Thursday, April 6, 2017

Music #52essays2017 week 13

I do not recall a point in my life when music didn't do the most for me. Music was my therapist, my friend when I felt alone, my solace in any time of crisis. I am still amazed at how much music plays a part in every part of my story.

I was maybe 2 years old when I would sing Fragile Rock theme song (correctly) and supposedly, as my mother tells it, singing to the top of my lungs "Born to be Wild" by Steppenwolf.

Between 5 & 6 years old I would listen to my father singing Under The Broadwalk, by the Drifters. This was a cassette tape he had made at Coney Island I believe in one of those karaoke record your own cover booths. I was enamored with the sweet Bari/tenor tone of my fathers voice.

I was about 8 years old when Mariah Carey first came out. Living in Long Island myself, and seeing this biracial long island girl rail thin with frizzy curls hitting highs and lows with such grace. I knew the moment I heard her voice I would be a singer. I knew that I wants to make sounds that were pleasing to the ear.
Along with Mariah's music I was avidly listening to EnVogues first Album, Born to Sing. I can still tell you the many nuances of that album but most notable the songs Lies, Part of Me, Boogie woogy Bugle Boy of Company B remake of the Andrew Sisters Classic, Just cant Stay Away a remake of Natalie Coles original, Don't Go and of course Hold On To Your Love. I was amazed at the harmonies and how perfect they blended with the hip hop beats that were hitting the air ways with more and more R&B melodies. These were the two albums that influenced my love of singing.
This was the late 80's into the 90's. This was the time of boy groups Shai- If I ever Fall In love, H Town -Knocking the boots, Silk- Freak Me, Boys II men- Motown Philly & Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday, Mint Condition- Pretty Brown Eyes. Or the other girl groups SWV- Weak and I'm so Into you, Salt & Pepa- Push it & None of your business TLC- Aint to proud to beg, Jade- Don't walk away boy & If The Mood is Right, Zhane- Groove thing & Hey Mr. DJ, Brownstone- If You Love Me. It was am influx of sound that became the soundtrack to the life and happenings around me. These songs informed me more than any news broadcast could. I was learning the various feelings of the times through the innocent ears and eyes of a child. I was learning about love, life, empowerment, fun, sex and various other things I had yet to understand and experience but wanted to.

My father saw my love for music and made sure to always play the good music there was to be heard. Good music were the Milk Crates which held countless vinyls of groups I never heard and artist I would only know because he made sure to point them all out to me when he played them. He made sure the Vinyls played well every weekend as me and/or my siblings did any household chores. This was Stylistics- Stop Look Listen & Betcha By Golly Wow & Break Up to make up & You Make Me Feel brand New, Delphonics- Ready or Not & La La Means I Love You & Didn't I Blow Your Mind, The Moments- Love on a Two Way Street, Dells- Oh What A Night & Stay, Manhattans- Kiss and Say Goodbye & Theres No me Without You, Main Ingredient- Rolling down the mountainside & I'm so Proud & Everybody Plays the Fool & Just Don't Want TO Be Lonely, Ojays- Stairway to Heaven & Forever Mine & Used to Be My Girl, The Originals- Baby I'm For Real & The Bells, The Spinners- Love Don't Love No Body, Summer Madness- Kool and the Gang, Earth Wind and Fire- Mighty Mighty & Reasons & Fantasy.
He took me down many avenues of female singers too Like Patti Labelle & the Blue Bells- Down the Aisle & Oh Danny Boy & Somewhere Over The Rainbow, The Three Degrees- Maybe, Emotions- Don't Ask My Neighbor & Best of My love, Rose Royce- I'm going Down & Love Don't Live Here Any More, Mary Jane Girls- All night Long, Rufus feat Chaka Khan- Tell me Something Good & Stop on By (and countless others).
This was my soul reaching music this was music that reached into me and pulled feelings out that I could not express but reveled in. I This was the music I would compare all other music and singers to. I wanted to always feel something stir in me instead of just enjoying the good sounds made by singers.

It was in my journey I began to listen to Patti Labelle as a solo artist, Luther Vandross after Change, Angela and Renee, Lisa Fischer, Rachelle Ferrell, Phil Perry, David Peaston, Phoebe Snow and countless other artists who pleased my ear and soul. It was in this time I began to be vocally trained by the late great Lilian Coran of Smithtown, and the formal training by classical vocalist who taught me music. Cynthia Lee and Anne Kollar of the Brentwood School District. I took my gift seriously and I competed in state and county competitions singing anything from Opera, to Jazz Standars to Broadway belt to the back of the house numbers. Music colored everything I did.

I am one of those music nerds (and I am so glad other singers and musicians do this very same thing so I know I'm not alone) who will find some small part in a song and become obsessed with it. Which means I will listen to that one part 5000 x's until IM tired of it because it was so overtly great and or Subtlely amazing and I needed to cackle my joyous cackle which only occurs when I'm estatic, or shaking my head and slapping at the air because anything this good encourages me to act some what violently in the most playful of manners.

