On Dying: Our Marjorie

My neighbor of fifteen years is dying in a hospice from pancreatic cancer. Something she didn’t want to share with anyone so I’m just finding out this week in her final days and hours. I understand her not wanting everyone to know I am just as private when it comes to my own personal tragedies but I would like to have been able to tell her what a wonderful neighbor she has been all these years. I would like to be able to tell her that I will miss her, I mean really miss her. Maybe she didn’t want to see the heartbreak in my eyes or feel my tears slip down from my face to her hands as I try to convey my feeling for her. I have told her on more than one occasion how much I appreciated her but right now I don’t feel as if it is enough.

My family and I moved into our predominately white Italian neighborhood fifteen years ago. I knew very little about Rhode Island and less about Providence or its neighborhoods. Our realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally our home in North Providence.We visited the house I was to buy on a cool October night driving down from Boston where we lived. My dream was to find us something in southern MA but the home prices were way too high for me a divorced single mother of three. A co-worker who commuted from Rhode Island suggested I take a look over the border in his neighborhood so every weekend we would drive out and just scope the neighborhoods as best we could without a guide. I liked the quietness and small town feel of Rhode Island so contacted an real estate agency. My realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally the home in North Providence. As soon as we walked in the door we all loved it. It just felt like home to all of us.

On moving day my cousin joked that my neighbors were probably peeking out their windows at this little black family moving in and saying there goes the neighborhood. I laughed but it hit me at that moment that other than my co-worker telling me North Providence was a great place to raise kids I hadn’t much thought about whether it was a great place for black kids. It never crossed my mind there were no other black families on the street or in the neighborhood I could see. My guard went up a bit from that moment not knowing what to expect and my mind prepped for anything bad. What I got however, were the best neighbors and the the absolute best neighbor in Marjorie or Ms. Marjorie as I instructed my kids to call her.

I no longer remember how or when Marjorie introduced herself to me or my family but she has been a rock for me since I moved here. All of my neighbors have been kind but especially her. She and my other neighbor Jackie looked out for my kids and home when I was working from 6:30am to about 6:00pm I was commuting to and from Boston for work. That first year I dragged my youngest with me to his school in Boston. My middle schoolers were latch key kids but for good or bad it was the way it was and we were happy in our home and they were safe with both neighbors checking in on them or spying as they would say.

Marjorie loved my youngest son from the very beginning. He was six when we moved in and although she was good to all three of my children we all joked about how Jabriel was her favorite. She would make him the best cookies and drop them off-
“Here you go I baked these for sweetie.” she would say and I would smile and say thank you knowing I was going to devour half. He could not appreciate the goodness of fresh home baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies he thought Oreos were treats for Gods sake. The cookies she made were the real treats and they were the best.

We talked often both of us being  PBS fans, political junkies, and social commentators. We talked about our failed marriages, why I wasn’t dating, my kids, her daughter, our jobs, her retirement, and her depression. She was thoughtful and meticulous. I admired her life story and her struggle to be independent. Our lives mirrored to some extents and I understood her but there were things I didn’t understand and will never know about her.

I was mad at her last year when her tree fell in my yard, a big one, and she didn’t say anything about it. Legally it is my responsibility to get rid of it but she never acknowledged it only calling our other neighbor who told her there was nothing she needed to do I just inherited a tree. I was angry with the both of them.  As angry as I was with her I felt like she didn’t want to say anything because to get it cut was expensive and she was retired on a fixed income for whatever reason she didn’t know what to say if she couldn’t help so I chose not to make it a big deal and my dad cut the tree for me. That was the only time I was ever mad at her and I’m happy I chose our friendship over a fallen tree. How could I be mad at the person who fixed my kids dinner while I was in Dallas, Texas for a work event? Or who brought my trash bins in every Wednesday morning, or who gave cards to all of my children for every milestone and wrote to my son while he was away at bootcamp- he never got the cookies she sent but I’m 100% certain some Navy officer knows how much love went into each delicious bite. She had done too much and continued to be too much of a nice person for me to make a tree a thing between us.

Now she is somewhere slowly slipping away into her light and I hope she knows I will miss her and how heartbroken I am that she will no longer be our next door neighbor. I hope there is an afterlife because I know a wonderful one awaits her because she is one of the most deserving.

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On Style: Get Ready For Autumn!

I don’t think about fashion much until my Essence magazine comes in the mail and every month I tell myself I want to start dressing like the spreads they have laid out in their pages. Don’t get me wrong I do dress well (not right at this moment however) but magazines always get me excited about the next season.

