Day 45059 ~ Judgment Day

When I don’t get the reaction/response I want from people who are important to me, my first thought is there is something wrong or off-putting about me. If what I had done was beautiful/attractive, I would have gotten a positive response, right? Not necessarily, and I am much better about understanding that than I was a decade ago.

Then someone else who is important to me comes along and tells me that same behavior is beautiful and attractive and they feel so very blessed to be able to witness it. My Inner Cheerleader (my inner critic’s enemy) screams, I told you so!!!!!” The gnawing in my gut eases into warmth. I remember that I know myself well enough to be able to feel good about myself even if someone else doesn’t respond to me in the ways I would like.

Hang on…that crashing sound was me realizing something very important while writing this: the people I get the positive responses from are, most often, people who have put considerable time and energy into understanding me. In contrast, the people I get no or negative responses from are, most often, people who do not know me personally or people who have always had their own assumptions about who I am and refuse to alter those assumptions no matter what I do or say. There are exceptions, but in general, this is the case.

This begs the question just how important should the second group be to me in the first place?

I’ll be over in my corner of the world rearranging some things in my heart and head. Wow!

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Day 45058 ~ Catching Up

When repeating, “It is not personal,” doesn’t make it feel any less personal, reviewing the blessings of my tribe makes me feel better. There are people who appreciate me and what I do! I can’t express just how heady a realization that is. Those who understand my history understand why it is, too.

I just realized Monday will be the day ALL THE CANDY WILL BE ON SALE. This can be a very good thing for my sweet tooth and very bad for my tooth enamel. I haven’t had jellybeans in years and am craving some.

I am reeling from the realization Priscilla the Purple Honda has been totalled out by the insurance company. I agree with their assessment and recognize the financial benefit to me. It is a hell of a lot cheaper for me to have a Zipcar membership to occasionally rent a car from them for my Sunday trips to BJs than it is for me to pay $1300 a year for insurance, not to mention unexpected repairs to a 15-year-old car. But I anthropomorphized the car ever since I bought her, so I feel as though I am abandoning a faithful friend, especially since the damage is not visible without taking the car apart, as the garage did. (Backstory: some idiot ran into her in the parking lot and destroyed her rear bumper. In the process, they damaged the floor panel, which would have to be replaced. The repairs cost more than the car is worth.) She looks fine, and I feel bad that when I left her at the garage on Friday I told her, “I’ll be back. They’ll take good care of you.” I’ll go back on Monday to turn over the title, accept the cheque for her value from the insurance agent, and clean her out.

I went through this when I had my first car scrapped. I also drove that one until it couldn’t be driven anymore. I take good care of and keep my cars for a long time. Priscilla is my second car, and she was my dream car. I’m going to miss her for a while until I get used to the freedom that comes from not having to worry about parking and the like.

The insurance adjuster gave me the news as I sat in the basketball court in my neighborhood making photos of the beautiful brown boys playing ball there. I want to hang out there regularly with my camera. It’s how I’ve decided to process Trayvon Martin’s murder and learn how to better appreciate these urban youths in all of their beauty. It could have been any one of them.

Black and white photo by Wanda Lotus. All rights reserved.

Just look at these beautiful boys.

After living in this neighborhood for over a year, I have finally gotten off my butt and found a new doctor’s office. I’m in the process of catching up on all of my overdue annual exams. Here is a photo of my girls, after their annual smashing.

Color photo by Wanda Lotus. All rights reserved.

They bounced back nicely.

So far I appear to be in perfect health, praises be!

I’m not one to post gratuitous photos of my body parts. I made this photo for a post I did on Bits & Bytes on the importance of annual breast exams/mammograms.

So that is what I have been up to. What about you?

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Day 45053 ~ Just Because

Color photograph by Wanda Lotus. All rights reserved.

Janelle Monáe performing at Rockefeller Plaza, 9 April 2014. I’m still not over her performance.

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Day 45053 ~ Stay In Your Lane, Wanda

I have always, for as long as I can remember, compared myself to and envied other people. But since the idea of staying in my lane has become an empowering one, rather than one used to beat myself up for wanting different/more, I have embraced and repeated that phrase to myself whenever I find myself moving into envy. It happens a lot, sometimes multiple times in the space of a few minutes.

“That blogger writes such beautiful words of empowerment and enlightenment. Even their struggles seem beautiful. I wish I was so inspiring.”

Stay in your lane, Wanda.

“Look at her: she is so beautiful just on a day to day basis. I wish I looked like her.”

Stay in your lane, Wanda.

“Their life is so glamorous, and the most ‘excitement’ I’ve had today is filing a claim with my insurance company because someone hit my car and ran. I bet they don’t have to do that; they have people to handle this shit for them.”

