“I’m the valet. You have to give me your car.”

person in bunny suit sitting on a bench

I’ve been reading (audio) books by actors of late.  It started with How to American:  An Immigrants Guide to Disappointing Your Parents, by Jimmy O. Yang.  It was so good I finished in two days.  (I laughed so hard, I don’t recommend listening in public.)  It made me fall in love with America all over again.  If you don’t read it, I feel sorry for you.  Next, I listened to The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, by Jenna Fischer.  I loved it.

I have no plans of becoming an actor, but she mentioned it on the Office Ladies podcast, and it sounded like useful information regardless.  It turned out to be fascinating.  I learned a lot, and it led to thoughts about defining success, how to recognize it, gather it, and how to continue growing despite it.  Since it means something different to each person, I think Jenna Fischer did a brilliant job of conveying her journey in a manner easily translated to alternate paths.

I loved hearing it in her voice, too.  The authors narrate these books, (and when the reader is an actor, it’s excellent.)  I mean.  Duh.  They’re professional storytellers.  Damn.  I just typed the obvious.  I laughed a lot with this book, too.  (I should probably make a rule about listening to podcasts and audiobooks by funny people in public.)  I’m currently more than halfway through reading The Bassoon King:  Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room, by Rainn Wilson.

making shadows

I like Rainn Wilson even more than Dwight Schrute.  I saw him on Mom recently playing a therapist.  He was great in that, too.  After reading about how these actors struggled when building their careers, I remember a moment of feeling retro alarmed.  In all three books, they emphasized the significance of seeking out opportunities in areas that correspond to your strengths.  I thought back to when I joined the Army, and how I chose my MOS (military occupational specialty.)

Before joining, everyone takes the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test.  It’s a tool you can use to help choose your job.  I scored well overall, so I picked a job that would help me improve in the area I scored lowest, not a job that required skills I already possessed.  To me, it was the most obvious thing in the world.  And I just found out it’s probably the opposite of what most would decide.  Whoops.

Fortunately, I got to learn some amazing stuff I had no idea even existed.  I also got to help pioneer a new job opened for women in the Army (my ego still appreciates that bit.)  Unfortunately, I loved the training and theory but felt no passion for the job, which mattered because it led to my getting into shenanigans with tearful consequences out of boredom.  So I went back to training and did it again.

cliche fake nose glasses

The second area entailed nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare training.  (sings, hated it.)  I decided if there’s ever a nuclear explosion, to run toward the flash.  I don’t even want to talk about the other two.  Guess what?  I went back and trained again.  They called me The Educated Soldier at one point because I was continually going on TDY for school.  It did help me figure out I was destined to be a chairborne warrior, though.  Anything with a computer was my eventual specialty.  Heh.

I don’t regret taking the scenic route. Skill-building does lovely things for my self-esteem.  I love being more capable than people expect.  I think one of the coolest things I learned is there are all sorts of ways to be intelligent, and most of them don’t include what they claimed in classrooms as kids.  I met soldiers who could talk to engines the way I talk to computers.  They awed me; (aside from that time, they sent me out to fill all the tires on the tracked vehicles.)  I’m off to continue my book.  💜✌🏽

“I have another complaint for Jim’s permanent file.”

decorative toys and stuffies

I had a fun Halloween.  I dressed up as a sloth and passed out candy very slowly to trick-or-treaters.  I suspect some of the kids didn’t recognize I was role-playing and thought I was just old.  Heh.  (A few got impatient and went to another apartment, then returned when I broke character after noticing it only amused me.)  The kids were loud, excited, and adorable.  I liked having their energy breeze through.

I couldn’t figure out how to take a selfie while masked.  🤪  M invited me to join him at a party, but the theme included the word haunted or horror.  We both started laughing after he asked.  I’ve never been wired to appreciate the thrill of being scared.  Epigenetics, yo.  I’m a wee bit jealous of the people who can participate in such things (without crying.) I have my Blu-rays of Us and Get Out that I won’t be watching, ever. (I bought them to support Jordan Peele.)

