Stormy Weather

Burnt

There’s the life I have, the life I want, and the road connecting the two.  I’m literally exhausted.  A few short weeks ago, I was banging out 4-5 blog posts a week.  These last few weeks, I’ve been struggling to get two.  Of course, this is due in part to the fact that I’m spreading my wings and working on other writing projects.  Fear not.  I’ll NEVER abandon blogging.  I don’t even wish that I wasn’t so busy.  I just wish:

  • for 25 hour days and 8 day weeks (with only four of those days being work days);
  • that pie wasn’t so damned delicious;
  • that I had a cute geeky boy to rub my shoulders and talk me through my writer’s block;
  • I had hypnotic body rolling powers;
  • for French doors that I could dramatically throw open and sip wine on my verandah when I’m stressed;
  • for that extra “oomph” when I need the drive to get through the difficult times.

Being busy, unbearably busy at that, makes me feel like I’m doing something right.  I am anxious about being able to do what I love full time, but my passion and drive for this is so intense, I know it’s only a matter of time.  I just have to be tenacious. Tenacious is an awesome word, and I like doing awesome things, so it’s only right.

I hate when I haven’t posted in a while, because the pressure to be awesome and deep looms.  Today, yall will just have to bear with me being anxious and unsure.  Stay tuned though.  It won’t always be like this.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Stormy Weather 2 Comments

Who’s bad?

You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy!

- Tony Montana Scarface

Once upon a time, I was married.  I hated it.  We were mismatched, ill-equipped and just flat-out wrong for one another.  I left–without a clear-cut game plan.  We were part a community that frowned on divorce.  If there was no clear evidence of cheating you were, for lack of a better term, stuck.  He knew this, and though I knew he was cheating, I didn’t know he was cheating, and guilt tripped myself into passivity.  We remained married and added another kid into the mix.  Ever the maverick and rebel, I chose being “a good girl” over being smart.*  I can not stress to anyone how ridiculous it is for an individual to make major life altering decisions at 21. It was then that I realized, we weren’t together due to love and commitment.  We were like two people in a public bathroom, waiting each other out for the chance to funk it up.  So after the last bad scene in a string of bad scenes, I took the kids and we left.

It was rough, because where I suffered the marriage in silence, he was very vocal in suffering his embarrassment.  On the surface, I left, so he had the high ground.  He went to church, played Tank songs, and whenever he had the children, he made sure they looked dirty and pitiful.  Poor urchins with their crazy mother who didn’t want to be married anymore.  It didn’t matter that they were in my custody and I received no support; he was to be pitied.   I had to stand the hard-line amidst ridicule, ostracism and ultimately threats to my personal safety.

At the end of the day, I’m not afraid to be the hammer.  I believe that as much as it might burn, if something isn’t working, it just isn’t working.  Rough times, yes, I believe that’s to be weathered.  But there was nothing salvageable about that marriage.  There are tons of relationships – even outside of the romantic spectrum – that are like that.  Even if it’s a bad job, or a friendship that has become healthy or one-sided, no one wants to be the trigger man.  It’s much easy to play the role of “He just stopped speaking to me,” or “She just gave her two weeks notice without any reason,” because the victim role is easy.  Irrespective of the toxicity that precedes the leap into villainy, we have this compulsion to need to be the one wronged.

So I ask, why can’t we just decide that something is wrong for us and press on.  Why does there have to be closure, and discussions, and all the other nonsensical rituals that allow us to be trapped in things that are wrong for us?  This isn’t a call for chronic callousness and irresponsibility, and there are definitely some circumstances where discussion and discourse are needed. I didn’t walk away from my marriage and never speak to homie again.  We still had two kids to care for, and custody and visitation to arrange.  We spoke on that.  However, the circumstances of divorce was something I refused to hash out, because we’d covered all of that before.  Everyone has regrettable actions in their past, but I can say with certainty that I have never regretted removing the kids and myself from that situation.

I think, whenever something seems daunting, it would behoove us to have the balls to get up and make something happen.  Just because I did this in this aspect of my life, it doesn’t mean I do it always.  I think I just needed to remind myself that I could.

*No, being the good girl does not equate being dumb, but to disregard self-preservation in favor of the mere appearance of good is absolute insanity.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Jewels, Stormy Weather, Uncategorized 3 Comments

Still Knows What it Means…Five Years Later

The rules probably dictate that I wait until the actual anniversary to write a commemorative post. However, two things are at work here: 1) I prefer to spend that day celebrating my blessings rather than mourning my losses; and 2) I’m not much for following rules, especially those set forth by that beyotch Katrina.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The night before I evacuated was one of the best nights of my life.  My baby was going to start school that Tuesday, I had settled on going back to school in January, and had abandoned my plans to move to the East Coast.  Life in my hometown was looking up, so I figured I could stick it out.  My girls and I piled into Big Pimpin (R.I.P.), had a good time at True Brew’s Poetry night, hooted, hollered, sang and danced.  On the way out we heard a random conversation:

“Yeah man, they’re saying this one might really hit us.”
“They’re always saying that shit. You leavin?”
“I dunno.”