Stay in your lane, Wanda.

When I remind myself to stay in my lane—I keep typing it as “stay in my life”, and that’s just as accurate—I remember the good about who I am, who is in my life, and how I live my life. Just like that blogger is inspiring by being herself, I inspire others by being myself. I’ve already determined part of my path is sharing (some of) my struggles; glossing over them in an attempt to appear more like someone else is not authentic and doesn’t honor my soul. Just like that person is so beautiful to me, I am beautiful to my partner and to others, even during the moments when I don’t see it and they may not be saying so. Someone else’s life may be glamorous, and they may not have to do the dirty work of living that I have to do thanks to their economic position, but they have other kinds of dirty work to do that is just as frustrating or tiring or boring for them as my dirty work is for me. It’s all relative.

This morning I re-read my journal, and I found these words:

This is not a case where I struggle while my heros never do. Everyone struggles from time to time. I just don’t see it. The only person’s struggles I see all of the time are mine, because my head is the only one I have full access to. Remembering this fact will help me be more compassionate towards myself during the times I struggle.

The frequency with which I have to remind myself to stay in my lane is a reminder of just how much I struggle with this concept, right now. But it is a struggle only because I only recently realized I could be genuinely content as myself as I am, even while working to improve my life. So at the moment I am grateful for the struggle, because it is proof I am growing.

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Day 45052 ~ Current WIP Excerpt: Choose Carefully

Mya is no joke when she is fighting for Kacela’s life. I almost feel bad for these fools.

The biggest one sneered. “Just what do you think you can do against five of us?”

My tone of voice was cordial. “Well, you can let me go to her, and allow me to assume that was a rhetorical question. Or you can try to stop me, and you’ll find out really fast what I can do. Your choice.” I shrugged and headed towards her energy signature.

They chose wrong. There may have been five of them, but none of them were fighting for the life of their lover. The fight lasted only a few minutes. In the end, every last one of them lay dead at my feet. It turns out a 300-lb. man’s neck snaps easily when he is run head-first into a concrete wall by the force of his own rage. I barely broke a sweat.

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Day 45050 ~ A Fine Experiment in Creativity

Before I went to sleep last night I did something I never imagined I would do: I sent a short story to two friends who agreed to beta-read it. After a last read through, Mya and Kacela said their story was done. I call it Electricity. Once I have the comments back from my betas I will post it, probably to Bits & Bytes.

I would say, “And now I wait,” except that those two have been dictating what comes next to me since yesterday morning. I have the plot and snatches of scenes. I’m looking forward to finding out more details as time goes on.

Thank goodness it’s Friday! Tomorrow is my last class at Jazzmobile’s Saturday Jazz Workshop. Sunday I have nothing planned, so I want to go to Zumba. This morning I am going for another swim. I swam yesterday afternoon, and that felt so good, I want to go again.

I just realized I went to sleep last night without opening the box my new shoes arrived in! I’ll go swimming, then I’ll come back here and bask in having new shoes. It’s like Christmas!

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Day 45048 ~ There Are No Words

That moment when you realize you have kept a promise to yourself and didn’t talk yourself out of an adventure you really wanted to have. I had that moment, today. In fact, I have been having it all day.

I was in line in the dark and cold at Rockefeller Plaza by 5:45 am to see Janelle Monáe perform on the Today Show just before 9am.

Janelle Monae at Rockefeller Plaza, 9 April 2014.

No one person has any business being this beautiful. Click the photo to go to my photo gallery and see the other photos I was blessed to make during her appearance.

I’m still processing this morning’s experience, on top of processing the normal letdown that comes after doing something that exciting. I was just as high from having allowed myself that adventure with all of the frills I had wanted to add to it (hemming and wearing the black jumper T made me a couple of years ago with a white turtleneck, being fully made up, getting there before 6am) as I was from seeing Jane in the flesh for the first time in two years.

Today was the closest I have ever gotten to her. She is stunning, to greatly understate just how beautiful she is. And her smile! Oh my good lord…there are no words. I can honestly say I have not yet seen a photo of her that truly does her justice, and I include my own photos in that statement, no matter how much I like them.

I’ve commented elsewhere how much energy she brings to any stage. Who slays a friggin’ sound check, y’all? Jane does. I have video to prove it. (The file is over 26MB, so it may take time to load, depending on your connection speed.)

