Saturday, April 2, 2016

In Lieu of a Funeral



I had been planning to go out of town with some friends and just have a relaxing weekend of writing and nature at a house called, "Serenity" (I didn't make this up, the house above is actually called that).   I needed it.  I was beyond exhausted and it had been a particularly bad week at work.  In fact, by Tuesday evening I was already done with the week and ready for Friday, which is never a good sign.  Then, on Wednesday morning, I received a phone call from my Brother and Sister-in-law. My Brother informed me that my Stepfather, his Dad, was currently on life support.  We just lost our Mother less than two years ago and so if my Stepfather passed this would mean that my 25 year old brother would have lost both of his parents in two years time and at an incredibly young age.  Younger than me even.  My father passed away when I was 26 and my Mother at 32.   But there it was and there was nothing to be done.  A few hours later, my Brother informed me that he had passed away.
My Stepfather was a complicated man.  I can't say that we always got along.  I can't say that he isn't one of the main reasons I have issues with God or certain ideas about men. It was a long road with him and I had stopped hoping he would change about fifteen years ago or more.  And, although I never saw major change in him, the last time all three of us where in a room with him, he said he was proud of us.  He said that we should be proud of how we took care of our Mother.  With the type of story we had with him, that to me, was the best way we could have possibly ended our relationship with him.  For me, that was perfect.  The most anyone can hope for is that any of your parents would be proud of you and I had a Mother, Father and Stepfather who's last words to me where either, "I love you or I'm proud of you."  You can't make that happen.  My childhood was a struggle.  We had a sorted past, but that was the best way it could have possibly ended.  So, I decided to leave it there.  I decided that since it would have been nearly impossible for me to even get to the funeral, I would grieve in my own way.  I am so happy that my last picture of my Stepfather is a loving one.  That is truly a miracle and the vision I decided to keep in my heart.  So, today was the funeral and I didn't go.  I'm in a peaceful, serene setting picturing that last moment with my Stepfather and that's the best send off I can give him.  I am thinking about him, glad he is in a much better place.  Joyful he isn't suffering and blessed that I heard him say two all three of us, that he was proud of us.  So, although my week started out terribly and we had a major loss in the family; I've ended it with peace, joy and a bit of thankfulness.  Loss is hard, and we will suffer with the ramifications of this for a while.  But at least I can say Goodbye with gratitude in my heart for the token I was given.  And isn't that a win really?


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The New Fight Club

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off." - Tyler Durden from 'Fight Club'
Today has been a particularly rough day. Thankfully it ended with seeing an off-Broadway musical for free with a handsome man whom when he sings makes you melt in your seat as the lead. Thank God for that man!

Although I am grateful to have a job and really like my bosses, I didn't plan to do the type of work I have been in for this long. The plan was to start out young and work my way up. Problem was that I never got a job somewhere I would want to move up. Many years of applying, following up, people trying to help me or back peddling after they said they would has led me here. It's not been for lack of trying. But all the trying has led to great disappointment.  I am very discouraged and have lost hope at finding a good bridge job as my history of finding something enjoyable is nil. I'm no longer looking for a "dream job" as my side business is what I am developing to full-time over the next three years. But in the meantime, it's difficult.
I was talking with a friend of many years a few months ago. A friend who has seen all the ups and downs and disappointments, hopes dashed, dreams crushed.  I was able to share this new adventure I'm embarking on with her and she said, "Ebony, I'm really happy for you.  I really think this is a great idea!"  I still don't know what I'm doing right now.  This is most definitely un-chartered territory and not everyone is going to like it or understand.  That's okay.  I think that the people who have known what I've been through these eleven plus years are looking forward to this next season the most.  There is something about having friends that have walked with you through the valley of darkness.
But I still wonder how to get from where I am now to where I want to be and be doing something that contributes financially and practically and that I enjoy doing for the most part? Does that exist? I've heard it does but right now it feels like a unicorn.
In the meantime I have decided to follow the 'Fight Club' rules. Rule 1 - Outside of office hours we don't talk about work. Rule 2 - Outside of office hours we DO NOT talk about work. Boundaries need to be maintained and work/life balance needs to be kept in check. I am not the 9 hours in the office. I am a Sister, Granddaughter, Niece, Friend, Auntie, Writer, Solopreneur, Idea Whirling Dervish, Theater Geek and Hamilton Fanatic. These are the parts of myself I love and the parts I need to focus on. I am made up of so much more than my 9-6 paycheck. Hopefully I will figure out the 9-6 part until my transition, but until then...what's 'Fight Club'? Never heard of it. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Wait For It, Wait For It"


