Big Sister…

When you lose all hope in people. In humanity. The disappointments pile up and the hope is pushed to the bottom of the pile. It’s pushed to the bottom of the pile until you don’t see the hope anymore. Despondency.

Disappointment. It’s an important word. It can be the needle in the haystack. It can be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Or it can be the ending of the beginning or the beginning of the ending.

Last year I went to the big sister/ brother organization to try to be a big sister. I really wanted to give back. I wanted to help another kid. Since I was adopted and came from the foster care system I always wanted to help other kids but didn’t always know how. Anyway I tried to become a big sister. People said when your really sad a great way to get out of that is to help others so I tried. I went to the Big Sister/ Big Brother office for an interview and they really liked me. They liked that I was in the arts and was a singer. The girl who interviewed me was super sweet and we really hit it off.

When I filled out the application I felt the need to be extremely honest when the health part came up. You have to be honest so I told them I had bi-polar depression but I was under a doctor’s care.

They said that shouldn’t be a problem but we do have to check with a therapist if you’re seeing one and I had just lost my therapist because she left the office. They reached out to a woman I had only seen once or twice. Well that was a mistake because she didn’t know me.

She told them no. Don’t let her be a big sister. That was so wrong. This ” therapist” was very odd and after I saw her three times I stopped. She didn’t believe anything I told her. I told her I was a singer. She wouldn’t believe it. All she had to do was google my name and she could see I was a singer. It’s not like I was saying I was Aretha Franklin. How is she going to help me if she doesn’t believe anything I tell her about myself. She kept talking about Jesus All the time, not even knowing if I was a Christian or not which is extremely unprofessional. She wasn’t gonna he able to help me so I stopped seeing her. She didn’t believe me, she assumed I was delusional for some reason. I wasn’t and the prior therapist knew that.

I asked her why she told the big sister people NO and why I shouldn’t be a big sister and she said because it isn’t about you. I said I know it isn’t about me, it’s about the child and I want to help a child. I think I can offer them something good.

So long story short I was told by the big sister organization that they unfortunately had to decline my application because of what this ” therapist ” said. They said they really thought long and hard about the decision and they were so sorry. All because of Someone I had seen twice or three Times. ..I was so disappointed.

Disappointments.

They came and often. So much that I decided to expect them. I probably invited them after a while. It became what was comfortable. It was like an old friend that I despised but also kept inviting back to my home. Why?

I didn’t know how to stop inviting this old friend. It was familiar. It became part of my routine, a daily occurrence. They were welcomed along with anger and sadness and loneliness and frustration and hopelessness. After a while I knew no other way. I was so tired. All the time I was tired.

Was my lack of success self-imposed?  Something Denzel Washington said in the movie Roman J. Israel Esq. I connected with that statement. Probably partly so although I did try. I did try so hard to succeed. A Great movie by the way if You haven’t seen it yet. So good. Denzel  Washington was at his best playing a “socially awkward” on the Autistic Spectrum Character and what chaos that can bring even with a super-sized heart. He said, “I’m sick of doing the impossible for the ungrateful.” I felt the same way.

There comes a time where you realize you break free from your own chains of chaos and destruction or you drown. You have to find a way out or you don’t. It is up to you.

I went to the office for a training for big sister / big brother and I was just as qualified if not more to be a part of this organization. I had more love in my heart than most of the people in that room, I could feel it.

I could have omitted that I was bipolar on the application form but that would be untruthful. Dishonest.

At the time I was so sad about this decision but I decided to let it go and maybe try again at a different time. I still haven’t found a good therapist. It is almost impossible to find one because I have tried. They are over whelmed with patients. There is so many that aren’t very good and the good ones either don’t take your insurance or they can’t fit you in or they are just too expensive. The rise in people seeking therapy has risen dramatically of late and the market is flooded.

Disappointments. I’ve had a few.

I can say at one time I didn’t think I would make another day. Not one more day. But I kept on truckin’.

I had to let it play out because what if one day something wonderful were to happen.

