Not My Baby Anymore

Last night I participated in a wonderful group where we got to share stories based on the subject “The Wild Unknown.” When I was invited to speak I had recently spoken with my youngest son. At some point in the conversation between the now very adult and I, I was reminded of when I realized he was not my baby anymore and what an oddly emotional blow it was.

I remember I was sitting on the front porch as my youngest son, then in his mid-teens, was walking up the block from school. I noticed his walk had changed. It used to be something of a bop, this bouncy gait as he used to just short of walk on his toes. This young person coming towards me now had what could only be called a swagger. This was not the walk of the carefree. This was a strong, measured stride with purpose. This was a man’s stride.

“Man! He walks hard!” My eldest son who was on the porch with me apparently noticed this change in his little brother brother as well. Though they are only eighteen months apart physically, there was a subtle, unspoken my baby brother is growing up touch of pride to his assessment. Yet, all I could think was…

What broke my baby?

Both of my sons are very much like me. It had been their chagrin most of their young lives that I was sometimes one-up on them, able to predict some of what could get them in trouble and put a stop to it. It was generally my chagrin when they did something I missed and though I knew exactly why it happened, because it was something I did or would have done as a kid, I had to disciple them regardless. Sometimes I let them make mistakes, because it really is the only way to learn some hard lessons. But this did not fall into one of those categories.

My eldest took it hard when my mother died. Very hard. I knew the loss of the woman that tried her best to spoil him rotten, had broke him and changed him. I saw it happen and did my best to guide him through it and he was much better by this point, but I was cognizant of that change. I felt I had dropped the ball with my youngest as I watched him approach.

How did I fail to protect him? Where the fuck was I, who saw him every single day, while whatever this was was going on that it hurt him, broke him, and changed him without my noticing? What the hell had happened in his young life that ripped his spirit, his innocence to the point it had changed his very walk? What else have I missed? Could I find out? Should I find out?

I found myself once again into the wild unknowns of parenthood. Yes, there are guides and plenty of people who can give advice, whether you asked for it or not. There are some givens we all go through as children and as adults raising them. In the end, each child is unique and wild unknown and how one raises that child will be unique to that child.

I realized, they both were of the ages where the shift in dynamics of how we relate to each other changes. They will always be my children, and though they were not yet men, they were not in fact children. It felt like just last year I was teaching them to tie their shoes and only last month we had the condom talk, not a few years ago. I was losing them into the men they were going to be, another wild unknown…

When he saw his brother and I sitting on the front porch, he broke into this beatific smile (both of my sons really do have great smiles), and greeted us. More perceptive to my moods, than I had been to his, he looks at me at questioningly for a moment.

“What?”
“You okay, Mommie?”
“I’m fine baby boy, you okay?”
“I’m GREAT! I’m having a great day!”

He then proceeds to regale us on just how great his day was. Naturally, with two teenage boys, the conversation eventually segues to video games and smack talk reigns.

I listen to and watch the both of them, but mostly my youngest for a long moment. Tall, though still a couple of years from his eventual 6’3″ height, his once high-pitched voice now very much a tenor. My silly little boy was very much still in there, but this man-child, now bounding up the stairs with his big brother, was anything and potentially everything, but he was not my baby anymore.

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It’s Day 28 of the 2020 Slice of Life Writing Challenge – come see how others are slicing it up this Saturday.

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Et tu Taxes

According to Wiki: The Ides of March is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to the 15th of March. It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts.

Friends, Romans but specifically Americans know that, with some exceptions, April 15th is Tax Day in the U.S.  Tax Day is the date in which whether you owe Uncle Sam (the anthropomorphize avatar of the US government) or Uncle Sam owes money, you grin and bare/bear it and have to have your taxes filed.

I mostly remember the Ides these days because my mother was one of those people who though having received her W-2 at the end of January, would still wait until April 14th to mail in her taxes.

In elementary school most of us learn about Julius Caesar and his infamous last words when his supposed rod dog/main bro Brutus turned coat on him and just watched him get shanked on March 15th. <– Like my revisionist history? I once made a joke that Mach 15th was the 30 day warning bell. Mommy knew she had a month to get her taxes in order. My mother would have loved that Tax Day is on April 18th this year for it would have given her two more days of procrastination.

And why all of that? Because somehow a discussion on taxes came up while attending the repast of an erstwhile colleague.

Death and Taxes – get it? Get it?

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know, bad Raivenne, bad! I’ll go bed now.

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Today is Day 15 – The Ides of March Slice Of Life Story Challenge. 
Come see how others are slicing it up today.
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Say What Now?

Rant Time:

I’m beyond sick and tired of reactionary memes and posts meant to shame how some people use their social media.