About five September magazines arrived yesterday and although I don’t want the summer to end their fall fashion preview has me very ready to slip into a black turtleneck, wool skirt, and a cool pair of leather booties.

 

 

 

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Relationships: When It’s Not Right

kermitWhen your are constantly talking yourself into a man/woman… it aint right

When your nights are sleepless because there is a peace breaker soundly sleeping next to you…it aint right

When you wake up in the morning and wish for night again because the hours in the day are filled with  so much anxiety and anger…it aint right

Does not matter if it is a friendship, intimate partnership or a job…if it aint right your body and mind will tell you…in soft and loud voices. We choose to ignore them.

Bad associations are draining. We hold on to people/things/jobs that deplete our souls of happiness because we think we can scratch out happiness if only people/things/job change. Only we can change.

Change perspective. Change your value. Change expectations. Demand better.

Listen to your inner-voice it does not lie although it does nag. Your true self wants more for you than a bad relationship, an untrustworthy friend, or a meaningless belittling job.

Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of strength. However, there are times in life in which it takes much more strength to just let go.

Life does not have to suck. Don’t let people suck up your life.

 

 

 

On Planning: Alternate Routes

I make plans and I plan to plan all my plans and sometimes in doing so I miss an opportunity because it does not quite fit in the timing of my plan and I’m too nervous to deviate from the plan.

That is weak.

Putting on the crown.

I’ve been absent the last few weeks because I have been working on my novel. I’ve decided to self-publish and its a lot of work. I wanted to have it submitted the traditional way but after a year its not working out that way. I can’t not push it out there so I’m taking the alternative route. It wasn’t part of the plan but I’m grabbing up what I have and doing it anyway.

On Energy: Fighting the Negative

I, like a lot of folks, can be my own worse enemy. I am filled with self-doubt and uncertainty as I maneuver through my self-proclaimed mid-life crisis. It is negative energy that has a bio-chemical component to it. I notice it more when my body is preparing for my period. It is not every month but when it hits it hits hard. I am fortunate to know myself well enough to not give in totally to the wave of negative thoughts but it does not make the struggle less agonizing.

Last Thursday morning I felt its ugly trigger. It came in as it usually does picking a fear that I keep hidden within myself. This day it was my fear of being forever alone. I was looking through a friends  Instagram  who recently came back from a wonderful trip to Brazil with her significant other. She looked so happy as did he and I immediately felt that defeating feeling I would never have that again. The feeling that happiness would never be mine.

I.will.never.meet.anyone.like.that. I.will.never.be.pretty.enough.for.someone.to.love.me.like.that. I.will.never.be.happy.like.that…..

These thoughts swim in my head all day and by the evening I am in full mode depression.

I fight it. I try  very hard but the clouds get darker. I tell myself I won’t let a tear drop from my eyes because if I do it means I accept the negative thoughts as my prophecy. I look at my period calendar, I do this to assure myself that it is a premenstrual affect. I feel some relief because these feelings, this sadness is a biochemical reaction… my brain is not producing enough serotonin or are the receptors blocked? I am in a bad hormonal swing. Cogently I know this.

Amongst all the dark noises I try to speak to myself logically but I sink deeper into this abyss of sadness. I can’t stop myself. My mind shifts to my other fear. Fear of writing. you.will.never.be.a.legitmate.writer. there.are.millions.of.writers.how.do.you.think.you.compete. save.yourself.the.heartache. give.up.now.

Friday afternoon my father sends me flowers and chocolate covered strawberries with a note  “You are the best daughter. Happy Mother’s Day!” Oh my God I love him. I am not out of this cave but I’m reminded of being loved for me no matter what. He is my biggest cheerleader and it helps. I keep fighting the negative words and thoughts. I feel them in my gut now.

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Saturday I barely get off the couch. I can’t move, I don’t want to move. I fake the funk and function as best as I can. I speak to my mom on the phone. I cook. I smile. I play Operation with my little guy and kiss his little face most of the day but inside…inside I want to lie down and not wake up. I force myself not to give into tears.

I feel tired beyond normal energy loss but I fight it.

When my daughter was eleven and began her period I told her she would have days like this. Usually only a few days. I told her to pop in a good movie like Imitation of Life and cry it out.You just have to know it will pass. I wish I had added that if she ever got so afraid of that dark place to let me know because not every bad day passes.

I kept telling myself this will pass.

