Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Yes, You've Got to Know

When I was in elementary school I was blown away by the stories my sister told me about a night at the theater she had with my mother. Not only was I blown away by how she described the evening, I was also jealous. She had gotten all dressed up in clothes that were normally reserved for Sunday church service, got to stay out late on a school night and got a new album. I listened to her record over and over. It was the cast recording of Mama, I Want to Sing.

Months later the traveling show returned to Cleveland and this time my mother made it a night for nearly the whole family. It was the only time other than going to a movie or dinner that I can recall really going out with my mother, sister, brother, aunt and grandmother. I was so young and everything about the theater seemed so big. It was exciting and one of my first real tastes of a stage production.

My little body gyrated to every song. I was mesmerized by the music and moves of everyone that stepped foot on stage. That night I went home singing every lyric I could remember and reciting every line that would come back to me. Art is life.

I realize this now as I sit here typing and in my head I hear the words to one of the songs I fell in love with that night and wore out on my sisters record. Know When to Leave the Party. All relationships have meaning and purpose. They all offer experiences, good and bad and their processes sometimes can be a party. But one must know when to leave – before the lights go dim, before the spirits run low and while your spirit is still high. You Gotta Know When to Leave the Party.

I’m walking toward the host. I must tell him goodnight.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

When Night Falls

Since as long as I could remember, my grandmother has made her living by doing day work. Not too many people know what I’m talking about when they ask or when I voluntarily offer her profession. Day work is an old term used to describe house cleaning. My mother tells me that my grandmother has been doing day work since my youngest uncle was a baby. He is now thirty five.

My grandmother has always been a hard worker and honest woman. For a period of time she and I didn’t have the best relationship but wisdom and living have healed that wound. As I have grown to be a man I have watched her in admiration. Even when I look into her eyes I can’t imagine all of what she has seen.

As she grows older and continues to battle health problems - just yesterday she was released from the hospital again - I realize that her days of doing day work will soon have to come to an end. To me that means so much.

On a small scale it means that her already fixed income will shrink. She will only have her social security check to definitely rely on. This morning my mother and I spoke about how much money my grandmother gets from the government and my heart dropped. I cannot fathom how anyone could live off of so little. Yet I know the truth is that thousands of Americans do and must. If my grandmother stops working the two pools of funds that would possibly supplement her government check would be her savings which is made of mostly the money she received after the deaths of two of her children and her mother who died late last year. The other source of supplement would probably come from a check I have every reason to believe she would receive monthly from one of her employers of the past thirty some years. My great grandmother who recently passed also did day work for the same family until she couldn’t work anymore. After she stopped working they still sent her a check once a month until she died.

That leads to the larger picture. In this scenario that is my grandmothers’ life, so many public and social policy issues show there faces. I am forced to think about how our society and government care for our elderly. I am forced to think of the huge economic divides and anytime I think of economics I also think of education. I am forced to think about the grandiose idea of breaking cycles. I ask if they will ever be broken. I ask myself how will I prepare to assist taking care of my own mother who has never made much money in her life. It is a reality, just as real as the sun and the moon, just as real as light and dark. When the day is over, night comes.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Score

You can't win
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game
People keep sayin'
Things are gonna change
But they look just like they're staying the same
You get in
Way over your head
And you've only got yourself to blame

You can't win, chile
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game

You Can't Win

It seems that every time I start getting to know a man that something happens. Something happens to me, him or the situations that surround us. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting with The Wiz but on Tuesday I got the unexpected. I saw an ugly side that blindsided me. I think to myself now that I should have seen it coming. While I was never exactly sure of what I wanted from him, it is becoming more apparent that there is one thing in particular he wants from me that I am not yet willing to give.

Since this revelation on Tuesday our conversations have been like a yo-yo, sometimes they are up and sometimes they are down. Now, I was the first to say that The Wiz and I shared as many differences as we probably share similarities but I wanted to believe that our friendship could still progress. I am no longer so sure. His rhetoric and recent actions speak to someone that is not me and my reply to him is to go talk to that person. I am not the one.

Last night our back and forth intensified once again. I was very clear in articulating my stance. He talked in circles about his – one that didn’t even match what he’d said earlier in the day. I’m a man who loves words, breathes words, listens to, cherishes, throws, catches, lusts for them and can only take a man for his. I was angry with myself last night for finding myself in this situation. TheLoverHater came over to talk this one out with me in the wee hours of the morning. Bless him.

If only I had never opened myself up or allowed him in more than my physical space I wouldn’t be thinking about him now. I wouldn’t be here trying to figure out why it is so hard to just release him from my thoughts. What do I fear?

If you believe
Within your heart you'll know
That no one can change
The path that you must go

Believe what you feel
And know you're right, because
The time will come around
When you say it's yours

Believe there's a reason to be
Believe you can make time stand still
You know from the moment you try
If you believe
I know you will

Believe in yourself, right from the start
You'll have brains
You'll have a heart
You'll have courage
To last your whole life through

If you believe in yourself
If you believe in yourself
If you believe in yourself
As I believe in you

Believe In Yourself