For example, seeing posts criticizing others for being upset over a celebrity’s death when there are wars going on and humanitarian crises all over the place that they should take precedence. Or a meme citing how one is annoyed with people talking about the Housewives of Wherever controversy as if in discussing what happened it somehow means they aren’t paying attention to the world around them and other far more important things going on.

Don’t like what they have to say? Scroll.

To hell with social media policing those only want to post about their family, their pets, their insignificant and significant others. Let them post cute puppies and cats and pandas and zombies and… Let them share their joys in peace. This mindset that one’s head is in the clouds if they aren’t posting relentlessly about every awful blessed thing going on in the world. That doesn’t mean they’re ignoring anything;  we do not know what exists in their lives beyond their FB page. Perhaps some only want to use their social media for more lighthearted fare because they are in fact having those heavy-as-shit conversations elsewhere, with loved ones, or through messenger, or out in the real world. Let them have their joys.

Don’t like what they have to say? Scroll on.

To hell with policing those who choose to post their their hurt, their rage. Maybe it’s self care; maybe they struggle with anxiety, and curating their social media to mitigate their rage is in fact a survival mechanism. A survival mechanism which keeps them from being the example for or against gun control that’s next trending the news feed.

Don’t like what they have to say? Scroll. The. Hell. On.

My Facebook, WP blog , Instagram and Twitter pages all represent one thing and one thing only: the views of  the owner of those pages – me.

So here’s a News flash: Those pages are not a democracy.

Sometimes friends/people post things that leave me scratching my head. If I don’t understand or don’t agree, I don’t spew on their page – ever. I may private message someone if I think I am the one misunderstanding something and meaningful dialog can come from it – otherwise I scroll, scroll on.

(Giving away my vintage here: I just sang those last three words in tune to The Floaters – “Float On“, but I digress…)

Seriously, Quid Pro scroll, bro.

Raivenne posts are a monarchy and I am its Empress. 

If my posts impress, excellent, but I know sometimes they will depress. I know sometimes they will inflame. When that happens – and it will – if you don’t like it, then please scroll away, scroll away, scroll away.

(Anyone Enya guess what song went through my head just then? But I digress – again…)

I will be just fine – trust me.

Don’t like…

  • when I deleted your comment on my post because I thought it was cruelly offensive?
  • if I choose to ignore your inflammatory Xsplainin’ comment on my X-subject post because I refuse to be drawn into yet another useless argument?
  • that I’m still upset over Chester Bennington’s suicide?
  • my sarcastic answer to those stupid FB question?

It’s my page, my posts. Think about it – that Send/Post/Publish button was not pressed by accident.

The land of Raivenne is a dictatorship and I am its ruling dick. 

(Yes, I made a dick joke – a dumb one at that. Don’t let the fact that I have a vagina, lead to the falsehood that my balls aren’t bigger.)

Don’t like it? Well, you know what to do….

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Today is Day 14 of the March Slice Of Life Story Challenge. 
Come see how others are slicing it up today.
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I Am A Grown Woman and I Am A fangirl

I fell in adoration of the good old fashioned villain, and a deplorable level of respectful lust for the virgin. I fell just as hard for the doctor not of this earth as I had for that ranger who would be king from Middle Earth. And goodness knows a certain Sassenach of the 1940s would totally understand -well not really- that am I, a woman of the 2010s, would go BAMF for JAMMF of the 1740s –  Je suis Prest indeed! I follow the Tumblr posts, the Facebook pages, subscribe to YouTube Channels of my faves, “Tried It!” in Pinterest and yes, as much as most fanfic has me rolling my eyes, crying with laughter, the few magnificent pearls found amongst the swill of the swine, makes the dumpster diving worth it.  I know this because…

I am a grown woman and I am a fangirl.

I am fully aware I am not the demographic that come to mind when one thinks of fangirls. Girls is a misnomer. For I am here to tell you, honestly, there is no demographic. Yes, some ages cater to certain shows or characters than others, but across the board, it is the shared love and adoration we feel about the chosen characters to bind us.  Like everything else in life there are levels, I prefer to think I am a fangirl based somewhat in reality.

I fall in love with the characters, how they behave, how they feel, how they make me feel. However, I do not confuse the character with the actor. We all understand that actors, especially method actors, must have at least a trace characteristic of each part played in order to portray them so well. But having a trace of a characteristic in an actor’s real life, is not the same as having the whole of the personality presented. Even when they purposely blend the two.

