Saturday, December 31, 2011

MY 2012 To Do List



Like some, I too make resolutions for the upcoming new year, however, I do not call them that or pinpoint an exact date to fulfill them. I simply make a written list of all the things I want to do and if I am able to, even better.

For 2012, I decided to list the 12 things I wish to accomplish within the year. Lucky for me, I will have one extra day as it's a Leap Year....which begs the question for those born on February 29th do they age every four years too?

I would love to hear of your resolutions or whatever you call them and see how you fare throughout the year. Please feel free to become a follower of my blog (http://crossingonerivertoanother.blogspot.com)

1. Pick a randomly a baseball-themed book a month. Suggestions welcomed.
(Currently reading, Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African American Baseball by Lawrence D. Hogan)


2. Join a knitting group.
(There's one that meets weekly in a neighboring town. http://nutley.bccls.org/pdf/knittingclub.pdf)

3. Volunteer in my community or vicinity.
(I am thinking either at the library or historical society, senior center or domestic violence agency)

4. Start and maintain a website that showcase my forays in photography.
(Be sure to look for an invite to visit once it's up)

5. Visit every minor/independent baseball league in my state at least once.
(I have already been two: (www.newarkbears.com and www.jerseyjackals.com)

6. Visit a beach or two.
(The southern part of this state is known for them www.visitnj.org/beaches)

7. Visit a few museums such as the one in my state's capitol, catch one of many free performances on my campus, beginning at http://www.state.nj.us/state/museum and www.montclair.edu/university_calendar/eventdisplay.php?EventID=16091)

8.Begin writing my memoir, or the play that's been in my head for ages.
(There's a writing group in the next town's library. http://nutley.bccls.org/pdf/pentoprose.pdf)

9. Cook at least one meal a month of a culture I have yet to try....or at least visit an eatery that would do the same and I wont have a kitchen to clean afterward.
(The town where I go to school offers an array that can be found here http://www.montclaireats.com)

10. Hop on my bike/the train to nowhere in particular, get off and explore.
(I already do this often, as I do not know how or wish to drive)

11. Organize my closets and donate the stuff that I never ever use.
(Anyone wear a 7.5 shoe?)

12. Learn a new language.
(Polish, Swahili and American Sign Language are on my list)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

His Sneakers My Dreams 21 Years Later

I first wrote this article in 1990 while I was an intern reporter in high school. It has been featured in the books Things Get Hectic and The Struggle To Be Strong as well as YCteen Magazine formerly known as New Youth Connections.


I am republishing it here on a blog I have not updated in awhile as I felt compelled to share an incident that has never left my mind or heart after all these years. It was because of this article http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/12/release_of_air_jordans_sneaker.html

It has me curious, as what are the creator and superstar namesake of whom these sneakers are named for thinking about what happened. I wonder too, are they going to respond? It's the least that they could. Just do it for Sam.

His Sneakers, My Dreams

My Criminal Justice class last spring was really boring. I was always tired because it was my last class of the day. When the teacher talked about the difference between first and second degree murder, I would drift into dreamland.

I would imagine what my future might be like, think of another idea for a story or poem, or of what my boyfriend and I would be doing that weekend.

Sometimes, I would stare at the sneakers of the guy who sat next to me. He had two pairs-one black, one white. Ballys, I think. I always wondered where he'd been in them, the kinds of places he went.

I'll call him Sam. He was the first person I spoke to on the first day of class. When class was over, I noticed he had forgotten his umbrella underneath his chair and I told him. He thanked me and smiled.

I Only Spoke To Him Once

That was the only time I ever really spoke to Sam, even though I sat next to him five days a week. I also remember he and another girl in class were always annoying one another, and the teacher used to joke that they'd end up getting married.

At the beginning of the term, the teacher asked us to talk about ourselves and our future plans. Most of us had some kind of long-term plan. One girl wanted to be a lawyer, another a social worker, and one of the guys wanted to be a cop. Right after graduation, Sam said he was going to go into the military. After that he wanted to become a corrections officer.

