Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back in the Day

One of my favorite activities during my workday is eating lunch at my desk. Alone. I turn my radio to 80's music, and I sit in silence listening. Remembering... My friends make fun of the fact that I enjoy the 80's so much. And I do like to add to the humor and joke how it makes me a dork. An adorable dork, but a dork none-the-less.

Actually, as I sit here typing this, "She Works Hard for the Money" by Donna Summers is playing. It reminds me of my mom and the time I lived with her and my sister in Hope Mills. My mom worked at a gas station second shift. This meant that we were left to our own devices after school. Unless you were a "latch key kid" growing up, you can not begin to fully appreciate the excitment of that kind of freedom. This was the time that I would rush home from the bus stop to drop my book sack off at the apartment and race back out to play with the neighborhood kids. We would hold street dances in the middle of the road, prompting angry shouts from the drivers that had to swerve to miss us. We would play kickball, dodgeball, and any other kind of ball you can think of. I would catch up with the boys and play a pick up game of football. They were innocent times....fun times. I remember it all very clearly, and I can still recall some of my young friends' names. I also remember the very first fight I ever got in to.

I was not quite 9. I was playing with a group of kids in the woods out on the edge of the apartment complex. We would all go back into the woods and make forts to play war in. Girls and boys would line up behind man-made huts and barriers. Pine cones were our weapons of choice. We would play this way until the street lights came on. This was the signal that it was time to go home. Even us latch key kids paid heed.

Well, during one particular game of war, my battalion was down. We were out most of our men, and it looked like we were going to have to surrender.

"Look, these punks aren't taking me down," my fearless leader hissed to me as we crouched behind a piece of plywood. His name was Robert and he was 10.

"What in the world do you want to do?" I asked. We were under heavy fire of pinecones and rocks. Two of our men had gone home with bloody noses. One was sitting against a tree nursing a very bad boo boo.

"I'm gonna throw our last pile of cones at them." Robert informed me. "I'll cover you as you run through the bushes and capture Jackie." Jackie was commander of the other army. He was 9.

"Why do I have to go? Why can't I cover you or Glenn?" I asked. I already had a nasty cut on my knee that I was sure was going to elicit some sort of lecture from my mom.

"I can't," Glenn informed me. "My mommy just got me a new retainer. If I mess it up, I can't go to my Me-Maw's this weekend." What an impressive army we were.

"I'm the oldest. I call the shots." Robert said. I conceeded to this age old wisdom and prepared to make a mad dash across the border. It never occurred to me to ask how I was supposed to apprehend the enemy's leader. I should probably have asked.

As Robert yelled "Run!", I sprang into action. I dodged pinecone after pinecone. I crouched behind trees until the coast was clear. With what was left of my team cheering me on, I made my way to Jackie and tackled him to the ground.

"I've got him!" I yelled triumphetly as I put my full 80 lbs on him. At least I thought I had him.

With one big swoop, Jackie grabbed my poneytail and flung me to the ground. Pinning me down with his weight, he sneered, "No. I got you. You're going before the firing squad."

Oh, freakin hell. Going before the firing squad meant I had to stand in front of one of the biggest pieces of plywood we had while I got pelted with pinecones, rocks, and anything else they could find.

I began to scream for Robert or Glen to come save me. Glen yelled something back about his retainer and loving his precious Me-Maw. I didn't hear from Robert.

Jackie pulled me to my feet and marched me to the spot where I was to meet my death. I looked for Robert and could not find him anywhere. Sobbing, I asked Glen where he had gotten to.

"He took off that away." Glen stated pointing in the direction of the apartments. My sobs of fear quickly gave way to tears of anger. My commander had abandoned me? In all the war movies I had ever seen, the leader always stayed with their men.

"I don't want to play anymore." I informed Jackie. "I'm going to go beat Robert's ass." Jackie quickly let me go. I ran to the apartment and grabbed my weapon of choice. A baseball bat. Or, rather, a t-ball bat.

I knocked on Robert's door and fearlessly asked his mom if he could come out and play. When Robert came to the door, I grabbed him by the collar and drug him out to the driveway. There, showing no mercy, I beat him black and blue with my pee-wee Louiville slugger.

"What did I do? Wes, what did I do?" Robert cried as he helled his arms over his head.

"You left me!" I screamed. "You were gonna let me face the firing squad all by myself!! How dare you?" Between his cries and mine, I never heard his dad come running out of the house.

He pulled me off of Robert and personally marched me back home. Since momma wasn't there, my sister called our neighbor. He came and made peace with Robert's dad. Later on that evening, Jackie came to check on me.

"I'm ok," I told him as we sat on the stoop outside. "I just lost my temper. He shouldn't have left me like that. I wouldn't have left him. I would have protected him."