I feel like I've been waiting for a lot of things for many years. My favorite playwright once said, there's no clear answer about whether you have to "wait for it" or go like you're "running out of time".  I feel like I have always had some sort of ticking clock on my back following me around and I've done all that I know to do. I have said Yes to every opportunity that fell within my core values and that I had peace about. And yet I still struggle with the opportunities that never came and all the doors that closed in my face. Not to mention the opportunities I took that felt right and I look back on without a clue as to what the lesson was to learn from it.  All I know is that they are points in my life I wish to not repeat and there in lies the reason I still want the "Why?" answered. Moments in one's life that don't make sense, I can wait for God's answer on the other side if I have to, but years are another story. Life here is not long. It is a vapor and if I can learn my lesson the first time, I want that.
The writer goes on to say that "in reality you will always be waiting and rushing at the same time." I think that my life has been a series of hurry up and wait moments. Having things inside of me to do but not understanding the context in which to do them or how to go about making it happen. Putting myself out there for the opportunity just to find out it's not going to happen and I have to, wait for it, wait for it.
 It has also been filled with too many voices.  "The Committee" as someone I knew called them, are a mean bunch who love to discourage you from doing anything that will be purposeful. I am constantly on trial in my head and their decisions are usually not in my best interest.
This all came to a head a few months ago after I saw, "The Iceman Cometh". Essentially the play is about a group of men who are not being authentic and facing up to the truths about their lives and the paths they on. One in particular is seeking to be told what to do with his life.
Thoughts since January had been plaguing me about there being more. The path I had been on was clearly not working. Doing what I have been all these years was not the answer and I needed to make a change. It was that nagging Holy Spirit voice, some of you will know what I mean. But how appropriate is it that seeing a play has set me on a course that has brought me hope again. That play was a major turning point for me and I have equal parts fear and excitement about going forward.
I was hesitant to write this post, but my late Mother once told me that I should share my struggles here. She felt like there had to be more people out there who have walked this road. I was hesitant because I am in the fetal stages with this and I've had well meaning people abort or almost abort dreams I have had. Do not be offended if I do not share details with you. It's just that I learned that this one is going to need to be protected. There is nothing in this world that wants you to reach your full potential. I believe God gives us each dreams and entrusts us to guard them and put them into action. The talent parable has so many meanings and he is trusting us to be bright enough to get them. "Our foes oppose us, we roll like Moses claiming our promised land."
So, I'm guarding this but want to use my journey to encourage. In my life I have learned you don't know how much time you have on the planet so I want everything I do to be towards reaching my potential and using my gifts. This includes the work I get paid to do and the work I don't. We are the only ones limiting ourselves.  You can volunteer and contribute to the world in ALL ways; because then you are acknowledging Him and what he's given you. So, I'm moving forward but excited to discover what He has guided me to at this crossroads. I know that He and my late parents have been anxiously awaiting this time. Maybe more than I have?

"Death doesn't discriminate between the sinners and the saints. It takes and it takes and it makes no mistakes. And if there's a reason I'm still alive when everyone else who loved me has died, I'm willing to wait for it" -quotes and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NSITC:Part 3 - I ain't no hollaback girl

I was walking down the street the other day and this dude yells out the window of his work truck, "Hey! Yo Baby! Can I take your picture!? ". He yelled more crap about how I looked, I thankfully cannot remember most of it.
Somebody, anybody, please tell me?  Are there women who like this? Are there women who find this flattering?
Listen, I know where I live. It's New York City and encounters such as this come with my choice of living area. But it happens everywhere.
A friend of mine and I were having a discussion about this and she expressed frustration about this but also the lack of forwardness in most Christian men we see.  Now, I'm actually okay with it. I hate being hit on any way you slice it but I do see a lot of girls walking around confused because they found out a guy liked them but he lacked the balls to speak up. I get it...rejection is terrifying and may cause paralysis, but you certainly will have not if thou askest not.
It's like Mama Morton sang, " Whatever happened to class?" There is a way to do things and a lot of us are doing all wrong.
If the dude in the truck had gotten out and spoken to me like a gentleman I probably still would not have gone out with him but I wouldn't have totally ignored him like I did.  Why did I do that? Because Miss Ebony is a lady and does not respond to cat calls. Being that I am a lady I refuse to be treated as anything less.
Maybe we need a worldwide symposium on how to treat each other?  Or Maybe we just need to watch Cary Grant with Ginger Rogers or Gene Kelly with Leslie Carone or Fred Estaire with any woman? Or listen to Gregory Peck speak to anyone and get lessons from these people in femininity without losing personality and being yourself but a gentleman at the same time?
If you don't know who any of these people are, there's your first problem.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