I haven’t even watched American Horror Story, and Stevie Nicks is in it. (!!!) (M said that alone proves it’s epigenetics.)  😂  My mind is running all over the place.  I’m officially a Lizzo fan.  I loved her immediately.  I find out about new-to-me artists from my favorite podcasts lately.  My introduction to American Griots, by Louis York, was terrific.  They performed a song on The Friend Zone podcast, and it was ear candy.  I preordered the album immediately after.  (It’s so good!)

neon sign stating, it was all a dream

XD, from Jade and XD, created a unisex fragrance, called, D’Leau.  I ordered some, and in the process, created two scents of my own.  Both M and I are in love with D’Leau.  It’s officially my favorite at this time.  However, the ones I created reek.  (It turns out; I suck at it.) Fortunately, I don’t care because I have D’Leau.  😆  I’ve had two people ask me about it so far (and you know I don’t get out much.)  😂

It’s World of Warcraft’s 15th anniversary.  I’ve been playing on and off for eleven years now.  I have no plans of quitting, although I did have an unfortunate incident the other day. I was soloing a dungeon from The Burning Crusade, and some toon assassin appeared from thin air behind me.  It scared the shit out of me, and I nearly had a panic attack.  I took a three-day break, then got right back in there and reran it, this time on the heroic setting.

It still startled me when I triggered the assassin again, but I didn’t panic.  I just stood there and let the bastard try to kill my toon until I got bored, then ended him with nonchalance.  (I’m a level 110 tank, and he was level 80 or something.)  I’m so glad Blizzard allows us to travel back to lower level areas to exact revenge.  I don’t do it often, but when I do, I drink Dos Equis I usually have a blast.  I’m going to upgrade because they’re releasing a new expansion next year.  It’ll probably take me that long to reach level 120.  Heh.  I’m off to play.  💜✌🏽

p.s.  Missy Elliot was on The Read TV show on Fuse!!!

“It’s just noise coming out of an ugly scientist.”

sisters

I’ve been thinking a lot about my sister, Heather, of late.  The anniversary of her passing was in July.  She died the day before her 35th birthday.  She was coming to Sioux Falls to celebrate with me the following day.  I have no idea where I am in the grief process in her regard.  I miss her.

I still ask myself, would it make 7-year-old Heather cry?  If yes, don’t say it.  (A gift from my mom.)  I’ve since changed it to, don’t think it.  (I’m a notorious thought telegrapher.)  My desire to be kind is far stronger than my desire to be funny.  They used to compete.  🤭

When we were little, we had an unspoken alliance as the only black people in our family at the time.  As the older sister, I assumed the role of Heathers’ protector.  If a child hit her on the playground, I would see red and lose it.  As I got older and recognized Heather deliberately antagonized kids to see my response, I learned to relax and assess before attacking.

knight in armor

As a kid, part of me thought Heather was an asshole for doing this, but mostly, I was impressed because it worked.  As an adult, a psychiatrist prompted me to wonder why she behaved this way.  It was the first time I ever looked at it with adult eyes and perspective.  (It also distracted me for a bit when I most needed it.)

I wasn’t affectionate as a child.  Heather needed to know I loved her unconditionally.  So she tested me.  She did this well into adulthood.  I don’t remember ever saying it, (may have screamed it), but I showed her on her terms.  I think my inner warrior originated to protect my little sister.  I’m doing the groundwork (courage mustering) before letting go of that compartmentalization of my mind.

I can laugh about the time I almost went AWOL to (in my head) murder a piece of shit for beating her up.  It would be more efficient for me to surrender at the nearest police station than go through the motions of committing a crime.

Cop:  Did you do this?

Me:  (Long pause while I consciously, agonizingly, make the neurological connections necessary to speak.) Nod.  (Long pause while I debate whether I said it out loud or not.)  Yes.

It’s just not logistically feasible for me to attempt deception.  I mean.  I think there’s a 72-hour time limit to answer questions or something.  I’d need way more time, internet access, improv training, etc.  Just give me the damn jumpsuit.  (In Minority Report, I’d get suspended for murderous thoughts over horrible men who hurt my little sister.)

volcano

Fortunately for that guy, my military training prevailed.  Also, I’ve never managed to hold on to that level of rage for more than an hour, tops.  It’s incredibly draining emotionally.  I firmly believed the punishment for making Heather cry was beheading for about an hour, though.  Then I wept because I knew I couldn’t do that.

It was the last time Heather messed with horrible men.  Our relationship changed a lot after that.  We grew closer.  Listening to me weep over the phone from another country and repeatedly apologize for not being able to avenge her, even though I was a soldier, affected us both in ways I can’t explain.

Perhaps we both grew up a little.  We were honest about our feelings with each other after that.  We talked for hours about our childhood, and how we felt.  It’s when I first understood why Heather changed abruptly as a child.  When she first encountered racism, she was never the same.  She went from being called, Smiley, to an angry little girl who only acted out around me.

monarch

I noticed.  For a large part of my childhood, I hated Heather on some level, because I was the only person who was safe for her to express how she felt.  I’m just now fully grasping this.  The former resentment is now retro-honor.  I’m so glad I was a safe person for my little sister.  She needed me.  🙃

The day Heather graduated from high school, she moved out of state.  The day.  Everything she owned (and everything I didn’t take with me to the Army) was loaded up and ready to go immediately following the party.  (She relocated to the hood in a city large enough to have one.)