Last May (I remember it as if it were five minutes ago), I was sitting in my auto shop class. The teacher looked really upset and somebody asked him what was the matter. He told us that one of his students had been shot and killed over the weekend. He mentioned the name, which sounded familiar to me. Wasn't that the guy who sat next to me in my Criminal Justice class? The only way I could be sure was to see if he was sitting in his usual seat that afternoon. He was always there and always on time.

His Seat Was Empty

When I went to class, the seat was empty and everyone had tears in their eyes. My teacher broke the news to us: Sam was the student killed over the weekend.

It was over something stupid-I think he stepped on someone's sneakers and they got into an argument. He was killed just two weeks after we learned about the different charges for murder.

I don't usually cry a lot, but this time I did. I cried because he was a teenager and I was a teenager. My tears were for the loss of one of our own. It was as bad as if he were a member of my own family.

I am really scared that this won't be the last time this will happen to someone I know. It's been happening every day to my peers around the city. Teenagers are losing friends over stupid things-dirty looks, clothes, jealousy, and revenge.

I have one message for Sam's killers and for teenagers around New York City. Even if it looks hopeless, we are our world's future. Maybe if you plan ahead, you too can have something to look forward to. I know Sam did and so do I.

copyright Youth Communication-New York Center, Inc.
http://www.ycteenmag.org

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Flower That Has Blossomed Called Me

I was once given the following advice, "never put in writing what you can't say in person."

I disagree with the statement for reasons being I feel I can better express myself through written communication than I can in difficult face to face conversations. Much like the ones I have had in a series of text messages with the one who brought me into this world who also for some reason wants to me suffer in it as well.

It has taken me awhile and my time on the other side of the river to realize though she is my mother, it does not mean I have to accept the mistreatment and emotional abuse from her or anyone for that matter.

We have always had a quirky relationship since I was in junior high school. Before that, I idolized her particularly because she raised me and my sister practically by herself while holding down a job and going back to school. No other mothers I knew were doing that then or if they were, they had husbands supporting them.

History has repeated itself in my own life. I embarked on going back to college several times, but lacked any support or encouragement from this woman. I was criticised (and of course his father also equally oppressive) for not being a better to my own son on many, many occasions. Sure I have had to make difficult decisions such as going back to work, juggling school and motherhood simultaneously. I believed what I was shown by her from grade school. If you want something, anything is possible as long as you put in the effort. I tried several times, but I would become so wrapped up in pleasing others I lost my purpose.

When I began to find it again, I decided I was going forward without them. This of course is hard for oppressors and abusers to accept. Why? Because once they lose control over you, they wither while you blossom. From previous posts you will read the reasons I crossed the river and as a result none have been considered valid enough for her to accept.

Tonight after 59 days since her last text wishing me a happy birthday, I heard from her again. She informed she would not be able to look after her only grandson for one night while I have my thyroid procedure. We went back and forth for at least an hour with her believing she "won," but I know better.

I truly and honestly believe with her access to my social media pages permit her to see and read about this (her) flower has blossomed in soil she could not taint for I would not allow it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

World Mental Health Day

I blog for World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day and in the United States is also the day honoring Christopher Columbus. Some idolize, others despise him. I have grown to accept this man's actions through a diverse network of friends from all different backgrounds and cultures that went beyond what school books have taught me. Their stories are not much different than everyone else but unique in that they provide one that's enriched deep in tradition with a twist. How you ask?

If we stay in our positions for too long, we grow stagnant, much like when we're afflicted with emotional difficulties. If we let it overtake us we feel helpless looking at every situation as hopeless. For me, life has presented crappy moments what felt like eons with no way out but down. Through support on professional and informal levels, I like Columbus and my friends found a way to navigate myself in a world both foreign and waiting for our contributions.

My blog, the one that you're reading now) shares these experiences because I believe we all need encouragement and empowerment especially from ones who traveled the path. Everyday is a new day. It's waiting for us to explore it in and out as we grow and move forward in search of whatever we are looking for.