"I know that. That's why I like you." Jackie looked at me. He leaned over and softly kissed me goodbye. Grinning, I walked back into the apartment.

At eight years old, I experienced my first fight and kiss in the same day. Now, at the age of thiry-three, a song from that time comes on the radio and brings a smile to my face.

I love the 80's.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Zombies, Jesus, and Cake

I can play the devil's advocate with most any topic. Capital punishment: What right do we have to take another's life? Well, you take a life, you forfeit your basic human rights, which includes breathing. Abortion: An unborn child has a right to life. Ok. But, no one has the right to my body. Christianity: Well, that's a horse of a different color.

In my experience, there are two types of people that call on God. People who were raised in the faith, and people who have been through a tragedy that nearly ended them. These people, or the tragedy people, need to believe in a higher power to make sence out of this terrible event that has taken place. Or the bad thing that they have overcome. At any rate, these groups of people are the ones trying to sell Jesus Christ. There are some that just aren't buying.

I can see why people have a hard time accepting Christianity at face value.

I had a discussion with an athiest friend of mine on the concept of God. His beliefs lie with science and anything that can be proven. He was surprised that I traveled down a more emotional path. (Being that I am not an emotional person) We did not debate scripture, but more the idea of Christ. The idea that I based my life on a supernatural story. And if you look at the Bible and all its tales, that is basically what it is. A supernatural story.

We go to church on Sundays to listen to a man tell us about another man that once walked on water. We are told that this man also raised the dead, turned water into wine, and actually rose from the dead himself. (Which technically makes him a zombie.) We are told that this man has a father that made us all. We can not see this father; but in the past, he has sent angels to destroy us...on more than one occasion. We're told that if we live by the rules this man and his father has set forth, we will one day live in paradise for all eternity. Then, we are asked to believe it all. We are not offered one shred of proof. Nothing tangible. Nothing, but a book that was written hundreds of thousands of years ago. And rewritten countless times since then.

I can see why others would doubt the stories told in the bible.

After my friend finished cross-examining me, I could only come back with one reply. "Because I know."

"How do you know?" He pressed.

"I felt Him," I said. "I have felt His presence when I felt no one else. I just know."

That answer did not satisfy my friend's thirst for knowledge. So, we agreed to disagree.

My "knowing" is what lead me back to church a couple of years ago. It is also why I ultimately decided to join. (That and a piece of chocolate cake) In order to join the church, I had to get baptized. (gotta have the holy water sprinkled on ya) I questioned the need for the baptizim almost as much as I questioned the need to join the church. Baptizim is a symbolic gesture of being washed of my sins. Christianity is full of symbolism. I don't see the point in it. God knows what's in my heart. I don't think having water poured over my head will change that.

I try to be as active as I possibly can in the church. This is one of the things that lead the preacher, on several occasions, to ask me to join. At one point, I declined because my life was too messed up. I felt like a hypocrit standing in front of the congregation. I have settled the turmoil that was going on. I have asked for forgiveness for my sins. All is well in my little corner of the universe.

I still didn't really want to join.

This past Wednesday during family night at church, I was eyeballing the last piece of chocolate cake on the serving table. With my mouth watering, I stalked the cake like a lion would stalk its prey. I could taste it before I even had it on my plate. Right as I was about to strike, the preacher stepped in front of me.

"We are having new member sunday coming up," he explained. "Any more thoughts on joining?" I looked to him, to my cake, and back to him again. In the distance, I could see an elderly lady rising from her seat; ready to snatch what was rightfully mine. I wasn't having it.

Without hesitation, I told him I would join, smiled, and beat the old bird to the mouth-watering-deliciousness that awaited me. (It was everything I had hoped for)

Later that night, I prayed to God about my hasty decision. Did I really just agree to join because I wanted the last piece of cake, or was something else egging me on?I asked Him if this was something that really needed to be done. What could joining a church possibly change? My answer came in the form of a dream about my granny. In the dream, she was telling me I needed to find a home. A home that was mine. I took it to mean that joining was like settling into my home.

And that is how I see it now. I love my church. I can walk in and feel the love pour over me. My children can run about and a capable hand is ready to sooth any boo-boo that might occur, or discipline them when needed. We are family there. And what's more important than anything else is when I listen to the man standing in front of the congregation telling me about a zombie that can walk on water, I believe him. I believe him, because I trust him. I trust that he is close to God and can help me grow and become closer to God.

They also have good cake....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Please Keep Your Bible at Home

It was only yesterday that I blogged about having a date for Sunday. Such is no longer the case. To allow you to fully appreciate what has taken place, let me recreate the conversation...

We are standing in the cafeteria.

Him: "Hey, I am looking forward to our date Sunday." I nod pleasantly, while eye balling the strange looking meatloaf on the other side of the sneeze guard.

He inquires about when my church lets out, and asks where I would like to eat at. More small talk follows. And then....