What if one day a dream would come true. Sometimes I stayed alive to please others. I didn’t want to hurt my parents. If I left the earth the people I left behind would pay the consequences and sorrows of my decisions and the complexity of that stayed in my mind. I felt it not fair to them. So I kept on truckin’.

I’ve always been a Robert Crumb fan. Lol.

Sometimes I tried to indirectly end my life in self-destruction and self loathing. That didn’t work. I was still here.

Disappointments.

I learned people will disappoint you. Almost always. There were a few who didn’t and I will cherish them to the day I do leave this earth. Very few but there were a few. I had a couple of north stars in my life. Thank god.

But even with that I learned that I would have to pull myself up first. There is no one else really. It’s all up to me.

That’s when it changed for me. The light inside turned back on and I decided it’s me and me. We are either gonna do this or not do this. If we are gonna do this we need to do it right.

As Soon as I decided that I realized another level of internal strength I didn’t know I had. It was almost like a door that opened to a new floor that had been locked all these years. A floor with golden doors and plush carpet and lots of purple and kittens and puppies.

Romans 8:18

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”

A door so bright and so vivid that I still needed my sunglasses. This floor was there all the time. I just didn’t have the right key to unlock it.

People say it’s only you that can make you happy. I think that is true because you have to love yourself before you can love someone else but once you get to that floor things are clearer. Love is there. Loving someone and having them love you back is an amazing gift. And as Nat King Cole taught us there is nothing greater than to love and be loved in return.

I thank god every day for the gifts I am receiving now. The love I am receiving. The love I am giving. I am so full of gratitude and on some days I cannot stop smiling. I am so happy I decided to keep on truckin’ because if I gave up and gave in I would never have experienced the gold doors and the plush carpet and the purple colors that are blinding me with righteousness and brightness and glory. I have seen the eye of god and the eye of the devil. I have seen them both. I looked them both dead on and saw the reflection of myself in their eyes. I had to choose… more disappointments or more love. I chose love.

I am a big sister now metaphorically and I am so happy to be one! I am a baby sister. I am a friend and a lover and a daughter. I am me. I am in love. I love my neighbors. I love my brothers and sisters. All kinds. I love all the animals and the trees and all that is living and sharing this planet with me. I am so grateful and full of gratitude.

I hope one day you will find the key to the floor with the golden doors if you have not yet found it. It is there waiting to be unlocked. I know. It is waiting for you.

I love you.

Love and Happiness,

Jloz

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James Baldwin’s -No name in the street.                                                                              

  • Take Care of your own. 

“In benighted, incompetent Africa, I had never encountered an orphan: the American streets resembled nothing so much as one vast, howling, unprecedented orphanage. It has been vivid to me for many years that what we call a race problem here is not a race problem at all: to keep calling it that is a way of avoiding the problem. The problem is rooted in the question of how one treats one’s flesh and blood, especially one’s children. ” 

  • Freedom doesn’t really mean we’re Free. There are expectations and even then it’s all a lie. 

“And what the white students had not expected to let themselves in for, when boarding the Freedom Train, was the realisation that the black situation in America was but one aspect of the fraudulent nature of American life. They had not expected to be forced to judge their parents, their elders, and their antecedents, so harshly, and they had not realised how cheaply, after all, the rulers of the republic held their white lives to be. Coming to the defence of the rejected and the destitute, they were confronted with the extent of their own alienation, and the unimaginable dimensions of their own poverty. They were privileged and secure only so long as they did, in effect, what they were told: but they had been raised to believe that they were free.”