Sunday I sleep most of the day again but when I wake up at six I can feel the flip side of this starting to turn over. I grab my pen. It feels good to have it in my hand. I write a plan of the things I want to get done this week. Planning helps me focus as I have said many times. I’m still dealing with the inner doubt and I can hear the whispers in the back of my mind but my shouting fighting voice is getting stronger. It is passing.giphy4

I’ve spoken on my issues with depression here.  I have always had this hormonal side-effect of depression and now I think age may be a factor. This is my struggle however there are

“an awful lot of people in what ought to be the golden years of life dealing with dreadful sad and nervous moods and/or having sleep and energy difficulties, losing desire or pleasure in even basic things such as eating and being with others, dealing with increased aches and pains, and having awful thoughts about life and themselves(Psychology Today).”

If my symptoms were more than once a month and longer than three or four days I would be asking my PCP for something to control those crippling thoughts of unhappiness. Right now I can handle it.

As I get closer to a menopausal stage I wonder how these midlife changes will effect my thoughts and moods. I am being proactive and keeping my doctor in the loop as well. Biochemical changes and external life changes can alter my perceptions before I realize it so I make sure to ‘watch’ myself.

 

Stay well and seek happiness. You still have power.

A few articles to read:
Depression-National Institute of Mental Health
Can Exercise Cure Depression? Washington Post
Fighting Midlife Depression

 

 

On Horror: The Hair Downstairs

I have not yet accepted that there are gray hairs in my temples. I’m forty-eight I guess I should expect them but it does not mean I accept them and because those little bastards are resilient as hell I dye them every four to five weeks. My daughter says I should just let it go its natural course. I said the same dumb shit to my mother at twenty-five so I just roll my eyes and keep it moving, her day will come. What I need is to find a hair dye that will last for more than three weeks because these gray hairs are dye-defying ninjas kicking colors ass and winning! #ridiculous

There are two gray ninjas making themselves comfortable in my eyebrows as I type. I swear I just plucked them out two days ago and yet here they sit again. I wish my money came back into my hands as fast and without effort.

I thought this was the worse it could get until last night when I found a little white hair down there.

Yes, DOWN THERE!

I’d just stepped out shower and was drying myself off and saw it. I thought it was a piece of cat hair that got onto my towel. How disgusting. I don’t love my cat near enough to not care if I see some of his hair mixed up in my pubic hair of all damn places. I tried to grab it.

Wait…what?

I wiped it with the other side of the towel.

OMG! It was still there. WTF???????

A GRAY PUBIC HAIR!

W…T…F???
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Emotionally I am just not ready for this. I mean it’s been a rough year already. I have been dealing with a lot of shit lately with this whole ageing, empty nest, career hell thing and now this. I sat on the edge of the tub looking between my legs like ‘wow this is happening, I have a gray pubic hair.’

I have NEVER thought about hair growing gray down there even after the gray eyebrow hair came in. I never heard any of my friends mention it. Gray pubic hair never came up in the many mother daughter talks I have with my mom who I speak to every day. I don’t recall reading about gray pubic hairs in the millions of copies of women magazines I own- well truth could be that maybe one mentioned it because there are a lot I haven’t flipped open they are just sitting on the side of my bed piled high waiting. Maybe I missed it. It doesn’t matter. I consciously never gave this a thought.

NO ONE EVER WARNED ME THAT I COULD GET GRAY PUBIC HAIR! NO ONE!

I don’t keep a forest down there but I’m not for the pre-adolescent look either. I’m a peach fuzz kinda girl with a nice line-up so this single gray wasn’t long like it had been hiding out for weeks.  It was new but seemed like maybe it was chilling out for awhile. How did I miss this? I just envisioned it popping on the scene yelling

‘Whaaaaat’s up?

And my other hairs greeting it like

‘Hey, I like that silver color man!”

No damn defense like it’s just cool to let gray strangers pop up on my damn vagina!

I wanted to yell at them-

‘WTF man??? Do you not pay attention to what I go through upstairs dying my hair every crescent moon because of these bastards! If you let one pop on the scene like a dandelion another will follow and then where would I be?’

I don’t know why I still give inanimate things life and have conversations like this I just do. Don’t judge.

I didn’t cry but I felt like it. I took out the little eyebrow tweezers and yanked that sucker out and I didn’t even wince.

Fuck that I whispered to myself. I’m not giving in to this either.

I called my mom this morning; I still do that for certain life emergencies. #dontjudge

‘Mom, I found a gray hair. I didn’t even know you could get those…I mean I guess I knew but I didn’t really know.”

She laughed, “yeah, they are not a big deal though. You may get ten or so but they don’t take over.”

‘Really? Its not like my whole area is going to be covered with gray hairs?’

‘Oh, heck no. Well, mine isn’t so I wouldn’t think yours would be.’

Omg! What a relief. Yes, I know my hair does not define me blah, blah, blah but thank you God!

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And just like that the sun is shining again on my happy vagina.