For me, I have already charted my course, and left a place I have known all my life for somewhere new. It was a bold and courageous move, being that I knew turning around would not be an option. It has been almost a year now and a decision I do not regret making. I have found that my soul and psyche are at peace in a way as never before. I owe this to the supports I have in place and being in control.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why there needs to be Domestic Violence Awareness Everyday


October marks the month when an awareness to domestic violence is raised nationally. In my opinion 31 days is nearly not enough and one should be vigilant of how sadly and often it's occurring in homes across the world. For purposes of this blog post, I will provide you with information and resources available in the United States, but if you want to join a worldwide campaign to end violence around the world http://www.saynotoviolence.org/say-no-around-world

So you ask what is domestic violence. It is about one having control over another that can take many forms and inflicted in different ways. http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/what.htm Bruises are an obvious sign, but the emotional and verbal scars aren't. Though he and she can be used interchangably The Power and Control Wheel details what it is. The diagram can found and in the above picture and here http://www.turningpointservices.org/Domestic%20Violence%20-%20Power%20and%20Control%20Wheel.htm

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone could be an abuser and anyone can be a victim. http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/myths.htm. However I would like to use the terms survivor and lately thriver. It implies the victim has overcome, living and is (hopefully) thriving to the best of their abilities.

Getting help means acknowledging there is a problem. Here's how one can get assistance in the US, call 1-800-799-7233 for referrals to help in your area. There's also information on the Internet, but suggest you are careful as web browsing on a computer you and your abuse share can be tracked. My suggestion if you find yourself in this situation, find another computer to use such one belonging to a trusted friend or library. There is a safety plan you can starting using as well which can be found here. http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/domviol/plan.htm

If you want & need informal emotional support, send me a private message (mzmariposa1973@gmail.com) or pull me aside. I'll do my best to be there for you, as I know having been there with and without support. Sometimes the ones we expect to help aren't in a position or willing to, but there are others that are. I am not an expert but my passions include carrying out the following justice for all, ending violence, and advocating for those who may not be able to do so for themselves. This is why returning to school at the age of 37 means much more than the degree(s) I expect to and will earn.

Sometimes though, we watch from afar our loved ones who we suspect are experiencing domestic violence we wish and beg for them to get out. It isn't always that easy for reasons in that are many. Especially when there are children involved or their immigration status is dependent on their spouse. This link shows you how you can help and with hopefully the encouragement and empowerment she or he receives your wish and their safety will be fulfilled. http://www.thehotline.org/get-educated/how-can-i-help-a-friend-or-family-member-who-is-being-abused/

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I am a little late posting this, but then again I do not have a father who's alive to honor this day. My dad left when I was around 4 and half years old. I saw him a handful of times afterward. Eventually those visits ceased altogether when he remarried, bought a huge house and lived his life as my sister and I were not his daughters.

I never understood why or could ask him as he died and without knowing he had a grandson. For years I grew up angry at him resulting in hating men and the concept of marriage. I swore I was never going to get married or have children and put them through something like this. However as you know from reading previous posts, I did end up marrying into an abusive relationship and having two sons. Only one survived the divorce but is emotionally scarred as a result.

When I was married, I did begin to see that maybe my father wasn't at total fault to the demise of his marriage to my mother. Being married is a lot of work and effort, I do feel neither of us was ready for and maybe not interested in. Very recently, I learned that girls who do not have their fathers in their lives tend to gravitate towards men who are not good for them. I am proof of that. Always seeking the approval of a man who will manipulate my longing for unconditional love and security.

Thank goodness for therapy and my journey of self discovery. I am determined not to fall into that trap again. Sadly though my son is without his father's presence and guidance in his life partly by choice on both sides but I blame mostly his dad. I believe he should "weather the storms" of having a child with special needs without fail but why does my opinion matter?

Anyway, I did finally get some my own unanswered questions about my dad from his sister. My aunt and I reconnected through emails and Facebook. I am grateful for her presence in my life and often let her know it. I have since accepted I am more of my father's people than my mother's which explained a lot about who I am.

