Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August 22nd, 2017

Friday, August 22nd, 1997. I had just completed my very first week of High School. As with most Freshman my biggest worries were about trying the newest acne cream and attempting to understand all of the changes happening inside of me as I navigated puberty. Although my home life wasn't perfect and I still struggled to appease my recently divorced parents, at my soul I knew I had a very charmed and blessed life. The summer was coming to a close, and I had just spent it with my Dad in a Nevada before boarding a plane back to Tennessee. It was a magical summer that culminated with a trip to Los Angeles to visit Knotts Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, and Disneyland. We had so many great memories and more laughs than any kid could dream of. When we got back to Tennessee I was hopeful that my parents also turned a corner. I overheard them on the phone and my Dad told my Mom that he was going to come visit us in Tennessee for the holidays. I remember her giggling on the phone and for a split second they seemed back to that lovey dovey couple that would make out and dance in the kitchen in front of us kids as we rolled our eyes at them and told them how gross they were. I vividly remember thinking that when Dad came, all of the wrong-doings of the past would magically go away and they would somehow get back together and we would all live happily ever after. We lived right down the street from my Aunt and Uncle and it wasn't unusual for us to spend lots of time at their house. My Aunt called the house phone and asked me to come up to her house and bring my younger sister. I really didn't think anything of it and away we went up the street. Katie kicked the back of my shoe- a pair of Adidas sandals with the black and white thick straps over the top- on the way up to Aunt Mary's house and I told her to go fuck herself. She said she was going to tell Aunt Mary when we got to her house and I told her to "go ahead, no one believes her anyway." I really regret that. I signed into Aunt Mary's living room computer on AOL dial up when I looked outside and saw my Mom walking in. It was strange that she was there so early, but I just continued on with the computer. When she came in I said hey and could tell something was off but just kept on surfing the very slow web. She asked my sister to come inside and told us the news. "Guys, you know I love you right? This may be the hardest things I've ever had to tell you. Your Dad is dead." People cried. Our local minister and his wife came in to attempt comforting words. I was absolutely frozen. The next few days, weeks, frankly years are mostly a blur. We flew back to Nevada where I got to see my big sister. She and I were absolutely pissed off. Katie, my younger sister, was emotional but Crystal and I were simply angry. For the record, my Father took his own life. He had battled with drug and alcohol addictions for my entire life, and most of his. He, while high on several different drugs, went into the garage and started an old vehicle and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He was scheduled to go fishing the next day and had his bag fully packed, fishing lines already laid out with his tackle box ready to go. He left no note. That was it. In a matter of seconds he changed the trajectory of my entire life by making a selfish decision and not thinking clearly. I say this because as I've gotten older, and become a parent I have a harder and harder time grasping how he could give up on his own life and children in this way. I know that my Dad loved and adored me, but I can see how the power of drugs and alcohol can steal away a persons true self. If you are battling with addiction, let my story be the catalyst to want to help yourself. You mean more to the people in your life than words can express and you are not alone! As we prepared for his funeral, my Mom had to switch the days so that his viewing didn't happen on my Birthday. So much of my childhood Was stolen on that day. I craved acceptance and acknowledgement from teachers, friends and family, but nothing can fill in the void of your Father. I am thankful for those that did step in and help; I'm not sure I would've made it here without them. When I think of all of the big things he has missed it blows my mind- weddings, grandchildren, graduations. But it's the small things that really hurt the most. Being able to call him up and ask for simple advice or just shoot the breeze. He was a kind and funny man. I see so much of myself in him- a super hard work ethic, a super silly side that loves to sing even if we aren't great at it, passionate love for those closest to us and passionate rage when someone wrongs us. I've had him out of my life far longer than I had him in it, but today I wanted to remind him how much I loved him. After all, without him, there would be no me. Raise (just one) a glass of Bacardi and Dr. Pepper to my Daddy today and try to remember there is a pot of gold at the end of rainbow.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I am invincible