When watching “Iron Man” we know the egotistical, but likable genius, multi-millionaire, manufacturer of various technology, decadent playboy, and philanthropist Anthony Stark is not the actor Robert Downey Jr. However, RDJ the multi-millionaire, actor, happily married man, father and philanthropist has wonderfully gleaned from the reckless cockiness of his youth as a Brat Packer to give snark and charisma to the character. Yet because it is a small part of him, he plays the part of likeable scoundrel off well to his adoring public.  (PS: And not that he is ever going to read this, but all these years later I want give a most sincere Thank You to Elton John — those of you that know what I’m talking about, know what I’m talking about.) I know this because…

I am a grown woman and I am a fangirl.

When it comes to, say, BBC’s “Sherlock”, I adore the Gatiss/Moffat modern interpretation of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Not even gonna lie, I, like so many millions of others, put myself in Molly Hooper’s place for the five seconds of a most crashing Holmes kiss. However, once the show fades to black, those feelings I have for William Sherlock Scott Holmes do not transfer to Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch. While I feel I “know” this Sherlock, well – as well as anyone can know a fictional high-functioning sociopath that is, I do not pretend to know Benedict Cumberbatch. Do I admire his incredible acting talent? Oh hell yes. His talent and that damned voice, a weapon which he wields with utmost pervection (that is not a misspell – think about it), as Sherlock, it is used to even more deadly effect in the character of Khan Noonien Singh in “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. Most of us know of the now infamous Cumberbatch photobombing of U2 at the 2014 Oscars, it is a pure Benedict being random and having fun moment; it is something neither Sherlock, nor Khan would ever deign to do. I know this because…

I am a grown woman and I am a fangirl.

Fans of the “A Songs of Ice and Fire” series of novels by George R. R. Martin, know the character of Tyrion Lannister is a physically repulsive character, we adored him nonetheless.  The adoration of Tyrion increased a thousand fold once it became known by the moniker of the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones” where the character was graced by the incomparable talents of Peter Dinklage.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe of “The Avengers”, the wicked Loki of Asgard, is portrayed by Tom Hiddleston. Fangirls find Loki beautiful in spite of the evil he’s done because of Tom Hiddleston gives the character depth that transcends his physical space.

With a nod to Capaldi who has had the role since 2013, but there are fangirls to this day who argue heatedly over Tenant versus Smith as the better Doctor.

It is easy to why Sam Heughan raises heart rates as Jamie Fraser in Starz “Outlander”, the deities have given us most delectable eye candy in him. That he is an excellent actor, playing Diana Gabaldon’s well developed dimensioned male protagonist is icing on an already very delicious cake.

With the exception of Heughan and by extrapolation Jaime, part of what makes these specific characters of interest is that they are portrayed by actors who do not fit the “convention” of what is considered heart throb material. Sticking with Sherlock for a moment, the character’s purple shirt of sex, notwithstanding – Cumberbatch himself is quoted at not understanding the hullabaloo over his looks. When asked what does he most dislike about his appearance, his responds with “The size and shape of my head. I’ve been likened to Sid from Ice Age.” “BuzzFeed.com” agrees with both his sex symbol status in 25 Things That Prove Benedict Cumberbatch Is The Perfect Man and with a very uncomplimentary list of 13 Things Benedict Cumberbatch Looks Like. I know this because…

I am a grown woman and I am a fangirl.

So what is it? What pulls us in and then straps us down? Easy answer: the character of the character. Even when the character is considered outside of what society considers normal – Sherlock, Loki, James Moriarty, Khan, The Doctor – can we understand them? Can we understand it, even when we acknowledge that what they are doing is a bit not good? Sherlock is considered to be asexual with Asperger’s or autism depending on whom is asked, whose social skills are considerably lacking to say the least. Loki, in his mind at least, feels he has always been slighted and slotted a life as second best living in the shadow of his brother Thor. “Sherlock”’s Moriarty, played beautifully psychotic in the hands of Andrew Scott, has a genius intellect comparable to Sherlock – that’s bored. Sherlock shoots walls when bored – we all can complete the phrase an idle mind is… Moriarty’s workshop is doing triple overtime simultaneously to keep from being bored, and if people die in the process well, “That’s what people DO!” Kahn, methods leave a lot to be desired, but he just wants to save those he considers his family. Well at least until we find out otherwise.  The Doctor, that last of his kind, an alien by our standards, is a man alone, not just in the world, but in the universe, yet he is the most human of us all. Protagonist or antagonist, can they make us feel for them? It’s no different than the adoration of a sports figure, other than our characters are mostly fictional.