I moved out at 16, but only a few blocks away to my brothers’ house.  I couldn’t live with Heather anymore.  I wasn’t equipped to witness (or survive) her transformation from angry little girl to angry teenager.  (I remember crying a lot.)  She knew just what to say to reduce me to tears.  (Not like it’s hard to make a teenager cry; it’s mean.)

I left for basic training before Heather fully got in touch with her anger.  No shame in stating I’m glad.  My mom was an incredible person.  Somehow, their relationship strengthened during that time.  She certainly got over her fear of what the neighbors might think.  (Teenage Heather aimed at that little weakness.)  🤭

sisters

In some ways, I’m glad I was too busy trying to exist in a physically and socially hostile (to me) world to grok subtle racism.  Most of it flew by me unnoticed.  However, I also deliberately surrounded myself with more diversity as soon as I was old enough.  (I think this used to be a symptom of growing up in Sioux Falls in general.  It’s way better now than when I was a kid.)

I think Heather was the big sister when it came to coping with racism.  She was also the little sister; in that, she acted out her rage toward me because she was a child, and that’s how they express hard feelings.  I’m so glad I got to be Heather’s sister.  It was one of my most cherished relationships.

I’m glad I told her how much she hurt me when I was a child, and she listened and apologized.  She told me things I said that hurt her as well, and how those scars affected her choices.  I apologized, and we cried and forgave.  Then she asked me for a hug, and I presume I tensed up because she quickly retracted the request.

Sigh.  And that’s okay because it was my body speaking for me.  Hugging isn’t mandatory.  It’s just one of many ways to express affection.  I didn’t like allowing people to touch my body for most of my life outside of sexual relationships.  I now know it’s because I wasn’t in my body, and that made it a repulsive notion.

My cat forced me to get over this issue.  Weird.  A kid would have done it, too.  I’m just rambling at this point.  Heh.  I’m off to play Warcraft.  ✌💜

“Cut off your nose to spider face.”

foggy bridge

It’s been a challenging week.  My central air ran out of freon and froze up.  I had to shut it off and wait until a professional could come out and refill it (the following day.)  I’m stunned by how much this minor situation threw me off.  I didn’t want to stay at M’s or get a hotel room for a single night without ac.  (It’s not like there was a giant spider.)  The temperature in my apartment fluctuated between 76 and 79 F; however, the humidity rose to 90% overnight.  I spent the night watching Steven Universe on my iPad.  (It’s such a fabulous show.)

I thought a lot about how much I love central air and how grateful I am to have access.  Heh.  The cat ran between windows half the night (like ALF was out there or something.)  Her delight in making the best of the situation helped, I guess.  I can’t remember how miserable it was anymore because it’s working great now.  I took a nap while my apartment cooled and slept so hard I was disoriented when I awoke three hours later.  Last night I slept soundly and comfortably, probably grinning.  🙃

I think I’m starting to grok how my subconscious communicates with me when conscious.  I usually notice when it’s Pi Time (3:14 PM.)  I often glance up and look at a digital clock at that time.  (Then I announce it’s Pi Time, smile, and think about it for a while.)  Lately, it’s shifted to 3:16 PM;  (Matthew 3:16 in the New Testament.)  As someone taught by Christians, I know the verse.  The first time I hyper-focused on what it meant, it made me incredibly sad.  I didn’t feel worthy, and it made me want to scream, I object at God.

child pretending to be a monster

I was eighteen and exploring religion for the first time as an adult. 🤣 Now, I feel like I understand the verse.  My former reaction has transformed into acceptance, calmness, and awe.  It only took thirty-two years.  Yep;  that sounds about right.  Always late and excited to arrive.  Love thy neighbor as thyself is more apparent to me than ever before, as well.  (It rings true like all the bells of Westeros.)  I believe this slight shift in time noticing was a message from my subconscious informing me of new connections in my mind.  The pathways feel more solidified now that I’ve connected the dots while awake.

Side Note:  When I was eighteen, I was at my cockiest.  Completing basic training made me so confident in my abilities, I was a supreme asshole.  Then I went home on leave, my niece beat me up, and I got over myself damn near immediately.  (I thought about defending qualifying that, but it just kept making it worse.)