No Sex in the City: Part 2

  So, I said I would explain why I've been thinking about relationships and my part in my lack of them.  I'm about to expose myself in a terrifying way, so be nice.  I might cry while I write or delete this post after I publish it.
The summer of 2012 I started having these dreams.  I put a lot of stock in dreams and it has proven to do well for me in life.  Honestly.  I learn a lot about myself, what the future holds for myself and others as well as get warnings about life events.  None of these recent dreams has been bad, they've just brought up a few things.  Very large things. The last dream wasn't good, it was me repeating an old pattern and I woke up furious.  I was furious because I wanted things to turn out well for me for once.  The other dreams were in my favor but this one wasn't.  I was again the mousy one who sat and watched what she wanted go to someone else.  I've become very tired of watching this scenario play out in my life and I don't know how to stop the cycle.
I've talked about the "Burnt Toast Theory" before and I am Public Enemy #1 when it comes to that.  I think my Mother is the same way and I learned from watching her.  My Mother will literally give of herself until she is within an inch of her life.  We've even had family interventions to get her to stop.
It's not only that but it is this misunderstanding of who I am.  I know that I don't own my own identity.  So, when my true identity is spoken over me, my spirit receives it and is awakened.  It comes alive and connects with the truth on such a deep level that I'm tied to it but because I may not have known that "word" was part of who I am meant to be, I don't understand why those things sit with me for so long.
When I was younger and living at home we battled a lot of things in our home.  I was so busy battling and warring and being a grown-up in my childhood there was no time to worry about any identity outside of being a "Warrior".  When you are trying to be the boss and find some way to still enjoy a small piece of your childhood and these are not things you understand you should know, you don't try to find them out.  The men in my life where a disaster.  It wasn't a pretty sight and every guy I liked, didn't know I had space on the planet.  So, I was constantly fighting for my piece of life and worked hard to get it.  I think I was always fighting to be noticed without begging anyone to notice me. I just worked my ass off and did the best work I could do giving all I had hoping someone would notice.
All I've ever been able to see of myself is "Warrior", "Fighter" and "Hardworker".  These are the identity traits I know I have and can easily see and embrace.
So, when a friend in Highschool called out something completely different in me, a prophetic identity I was never aware of,  my spirit connected with it. The problem is that I've never been able to separate him from the identity.  I think it's because he owned it.  He called me "his" and no one had ever done that before.  Obviously it is also because he was male.  I didn't understand that what he had done was call out my prophetic identity until ten years later. Since then it's been called out multiple times.  I think that the other issue is that I must have a need to be with someone who sees me.  Right now I feel abandoned by God and have felt forgotten by him for many years.  I think everyone feels the need to be seen and known and this person did that, he saw something he didn't know was being highlighted to him by the Holy Spirit and called it out every day.  And whenever I've seen him since then, he still calls it out and whatever else he sees.  It's hard to not respond to that type of reception but, I feel pathetic.  I'm too old for this crap, I've got to move on.  It's not that I've never felt anything for another man since, I have, but I always go back to this one. I measure all others up to this one.  I'm aggravated with myself and trying hard to figure out how to fix it.  I go through bouts where I think I'm fine; and then I had another dream in the summer of 2013. Three others followed up until the last one in May of 2014 and I don't know what any of this means; because I had all of these dreams without having thought of him for years.
I know that he's just not that into me. I don't need the book or to be told that God really does love me and this will all go away if I will trust him and heal my relationship with God.  I felt this way before God and I were in our current problems so I'm not sure that's the crux of the issue.  It's only part of it.
It's been a lot of years to stand outside with a boom-box playing "In Your Eyes".  Even with the breaks I've taken my arms are still tired.
So, that is my tale of woe.  I feel sick admitting this but maybe getting it out is the first step towards getting over it.  I'm trying to work it out, to move on from it and separate the truth spoken from the man who spoke it.  I think that once I figure that out, a whole world of revelation will open up to me.