I have encountered actors from various shows I’ve been enamored of over the years, and not once did I lose my mind in those moments. I had my internal five seconds, Isn’t that? Wait – that’s! OMG that’s! for I am sort of human (except for when I must return to my gelatinous form to rest or forever lose my ability to shapeshift ß bonus points to those who get the reference), but again, that’s internal. Once I get those five seconds out the way, outwardly I’m good. Depending on where we are, I may or may not nod in acknowledge of their existence and keep it moving. I presume, like me, they are trying to get from Point A to Point B with as little distraction as possible. Maybe it comes with being born and raised in New York City. Maybe it’s my natural personality, but Toodles RDJ, Laterz Cumberbatch, grown woman here, I got things to do. Who attend 2016’s Tartan Day Parade in the rain because Sam Heughan was the Grand Marshall? This fangirl right here raises her hand high.

Did I get up at 3 in the morning to be downtown by four in the morning to stand in line, to be hopefully be up to stand around outside for a chance to see Robert Downey Jr at 7 in the morning for a news show? Uh, no. There are limits to my fandom. Am I in the process of watching all six seasons of “Game of Thrones” again, because I know Season 7 starts Sunday, July 16? Yep. Have I intermittently re-watched favored episodes of “Sherlock” because I still can’t believe the series might be over – forever? Yes. Have I watched “Captain America: Civil War” again? Yes, because it’s a damned good movie and I am ready to comply. Do I have a OTP in any of my fandoms? God no, but do I “ship” aw hell yeah. Why? I do this because…

I am a grown woman and I am a fangirl.

If they can make us think, if they can make us smile or laugh, if they can make us feel. They’ve got us. And just like Ross eventually won Rachel in “Friends”. They get inside our heads first, making themselves at home in our lives, and before we know it our hearts. When what’s inside them calls to us what’s inside us, we see beyond their physical and all of them becomes something beautiful in our hearts. Once they have taken up residence there, telling us it’s just a television show, is akin to the athletically challenged spouse telling their sports oriented significant other, it’s just a game. We know this, I know this. I did not let my love of “Game of Thrones” and “Outlander” interfere with my trip to Toronto. Hello? That is what DVRs are for. Priorities! The antics of Jon Snow and James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser were the last things on my mind from the moment I locked my front door to the moment I opened it once again. However, fifteen minutes after I walked in the house I had the remote in my hand. I do this because …

I am a grown woman and I am a fangirl.

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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 Challenge – Week 22

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

Knowing When To Press “Pause”

We’ve reached past the halfway point of National Poetry Writing Month, Week 1 of 52 Essays 2017 and my email inbox has days’ worth of writing prompts from the several groups I am a part of. Yet, I have posted nothing since last Tuesday. From February 28th to April 10th I posted something everyday single day. There were also days where I posted multiple times, such as April 4th, where I posted thrice in a 24-hour span.  Yet for the past seven days, I’ve posted nothing. Maybe it is something of a burnout, I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not writer’s block.

There are 28 items sitting in draft mode. Some are partially done poems needing tweaking, some essay ideas to be fleshed out, three are nothing more than a couple of lines of an idea I want to work with at some point. Thus, I know it is not because I do not have anything to say. Maybe it’s because I have so much to say and it’s all bottle-necked. Still, with the exception of my Verbal Diarrhea Diaries, I have humbly learned that every emotion that emits or bon mot that bubbles from my lips is not necessarily something that I want put to print or pixel; this is especially true with essays.

It would be much too easy for me to become one of those writers who quickly spouts off on all the many events that happen- the tragedies, the scandals, the oh so many injustices in the world, with commentary from the hip. I admire the writers who can regularly, and seemingly within a mere few hours of an event, publish intelligently heartfelt, or uproariously satirical content. I even admire the tweeters can who evoke the right contextual chord in 140 characters or less within minutes of an event. I do consider myself a decent story-teller, and am humbled when someone messages me wanting to know if I am going to comment on some event or another. Yes, it pleases me that some want to hear/read what I have to say whether in poem, prose, essay or my Verbal Diarrhea Diaries, but I also feel something of a responsibility to that which will remain behind in these pixels long after I am gone.

The permanency of the Internet certainly makes me think more carefully about what I say, and when and how I want to say it, because I do not want my contributions to be little more than mindless chatter in the white noise of the Internet. It is that responsibility, in the week or so before April tenth, where I have increasingly found myself thinking of better ways to express a thought coherently only after I hit ‘publish’, which has me galled to no end.  That lexical lethargy had become increasingly worrisome and seemed to hit its head last week where the first time ever I trashed something I wrote. I did not return it to draft mode to be reworked – I trashed it. I can all but hear certain writer friends of mine gasp in the horror at this cardinal writing sin – I know, I KNOW, I sincerely apologize to you and to myself for that as well. So in the midst of what should have been another busy week of words, I chose to pause, to step back, to wait.

