On Dying: Our Marjorie

My neighbor of fifteen years is dying in a hospice from pancreatic cancer. Something she didn’t want to share with anyone so I’m just finding out this week in her final days and hours. I understand her not wanting everyone to know I am just as private when it comes to my own personal tragedies but I would like to have been able to tell her what a wonderful neighbor she has been all these years. I would like to be able to tell her that I will miss her, I mean really miss her. Maybe she didn’t want to see the heartbreak in my eyes or feel my tears slip down from my face to her hands as I try to convey my feeling for her. I have told her on more than one occasion how much I appreciated her but right now I don’t feel as if it is enough.

My family and I moved into our predominately white Italian neighborhood fifteen years ago. I knew very little about Rhode Island and less about Providence or its neighborhoods. Our realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally our home in North Providence.We visited the house I was to buy on a cool October night driving down from Boston where we lived. My dream was to find us something in southern MA but the home prices were way too high for me a divorced single mother of three. A co-worker who commuted from Rhode Island suggested I take a look over the border in his neighborhood so every weekend we would drive out and just scope the neighborhoods as best we could without a guide. I liked the quietness and small town feel of Rhode Island so contacted an real estate agency. My realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally the home in North Providence. As soon as we walked in the door we all loved it. It just felt like home to all of us.

On moving day my cousin joked that my neighbors were probably peeking out their windows at this little black family moving in and saying there goes the neighborhood. I laughed but it hit me at that moment that other than my co-worker telling me North Providence was a great place to raise kids I hadn’t much thought about whether it was a great place for black kids. It never crossed my mind there were no other black families on the street or in the neighborhood I could see. My guard went up a bit from that moment not knowing what to expect and my mind prepped for anything bad. What I got however, were the best neighbors and the the absolute best neighbor in Marjorie or Ms. Marjorie as I instructed my kids to call her.

I no longer remember how or when Marjorie introduced herself to me or my family but she has been a rock for me since I moved here. All of my neighbors have been kind but especially her. She and my other neighbor Jackie looked out for my kids and home when I was working from 6:30am to about 6:00pm I was commuting to and from Boston for work. That first year I dragged my youngest with me to his school in Boston. My middle schoolers were latch key kids but for good or bad it was the way it was and we were happy in our home and they were safe with both neighbors checking in on them or spying as they would say.

Marjorie loved my youngest son from the very beginning. He was six when we moved in and although she was good to all three of my children we all joked about how Jabriel was her favorite. She would make him the best cookies and drop them off-
“Here you go I baked these for sweetie.” she would say and I would smile and say thank you knowing I was going to devour half. He could not appreciate the goodness of fresh home baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies he thought Oreos were treats for Gods sake. The cookies she made were the real treats and they were the best.

We talked often both of us being  PBS fans, political junkies, and social commentators. We talked about our failed marriages, why I wasn’t dating, my kids, her daughter, our jobs, her retirement, and her depression. She was thoughtful and meticulous. I admired her life story and her struggle to be independent. Our lives mirrored to some extents and I understood her but there were things I didn’t understand and will never know about her.

I was mad at her last year when her tree fell in my yard, a big one, and she didn’t say anything about it. Legally it is my responsibility to get rid of it but she never acknowledged it only calling our other neighbor who told her there was nothing she needed to do I just inherited a tree. I was angry with the both of them.  As angry as I was with her I felt like she didn’t want to say anything because to get it cut was expensive and she was retired on a fixed income for whatever reason she didn’t know what to say if she couldn’t help so I chose not to make it a big deal and my dad cut the tree for me. That was the only time I was ever mad at her and I’m happy I chose our friendship over a fallen tree. How could I be mad at the person who fixed my kids dinner while I was in Dallas, Texas for a work event? Or who brought my trash bins in every Wednesday morning, or who gave cards to all of my children for every milestone and wrote to my son while he was away at bootcamp- he never got the cookies she sent but I’m 100% certain some Navy officer knows how much love went into each delicious bite. She had done too much and continued to be too much of a nice person for me to make a tree a thing between us.

Now she is somewhere slowly slipping away into her light and I hope she knows I will miss her and how heartbroken I am that she will no longer be our next door neighbor. I hope there is an afterlife because I know a wonderful one awaits her because she is one of the most deserving.

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On Style: Get Ready For Autumn!

I don’t think about fashion much until my Essence magazine comes in the mail and every month I tell myself I want to start dressing like the spreads they have laid out in their pages. Don’t get me wrong I do dress well (not right at this moment however) but magazines always get me excited about the next season.

