I’m On The Outside Looking In

My education isn’t that of a scholar, as a matter of fact I never attended college officially. All of my knowledge stems from common sense and experiences. I have personally lived through the unbelievable traumas that most people only hear about. I can not recall a time in my life where it hasn’t been touched in some way by diseases; abuse of all natures; grief; depression; euphoric moments; absolute joy; and/or sadness enhanced by profound hurt.

Unfortunately, in the world we live in, none of that seems to matter without being accompanied by a lettered degree. So whenever I venture outside my comfort zone of silence and give an opinion or an observation it holds no weight. It dies where I placed it. Words are often not given the exalted praise of actions and yet, words are also assigned the title of culprits if others get hurt by them. I have always believed that words were powerful and the actions they start were solely reliant upon the interpretation of their associations. I love writing because it gives me the outlet I personally require to still the thoughts that race through my mind on a daily basis. Writing is my solace. Sharing my writing is the one way I hope will make a difference in this world, giving others an opportunity to see another way of looking at any subject that there is disagreement about. Perhaps I have never stopped being an idealist with pragmatic tendencies. Perhaps I take life too seriously or perhaps not seriously at all. My compulsion to write is unstoppable, I have constrained this impulse many times during my lifetime, however that time always surfaces to force my fingers to write what is heavily upon my thoughts. This again, is one of those times.

Many of my friends and family are different in their thinking. Many are college educated and still many are experience educated. I respect and admire both. Growing up in a blue collar family and working in both white collar jobs and academic jobs has opened my mind to all the infinite possibilities that exist in one’s life. Change is very possible if one truly wants that change before them. That is when it becomes one’s choice, provided their is no mental or physical obstacle that would affect their free choice. I am very grateful, regardless of my life’s traumas, that I chose to develop an open mind. I pride myself on my empathetic abilities and appreciate the wisdom that ability affords me to possess.

Many, who are institutionally educated, mock me, laugh at me, or hold no regard for my observations or opinions because they have a pre-conceived notion that because I hold no degree nor title I cannot possibly understand the mechanics of the way the world works. They actually have shooed me away as inconsequential on many different occasions. I do not let that penetrate the core of why I exist. Sometimes, like every other human being, I am dead wrong. Sometimes, like all others, I am right. I have found that counting the wrongs and the rights in life actually count for nothing in the end. What counts is intention. What counts is compromise. What counts is coming from a place of caring and concern. What matters is the realization that all human beings, regardless of education or not, are basically at their core, identical. That realization is hardly ever acknowledged due to millions of factors that interfere in believing that fact. I am one of the few that have been blessed with being able to see that realization and live my life hoping to give others the opportunity to see that fact as well.

Exposing myself to the probable possibility of more ridicule is a chance I often take knowing full well the consequence of my choice. However, not doing it, for me is worse internally. Many people think I am trying to persuade others to thinking as I do, but they would be wrong. My only intention is to share the way I see things so that perhaps one or two people might decide there is another way to look at things and in doing that change becomes very real for them if not for others. The way the world has developed through the open exchange of information has not only been beneficial, it has also been detrimental. You might ask yourselves, how could I say such a thing, or better yet who do I think I am saying such a thing? I believe in humanity, I also believe humanity is influenced greatly by circumstances, experiences and luck,hence their possibility to choose to do good or choose to do what most consider evil, is a reality that cannot be denied. Interpreting good and evil is once again subjective and relies heavily on the things aforementioned. My point in explaining my view is that judging another human being has no value unless every circumstance and every intention is so proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that a true conclusion can be drawn to force a judgement upon that human being. I have found that some judgements are arrived at too hastily, while others are proven accurate in every sense. I believe the free will we are endowed with at birth gives us the tools we may need later on in life to form such judgements, however their interpretations depend solely on life experiences, common sense and circumstances.

