biased about men when I was much younger and had all kinds of misconceptions about white people. Blame the culture or tv, I'm just sayin'.

I speak of all this now because I've written several posts about my personal experience and regret about an abortion I had at age 19. One out of three women, according to Planned Parenthood, has had one. That's a lot of potential parents who never became parents. Note that I didn't say that's a lot of women. It takes two to tango and don't ever forget the men who share that experience.

Yet despite these abysmal numbers, I can't recall a single blogger or reader-commenter who ever told their story. Ya girl Kit has, though, and for a purpose beyond being an attention whore.

For the record, I've shared my story because I've known and seen too many young women - and men - abort without having a fuckin' clue as to how their emotions might be impacted afterwards. Most folks don't feel too good about it once it's done. Folks might look at you at little funny and start judging you, and this goes for men too, as in, why fuck didn't you use a rubber, or why you dog that girl like that?

Abortion, as a conversational topic, just might be as taboo as incest, and this is the reason why is no one talks about this shit.

The consequences of the secrecy, however, is that youth are left ignorant and clueless about what they're deciding. It's a double-bind situation, because if you do start talking about it, you the run the same risk of being denigrated even when you say you regret it.

Case in point: Yesterday along came this fanatical pro-life bitch who said everything to me short of calling me a baby-killer, all because I remain staunchly pro-choice, and I'll explain that in a moment.

I don't recall too many pro-lifers getting all knotted up and talking shit to men who enlisted and served in the military, which is one of the great killing machines of our times. In fact, they're more likely to vote for the Nuke 'em Party, aka the GOP.

This is where the rabid sexism comes in, and that's as nasty as racism. Well, bullies always did like to pick easy targets - the perceived underclass group in any society, and of course, women.

Despite what I've been through, I have and will forever remain pro-choice and continue to give my opinion. I will not be shamed or bullied into silence by either the fetus-in-the-jar anti-abortion asswipes or the it's-just-a-little-minor-medical-procedure feminist pro-abortion liars.

There's a helluva middle ground, and that's where most people get fucked. Having an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy throws most single folks who grew up in the Me First Generation into a panic. They only have a few weeks to make a decision. During this time, there's an excellent chance they're emotionally numb from shock, mentally on auto-pilot, and trying not to think at all beyond the appointment day.

This is especially true if their boyfriend (or girlfriend), and their other support systems are saying that a baby would be too inconvenient "right now", as though there's ever a good time to have a child.

Or the support system will do the opposite, and say having the baby would be okay even though the woman in particular has a track record of being so irresponsible that you know that kid has a very high chance of becoming totally effed up.

Here's my bottom line advice, and I don't give this kind of advice lightly.

If you are a woman - or a man, 'cause y'all are part of the baby-making process too - you know your temperament better than anyone else.

When stuck in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, make the decision you think you can best live with, not only in the immediate future, but five, ten, twenty and thirty years from now.

Remember that no matter what you decide, there will be times when you wonder what your life would be or have been like had you made the opposite decision.

I know people who regret having a child, and you'll find a lot of them among the elderly, sitting alone or senior citizens homes where they have nothing but time to think, and I know lots of young and middle aged adults who regret aborting or encouraging a woman to have one.

You are not all-powerful and will never, ever know the outcome of whatever decision you didn't make, so again, consider all the advice you get, read up on as much as you can on the health dangers of both pregnancy and abortion-related infertility and other problems, think about the impact of your personal spiritual beliefs (if any), know and respect your temperament, and make the choice you think you can live with.

This, to me, is the heart of real pro-choice: choosing what is right for you after giving it serious thought from all angles. This is exactly what the anti-abortion and the pro-abortion fanatics don't want - thinking about anything other than their point of view which they've rammed down the throats of everyone in the country.

Think for yourselves, and walk not in shame if you think you made a mistake by continuing or terminating a pregnancy, for mistakes are human and help us grow - when we (and sometimes others) allow it.


I probably won't respond to many comments like I usually do for a couple of days, as I'm leaving the discussion to readers to share their feelings, thoughts or experiences. When not on comment moderation, I will be nearby to delete comments from any known or suspected trolls, flamers, or undercover haters.

If you leave an anonymous comment, please put some kind of name at the end of it as I expect their may be more one, and use that anonymous feature if you aren't comfortable with others knowing your story.