So dad, wherever you are Happy Father's Day. The same wishes applies to those who are unconditionally fulfilling your roles as a dad too.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I'm Alive


As I write this entry, I hopped off my bike and am sitting under a semi-shady tree in a park that spans two towns. Branch Brook Park is infamous for it's annual showcase of Cherry Blossom Trees. The last time I was here was shortly after I crossed the river and just in time to marvel at the beautiful colors of autumn.

Now as I sit here on what could be described as an ideal and perfect spring day. Much is on my mind but nothing that would normally weigh me down. I have really embraced the concept of "one day at a time" since learning I have a thyroid condition. I don't react as much as I used to and if I do it's when pleasant moments appear. Though those are scarce so is our time here on earth. I want my days to be filled with events I cannot only appreciate but capture in a photo, a blog entry, and a memory to reflect on.

Reclaiming my life has been a process. I am becoming successful at knowing who and what I want in it. I feel confident that whatever the outcome of my upcoming discussion with the surgeon will be favorable. I have made a decision to eat better. By making my own soups and fruit yogurt smoothies, loading my plate with spring mix salads and a little meat. I finally feel alive instead of just living. I have since applied to two universities for fall√ĺ 2011 admission. This week I will be starting a training program for volunteer court advocates. There are a couple more goals I would like to accomplish but as they say everything in moderation. There really isn't a rush to do everything anymore. I am on no one's clock. I am appreciating the now. I encourage you to do the same and live the life you want.

There's no instruction manual, but if I could offer a prompt you: start by asking yourself: what is it that I want? What is that I need to acquire it?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are you appreciative and how so?


Many years ago I experienced the loss of my youngest son. JNM was in this world less than four months. I have gotten over it remarkdly well as life for my surviving son and I were marred with all sorts of turmoil that kept me "busy" and little time to dwell.

What I learned from this, was as the saying goes, it is true, "life is too short." I am witnessing this everyday as another force of nature hits and sometimes devastates the world and leaving it's citizens in ruins. Take for example, last night my area experienced heavy rains and high wind gusts due to tornadoes that just early battered places. One of which, I visited twice in the last two years and where I have family. Fortunately, they were unharmed but their surrounding towns, ones we drove through weren't. Before this it was Japan's tsunami and earthquakes of which a month later aftershocks are still hitting the area. Then previously, it was Haiti.

I realize these events have always taken place for as long as this planet has been around, but it makes me appreciate what's here now for the next hour it may not be. I ask you, what are you appreciative of? How or do you cherish what is in your life?

For me, it is doing and engaging in activities I longed to do but previously haven't gotten around to it. I no longer wait to do something. Mine include writing regularly, traveling more, taking random pictures and trying something new at least once a week. That last activity usually involves trying or making food and exploring the towns I am in.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Doing Instead of Wanting

I have always wanted to eat healthier but wanting is not actually doing. When I recently learned the thyroid ultrasound scan I had done found a nodule, I decided that this was the time to do more and want less.

I scoured online retailers for an economical mixer/blender that would allow me to do the job simply. Since I bought this device, I have had meatless dinners and feel a difference of how my usually feelings of fatigued have waned. I am not sure it's a state of mind or knowing I will have additional tests to discern what the course of treatment will be. But I do know, I am nourishing my body in a way I have never before. I also hear that eating right also helps one's mood. I am not feeling as depressed either. 

The depression I attribute to a former life of oppression. Learning how to take that back has not been easy but it gives me hope and a kick of motivation. My oppressors have took notice of  my changes as they are now looking for a way back in. However, I hold the keys and I have told them I am not ready to open those doors again. I am in the stages of going forward, not backward.

Recognizing that sometimes we have to go backward in order to go forward is a hard pill to swallow. This is why I also had made a decision to do something I thought I would never again. At our recent child support case I was approached by my former abusive husband and son's father. He seemed genuine in wanting to end a years long absence in his son's life. I had to think and tread carefully on this request, knowing he's one of those people that wants but doesn't always do. The one who gets hurt and becomes disappointed is my son. I am left to pick up the pieces. I agreed. They were reunited on my son's 16th birthday.