President Trump has been under scrutiny for the past three years. He is not an easy man to understand nor to like. His ways are not accepted by many, many people. Yet he was elected to be the leader of our country and our representative to the world. What he has proven to me is that, no matter what past mistakes he may have or has not made, the last three years he has lived up to the promises he made to the American people and he did so with compromises and above disagreements from the other government representatives. He has shown me over and over again, that despite his ego, he loves this country and appreciates the opportunities this country provided to him and his parents. He sees the same America I do, the American ideals that have shaped me, has also shaped him. Our life paths may be completely different, but our country binds us. The younger people of today have lived through a completely different experience than we have and have a very different set of ideals about America. The sadness I feel is for them. Many cannot see past America’s acknowledged mistakes. Many mock the religions for their atrocities and mistakes, that are in reality often ignored. Many believe capitalism is the evil and socialism is the hope. My worry is that they will never change their minds especially when they are encouraged by the hypocrites that feed their misconceptions about this country. I say this because I can see it and feel it. The very worse thing that could happen is if Americans both young and old continue to be unforgiving of their own country’s errors, America will no longer exist and the world will suffer from its’ demise. I do not need a degree to know this, nor are my eyes closed to the ideals of those who have that educational background. If they think, which of course I do not truly know, that America needs punishment for the involvement and errors that were made, I say we have been already in so many ways. We have had Civil Wars, have been attacked twice, have lost capitalism during the Great Depression, have lost countless men and women in our Military, and suffer everyday in some part of this country with poverty, starvation, homelessness. If we keep giving away what we need to survive to illegal immigrants just to appease our conscious, or continue to ignore Americans in our own country who are suffering in the ways I mentioned. If we continue to let elementary and high schools go without the means to succeed, if we disregard veterans and their families in order to praise those across the globe who are also suffering, we will lose our footing and our ability to help anyone anywhere. For to be truly able to care for others, we must first care for ourselves and that equates to caring for, protecting and respecting America no matter who represents it. President Trump, whether he shows it to all or not, knows this as well as I do. He, in my careful judgement, is doing all he is capable of to ensure that we take care of us so that we can take care of others. I owe him respect for that. I must support him for having these ideals no matter how imperfect he may appear to be. Yes, I am aware of how others judge him and blame him solely for the things they have judged him to have done. I watched, I listened, I read, and while I do not fully agree with his manner at times, I am able to see past the ego, and instead see that he truly believes this country offers everyone who really wants to be here, the opportunity to live in it, work in it, and become part of its citizen population. I also see, that like myself, he cannot bring himself to agree with those who come here to take advantage of the opportunities provided by America, just to continuously remind it of its past errors, hold it solely responsible for all the bad things across the globe, and benefit the country they fled from in the first place. I am not talking about customs and religions that are brought along with people to our shores, but of vile intentions that they wish to spread in the hope of displacing America’s idealism in the world. Especially because in reality America is one of a few nations that still offer its citizens unalienable rights and the pursuit of happiness.

So, yes that is who I am. I am not dumb, I am not blind, I am not a deplorable human being. All of those are facts about me. I like to write, I like to learn new things. I like people. I like animals. I love my family and my friends. I love and respect my country. I stand out of respect for the flag, the symbol of my country. I believe in freedom of choice, speech and expression, and religion. I believe we all need to believe there is something more powerful than ourselves such as God or the Universe, a mechanism for the human trait to be able to hold onto some type of hope when things are at their worse. I welcome compromise, understanding, and mutual admiration for what each of us has to offer the other. I am kind, loving and optimistically inclined. I am glad President Trump was acquitted and exonerated not only because of this call but because I know his intentions are good and his love of America is real.

And That’s the Way I See It, here in Jackson.

K

Where’s My Muse?

 

People always say you should write about what you know.  Maybe so.  Lately, however my muse has been missing.  For me a muse can be a person, an idea, a feeling.  I’ve been stuck in a rut and fighting my way out has been a complete uphill battle.  My gut tells me to write everyday, but my physical condition says, “haha” don’t even think about it”.  There has been lots of things in the news of late that I could have expressed my opinion about such as the discrimination issues happening in New York lately and then there is the NFL spousal and child abuse issues, and yet again, there is the ISIS/ISIL situation.  However, each one of those issues would take pages and pages of this blog and frankly, I believe my followers, though few and far, would be bored to tears.  So, Muse,  where are you when I need you?