Our minds are so fascinating.  (Yells, brains, in my zombie’s voice.)  I’m a believer in shouting into the void.  Six degrees of separation and the interwebs makes it viable.  (It’s also a great movie starring Will Smith.)  I discovered my participation in social media is unnecessary;  I’m still in the loop through my tribe.  (I only see the memes my friends know I’ll appreciate.)  I don’t train rogue AI for free (or at all), so I’ve never used Facebook.  (Avoiding all the political brainwashing by Cambridge Analytica and Fuckerberg is a nice bonus.  Still happening, yo.)

I didn’t rejoin Twitter after hearing someone lashed out at Hey Fran Hey and Crissle West.  I’m proud of myself for heeding the option to stop and think first.  I have a theory about the tweet author.  The hateful words were a cover.  The person who aimed them and fired was pain-talking.  The targets are people who consciously chose to heal from their pain and grow and thrive while on their journey through life.  From wanting to do that, to actively doing so, it is a journey in itself.  It takes dedication, hard work, and doing lots of shit you’re not confident you can pull off without weeping the whole time.

spider web

It’s daunting when taking your first baby steps away from crisis mode — just thinking about it when that shaky can make you want to cry.  Or maybe even say something horrible to people who are showing us how to do it.  Because now you can’t deny the possibility, which means you probably have to do all that hard shit, too.  And it’s going to suck so badly at times; you’ll be astonished healing isn’t fatal.  It’s not fair.  But lashing out at padawans makes them grow.  So, get a therapist, and get busy because misery is a shitty investment.  I’m off to make noise.  💜✌🏽

“Jerry, you’re getting your father too excited.”

50th birthday cake

Welp.  You know what? I’m 50 years old!!!  Can you believe it?  I made it!  I win!  I survived everything the universe has thrown at me for half a freakin’ century!  Every time I remember, I feel a surge of overwhelming joy. 🙃 (Also, chicken butt.) I stayed in my apartment and lay low on my birthday because I can’t believe I’m still alive!  I nearly convinced myself there would be a life-ending freak accident that day, merely to send me on to whatever comes next while laughing my ass off.  The universe likes to play like that, don’t you know. 🤭

I can still breakdance, but I won’t because it’s so not worth the painful (and embarrassingly long) recovery period.  I’m satisfied just knowing if I end up in a life or death situation where breakdancing is my only path to survival, game on.  💪🏾 Dr. Keia reduced me to a quivering puddle of goo on the floor from laughing at her Pet Peeve this week on the Gettin’ Grown podcast.  (It didn’t help that I could hear Jade ugly laughing with me in the background, probably also from the floor.)  For some reason, in my head, Dr. Keia morphed into Marsai Martin while delivering her sound (and hilarious) advice on just how hot lukewarm my summer should be at my age.  (Yep.  It’s fun in my head.)  😂

Marsai Martin
Photo by Martina Tolot

My attempt to eat my way through my junk food stash before starting a new diet had less than ideal results.  Before I finished, I overindulged, and now I don’t like junk food anymore until I forget this happened.  I realize I panicked and did the opposite.  Whoops.  (Flashback to my brother punching me in the shoulder, then asking, “What did you learn?”)  Sigh.  So my do-over will consist of slowly lowering my carb and sugar intake over a month to the goal amount.

Once I master that, I’ll move on to step two.  (I forgot about baby-stepping.  Doy.)  😉  It’s not a diet; it’s a tweak.  Introducing crunches into my daily routine has gone smoothly.  I cheat on all exercise-related activity by turning on Beyoncé’s Homecoming while I do it.  It makes exercise as appealing as eating cake while getting a massage by someone whose touch reminds you of why having a body is magnificent.  (Also, I laughed so hard when Le Twins used their interview to tell Taylor they wouldn’t dance for her.) 🤣

jon-tyson-1581881-unsplash

I watched the first episode of Euphoria, thanks to Dustin from The Friend Zone podcast.  I believe it’s the most intimate portrayal of Generation Z I’ve seen so far.  I can tell from just that episode it’s mandatory viewing with my full attention.  It’s not my world anymore.  I recognize my role is to support the millennials who are spreading their wings and training their skills.  It’s their turn in the natural order of things.  Today’s young people are traumatized by the state of the world before they even get a chance to find their place in it.  As an adult, I must act.  Therefore, retired now means time privilege to address these big-picture issues.

My life so far has made me willful, resilient, joyful, forgiving, and loving.  I’m my own best friend.  I trust my ability to cope with whatever comes my way.  (I was there all those times life was kicking my ass, and I took notes.  Then eventually, I applied them when I realized it was also necessary.)  🤪  I’m impressed by the younger generations.  It’s evident to me they represent a better version of humanity.  It’s hard for me to elaborate, but I’m honored to support them in whatever ways I can.   They generally make me proud.  I’m off to read.  ✌🏾💜