As of late crossing the river has become much less of a metaphor than actually doing it, as I take steps to bettering myself. Becoming who I wish and want to be. I am no longer only wanting but doing. Now I need to end here and finish my mission statement to the university I applied to.

Some simple, tasty recipes I created for you to try and enjoy.

Tortellini Vegetable Soup- Suzanne’s Way
 
1 package of tortellini
1 can of creamed soup (I like broccoli)
1 can of spinach 
1 can of mixed vegetables
1 cup of frozen winter vegetables
handful of shredded cheese (I like the Mexican blends)
 
Directions
 
Boil tortellini and frozen winter vegetables according to package.
Prepare creamed soup according to the can. 
Season to taste ( I use adobo, sometimes curry)
Place and stir all ingredients into a large bowl and microwave covered for about 5 minutes.
Top with shredded cheese. 

 Smoothies by Suzanne
 
Smoothie number 1
12 ounces cold chocolate soy milk
3 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
Blend for desired consistency
 
Smoothie number 2
4-6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1 banana (or fruit(s) of choice)
handful of favorite dry breakfast cereal ( I prefer either frosted flakes or frosted shredded wheat)
blend until smooth

http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/thyroid-nodules

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today marks 16 years



Sixteen years ago today, I became a mom for the first time. BTM entered my life at 11:37 that morning, and it hasn't been the same since. Being his mother, I learned what unconditional love is. He is my pride, mirror, and reason I have never given up-even when there were times I felt that was my only option. I have learned how to be his advocate, biggest cheerleader, and teacher. BTM was born with developmental delays and later diagnosed with ADHD. He had and still has needs that require much more patience and tolerance that could overwhelm two parents much less one. I have almost raised him by myself for nine years while holding down full time jobs and going to college.

These 16 years are filled with both lifelong memories. From the time he first sat up on his own at five months, to his first baseball game that affirmed his loyalty to the Yankees, asking endless questions scoring his first three pointer on his basketball team, his genuine interest or more like obsession with NYC's public transportation system, our first trip and eight day stay in various cities in California together in 2005, to shopping for a suit to wear at his junior high graduation and then my own college commencement in 2009 that we celebrated that summer by visiting other baseball cities around the country, his voice becoming deeper and signs of a slight now full mustache beard, and now me looking up at him. Where did the time go?

As he celebrates another birthday, this will be the second one I won't be with him. Earlier this week, his long estranged father and I agreed for them to have a visit. Something, I have been hesitant to allow given our past history and allegations that have been both proven and unproven. However after consulting with others in similar situations, I thought carefully and broached the subject with my son. The decision was not an easy one, but given that many of us (myself included) have lost a parent without having many questions answered, it's time. Just as it will be one day to let Brandon go into the world but first we have a train across the river to catch.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring's (finally) Here



In the last few days, I have managed to force myself out of my apartment, despite the daily and incessant fatigued feeling that ravages over me. It was a productive week. Beginning with the exploration of a new town here in the county I live. I was bummed I did not have my camera to photograph the town of Caldwell as I walked along the main avenue and came across the birthplace of President Grover Cleveland, the First Presbyterian church his father served as the pastor of and several Mom and Pop stores. I made an obligatory stop at their library and browsed their collections, viewed their display of the then and now which was quite fascinating, and checked in on Facebook. A much better visited library than the one I previously posted about.

Later that afternoon, I took the bus to Montclair. First stop was get lunch for a slice of pizza at Villa Victoria Pizzeria on Park Street at I must admit the best I have had in NJ so far. I have already tried at least five places and not impressed. Afterward I headed to Montclair State University's Transfer Open House. I had considered walking but I decided against as it was over four miles away and did not believe I would have been able to endure it so soon. Looks like I know where I mostly likely will be pursuing my bachelor's beginning in this fall. The fact I would not have to repeat math is the most appealing, the least is that my first semester will probably require me to take out a loan as I wont meet the residency requirement until next spring.