The last few weeks, (I admit) have been topsy-turvy for my family.  My brother, Tommy developed some major health issues and was hospitalized for two weeks.  The worry about him took its toll on me and I have been filled with stress, which is only now subsiding.   He is out of the woods at the moment, but will need further surgery within the next two months.  Maybe for most people my attachment to my brother would seem strange (to say the least), but he is the one person who has been there with me my entire life.  He is not only a terrific brother, but also a “surrogate” dad to me, and an overall wonderful person.  The thought of him suffering or worse is not a thought I can allow to penetrate my mind or my heart.  I am very grateful that he has come through as he has from this last episode and I am also grateful that I have the wisdom to know things could be much worse.  So yes, the optimistic side of me stays positive and thankful for the little things. Unfortunately, I also have another side, that mostly stays hidden; and every once and while it rears its ugly head trying its’ damnedest to overtake me. That is why I have an inward constant uphill battle these days.

1-05 Let It Go

Maybe writing this today will break the ice for me and I will be able to do what my blog song says very soon, but until then, I am still here grasping at the straws being offered by the Universe. I am hoping that soon my very opinionated expressions about life will come about and my Muse will allow my fingers to fly upon the keyboard to talk about life as I see it.  If not for any other reason, than to keep me sane!

And that is the The Way I See It, here in Brooklyn.

K

My Beloved Wanda

My Goddaughter, Shanell Nekiia stated to me tonight,

“Kathy your girl left this earth yesterday”

With those words came a shock of disbelief, until I heard from her sister, Roxanne who confirmed what I was afraid to face, my beloved friend Wanda passed away from a heart attack on January 30, 2014 at the age of 59.

I am still shocked and I feel her gone from this earth and the sadness overcomes me. Never again will I be able to hear her laughing at my shenanigans. Never again will I hear her childlike innocence over a secret I shared with her. It was as if I shocked her with each adventure of mine that I revealed to her. No I haven’t traveled the world or climbed any mountains, but every little thing in my life that happened and I told Wanda about it, I felt like the most well-traveled outrageous woman ever, sort of an Amelia Earhart or an Auntie Mame, and she made me feel so great! When I was troubled or worried it was Wanda who made me laugh with her and all of a sudden everything vanished and it was funny. This blog tonight isn’t about me though, it is meant to be about one of the most amazing women I have ever known.

We met when we were in our twenties. We both worked at New York Life Insurance Company in Manhattan. Never in a million years did either of us think we would wind up as bookends. She a proud African-American woman and me a Caucasian mutt (Irish, English, Scottish and French) woman. Both of us were considered middle class at this stage of our lives, but we knew poverty and were trying to overcome it. Neither of us believing we had so many things in common. We did though, the more we talked the more we knew we were extremely similar in every area, we bonded from those discoveries and we stay bonded throughout our lives. We trusted one another. We never judged one another. We shared all those intimate details without hesitation, laughing through the other’s shock at our behavior at times. We were similar to two of the “Sex and the City” girls. A bit out there, taking risks and trying almost anything at least once. I can only remember two times in over 35 years seeing or hearing Wanda cry. She didn’t cry in front of people, she tried to show toughness, but her niceness always shined through that facade.

Even though there are a dozen of antics I could reveal, I choose not to divulge them, because I know my friend wouldn’t want that and I will respect her. The two of us couldn’t help but hang out together once we realized we were almost the same person only of a different race. Our friendship grew despite the disapproval and jealousies of our other friends. It was our fault though and we knew it, but still couldn’t help just hanging out together every chance we got. We still loved our friends, we just couldn’t share all the things Wanda and I shared with one another without feeling judged. You see Wanda and I just simply accepted each other and neither of us ever judged each other or anyone else. We never talked about others and how they were or what they did. We just simply were friends. We met each other’s families and they became our family. We met each other’s boyfriends and future spouses. We went to each other’s weddings and childbirth. We suffered together through breakups, sicknesses and accomplishments.