About five September magazines arrived yesterday and although I don’t want the summer to end their fall fashion preview has me very ready to slip into a black turtleneck, wool skirt, and a cool pair of leather booties.

 

 

 

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On Police: Austin Harrouf the Cannibal Killer

Austin Harrouf went mad two days ago and stabbed a married couple to death in their garage. He proceeded to stab a neighbor who tried to intervene. When the police arrived he was over the male victim trying to eat his face.

The police demanded he get off the victim, then they tasered him, he didn’t go down so they tasered him again, then they called out the dogs, and then other police officers arrived on the scene and finally tackled him. Not ONE shot fired.

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Five attempts to get this man in custody while he resisted. Bloodied murder scene one person stabbed and two others dead yet NOT one shot fired. I know if I walked on someone eating someones face I’m going to fear for my life because at that point the individual is clearly out of their mind and does not give a fuck…but these officers showed remarkable restraint. I didn’t know they had it in them…oh, yeah I did because when the assailant is white somehow cops never seem to have that same fear when its a black guy with a knife a gun, or empty hands.That black guy is going to get several shots in the back or chest. But a dude eating the face of a victim he gets a strategy session on how to take him down.

Was there a quick huddle around the police cars to assess the situation? How much time did they waste? Seems like an awful lot considering two victims were on the ground and I’m sure the cops didn’t know if their last breath had been taken already. Seems they went through a checklist of procedures first and as their chief commended them for not shooting and risking harming the victims…although one was getting his face gnawed. Yup, funny how cops can be really brave and have no fear when a perpetrator is eating  face  or whipping out a gun at them if that face is white.

The part of this story that simply blows my mind, other than the fact that he was not shot nine times as soon as the officers arrived on the scene, is the fact they went through five options! When they yelled for him to get his hands up and stop eating the victims face and he didn’t oblige they crossed that off the list and tried something else. Seriously, WTF?

Did Tamir Rice get a warning? He didn’t even have dead birds around him but he was black with a gun, real or not. No options

When there are brown people involved the strategy is usually the same shoot first assess later.

 
Read Shaun Kings article comparing Harrouf and Rudy Eugene committing a similar crime.
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-tale-face-eating-men-white-black-article-1.2756384

On Cluttered Focus: Mental Clarity

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Fighting for mental clarity is a chore for me- between social media procrastination and completely overwhelming myself with  everything I have on my plate, I’m always dragging myself back to find focus. That in itself is tiring.

I notice when things get intense for me I pull up Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the Huffington Post. I think I am calming my nerves but what I really am doing is trying to escape the task at hand. My mind and focus get bogged down with politics, pretty pictures, other peoples fabulous life…it fogs my goals and intent. It takes away from my clear vision. I wish I was better disciplined with the mental sharpness of a tech genius locked up in a room for twenty hours. Not forever but until my task are done.

I get bored of my pep talks…why do I have to keep talking myself into winning?

Okay, maybe right now I’m a tiny bit down on myself for still seeing my path with weeds and debris in front instead of seeing what I did to clear the way to get this far.

So on it goes to find mental clarity and keeping the focus on the goal. I’m almost there I keep reminding myself.

 

 

On Politics: Batshit Crazy

Just Thinking:

I’ve been watching the RNC on television and although its had its moments of hilarity, that stolen paragraph in Melania Trumps speech from of all people Michelle Obama gave me life on Twitter, overall the basic theme is hate…hate everyone and everything.

I really have tried to understand the republican point of view (because believe it or not I m basically conservative but I’m just not inhumane as a lot of conservatives appear to be) but all I get is anger and hate. I feel the last few years the country, under Obama, is moving successfully out of the recession we were in and I think we would be further along in that process if prejudice and hate were not part of the GOP agenda. Listening to the speakers of the RNC the hate is in overdrive. A lot of journalist claim fear is driving the hate but I think hate and prejudice is fear is only the excuse. Those  people in that audience screaming Obama is a Muslim or Hillary is lucifer are not in any fear they are hateful.

The Republicans have gone batshit crazy and it is on full display at their convention.

 

Breathe

Everyday we seem to be hit with a new hostile attack on our freedoms and our peace. Our souls need to breathe. Our souls need to take a moment to breathe and find peace. Let not the tragedies of this world and the hatefulness of others diminish our goodness, our fight for justice, and our need for a peaceful existence.

Lets take a moment to just breathe…

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