And in that pause instead of writing, I went back to reading. I have found one writer’s adage to be true – the best way to learn to write is to read. I like to read, or reread, the words of others who have inspired me to write. Read those writers whose voices, have helped me to discover my own. After all, we learn to read before we learn to write, so it makes sense in a way. I read some for pleasure and some for research of the ideas pieces in draft mentioned above. Twice I found myself donating a couple of hours to Wiki Walking. And I say donate as opposed to lost as most of the information accidentally gained was worth the time spent.

I want to feel comfortable in what I write, that I have something to say that makes sense. Sometimes I need to write because I feel confident that what I say that will inform or entertain others and sometimes I need to read so that I can be better informed and entertained myself. What I will always need regardless, are times like week -when no matter what is going on and as I pick up my pen again this week –  is to know which to choose and when.

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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 16

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

LP & Me

I was asked if Metallica and Linkin Park had new releases and were touring around the same year, which caused them to have concerts on the same day which band would I chose.

The reality is I am surrounded by so many venues and both bands always play multiple days in a given arena, that this conflict would never really be an issue. The question would be which one would I want to see first? And that is a damned good question.

Ask anyone who knows me about my favorite band and all will unequivocally tell you Metallica. It’s hard to even write their name without wanting to scream it out loud, immediately follow by an expletive, at least one. My love for Metallica has been unflinching since the first chords of “Master of Puppets” entered my pysche. No, I was not there from the very beginning of their career, but I have been a loyal acolyte to the altar of James, Lars,  Kirk and Robert (with nods to Jason, Dave, Ron and a RIP to Cliff, of course). However, those who know me really well know I also have a thisclose second musical love and that is Linkin Park.

Linkin Park Logo

My adoration for Joe, Dave, Brad, Mike, Rob and Chester runs deep. They remain the only other band, besides Metallica, whose music I will preorder notes unheard simply on the faith of who they are.

When this began…

It was 3am and I was in the midst of a three day insomnia run. I had given up the ghost of pretending I was going to sleep and turned on the TV. I was flipping through channels when I came across MTV’s Insomniac Theater, or something like that. One would think with a title as such it would be something sedate right? But this is MTV, it was playing rock, hard rock, thrash rock, loud rock and I hit the channel just as one video was fading out and what faded in was the sound of water draining. Huh? My head popped up, and some of you LP fans reading this may have already known from that small descriptor the song was Crawling.

I can’t seem to find myself again
My walls are closing in
(Without a sense of confidence)
(I’m convinced that there’s)
(Just too much pressure to take)
I’ve felt this way before so insecure

These lyrics described exactly how I was feeling about myself in the world at that time. It was a whole new thing for me, a place where I can find, or is that lose?, myself in.

The song hit hard and unapologetic. Chester Bennington, lead vocalist for Linkin Park, was unforgiving as he growled his way into my id, fucking trashed it like a drugged out rocker’s hotel room and by God I wanted more! When the video ended I immediately turned off the television hyperventilating, not knowing what the fuck hit me, but I remember I finally fell asleep and felt so much better upon waking. I could barely contain myself after work long enough to get to the record store, buy the CD, get home and blast it.  The CD? Hybrid Theory. And thus a new love was borne.

Hybrid Theory stayed in my portable CD player for at least, at least, two solid months. I mean I am pretty sure I listened to nothing else, but Lincoln Park for a solid two months. Even now when I hear certain songs from that album, my mind automatically starts playing the opening notes of the next track in album order.  Play One Step Closer and my mind segues into With You; A Cure For The Itch will fade into Pushing Me Away. If you have the extended version which I did, you also got to hear My December and that remains in my mental rotation as well.

But wait…

As happily stunned as I was by Hybrid Theory, the group’s next release Meteora simply floored me. You know how for many bands the sophomore release can be meh? Well, Linkin Park clearly did not get that memo.  Musically, it follows a similar vein as Hybrid Theory, but lyrically it hits the emotions harder.

Depression –

Can’t you see that you’re smothering me?
Holding too tightly, afraid to lose control
‘Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you

Anger – 

Time won’t heal this damage anymore
Don’t turn your back on me I won’t be ignored!

Recovery – 

I want to heal,
I want to feel,
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long
(Erase all the pain ’til it’s gone)

I’ve quoted lyrics from Numb,  Faint, and Somewhere I Belong respectively here, but really the entire album simply works for me. There is a reason it remains their highest grossing studio release.  Chester’s voice combined with Mike Shinoda’s rap, and Joe Hahn’s sampling/mixing was a heady combination. If The Devil Went Down To Georgia were rock/rap based, Meteora would have been the din that did Mephistopheles in. And they didn’t stop there…

Their next album, Minutes to Midnight was released ten years ago – yet…

Meanwhile, the leader just talks away
Stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay
And the rest of the world watching at the end of the day
Both scared and angry like “What did he say?”