As we grew older we stopped seeing each other, each of us involved in our own worlds of marriage and motherhood. However, we never kept out of touch. At least once a year we would talk about what was happening in our lives, we would catch up as if we saw one another yesterday. We would always remember one another’s birthday. The only regret I have is that I was one of three Godmothers to her only daughter, Shanell and I didn’t keep up with Shanell. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my circumstances through much of my life, didn’t give me the privilege of choice. However, I have always been proud of the honor Wanda bestowed on me from the moment she asked me and I still feel that honor. Wanda knew I felt this and always understood why I couldn’t demonstrate it as I wanted to, she never held it against me and always updated me about Shanell. Wanda loves Shanell and her granddaughter, Nekiia with all her heart and of this I am positive. Wanda was always Wanda. She never changed in all the years I knew her.

She was very ill the last few years, but told me recently that she had her numbers under control, except for her sugar. That was always fluctuating because, like me she was addicted to soda. In the last three years, I tapered off the soda and replaced it with bottled water because like her, I developed diabetes as well. She was on medication, I came off medication but still have fluctuating numbers. Wanda couldn’t escape her need of soda, it was just stronger than her willpower. I understood. Now she is gone from a heart attack. I don’t know what happened yet and I’m not sure what led to the attack, but it doesn’t matter. Right now the only thing that matters to me is that I live in a world now without Wanda. My Wanda the funny, bubbling, secretive, caring, genuine, magnificent Wanda. A true friend, a real friend, a best friend a woman with substance, humanity, and heart. She was brave when needed, strong when needed, subdued when needed. She had wisdom beyond her years. She had love as great as Venus and conquered whatever hate she felt long ago. If it seems as if I am exaggerating than you didn’t know her. She was a humanitarian, a wonderful loving grandmother, a loyal and trusting friend. I loved her ever since I got to know her and I love her still. How I will continue in a world without Wanda being in it is beyond my thinking. I cannot imagine it. She kept me grounded. I had no fear, no mistrust, no doubt when I was with her no matter if we were live, online or on the phone. She exuded such a positive, welcoming aura that no secret was too secretive, no wild or risky act was too risqué. She was so accepting of all of it.

She also was fiercely protective of her loved ones and would be stern when she felt it was necessary. She was stubborn and class conscience, she would let you have it if she believed she was right and you were wrong. She was just like every other mom I have ever known, taking care of her family the best way she knew how. She will be missed beyond any of these words, but I needed to write them. I wanted the world to know that Wanda left her mark. That she is still loved beyond words. The world and I lost a precious human the other day and all I hope is that she is in a place where she is pampered, protected and pain-free. Wherever she is they are lucky to have her.

Wanda I love you, I miss you and I wish you rest in a peaceful and comfortable place. You will always be my beloved, trusted friend.

And that’s The Way I See It here in Brooklyn.

K

Universe What Have You Done to Me Now?

I knew something was wrong, but I kept pushing myself believing that it was just a fluke and would disappear as quickly as it came.   This numbness in my thighs and the constant ache in my back whenever I walked anywhere just kept getting worse. Like a sign from the Universe, one day, while at work, a bolt of lightning pain shot straight down my spine, from my neck to my tailbone and I could no longer deny it was time for my orthopedic doc to take a look! So with all the strength I could muster I phoned him, received an appointment and went to see him that very same day.  Dr. Licciardi is a wonderful man and a fantastic orthopedic surgeon.  He had taken care of me in the past and I felt safe and assured in his care. Rocco, my ever caring husband, picked me up early from work and we drove to the doctor.  By the time I was in the examining room, the pain was so severe that all Dr. Licciardi had to do was look at my face and he instantly knew something was terribly wrong.  He gave me a shot to try and ease the spasms and took some tests.  Finally after a few days and all the tests results came in, I had my answer I had progressive stenosis, degenerative disc disease and a collapsed thecal sac with severe nerve damage.  In other words, I was now disabled and the prognosis of this diagnoses was not very positive.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement!  I was actually devastated, but no one can ever tell when I feel that way, because I can mask that devastation brilliantly.