No Sex in the City: Part 1

  In a city of 8 million-plus, people (who don't live in New York City) think it should be easy to find someone.  I get whistled at, hollered at, you know, the usual bull from men old enough to be my Father.  Or from men who don't actually mean anything by it, they're just bored.  Or men who just want to get in and out of your pants, both being fast and without substance.
Every time I go visit my family in North Carolina and arrive man-less my Aunt says to me, "Don't they have any men up there in New York?!  I love my Aunt but this question annoys the crap out of me.  Not only for obvious reasons but because our family is epically bad at relationships.  So, I've never understood why she has always been so eager for me to get into one.  My late Father would always say to me, "Don't listen to them Babe.  Misery loves company." My Father was a smart man.  Because the truth of this statement gets more obvious with each passing year.
But it gets to me.  I was talking to my Blogger friend Sarah, who's blog is hilarious, about her latest dating adventures and my lack thereof.  Honestly, the whole thing started when I asked her, "Why does Senior People Dating keep sending me emails?" You see, they started sending me emails on my birthday this year.  You guys, I'm young.  Like way way too young for that website. I have to tell you that getting emails from a site my Mother should be on didn't boost my confidence either.
Especially since lately I've been feeling a shift in my heart, spirit, or whatever.  I've never been one to ask God about when I'm getting married or where my husband is, until lately.  There will be more on why in Part 2, but I've been thinking about it lately.  What is my role in the man repellent I am clearly spraying on myself everyday?
  I think that it all comes down to expectations and the personal issues and misconceptions we each have about ourselves and others.  Women want to be understood in a way only God can know you.  Like, we want our men to get us in this way so deep they can read our minds.  Well, they freaking can't read our minds!  And honestly, if they could, we wouldn't actually want them in there all the time because it gets kind of crazy in there.  
But then on the flip-side so many men want this Gisele Bundchen looking, Victoria's Secret wearing, french maid, who is brilliant and speaks 20 languages.  She must come with zero issues and never have had any baggage but must be deep in this way that only actually comes from a person who has been through the rough stuff of life.
I think it is these expectations that leads us to suffer bloodshed, tears and soul-crushing heartbreak. Sarah's blog about her online dating adventures had a post about a man whose profile was so bad, I was rendered speechless.  Until I wasn't.
I'm Not a Fat Girl But....
I'm processing all of this and wondering what happened?  I look back and I don't know that we have ever had a healthy understanding of what true-love, life-long companionship and partnership are.  Yes, Jesus gives us tools but honestly I sometimes wish God had allowed him to get married.  We really need that picture laid out for us explicitly.  Not just in a allegorical way or Him leaving it up to us to interpret the scriptures and try to piece it all together between, Revelation, Galatians and Philippians.
I don't have any answers right now.  I'm not asking for Bible verses on the subject, I know those.  This is me, doing my processing through my writing.  I may not figure it out even on a small level and that'll be whatever it's going to be.  But I'm just hoping that by the end I'm a little less afraid of what could one day be ahead and that I can walk into the unknown okay with not knowing as much as I think I should know.  Everyday is a day to learn, everything is a learning process.  You don't heal in one day and you don't know a third of the answers by the end of your life.  But, "when you know better, you do better" - Maya Angelou   

Friday, February 1, 2013

Blaxploitation

Divided
by Ebony Vines
Why in two thousand and thirteen is my color still an issue?
Why does what I do or don't do still break you?
All I see is self worth going down the drain
We beat each other up and call it plain
But why is there no repentance for this pain?
This cycle keeps circling round each generation
We need to quit and bring about some healing and regeneration
Why don't u build my man up so he can conquer the world?
Why don't you build my girl up so she can rule this world?
We blame others for our shortcomings, but we're putting it on ourselves
I thought we were coming together to believe in ourselves
I can't get off the subway without my own people yelling at me.
We can't be friends without you judging me
We say God is the center but if he were wouldn't things be different?
We go to church and make great music, but is the music we make making us any different?
I break you, you break me and now were even?
What does this eye for and eye tooth for a tooth deepen?
It deepens our wounds and pains of rejection
Bringing about injustice and dejection
If God is love and we are His people, let's reflect Him
Don't pray then later open your mouth and deflect Him
This isn't a joke I wrote, it's a hole in my soul that needs repairing
I can't trust my people because after they speak I'm despairing
Let's stop beating each other up and come together
Let's bind together no matter the weather
A people divided can not stand
A people together take new land

Blaxploitation [ˌblæksplɔɪˈteɪʃən]n
A genre of American film of the 1970s featuring African-American actors in lead roles and often having antiestablishment plots, frequently criticized for stereotypical characterization and glorification of violence. [from bla(ck) + (e)xploitation]


I've been working at Pace University since November and Thursday night we had a special speaker, Spike Lee.  The topic was Social Justice in the Media.  This was in light of MLK Jr. Day and Black History Month.  Between that, the new movie coming out about MLK Jr's wife & Malcolm X's wife, "Betty & Correta", "Django Unchained" and "All My Baby Mamas" thankfully being cancelled before it started, I'm reeling.  If you don't know what Blaxploitation is listen to this podcast discussing some of the movies from that period http://www.filmspotting.net/marathons/938-blaxploitation.html