Now, replace “nightly news” with “Twitter tweets”. Sounds familiar? It’s their third album in and they are still speaking what’s inside my head, then and now.

A Thousand Suns

God save us everyone,
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns?
For the sins of our hands,
The sins of our tongues,
The sins of our fathers,
The sins of our young.
No!

Living Things

No, you can tell ’em all now
I don’t back up, I don’t back down
I don’t fold up, and I don’t bow
I don’t roll over, don’t know how

The Hunting Party

You’re guilty all the same
Too sick to be ashamed
You want to point your finger
But there’s no one else to blame

The Hunting Party marks something of a departure for LP in that it is their first album to bring in guest appearances with other artists to collaborate.

Now include their one off singles like New Divide (from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Movie Soundtrack) and the hits keep coming. Another standout for me was Chester’s cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep that he performed live during a concert. In the clear opposite of the style that is the earmark of his general singing with Linkin Park, here it is stripped down and one of the times you get to hear him just sing. It is an almost acapella cover that showcases the strength and beauty of the man’s voice. There is a reason he did a short tour on lead vocals with Stone Temple Pilots – the man can sing.

Now, I am eagerly awaiting their seventh studio release – One More Light set to be released May 19th. In the interim I am enjoying the first single released, Heavy, featuring Kiiara. Heavy marks another first for Linkin Park with this song being the first studio release for them with a female vocalist. It’s a little pop-ish to me, but I like it. And there is the recently released Battle Symphony, lyrically more along the Linkin Park I know and love.

For all the brouhaha of the negatives some speak of rock and rap music, one would think that a band who has successfully, and consistently, done both well would be a monster. And yes they are, believe you me, but they are my kind of monster. These savage beasts sooth this beauty. I continue to listen to them, especially when seeking a way to ease my anger, or when I feel the stress about to overwhelm. All I have to do is put in my earbuds, or if home turn up the volume, and let myself drown in their music. To quote One Republic here – everything that drowns me, makes me want to fly. When I need to immerse myself in their music, they are my CPR and I am always resurrected in a better mood.

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Slice of Life Writing Challenge – Two Writing Teachers

Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 15

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

The Big If

What in the actual fuck am I do with my existence and time on this planet?? Do you know what you’re doing with yours? If you died today would you be happy?

This query was posed by a friend on Facebook.  Because it was Facebook I gave a quick one paragraph response.  Below is that paragraph expanded out.

The biggest problem with worrying about our existence and time on this earth is that we have no clue how long our ride will last. Therefore worrying about it takes some of that very finite time away from actually living it.  We all, well most of us, want to be someone grand, want to be a known quantity. We want to know we have a purpose in life.  My purpose in life is easy…

Don't just survive life, live it.
Don’t just survive life, live it.
 

I believe if I simply live my life to the best of my ability each day, everything else falls into place.

Within the past ten or so years I have rediscovered ME.  The me I am when I’m not being a semi-professional on the job, when I’m not being a mother to now two grown men, when I’m not being a potential someone’s significant other. I have rediscovered the me I am when I take away all the things I have to do and am left with only the things I must to do to make my soul happy. I had no clue as to how just badly I was lost, until I slowly started to find me. I am still learning, challenging and discovering myself, and it has been one heck of an exploration.

I may never be the next Poe or Renoir or Piaf. Especially Piaf,  because this Raivenne who ironically loves karaoke, can’t sing for shit.  Yet on a very small-scale my name is now somewhat known in many countries across this globe. I could never have imagined that ten plus years ago. That is not to say that, with hard work, ten years from now if my name is well on its way to being as recognized as say Angelou or  Chihuly or Adele (again, please see my caveat re: singing above), I will not complain; really I won’t. A few ago I posted in my blog how my life has done a complete 180 degree turn regarding the arts in my life- from it dearth in my youth to its depth now. My love of writing, music, painting, poetry, theatre – it is all so ingrained into me now I cannot imagine breathing without it. I have rediscovered not just my love for the art of others, but to also appreciate and love, nurture my own arts as well.

I have accomplished some things I could not conceive of doing 30, 20, 10 years ago. Imagined?-yes. Hoped and prayed?-yes. Actually thought I would get to do?-no. But I have done and it has been a marvel. I have so many wonderful people in my life, and I include some of those whom I have yet to meet face-to-face. Had you asked me years if I ever truly thought I would know get to know just people globally, outside of my best friend, that if I should ever step foot in their country and did not make a sincere effort to meet with them that I would be royally cussed out, I would have laughed heartily in your face. Heartily. Yet, I am slowly marking not just countries, but continents of my lists; this is where I am now.

I look in the mirror each morning and I’m glad to say the majority of the time I smile at what I see. (Queue Mary J. Blige’s Fine here.) Not just physically, but emotionally as well. I have my raw days, we all do, however I can honestly say I have never been so full of life, enjoying life, thriving in the art of simply living life as I am right now.