I feel like the world right now is so chaotic and "out of tune." I'm sitting in an independent coffee shop in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in one of the worlds largest cities, and I've literally watched thirty or forty people come and go without one smiling or laughing at one another. How did we get here? I've been contemplating invincibility lately. Having a six year old who is learning and growing and asking lots of questions is causing me to really dig in and think about the big things. For instance, last weekend Harper says to Sabe and I, "If God created everything in the universe than who created God?" Hmmmm...I thought to myself. I had to ask for time to think about it and get back to her but still haven't. August marks twenty years since my Dad's passing. I was a few days shy of my 14th birthday. The memories are blurred and I have so few concrete memories left, but I do know I was loved immensely and somehow that carries me through. That little six year old mentioned earlier is also kind of obsessed with death. There's been lots of questions about when things or people die what happens to them? I really wish parenting did come with a manual to assist. I wanna be open and honest, but don't want to totally screw her up either! Lord help me when we get to where babies come from! I'm attempting to slow down a little. For the first time ever I've seen the color purple everywhere! All of the trees are the most gorgeous shade of purple I've ever seen! I asked Sabin if it's this way every year and he said "no, I went around and planted them all for you." But I know they're always here, how have I never slowed down enough to notice? I miss my family. In a weird way, the fact that we disagree on pretty much every political or social issue and can come together to laugh and celebrate together gives me hope that we will survive this strange time where everyone is throwing stones but no one is catching them. I am tired of the tennis game, just grab the ball and own it. I love to say black lives matter, but still clench my steering wheel as the black homeless man approaches my car window to ask for money, but am some how internally OK when it's a scraggly looking white dude. I need to listen to my own advice, catch the ball, and understand that we are a product of experiences, social and religious backgrounds, and family upbringing, but we have to talk about it and own our issues. Then work on correcting them. Summer is coming! Only six more school days for my Kindergarten girlie. Where has the time gone? Please slow down. Please speed up. Please pause. ---Side Note: a man with a HUGE Great Dane just came in and had a laugh with the barista, I missed the joke but noticed that four others and myself put down our devices and smiled as they laughed; maybe all we really do need is love and laughter----a dear friend lost her Mom yesterday. When I read the news tears instantly streamed down my face. I don't know the details, but this friend is so full of love and light. She was adopted by a mother that was a different race than she is. She shared stories on her site about how her Mom would often say her traits "ran in the family." To me that is love and connectedness. What a beautiful tribute.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

One Month In...

Grrrr! I, like most people, am sick and tired of politics. Here we are less than a month into Trump's presidency and I am a mix of emotions. On one hand I want to scream "told you so!" I mean there is no denying that Betsy DeVos is an imperial idiot. Maybe even more unqualified for her post than Trump himself. I don't know anyone on either side of the aisle arguing for her to be at the helm of my sweet innocent girls education. But it's literally Every. Single. Post. And I want to stay engaged. I'm an advocate. I don't support any bans on anyone, I'm proud of my immigrant roots. Aren't we all? I mean we are ALL immigrants waving our flags on Cinqo De Mayo or St. Patrick's, or whatever holiday we recognize our ancestors! I happened into a blood line that recognizes Jesus Christ as the Lord, but it could have easily gone a dozen other ways based on how/when/to whom I was born. I'm part of so many marginalized communities that are aching right now. I want to be strong for all of them. But it's hard. I'm also a proud American and while I vehemently was opposed to our current administration, I also believe in the political process, the electoral college (Yes, even when the popular vote doesn't win out), and therefore feel obligated to respect the office of the president, even when I don't support the man (or hopefully woman sometime soon) myself. It's excruciating. I realize we live in a microcosm of those that usually think like we do. I'm thankful (most days) that my social media floats somewhere in between. I want to stay informed on how the news is reported to both sides of the aisle so I have perspective. But it's also kinda like living in the twilight zone. Everyone cares about something different and their passion around that issue and difference in opinions infuriates them. If your Pro Life, you see red at how some people want to see innocent babies murdered (literally that's how many see it). If you're pro choice you don't understand how those pro-lifers, including the women who identify that way, don't want their own right to choose what's right for their own body or support Planned Parenthood for all of the reproductive issues they help with. If you are pro Affordable Healthcare Act your a socialist and want everyone to be covered despite pre-existing conditions. If your anti-you can't fathom how all of these Obama minions think we will continue to fund poor people's lives while you go to work every day and pay your "fair share." We can't continue to pay every deadbeats way while we are barely surviving. Isn't it exhausting? One thing I've noticed is no one, and I mean no one that I know (and I have a lot of super conservative family members and friends who I've intentionally not blocked or deleted) actually like or are enamoured with Donald Trump. Honestly, if they were invited to a State Dinner, I can't think of a single person I'm connected to who is so stoked to meet the man, the myth, the legend. They voted for him in spite of his opponent, or because who they believed he would nominate for the Supreme Court, or because they felt marginalized and looked over for many years. Or they are dissatisfied with the accumulated national debt and just wanted something different. Like I said above, everyone votes differently because of how they feel about certain issues. But in a nation where the president is definitely a celebrity, the irony is that since he already WAS a celebrity, Trump gets a strange hall pass. The smoothness and energy that followed the likes of Reagan and Obama (please pick your poison and just move on) has seemed to fizzle with our current Commandar in Chief. There have been days in the past month where I've intentionally NOT looked at social media. How much can one person really take? One important lesson I've learned is that most of it is just a scare tactic. If we actually internalized every post or believed everything said we would just want to curl up in a ball and disappear. Or worse give up. And that's the absolute worst thing any of us could possibly do. If you've even read this far, thanks for sorting through some of this stuff with me. I think it's important to close with the fact that while I love everyone and embrace an open dialogue, my heart is a die-hard Obama and Hillary loving, Black Lives Matter supporting, flamboyantly gay, feminist, pro choice, anti-wall, anti-entry ban, liberal man married to a beautiful black man. I don't want anyone reading my blog to ever mistake my openness to share love and ideas with me turning my back on my own personal beliefs. But I do believe, above all else, that there is plenty of room for all of us to express our thoughts while still loving and respecting one another. And sometimes I need that reminder most of all. Xo, AJ