A series of “fixes” was started immediately, none of them, of course, came with any guarantees, but then neither did this body of mine.  For the next three months or so, I went through cortisone metropaks, injections from pain management physicians, bed rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications.  Trying to stand, sit or walk for a few minutes at a time was becoming an olympian challenge for me.  My entire life had completely changed and I was not ready for it at all.  My inner makings had aged before my years and there was nothing I could do to stop it anymore.  Oh yes, surgery was mentioned to me, but the odds of either surviving them or of them lasting was so slim that it was impossible for me to consider them.  Worst of all was that Dr. Licciardi, himself, didn’t perform the type of surgery that was needed and I would have to be recommended to a different doctor.  I wasn’t ready for that. This Universe that we all live in was certainly having fun with me!  It wasn’t enough that I had Menopause, oh no, that wasn’t enough for my Universe, now I had this debilitating disease that would prove to change the entire way I had existed for the past twenty years!

I have often thought well it could be a lot worse.  I could be dying.  I could have cancer or some other life threatening illness.  I could be paralyzed or any other  number of horrible terrible things that braver people than I are going through every single day, so in a way I always tell myself how lucky I really am and I mean it for about 5 minutes and then I say, no freaking way!  This damn thing I have is as bad as some of those other diseases because my life is no longer my life!  I don’t feel sorry for me, I freaking can’t stand me or my insides or whatever that has taken away my opportunity to hold down my job, to walk for any length, to sit for any amount of time, to lie down without pain, to cook, to bowl, to dance!  I hate this freaking disease and I don’t want to have it.

I am so appreciative of everyone’s good thoughts and attempts at boosting my “blues” by telling me how “fortunate” I am, and at the same time, I want to scream!  No one seems to get it!  Everyone thinks, “aww you have a bad back” and everyone has either experienced a bad back or knows someone who has.  Everyone knows someone or themselves who have had slipped discs, etc. etc….No one and I mean no one, ever realizes that I have had a “bad back” for about thirty-eight years and now it has collapsed!  No one truly understands and I can live with that by  not talking about my disease, by “pretending” that I am just okay with this; going on about my everyday life as if everything is honky dory and normal as can be.  It’s all BS!  I am not honky dory, everyday life for me is no life at all!  Dr. Licciardi doesn’t know what to do for me anymore, except to keep checking me for any changes, giving me  meds and being the great man that he is.  He brings up one of the surgeries I would need, every now and then, but he never pushes me, knowing full well that it would last about six months, if I was one of the lucky ones, and then probably be worse than it is now!  No freaking way will I put myself through that!

By now, you might be saying to yourselves, wow what a selfish bitch this woman is!  She should be grateful,yadda yadda yadda!!! You are probably saying, stop feeling sorry for yourself!   Yet, none of you saying that has been living my life as of late! So hell no, no matter what anyone else thinks, I am doing the very best I can under these forced circumstances!  When I can find some joy in this current life of mine, I am going to take it!  I am not going to complain everyday (just once in this blog)!  I am lucky in one aspect, lucky that I am married to a Saint! and I mean a Saint!  I have the world’s best! Rocco does everything for me now, most of the cooking; all the cleaning; most of the shopping; and thank God he still has a job that supports us and helps us get health insurance.  Yes, I am bringing in some money by getting SS and some disability money so for now we can keep our heads just above the water, but sooner than later we are going to have to sell our home and try to start over somewhere, somehow. I often wonder if anyone can imagine the psychological changes that occur when an active, fun-loving woman like myself, gets hit with a life-changing event like this?  Believe me it takes will power not to punch walls, or throw yourself off the nearest bridge, (if you could get there)!  It takes an iron will not to scream at everyone who says, “it could be worse!” or “you are just feeling sorry for yourself!” Maybe both of those things are true, and if they are “so be it”.  All I know is that I feel like the Universe has played a cruel trick on me and I am neither happy about it or so willing to be a martyr for it!  I wish it didn’t happen, but the reality is that is has.  So now I am taking forever to learn to make the best of it, but I will continue to try to do that for as long as I can, until this Universe decides to try something new with my life.

Whew, thanks blog for letting me get that off my chest!  This is the first and last time I will speak on the subject and so that is The Way I See It.

Forever Brooklyn Bred and Raised,

K