Why am I reeling?  Because last night Spike Lee informed us that only 47% of black men graduate high school.  Which means my brother is in the minority and one of his best friends and one of my second cousins are both in the "Elite" group for pursuing their Bachelor's Degrees right now. I'm reeling because "All My Baby Mamas" was about to be a show on TV.  Because "Django Unchained" uses the N-word almost 200 times and no one bats an eyelash.  Mr. Lee said,"I went to Harvey Weinstein and asked him,'If the slur for Jew were used that excessively would you have made the film?' Harvey said one word definitively,'No'.  So, why is it okay for the N-word to be used that often?  A slur is a slur.". I agree with that line of thinking but, we, meaning Black people, call each other the N-word.  I wish we had more respect for ourselves.  Realized that eventhough that was an identity put upon us, even by our own people, that it's not one that should be perpetuated.  We have the power to wipe this word of ignorance from ALL LIPS!  Spike Lee and Bill Cosby have been saying it for years..."It's about Education.". Many of my family members who have pursued education and have striven to encourage their children to be educated will attest to this standard.  The Bible reads, "My people perish for a lack of knowledge."  And we are, we are perishing.  More Black men go to jail then graduate college or high school. There is literally a Black Genocide happening where we are killing our own race off between abortion, gang violence, drugs, etc faster than we are creating Blacks.   If you don't know about Black Genocide, here is a link to a man I co-interviewed a few years ago on the issue.  http://www.blackgenocide.org/home.html

I'm reeling because I just learned this week, that there are still places, here, in my tri-state area, that still do not allow Blacks! I was so aggravated to know that in 2013 this is still happening!  If you're unaware of this issue here is a link to the podcast I listened to, where a very well educated black man goes into a country club to work for one week.  You'll want to listen to Act Two of the link below.
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/173/three-kinds-of-deception

This not a black or white issue.  This is an issue for ALL of us.  If you know me, you know I don't play the "color card" and say it's the Whites, Hispanics or whomever who are bringing us down or taking our jobs, etc.  I'm tired of us continuously blaming someone else.  It's every one's fault.  There is not just one people group to blame.  On Thursday night a very intelligent young black woman asked Spike whose responsibility it is to change the music industry, this is in regards to music where women are sexualized and degraded.  She asked, "Is it the label, the artist or the consumer?"  Spike said that it's between the consumer and the artist.  We are buying this music where I'm called a "Ho" or "B***".  Yes me.  Because they are talking about your sister, mother and every other female you know.  And if you're buying it what are you doing?  You're sustaining the degredation.  I don't allow people to even elude to me possibly being one of those derogatory terms in person, so why would I allow it to be sung about?  We are all participating in this and this bigotry, the bigotry on every nationality, whether you are Black, Hispanic, White, Asian etc, needs to stop.  Why do people say, "Go back to your country!"?  Frankly, if you're saying that, chances are, your behind shouldn't be here either.  So, you should be getting on the same boat as the man or woman you just yelled at.  This country was founded for ALL PEOPLE, so get over yourself! 

This blog entry is going to anger some people. But this is the truth.  So, instead of just getting angry and blasting everyone and everything I want to know what is my part?  How can I change these stereotypes?  There is only one answer, to be me.  So, what does that look like?  Not carring that other black people say that I, "Talk white".  I speak well.  That's it.  I'm not trying to be white, just intelligent.  I need to keep the friends I love.  God has blessed me with wonderful Black, White, Indian, Asian and Hispanic friends and leaders.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  This is the way my Mother raised us.  To love God and others.  To learn from everyone's differences and embrace them, have them teach you things and open your mind.  And my hair, oh my hair.  My hair has been my own personal journey of self-hatred.  Straightening if for years and never feeling pretty enough or having "difficult" hair or "coarse" hair.  Yes, it's hard to comb, it's coarse, it's difficult, but it's what God gave me and I'm going to ROCK IT NOW!  So, if you don't like it, turn your head when you walk by me because I'M NOT STRAIGTENING IT FOR YOU!  And anyway, why does my conforming to the standard that my hair isn't good enough make you feel more comfortable? 
So, learning what I've learned makes me want to get my Masters Degree so I can be almost as smart as my Mother and continue this walk of Virginity until I'm married.  I refuse to be a statistic.  I refuse to add to our dilemma.  I refuse to perpetuate stupid.  If what I've written angers you, good.  At least you're thinking about it now.

Peace!