We got breakfast.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Finge and The Bug were already at my homegirl’s crib, fast asleep, so I decided to bunk there for the night.  The TV was on, and there was a weather report.  At 3:30 a.m.?  On a Saturday? The radar shows this gigantic storm that is basically on track to swallow up my city.  Eh, old hat.  I gave the “whatever” shrug, and passed out.  You can’t evacuate without sleep.  Once I woke up, I saw that I’d missed two calls from my dad.  I was flat broke, getting paid on Wednesday, and had no interest in participating in a BS round trip evacuation, but the Big Chief was alarmed, so I had no choice.  I halfheartedly threw a few things in a weekender (three outfits for each of us), then had to convince my younger sister in much the same manner my father convinced me to get out of the city.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Once we arrived in Shreveport, my sister’s in laws made us feel warm and welcomed.  They cooked, and they cooked, and they COOKED.  (All told, I gained 15 pounds before I left Shreveport.)   Each news report we watched was more ominous than the last, to the point that I stopped watching them.  If this ruthless stranger, Katrina, hit New Orleans directly, the city would be destroyed.  We’ve heard this before.  A week before the storm, when it would inevitably turn just a smidge to the right or left.  Never the night before.  It was too much for us to bear, so we stopped watching the reports.  We were safe, and no amount of news coverage would stop the events of the following day.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The storm came.  It did what storms do.  Then it went.  New Orleans did not receive the devastating direct hit that stole my appetite the night before.  Coastal Mississippi was demolished.  The Twin Span, a bridge that had always given me the willies which crossing it on the way to Mississippi, looked like a checkerboard of stone and water.  There were reports of loved ones being torn from the arms of one another due the storm surge out of the Gulf of Mexico.  It was heartbreaking to watch.  One man watched his wife basically just surrender to the surge, shouting for him to take care of the children.  I prayed for them, and planned to send aid the following weekend – when I planned on returning home.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The damned phone wouldn’t stop ringing.  It’s nine o’clock, I have no idea why everyone is up. Since my kids were up, and I promised everyone I’d cook breakfast, I decided to get it in gear.  Everyone was plastered to the television in silence.  There was water.  Everywhere.  Everyone speaks of the three breaches.  In actuality, there were three main breaches.  In the first twenty-four hours there were 28 confirmed breaches — ultimately, there were 53.

The death toll for New Orleans alone was 1,577.  Law enforcement and first responders were traumatized.  Two police officers committed suicide; others just got in their cars and drove away.  Even the most basic actions were mired in chaos.  Reaching the 504 area code was virtually impossible, so we could only text.  The rest, you could see on the news.  Everyone watched people go hungry, go thirsty.  My friend sat on a bridge for three days without food or water.  People chanted, begging for provisions.  I watch my local, state and federal government fail its own citizens, as they spent time either bickering, or issuing undeserved kudos.  I watched public figures make disparaging remarks about their own constituents, and deciding who was and was not fit to return.  Basically, the people who kept the city running on their sweat and ability to swallow shit we undesirable.

Til Eternity…

In the coming months, the corrupt infrastructure that was as ingrained in New Orleans as Mardi Gras and red bean Mondays was put center stage for the entire nation to see.  The simple question, “Why didn’t they just leave?” was revealed to have answers far more complex than anyone could have anticipated.  The news was inundated with accusations, resignations and indictments.  There was no power, and no clear picture of when the city would even be inhabitable.  I made the heartbreaking choice not to return, and went back to the plan I’d made earlier in the year to relocate to the Washington, D.C. area.

Nola.com said it best:

New Orleans will forever exist as two cities: The one that existed before that date, and the one after.

And even though that sums it up best, it still doesn’t begin to approach the actuality of New Orleans, because it’s more than a city.  It’s more than two.  New Orleans begins in the bones.  It’s hard drinking and hard loving.  The knot you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you must leave soon; that sigh you give when you plan your return – that’s New Orleans claiming you.  It’s the necessity, not the novelty, of getting your liquor “to-go.”  New Orleans is listening to Jim Henderson call that fucking field goal 375 times and getting a lump in your throat every damn time.  It’s being separated by two degrees from everything and everyone you need to know.  When you realize that Nagin was wrong about New Orleans being chocolate – it’s black, gold, green and purple.  It’s the tears in my eyes as I type this post.

Even with all that goes wrong with my city, every year, I have that long conversation with myself, where I consider moving back.  Ultimately, I come to the realization that setting up shop here has been good for all of us, and I have a phenomenal support system in my new home.  Yet, only a foolish tree would hate its roots.

I know what it means to be New Orleans.

If you had any sense, you’d wish you were as lucky.

Posted on by Beauty Jackson in Stormy Weather 4 Comments