The following day I stayed home as the rain kept me inside, but I managed to get the house cleaned again and search online for other upcoming activities to partake in. Was elated to find out that the weather on Friday would be in the 70s. Celebrating my 25% Irishness, I spent the afternoon in downtown Newark watching the St. Patrick's Day parade-my first ever. As I sat there, I reflected on a week that wasn't as stressful as all the others have been and it made a huge impact on my energy levels. I also thought about my interest in beginning an indoor garden.

When I arrived home, my son and I took a walk through the park in search of basketball court but found none. This is a shame as he really likes and is really good at playing. After an ice cream stop, we headed over to the store and picked up seeds, soil and the flower pots. This Saturday morning I planted them in hopes that an array of flowers and herbs will sprout and blossom in the way I have over the last six months when I crossed one river to another.

I am anticipating a busy and diverse week filled with activities. Beginning with Sunday's trip to the Prudential Center to view WWE's event, a town hall meeting with the governor who I also suspect will one day be in the White House, volunteering and partaking in the activities at the Go Newark's HoopFest, and the start of a sign language class I signed up for.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nyansapo


In my place of former employment, the office where I spent 35 plus hours a week, had huge windows that allows for a spectacular view of the river named after the explorer, Henry Hudson. I find something magical about bodies of water. Even though I do not know how to swim, this inability does not stop me from stepping into one; especially if this means I can collect some and bring home a bottle of it. However, I never crossed one before with the intentions of not coming back, as I recently did of the one that is shared by both the West Side of Manhattan and parts of the ever developing skyline of New Jersey.

For the love of baseball. At the end of 2009, I made a month by month list of what I wanted to accomplish in 2010. One of those items on that list was to meet Tim Raines, my baseball idol growing up 1980s. Raines would be in his second year managing the Newark Bears. I learned the Brick City was easy to access by public transportation from New York. However, I did not meet him in Newark but rather in Camden, New Jersey where the Bears were the visiting team against the RiverSharks.

My son and I arrived hours before the game and the wait felt like forever. Finally, when the gates opened, we did the obligatory tour of Campbell’s Field. Eventually we found our seats which were right next to the visiting team’s dugout and batting circle. A prime location for fans to either cheer loudly and distract the oppoenents or root for them. I always was the one who swam against the tide. As a youngster, I rooted loudly for my beloved Mets but even louder for my favorites on visiting teams. This no doubt, resulted in being heckled by amazingly enough the few fans in the stands at, Shea Stadium, my home away home. One of those players, was former Montreal Expo, Tim Raines. I would like to think he heard me because with every hit that landed him a base or two or three, he’d respond by stealing another. I can still smell the cigar that hit my shoulder.

When Raines came out of the clubhouse that afternoon, I finally got the opportunity to meet him. I shared how I became his fan (he wore #30, my birthdate), how long (20 plus years) I have been a fan and how far we came from (Queens) to see him. He seemed genuinely interested, graciously signed his autograph on baseball cards and took pictures with and for us. After answering a bunch of questions my son had, he then said, “you should come to games in Newark.” I replied that I would.

Two weeks later I made good on my word, and on Mother’s Day, my son and I finally ventured to Newark. It was announced that Raines, along with other members of the team would be on field before the game to sign autographs. I made my way through the short line and when I reached the table I was greeted with a hug by Raines. He remembered me as did some of the players as one asked, “weren’t you in Camden a couple of weeks ago?” There were some “Happy Mother’s Day” greetings too.

Throughout the season, we’d go to many more home games and became friendly with team who were comprised of players who had stints in the Big Show and/or the minors or just of college. It did not matter what brought these guys there but they all had one thing in common: they were living out their dreams of playing ball. A very powerful feeling took over me when I learned some of their stories and how willing they acknowledged us before, during and after their games whether it was by handing my son a game used bat (he has three) or a simple hello on a social networking site. This is welcoming. as in my experience visiting teams in the big leagues, this reception is more a rarity then an commonality.