Just like my friends assured me, I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb amongst the Janelle fans that surrounded me. One woman was there with her adult daughter; they brought a big photo of her that they held up on a stick. When she walked onto the plaza to perform “What Is Love”, the white guy next to me began quietly blowing kisses at her. Four or five of us stared at him, then laughed. He explained that when he met her after her Boston show all he could do was hold her hand and repeat, “I just love you.” He had it BAD. It was adorable! But even more funny was when they taped her performance of “Electric Lady”. At one point she danced up to the barrier, grabbed a young lady standing there with her hair done up in a pompadour under a bowler hat, draped her arm around the fan’s shoulder, and sang right to her. When Jane danced away the rest of us almost had to catch the overwhelmed fan, she was that excited. She dropped her hat and everything. I can’t blame her, either!

I am SO GLAD I didn’t let my self-consciousness keep me at home. I had a great time, even though I got pretty chilly standing out there in the cold for that many hours. And I got some wonderful photos. I’ll be sure to share the link to her FB and Twitter accounts, too, so her other fans can enjoy them.

I can hardly wait to see her perform at Prospect Park in June!!!!!!!!!!!

Janelle Monae performing at Rockefeller Plaza, 9 April 2014

The booty don’t lie.

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Day 45047 ~ Cleanup Told Me Her Name

I didn’t go searching for Cleanup’s name. Her name came to me, and when I looked up the meaning, I knew it fit.

Her name is Mya. According to Wikipedia, in an Arabian and Indian-Pakistani context the meaning of the name Mya is ‘princess’ or ‘honourable matriarch’.

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Day 45047 ~ Predator Has A Name, and Other News

I found her name last night, thanks to a DuckDuckGo search. It’s Kacela, which is an African female name meaning hunter, and it fits her beautifully. I feel as though I found a friend.

I’m working on the plot twist that leads to Kacela’s fight with Cleanup (whose name is on the tip of my consciousness, but hasn’t yet revealed itself). I know how it goes; I just have to write out the details. I’ll be taking my tablet with me to my mid-morning appointment so I can tap out more of it.

I never mentioned my tablet here, did I? Last week a friend mentioned she was selling her Nook HD+ tablet, because she and touch screens don’t get along. I told her T and I wanted to upgrade our Nook Colors to HD+, because we wanted to be able to watch movies and use apps from the Google Play Store in addition to reading books. She offered me first dibs on hers, and I jumped at the offer. I am in love with the thing, and T is green with envy. Now, instead of using my smartphone in bed to play games or surf the web before I go to sleep, I use my tablet. I downloaded a text editor to it and took it with me to the handbell festival, so I could write during my down time. It’s far more convenient than carrying my MacBook Pro, and the touch screen keyboard is large enough that I don’t have any problem using it.

Our handbell festival this past weekend was a marvelous experience. Even in the midst of the chaos that is six 5-octave handbell choirs setting up and tearing down their equipment in a slightly overbooked venue, not to mention the various personalities that present themselves in any group that large, I stayed centered and calm and fully present in the moment. I was able to let the negatives roll off my back and absorb the positives. When I had time to myself during my commute to and from the church and in the 45 minutes between rehearsal on Sunday and the concert, I retreated into myself to re-center. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and felt very good about the role I played in making the event a success.

Our guest conductor, David Harris, is the director of the well-known Raleigh Ringers. He is an outstanding director, able to keep a mass handbell choir and other instrumentalists together even when one group gets out of sync. After the concert I shook his hand and told him it was an honor to ring under him. I also told him I had been seriously fangirling ever since I found out he was our guest conductor, because I watch their YouTube videos all the time. He was flattered and said he’d like the Raleigh Ringers to come to Riverside to perform. Our director told him whom to speak to about arranging that. I would be there, front and center, if they do. In fact, if they need help getting set up, I would be more than happy to lend my muscles to that cause.

A friend came to the concert with her husband and three kids (middle school aged, I believe), then found me afterwards to let me know they all were impressed with the music. I think she said it was the kids’ first exposure to handbells, and they were floored. “You’re helping to inspire the next generation,” she said. That made me feel good.

In a little while I have my first appointment with a doctor in my neighborhood whom I intend to be my primary care physician, provided I am comfortable with him and his office. I am a couple of years overdue for all of my annual exams, and the latest measles outbreak in NYC has me wondering if I need a measles booster. That fear is what got me to finally get off my behind and find a new doctor, which I should have done right after we moved at the end of 2012. I’m glad to finally have that ball rolling, and so are the friends who are concerned about me staying healthy.

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Day 45046 ~ A Note from My Paper Journal

The wider public is only ever going to acknowledge a narrow subset of beauty. Their failure does not determine the reality of how beautiful I am.

Also, it is far less stressful on my psyche to obsess over my latest writing characters than it is to have a celebrity crush.

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