So, if I have to make that final exit today, I can say I would be happy.  Still, for as much as I have already accomplished, have I crossed-off even a third of my ever-expanding Want-To-Do list?-Nope. So forgive me if  I’m hoping for at least a few more decades to work on those, before I leave you guys, okay? Because I’m Happy!
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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 14

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

Old Feel In New Places

When I was looking for a new place, I had my priorities and I met all of them. With my needs met, it was only after I settled in there was one thing I did not consider. My local bar.

Because sometimes I don’t want to sit and have a drink or two alone in my place. Sometimes I want to pop over to the bar, have a few brews, watch a game and shoot breeze. But I don’t want to go all the way downtown or across town to do so. A friend introduced me to her good friend’s bar and it was a good fit then. It wasn’t walking distance local, I definitely needed car service to get home, but I made friends and acquaintances there and always felt welcomed there. Since I moved I’ve missed that. I am much further away now, so getting there and back home is not as easy. While I still so  pop over there now and again – I know it will not be as often.Thus, I started considering half-heartedly looking for a watering hole closer to where I live now.

A couple of months ago I noticed this bar where I transferred from the subway to the bus on daily commute, Bar 180. Usually I only notice it from across the street as I am waiting for said bus, but I knew it was there.  Earlier last month I made myself pass directly in front of it one evening, taking a peek inside the window. Dark, but inviting, a touch modern with it white marble main bar top. It was early in the week, but there were enough customers to not look empty. It looked promising, but I was tired that night and really just wanted to go home. I considered the options. If I like the place it was closer to home travel wise and I would have a choice of bus or cab depending on when I left, which I did not have before. It really could not have been more convenient short of it actually being within walking distance of my place. So I told myself I really should stop in and check it out one evening. Last night as I was walking to my bus bright green balloons caught my attention. It was St. Patrick’s Day – of course! What better day to check out a bar?

I arrived at a good time, it was not yet crowded I was easily able to get a stool at the end of the bar. The first tender was a cutie, his professional greeting smile in place as I ordered a Guinness to start; it was St. Paddy’s Day after all. I started removing my coat, revealing the kelly green and orange colors of the day while I checked the place out. Main bar along one wall, a mix of bar height and standard tables and seating throughout to the glass paned walls facing the streets. Dark and medium woods, contrasted with metal trims and mirrors gave the place a nice cosy, but not cramped feel even as the place filled-up. A bright white full size bicycle was perched high up on one wall, in a corner, was an attention getter. My two favorite things so far 1- the ladies room was on the main floor, no wobbling down stairs to a basement bathroom, especially when wearing heels – yes! 2- the custom chandelier above the main bar. A steam-punkish vibe, made up of at least twenty individual plumbing pipes hanging from the ceiling in various odd angles terminating in Edison bulbs. The bronze-burnished pipes, with the sepia bulbs contrasted beautifully with the ceiling.

A listing of what was on tap, plus their standards appeared. They had a really nice selection of IPAs and a couple of ciders, plus their happy hour and St. Patrick’s Day special. The crew flowed in and out around the bar; a good camaraderie as they joked and teased each other as well as a few of the customers.  I don’t know who did their playlist, but the music was on point. Several of us, including the bartenders,  could not help but call out, raise our hands and glasses and bop our heads as various personal favorites came across the speakers. As I enjoyed my next Guinness, a small plastic bag appeared near my elbow. I smiled as I opened it, immediately donning the right green beads with the requisite shamrock bearing the Guinness logo – a fitting promotional swag for the holiday. A little tote bag just as mysteriously appeared, okay not so mysteriously as the promoter was standing there when it appeared by my hand, but hey.

The best part of the evening happened when a pretty blond asked if the stool next to me was empty and took a seat once I indicated it was. She clearly knew the bartenders and jumped right in as I teased one of the guys. One placed this pistachio ice cream green concoction before her and I was intrigued and asked for the same. It was a take on the classic vodka grasshopper, but with a little twist and tweak, it was so delish. As they had not come with a name for it, I promptly dubbed it the Irish Hopper  in honor of the day.

irish-hopper

Irish Hopper

Charming and engaging she and I joked and chatted, learning we were both Virgos and adored Broadway  musicals. As I am still relatively new to the area, she told me about the good, okay and bad eateries. We spoke of our day jobs, and as it turned out, her side job was as a server at Bar 180, but it was her night off. She was there because her husband, the resident beer guy was working. That’s how she knew everyone there so well. It mattered not for all had did their respective jobs well and I was successfully charmed by Bar 180. I will never be any bar’s “Norm!”, but I do believe I have found a new local bar and that’s a good thing.