Deflated

I was thinking a lot about my dad recently. I go thru periods where I think of him constantly and then I can go weeks without thinking about him at all. If you told me that ten years ago I would have told you that you were crazy. I guess I get caught up in the day to day business of living. I am  always so surprised that I don’t dream about him more. I always thought he would show up in my dreams more. It’s funny how our dreams work. I don’t understand them. They are so random and bizarre. I never dream about the people I love , why is that?  Anyway I was thinking about the blog I wrote called Monsoon in Chinatown; a letter to my father. I wrote that years ago after he died. It was an exercise to help me get over his death.  I posted it below in a previous post. I was told by a therapist it might help to write him a goodbye letter. So I did. It was a long private letter but I posted part of it. I never spoke about the day he died but It was the worst day of my 38  years of living. I felt like writing about it today. I remember being depressed, vacant, sick, scared and well not very present. I was there but I wasn’t there. I think somehow my brain couldn’t handle all the emotion so it shut off. I wasn’t myself and I was somewhere inside myself. I felt like a turtle who went back into it’s shell. I know this seemed distant and selfish to others but I couldn’t be any different at that time.. My brain was in charge. I was who I was then. My life was in shambles and this was the Main Event.

I  went to my parents house on New Years Day, my dad was still with us. I was living by myself and had slept at my apartment the night before. I would have been there already but my biological relatives invited me to go out for New Years Eve. I didn’t want to go but my mom told me to go. I had just found my biological Aunt and she asked me to spend New Years Eve with her and the family. I went. I had been spending a lot of time at my parents house when I wasn’t working watching my father wither away. It was the holidays and I think my mom thought I needed a break so she told me to go out and have fun so I went.

Have fun, what a strange thought.

I was so happy to find my biological  relatives but it was such a bad time for it to happen. I wasn’t in a good place. For many different reasons.

I had spent Christmas Eve sitting with my dad thinking he would pass…but he didn’t. The Christmas Eve I will never forget. It was me and my mom and two of her friends there in the house that night. I was sitting with my dad in his room and we watched the Christmas Story together. That was the last thing we did before he slipped into a coma. In fact the last thing he said to me was a line out of that movie. He was repeating  one of the lines out of the movie over and over.  I can’t watch Christmas story anymore without reliving that night.

I would doze off and wake to his thin frail bony frame staring at me over the railing of the bed. I don’t know if he knew I was there but I think he did. As I was sitting there with him I heard something down the street like singing. I figured it was Christmas Carol Singers so I looked out the window behind my father’s death bed to find about fifty or so people walking up the street. They were holding lit candles and singing. Next thing I knew they were in the house. The minister of my fathers and mothers church came in between Christmas service with half the church behind him. They were all holding candles. It was like one of those sappy  hallmark movies. They loved my dad, the minister loved my dad, the congregation loved my dad, everyone loved my dad. if dad couldn’t be at church the church would come to dad.

I left my dad’s side and went downstairs to be with my mom and all these people who so kindly came to pay their last respects. The minster and his flock.  My mom let them in and as they filed into our small house singing they formed a crescent in the living room and held hands.  My mom stood there with the poise and strength that her generation seems to have mastered. She was the perfect host; kept her game face on for those divine people while I melted. I couldn’t hold it together and it took every molecule of my being not cry out loud. I could feel eyes on me with their kind sympathy.  My mom on the other hand was a strong upright force that was there for them as not to make them feel uncomfortable. I will never forget the look on her face when we all prayed. Her strength was at its glorious best. She was in the hands of her god.

After the prayers had been said and the songs had been sung they left, the candles burned down and there was one more Christmas Eve sermon to be given and they had to get back. I went back upstairs to sit with my dad, my daddy, my best friend.  He made it to Christmas day. In fact he made it all the way to New Years Day. I spent the New years Eve with my new Aunt and her family and then went back to my apartment.  I came back New Years Day morning to be with my mom and my dad, I was depleted emotionally, tired and totally spent as we all were. I went up to see him and then I went back downstairs.  I remember I was watching the twilight zone so as not to think, trying to distract myself from the pain that was all around me. The craziest thing happened. My favorite twilight zone show came on the TV. The reason it is so crazy is because it’s the one with young Robert Redford when he plays the Grim Reaper. That was such a rare show that they never played. It was one of those 24 hour twilight zone marathons that they do on New Years Day .  As I was watching the Charming Redford as the grim reaper conning that poor old lady, my mom came down the stairs crying and told me he was gone. I ran back up to him and watched my mom finally break down. Her life partner for fifty years or so is gone.  I called the funeral home and whomever else I was supposed to call. I watched Mark, the flustered and devastated minister knock on our neighbor’s door before he realized he was at the wrong house.  He was there minutes after my dad passed to help console us. After a while my sisters started to show up with their husbands.