Sometime that season, I realized I too had a second chance to change and fulfill my unwritten destiny. Up until that June, I was becoming disenchanted with my professional life at a stalemate partly because I did not have an advanced undergraduate degree and a support system in place to facilitate these goals. I was also becoming disheartened by my growing (and eventual disconnect) from the only family I had. Besides, I had always wanted to give my son an opportunity to live somewhere else other than New York. The lingering questions were how can make this happen? Where?

In previous years, we have visited baseball cities around the country and put our feet in the Pacific Ocean and Lake Michigan, walked along the James and York Rivers, sailed on Tibron Island, crossed The Charles and Chicago Rivers and video taped the sea lions on the docks of San Francisco Bay. However the idea to pick up and move to the center or the other side of the country seemed daunting. Then one midmorning, on our way to another game and while we were walking over The First Street bridge above the Passaic River that carries visitors from Harrison into Newark, New Jersey the thought popped into my head why not here?

However, during the planning stages I also went through one crisis after another. My son, the love of my life was hospitalized twice for severe emotional problems. Each stay was at least two weeks long and over three hours away. I had no less than four court cases as I pursued another item on that list which was a total separation from a second husband. An initial denial from the local housing authority which I fought to overturn but resulted in a long delay of the transfer my paperwork to the new one. Finally, a health scare of my own that brought me into the hospital. It was concluded that I was stressed out and not having a heart attack. I still like to believe, I was also heartbroken.

Gathering all the inner strength I could and a ton of persistence, I finally crossed the Hudson River without knowing a single soul in what would become my new neighborhood. Just as the millions of folks who participated in The Great Migration. They took chances, leaving behind the only life they knew and moved north in anticipation of better (and hopefully humane) opportunities than of what they had in the south. The book The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson gives readers a portrayal of some folk who and why they did and what became of their decisions to do so. I liken their courageanous to a do over. A rebirth. A second chance. Not much unlike the ones who play/manage/coach the Newark Bears or heck even myself.

As of this writing, I have been here four months. It’s been quite an adjustment from living in New York. Neighbors actually greet one another, my apartment and looks more like the home I had always envisioned, and I have plans of returning back to college not only to expand my professional pursuits but to foster my love of learning. My 2011 list is a work in progress but no matter I am going to make the most of this second chance.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Change: Yes You Can


I am not fond of politics. Heck, I didn't even cast my first vote until years after it was legal for me to do so. This is probably why members of my immediate family made snide comments on my acceptance to an invitation to join the thousands who who were in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. His/herstory is made everyday but rarely does one have an opportunity to be a part of it firsthand. How could I say no? Even though, it meant boarding a bus a midnight, sleep notguaranteed, and wintery day I was going to be a part of something great.

For the most part, that election year I paid close attention to what was being said and promised by each of the candidates. Mostly because, I was angry, bothered about the previous administration's tactics and could not accept another four years of (excuse me for saying) B.S. Others figured I would support Hilary Clinton,mostly because she and I resembled each other in gender and race however, I did not. Partly, because we already had her husband in power and I was sold on the "change" Obama promised.

In my 37 years, I have lived through many different experiences that changed me for the better as well as the worse. As you, the reader, reads through my posts you will learn what they are, as I have nothing to hide. In fact, I share my story for therapeutic purposes but also to help others know that they are not alone in a world filled with billions. If it can help just one person, then I fulfilled my mission. Much like a politician, I am in it for myself but just not to reap the millions in dollars or accolades that come with the power.

I will admit since I witnessed the oath of presidency, I haven't paid much attention to him since as I said earlier, I am not interested in politics. Soon after, I made a list of what kind of change I wanted to incorporate in my own life and how I would go about it. For starters, it would to be (finally) graduate college despite previous failed attempts, but did that May. Also on that list was to travel by bus with my son around the country to baseball stadiums. That summer, we visited Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston and Washington, D.C. And finally, figure out a way to get out of a romantic relationship that was tearing me down but more of that in a future post. This, was the challenging of the three.