Edited to add: Lights!@For those who wanted to see them…

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#SOL2017

#SOL2017

Let’s see how others are slicing up their Saturday.

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 18

Is It Only Pretty In Pink?

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT AHEAD

A friend posted the following on her Facebook…

I was at work at the time and could not view it. I actually forgot about it and did not actually see the video until a day or so later.

At first I just rolled my eyes, but then I just saw red.

A different friend had the same initial reaction I had in thinking how men around the world are a huge reason for a lot of the fucked up shit we females go through when it comes to feminine beauty down to our vaginas. Over the years I have come across articles, advertisements, with commentary on what should be the labia color, labia size, to be or not to be hirsute, its vaginal canal width, depth, the proper moisture discharge and content and of course the natural scent of a woman. I suppose with so many cultures using complexion lighteners to attain the presumed ideal (read pink) beauty, I honestly cannot say that I am truly surprised by this. However, I am appalled and frankly disgusted at the depth of how -well- deep this desire, this need to achieve this presumed ideal for even our most intimate of places can go. Stop the madness.

This brought up some far from scientific, but highly interesting conversation twixt various friends of all genders over the next few days. In one such conversation I groused on how most CIS men seem to behave as though any vagina that does not look like a Georgia O’Keeffe painting is unworthy. Of course one of my idiot male friends sarcastically asked then, which artist I felt best represented mine. Me, being me, immediately replied “Rorsach”. When asked to elaborate I said “Each person sees something different in my lips.”

And calling spades what they are, the ones who are doing this are likely doing do to obtain some ideal to beings who should have no say in this very specific so of our bodies whatsoever, not that they should have it in any other, but really absolutely none right here  – and yes I mean men. Because as misandry filled as this is to say – no woman is likely going through labia bleaching, labiaplasty, vajazzling, and/or any other nonsense some women do to alter themselves from what nature intended, for another woman. It’s bad enough we have legal legislation, by mostly men, trying to rule on that what comes out of of our bodies.

Now we have to put up with social legislation on how it should look before going in?! Stop the madness.

I mean seriously, we women go through enough shit on the daily with regards to our bodies on the parts that every one can see. Are you effing kidding me that it has come literally down to that level?That some women have been made to feel so insecure about the appearance of their labia that they would subject themselves to that? Stop the madness!

Because it seems to me if you’ve been invited to see this woman that up close and personal that you can make comparisons you should praising your local deity for the honors and shut the fuck up! Preferably by putting your lips on mine since you’re down there I’m just saying…

And speaking of IJS – Stop that madness.

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Writing Our Lives #52essays2017 challenge – Week 11

52essays2017

A year-long weekly personal essay/memoir/creative nonfiction writing challenge. To learn more about this challenge or to participate, check out Vanessa Martir’s website and learn about it.

How I See It

Writers see the world differently. Every voice we hear, every face we see, every hand we touch, could become story fabric - Buffy Andrews

Ah Buffy, I do not know you, but oh how writely (<- not a mistake), you’ve nailed this. This reminded me of a conversation I once had with a friend on how a Facebook post I once wrote came to be in the manner it did. It came down as such.

When I see/hear any thing, it’s all a matter of part of me registers it first. Casual me sees things at one level, writer me see things at a different level and poet me let things resonate on another. Then there are the times when it all converges effortlessly as one.

Looking at the last of autumn leaves on my street is rendered as follows–

The casual me says:

The trees on the block were so pretty last week, now all the leaves are almost gone, it makes me sad. 

The writer me tomes:

A week ago, this tree-lined block was in full bloom of autumn colors. Now only few leaves are left on graying branches to testify to that erstwhile splendor. It’s near maudlin in my heart to compare.

The poet me pens:

Leaving memories 
Reflected in these gray tears
Golds and rubies fall

(PS: Yeah, I know not the best haiku, but hey, not all my two-second poems are going to be gems – shoot me)

And when they all came together in the Facebook status post in question:

There’s a tree-lined block I walk through almost daily. A week ago this block was awash in the vibrant hues of fall. Today gnarled gray fingers claw at pink cloud-dotted cerulean skies, desperate to hold on to their remaining gold and ruby jewels in the ever shortening daylight of mid-autumn. I watch one such topaz jewel lazily drift to its final resting place upon the concrete. It felt as if watching a tear fall.

The same eyes saw the same street, the same leaf, at the same moment, yet each part views it, and thus tells it, differently. Still, not matter how it’s seen/heard/felt…

Warning: I'm a writer. Anything you do or say may be used in a story.

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Let’s see how others are slicing up their Monday:

#SOL2017

#SOL2017

10th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge! – DAY 13