Him: "You seem like a nice christian girl. I can't wait for us to get together to discuss our love of God and Jesus Christ." Really? "It's nice to meet someone who shares in my beliefs."

Let's back up, shall we? I inquire as to his beliefs. His reply is, "You know, a belief in God." Ok. Gotcha. "A belief in family." Yep. I'm still with ya, Scooter. "And a belief in waiting til marriage to have sex." What???

"Should I bring my bible to dinner so we can read some scripture?" At this point I looked around the room wondering if someone was playing a practical joke. No such luck.

I politely explained my points of view on the aboved mentioned beliefs. I calmly suggested that he need not worry about bringing his bible, that there was not going to be any date. Then I proceeded to shake my head, and walk back to my office.

Such is my life.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Date Rules

So, I have a date Sunday. My first first date in 10+ years. I can not remember what you are supposed to do and say on a first date. The last first date I went on was with the ex. After a quiet meal, where only me and the other couple talked, he took me back home. In the car parked in front of my house is where he decided to open up. He told me his life story, what went wrong with his previous relationship, and what he wanted for the future. And then proceeded to grope me.

Is this the way it still works?

I don't know if I have the stamina for another this-is-what-I-want-out-of-life conversation. Is it not enough to just go out and with smile say, "How you doing?" Do I really have to decide the direction of a brand new relationship and still impress the person all at one time? If this is what is expected of me, I may have to remain single forever. However, I wouldn't mind some groping.....

I am a socially awkward person to begin with. I tend to stick my big toe in my mouth at the worst possible times. I laugh too loud, and I have dark, almost morbid sence of humor. It takes a special person to accept me at face value and to enjoy my company. I am not good at first impressions either. I tend to get extremely shy and come off as snobbish. I am not a snob, but I guess I can play a good one on tv.

This makes it quite surprising to me when I am asked out. My first thought is always: "What's wrong with him? Why me?" Followed by, "He must be completely nuts to want to go out with me. I bet he plays in his poop or something like that." Which, I am sure, this guy does not play in his poop.

About the guy...he is quite nice and normal. He has a daughter. He is employed and well spoken. And as far as I can tell, his eyes tend to stay above my neck line when we speak. All a big plus. I have only had limited conversations with him. Standing in the cafteria line as we wait for whatever hellish concotion the cooks have dug up for us, we always manage to make small talk. We will bump into each other at the vending machine where he will make a comment about the day's snack selection, as I make a complete ass out of myself. But, he seems to find me amusing. He always laughs at me. Never with me though.....

So, what do I talk about on this first first date in 10+ years? Do I have to answer all his questions about me? Can I keep the conversation to a light hearted topic like my favorite color, movie, etc? Do I really have to divulge the fact that I have no idea what I want in a relationship or wether or not I even want one? Must I speak about the ex and all that went wrong there? And if he decides to open up...do I have to listen?

The date is Sunday after church. The plan is to meet in town at a public location. Now, I must go and polish off that big toe of mine. I am sure it will be used.....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What I've Learned From the Women in My Life

It took a villiage to raise me. I know we have all heard the saying, but in this case it is actually true. What I am today is the result of various women putting their hands on me and trying to guide me the way they saw fit. Through out my teenage years, their efforts were often in vain. However, now that I have settled into my life, I believe I am actually a pretty decent person.

My Mother
My mother was an independent woman. She and my father divorced when I was four, and she was on her own for quite some time. Uneducated, she worked in various gas stations supporting two daughters. I remember my mother working second shift and my sister taking on her role as she made dinner for me and saw me to bed at the proper time. What I remember most about the brief time that my mom had me, was her laugh. My mother always laughed and joked around. She seemed to enjoy life, no matter the hardships she faced. My mother taught me to smile through the tough times, because they are only a moment in our lives.

My Sister Saundra
My sister has always treated me as her daughter. When I was little, she would yell to me to not forget my deodorant as I was heading out to play with friends. She nagged me to clean my room so my own mother wouldn't have to. Saundra was a royal pain in my butt while I was growing up. When I was in second grade she nagged me so much that I was forced to run away from home. I ended up on our front porch. But, just like a mother, she has always been protective over me. Even more protective than my own parents ever were. I see alot of her personality in my oldest child. My daughter Shelby has the same mannerisims as my sister. She is sensitive, caring, and a mother hen. Saundra is also the one in the family that rarely ever took anyone's side. She is the level headed one that can maintain her temper when the rest of us is ready to scratch someone's eyes out. My sister taught me that every story has at least two sides and that I should never be quick to judge based on the one side that is presented to me.