In the last six months of 2010, I plotted and embarked on even more changes that took resourcefulness, endless energy and courage. I did leave that relationship as well as family members behind who were unaccepting of the changes I would soon make. I left the only place I have ever know for another I hardly and still getting to know. What I found, finally feels like the home I have always wanted. Little by little, as I am become acclimated to this place as I am shedding the years of the good and bad of New York. As crazy as it sounds, I also resigned from a job I once loved passionately when I realized that if I were committed to making changes this had to be on the list too. Fortunately, I am still able to remain in touch with some folks who have touched my lives in very meaningful ways.



What Growing Up In Canarsie Taught Me

I spent the first 19 years of my life in Canarsie, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. A place, I found both boring and interesting at the same time. Canarsie's named for the Native Americans of the same name with a spelling variation Canarsee. This what made the place interesting and that much of the area once had standing one room school houses, farmland, an old burial ground and lots of back alleys of houses centuries old. Rumor has it a pirate even buried his stolen treasure in the backyard of my father and aunt.


Then over the years, the population grew it's newer residents were German, Italian and those who practiced forms of Judaism. I am Polish and Italian American. Not to say, European-American history is boring but it never captured my interest until much later in life when I learned about Polish history--an area left out of history books with a few exceptions besides sadly wars and The Holocaust. Interestingly, I only recently learned Tadeusz Kosciusko helped in the cause for this country to end slavery which make me feel honored and proud to know not all of my ancestry believed what my neighbors did: people of color did not belong in my neighborhood. I could never understand or accept why G-d loving people protested the busing of mostly black and hispanic students to attend our schools, why new homeowners had their houses firebombed or why these long time residents would give up their homes--something they probably worked hard at attaining. Or maybe they didn't and that's why it was easy to let them go. I think however, it was greed and racist attitudes that guided their choices. I responded by writing and getting a letter to the editor published in the Canarsie Courier criticizing the fire bombers and welcoming The Phillip Family to our neighborhood-which incidentally, their piece of the American Dream was located near the Native American burial found.


When I left, I entered a whole new world and faced a discrimination from some family members on both sides who disapproved of my then-marriage to a Puerto Rican American, as well as some neighbors in The Bronx neighborhoods I resided in. Nevertheless, I embraced the "culture shock" by reveling in Hispanic, Latin Caribbean ways peoples by sampling cuisines that satisfied my then dormant taste buds, putting years of Spanish classes to use, trying but never quite mastering Salsa, celebrating Kwanzaa and Three Kings Day and learning to appreciate musical styles that have been influenced by Africa. Where in the 1980s and 1990s Canarsie, had not much of anything similar. Well there was a the time, I had volunteered at a Passover Seder Dinner for senior citizens. It was also when the group including myself danced with then House of Representative Member Charles Schumer.


So as we honor both Black History Month and The 2011 Lunar New Year which celebrates The Year of the Rabbit remember to keep an open min, embrace peace and harmony amongst others because you just never know what delightful surprises may come out of it.


If Door Is Locked, Knock Really Hard

A rather odd sign posted on the door of a library branch luckliy I hadn't the need to pull my warm hands out of my pocket. As I entered the first floor, I noticed how desolate the area was with rooms marked "Computer room," "community room." I made my way upstairs via elevator where the doors lead you to the front desk. There sat a lone employee who pointed to where the computers would be when they reopened an hour half later or "when the kids come out of school," special collections that includes African American history, books in Portguese, and the Children's Room. There were two other patrons besides me keeping this staff member parked at his desk while his colleagues were at lunch. He shared with me the county's budget cuts has eliminated "many of the staff and programming we used to have." In all of my visits to the libraries (and when I lived in Queens I went to many) I had never felt more depressed and sad being in one. Growing up, the library was a place of information, resources, history and activities that kept my mind busy. What do today's kids have besides the interenet that contains a wealth of information but not all of it, can be or is intended for them. I look at this way, "knowledge is power" but if you oppress the ones seeking it that power is unevenly distributed. Go and support your local library, demand budget increases not cuts, use them for what these places were designed for. Or else they'll be gone before you even know one existed.