He finally left us on New Years Day and he waited till I got there. I was so glad I was there. Mom thinks he waited to New Years day so that she would get an extra year of his work benefits. I knew he wasn’t ready to die. He was 73, he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren, he wasn’t ready. I saw the looks on his face as he was dying. He knew the cancer had spread all over his body and even though he NEVER complained in the six months he got the cancer and died from it; he couldn’t hide his disappointment from me.

Everything happened quickly, the Hearst showed up from the funeral home and took him away. My sisters were consoling my mom and I was back in my turtle shell. I was in shock I think. After  a while reality sunk in and I had to go back home, My mom wanted to be alone and I had to get ready for the funeral.

I went outside to drive home and as I walked outside I realized my tires were completely deflated. Someone cut my tires on the day that my dad died. Are you kidding me? I just stood there looking at my tires in a state of shock.

Was I really going to have to get my tires fixed on the day I lost my father. I guess so. No one was offering to help so here it is. It is already starting. The one person that would have helped me with my car was gone. After staring at my car for what seemed like an hour.. I had my god damn deflated car towed down to the tire place and got my car fixed.

At that moment I never felt so alone.

I was in the waiting room waiting while they put new tires onto my car. They were not fixable.

There was a woman and child waiting with me in the waiting room and the child kept crying. I felt like I was in a nightmare. My nerves were shot, the child’s screams were killing me.

Then the guy at the desk decided to make a pass at me. WTF…like some kind of sleazy offer with a wink. I remember thinking  if there is a hell I am in it right now. yes..This is definitely hell.

My tires were fixed and I went back to my apartment alone and there I sat ….still.

Thinking about my mom, my dad, what was to become of all of this.

Yes, that was the worst day of my life.

Knowing then that it was also the first day of the rest of my life, a life that would never be the same without him.

 

 

 

Monsoon in Chinatown- Excerpt from a letter to my father

After my dad died I was having a really hard time dealing with it and I was told it might help to write a letter to him for some closure. This is a part of that letter:

I was soaked; I was working and there was a Monsoon in Chinatown that day. The cheap umbrellas kept turning inside out from the wind gusts. Two of my umbrellas were already broken and I kept buying more. I don’t know why because I was already soaked. Maybe in my subconscious I already knew I was losing you and you were my umbrella from the storm. You are my life protector  and without you what was to become of me.

When your father dies, say the Irish

You lose your umbrella against bad weather.

People were bustling and getting ready for the holidays. There were many smells that protruded through the wind gusts and heavy rain. I remember the smells – they were so strong. There were roasted ducks and pigs in the shop windows and the smells of fresh fish everywhere. The Christmas and Neon lights were blurry from the water in my eyes. I couldn’t tell if it was raindrops or tears anymore. You were (my father) dying and there wasn’t much time. People seemed to look at me and wonder what I was doing there in China town that night. I must have looked out-of-place. It felt like a surreal dream and I might wake up at any moment. There was a Caucasian man who lingered in the shadows and looked at me with such deep eyes; he asked me if I was ok. I said yes, and we both smiled briefly. I could feel his eyes upon me as I walked away. I didn’t feel safe. I finally finished my work and I was driving home. I remember sitting in traffic on the FDR highway in my wet clothes in a strange kind of trance. Nina Simone’s Don’t let me be Misunderstood was on the radio and I kept thinking; what was I was doing in Chinatown when you were so close to death.

Startled, I got an unexpected call from a friend and It broke me out of my trance as I continued to drive home. The caller lifted my spirits.

The next day I returned to Chinatown. It was Christmas Eve and you were leaving me,  the sun was bright and everything looked different.

The light of the morning decomposes everything.–Haruki Murakami

 

chinatown one

Photo By J. Lozier

chinatowbn 3

Photo By J. Lozier

china town 2

Photo By J. Lozier

 

By Jloz. Love and Happiness.