My Grandma
My Grandma is the strongest woman that I have ever met. During her 79 years on this earth, she has buried three children, a grandchild, and a great-grandchild. She also watched loved ones succumb to cancer and the effects of alzheimer's. Grandma endured these hardships with the grace and strength that only comes from God. She was there to take me in on a moments notice without any extra money given to her for my care. Grandma provided a life for me when no one else wanted to. She spoke to me about the hardships of her life; not to lecture me, but to show me the consquences of her bad choices so I wouldn't make them myself. My grandma taught me how to work, how to survive, but most of all how to hold my head high and face tragedy with God by my side.

My Granny
When my Granny died in 2003, I believe Heaven was overjoyed to receive her. Granny was everything that most people try to be. Proverbs 31 describes a woman that is "clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs who no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions." This was my granny. Her name was Marie, but people called her Sango. She stood all of 5'4", but was scared of nothing. She loved without condition. She forgave without remorse. And she spoke without hate. She loved her family, God, and everyone else around her. She would help anyone and everyone that needed it. When there were those in my family who were disproving of my marriage to a black man, she invited him into her home. At night, when I was little, I would kneel with her and pray. She would read the Bible to me. My Granny taught me that I had much to strive for in life. She taught me that without God's help, I would never be able to fill her shoes.

There are others that have influenced my life along with these notable women. My aunt Maria taught me to always speak my mind. She also taught me that the truth does not always set you free. And there are the women who hurt me growing up as well. I will not name them here, but I do want to thank them. You have to endure the bad to appreciate the good.

I hope everyone has a happy Mother's Day. This Sunday I will celebrate by catching up on my DVR.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let Us Pray

Today is National Day of Prayer. Or something like that. There has been a big stink going on over at Facebook, and probably the other social networking sites, about our controversial president trying to ban this day. While I am sure Obama knows he could never actually do this, I am wondering what exactly is the big deal. Why do we need a national day of prayer in the first place? Are times so bad, that we need a pseudo-holiday to remind us to look to God to guidiance?

When I have posed these questions to others who are jumping on the public outcry ban wagon and calling for Obama's head on a platter, I have been met with contempt and anger. "How dare you question what others are posting on Facebook!" and "I read about it on another post, so it must be true." Yeah, if it's on Facebook, then it's 100% true. You can bet your narrow-minded little soul on that one.

After that, I am greeted with the tried, but true saying of "This country was founded on freedom of religion." It seems that whenever people of the christian faith feel their beliefs are being questioned, they go to this old standby. And that, dear readers, really chaps my narrow behind.

First, this country was not founded on freedom of religion. The drive for power is what lead the Portugese, Spanish, and English here. Only later was religion ever brought up. The English settlers who came might have had their own ways of worship on their mind, but it was not freedom they were offering. The natives that were already here practiced their own form of religion; which they were forced to give up.

So, forgive me when I get a little huffy about the whole "this country was founded on freedom of religion" theory. It doesn't work. Furthermore, if we are to put this theory into practice, why was there such an uproar when it was believed that Obama was a Muslim? Freedom of religion. Remember?

Now, do not get me wrong. I am not questioning anyone's religious beliefs. I know what I believe to be right. But, you can not argue that you have a constitutional right to a national day of prayer and then denounce the man voted into public office because of his believed relgious preference. The constitution and the bible are two different items that do not have anything to do with one another.

All I am saying is this: If you want to pray to God, pray to Him. (I do.) If you pray to Budda, Alah, Lucifer, or whoever else....then pray to them. You don't need a day set aside for it.

And don't believe everything you read on Facebook.....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Introducing Me....

I had to fill out paperwork at the doctor's office today. Something quite simple that we all have done once or twice in our lifetime. It was the usual questionaire that inquired about my health, my parents' health, and even had questions about my bad habits. This was all pretty painless to answer. No, I do not smoke. No, I do not have chest pains. Yes, I do consume alcohol at an alarming rate. But, hey, I am a single mom and so what if I down a couple of shots of Jack before bedtime. I have earned it, damnit! The reason why I mention this particular action is because I had to include my address. A very unimportant thing, I know. Yet, filling in my address brought home to me everything that has happened in the past few months. Oh, you don't know what has happened. Let me fill you in....

I've recently seperated from my boyfriend of ten years. We have two beautiful children together. We shared a home and lived as husband and wife for sixe of those ten years. A few months ago that all changed. I looked at him and proclaimed the living situation was not going to work out and pack up me and the kids and walked out. I had no job and no place of my own to go to. But, anywhere was better than there. I was never beaten. So, please do not think that. The whole story will unfold as the days ware on, I assure you. For now, though, keep in mind that I now live with my best friend and her family. There are seven of us in a three bedroom house. Comedy insues.....

I am writing this post as an introduction to me. In the future, I will be reflecting on kids, Oreos (gotta get that addiction under control), my culture, my unsuccessful attempts at dating, and all other kinds of nonsence.


Copyrite Wes Chavis 2010