 

Ripples

 

When I was a kid my dad used to take me on bike rides. When I was really little I would sit in this little black seat that was attached to the back of my dad’s bike. I would be so very happy while my dad would be pedaling us to the park or wherever he decided to ride to that day. My pigtails would be blowing in the wind, fresh air on my face.

I was very happy to just spend time with my dad and It really didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as I got to be with my dad. Some of the strongest memories  with him were the bike rides, days at the beach, watching him fix our cars. He spent a lot of time under those two old cars we had. A big old Chrysler station wagon and a little ugly dodge dart. That big old rusty white tank of a car saved our life one day but that is a story is for another time.

I got very used to just seeing my dads legs as he worked tirelessly under those cars for hours at a time trying to keep them running. Sometimes I would just sit there and pass him tools or just sit there and do absolutely nothing and sometimes I would talk to him about whatever kids talk about, who knows if he even heard me but I would have whole conversations with just his legs. I loved my daddy like breathing air.

They always said I was a daddy’s girl. They were right.

As I got a little older I would have a bike of my own and I would be following along behind my dad. We used to ride our bikes to this park where there was a stream that I would play in. In that little  stream we could see small fish and there was a little sandy beach and that is where my dad taught me the art of skipping stones. First we would spend time looking for just the perfect flat shiny stone.

My dad would say it has to be a special kind of stone, not just any stone would do. Once we had the stones we would start skipping then in the water, with a side arm kind of throw. He was really good at it. He was very patient with me and we did it over and over again until I could make the rocks skip over the water too just like dad, three times was cool but four or five was the REALLY cool!

One day we were at the park skipping rocks and he said do you see all those ripples that the rocks make on the water? I said yes. I was hanging on every word, because my dad was a quiet man. He was a wise man but he was a quiet man.  He said that is like life. Its a ripple effect, one ripple brings on a next ripple and so on and on and on.

He said when you are nice to someone it can make them happy and then when they are happy they can make another person happy. Just like the ripples in the water. Do you understand? So it’s always good to be nice all the time. Ripples are important. Always remember that. OK?  I said I would.

It turns out I did remember that and I never forgot. I always thought about that day in the park and what it really meant to him. What made him tell me that on that specific day? What was he thinking about? What was he feeling? Was he happy or sad?

As I grew older I began to understand that he was the kind of man that everyone loved, not just me. Just as my three sisters had to learn to share their dad with me;  I had to learn to share him with the world.

I mean as a child I loved him instinctual, he was a super hero to me but as I got older I loved him even more for the special kind of man he was. His heart was huge.

He wasn’t perfect but he was beautiful.

The truth will always show itself if enough time passes. I realized he lived the way he told me too that day in the park at the river’s edge. He was ALWAYS kind and he made ripples everywhere.

He was not my biological dad but you couldn’t tell. We were so close. People always told me I looked like him. Probably just mannerisms and all but I liked it when people said that. I was a foster kid that came into the house and it was supposed to be temporary foster home. I wasn’t supposed to stay at that house but he loved me so much he never let me go and so ..I never left. First Ripple.

He had been going through a tragedy of his own around that time so looking back maybe I was a distraction for him. Maybe I was his little project to take his mind off of his own suffering. He already had three daughters of his own. Why bring in another? Money was tight. If it hadn’t been for him I might have gone back into foster care.  Who knows from there what would have been. My mom took most of the responsibility of raising me and I don’t forget it. I will speak of her at a different time. Ripples. Just like the ripples that were made to put me into foster care, different Ripples were what got me out of foster care. Ripples can change a life. Destroy a life and Create a life or just make someone happy or sad.

I miss him as I breathe.

I still skip rocks today. It’s one of those little rituals I’ll do to be close to my dad. If I find the perfect shiny flat stone, not any stone will do; I pick it up, put it in my pocket and keep it for next time I am at the river’s edge.

Mother Teresa I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters and create many ripples

 

DAD and the Seashore