It was a culmination of things that made me feel music in relation to my gift was much, much more.
Rachelle Ferrell first said two very important things that made me re think everything about music and ones individual gift. First thing she said in a live concert at the BLue Note I attended was, "Do not compare yourself to me or any other singer. Understand that what you do and how you do it is amazingly you. I cannot duplicate what you do nor create what you do, it is solely your sound and your expression. You are creating a thing in the moment only you can." This coming from a woman who could sing at opposite ends of the piano and who could give you such textures of her voice you are never quite sure is actually happening in the moment or transmuting through this reality from another world. However, what an amazing thing to say.
As someone who struggled with self worth and or talent this was something I needed to hear, the world needed to hear. I often compared myself to other singers and thought, "I cant sing like that. All that range they have and the ability to do incredible things with their voice, I sure as hell can do that. Why even bother trying to sing?" This I didn't realize was foolish simply because what I do was what I do and it was not mean to be compared against what anyone else does. I was competing with no one. I was simply creating and expressing.

The second thing she said was in a youtube interview, she said, "The Bible states that in the beginning there was the word.,, and the word was God. God spoke life and life was... this is vibration in sound. There is energy in what we do when we create sound and we therefore are creating energy and vibration.." This blew my mind. Linking the sound ministry we create with instruments and voice to creation of energy and the movement therein. Is this not the very truth by which music arrested me from the beginning? It stirred something in me, the sound of it made me tap into emotions of various kinds and I was able to empathetically connect to artist and what they were singing about despite my inability to fully relate.

Then I joined Celebration Spiritual center in Brooklyn, where I have received some of the most valuable lessons in stepping into my artistry and music ministry. I have the pleasure of vibing with a choir of wonderful singers but led by the amazingly talented Greg Stamper and Yolanda Batts who execute every song they sing with poise and power. I was pushed into this wonderful space of allowance, surrendering a part of myself to the music and letting spirit do the rest in guiding me through the song I sang or we sing. I have had the absolute pleasure of people approaching me after services and using a specific word in relation to my singing. "Healing. Honey. Warm." These three words have been repeated to me by almost everyone that ever approached me and it humbles me that I am allowing my gift to be what it is and that those who need it are getting from it what they need.

This is why music will always be my saving grace no matter what I do. It will be my muse, my lover, my friend, and my soulmate.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lost my voice #52essays2017 week 13

Sometimes we go through changes that are both physical, emotional, and spiritual. One, you would think has nothing to do with the other. If there is anything I have learned with in the last 4 years was that there is a law of correspondence. The law states, "As above so below. As within so without."
I hope to share with you a moment of transformation for me that was traumatic and detrimental and yet led me to such revelations that there was no place else to go but in the state of repair.

It was odd when my voice changed. It was gradual. It was a process learning to be quiet, growing in exhaustion in which to speak above a whisper felt arduous. This started after two years with a man I had fallen in love with. At that time I felt that self sacrifice and compromise was the qualities and traits in which to probably keep someone. That if he saw how much I would give up for him or see how much of his needs and likes I would place before my own that this would somehow make me more loveable.

I had lived through the awful experiences of not being loved or desired by those I seemed to be attracted to. I still wonder if I attracted those individuals in a subconscious sabotage because on some level I felt I would not attain such a person or relationship in my life or did I just have the worst fucking luck when it came to picking potential mates. I remember going to the clubs with the cuter and even the not so cute friends who still got hit on or were desired by others. I stood in the side lines sipping my drink while watching their drinks or watched their coats from the table. I would see them lost in revelry dancing with the guy who vied for their attention. I remember feeling so invisible.

The loudest voice of all would always be the creep voice. The creep voice is the voice that tells you all the things you aren't and may never be. The creep voice never had laryngitis, and probably would never get it. This voice asked all the unanswerable questions. Questions that had no real answer just left you there willing to fill in the blank with what you think the answer may or must be. The voice never speaks certainty to you, just suggest slyly what may be and then abandons you to your thoughts. In the above examples brought the questions to mind rolled though my mind like thunder through the sky just before the storm hits.

Here they came

"Always the bridesmaid never the bride. When will someone notice you? Are you desirable at all? Maybe you do not look interesting enough to even notice. Is it possible you are much uglier than you can realize? Will you have someone? Will you ever be happy with someone? Will someone you like ever like you back?"

Left with the assumptions of NO and Yes as I felt they applied.

Just riding these feelings and these thoughts I had just started a new spiritual practice. I had started to learn about the Orisa and my spirit guides and started to really delve into feeling something other than my brooding thoughts. MY mentor at the time had told me to get to know Oshun who in most respects had been the Yoruba Deity of Love and attraction. She never knew how I felt inside as many did not, I never mentioned or hardly ever mentioned what was wrong with me. Sure I acted out at times when I could not carry it anymore, but I think people just chalked it up to my quirkiness or acceptable crazy. My mentor had told me to do a trabajo or spiritual ritual to help bring things I want in life. I made 5 small yellow cakes by hand and decorated them with 5 different toppings. I was to place this in the Name of El Caridad Del Cobre but dedicated to Oshun.

I of course poured out my heart to Oshun asking for a man, I needed someone to love me and better yet show me they wanted me. Notice me and want to be with me for something long term.

My shock when a week or two later a man hits up my online dating profile, a profile many did not hit up unless they wanted sex or wanted to see more pics before ultimately deciding I was the six packed blonde thin guy they actually wanted. This man was black, mature, employed and had a love for music and the arts. This was a far contrast from the people I met and/or tried to get to know.

We started seeing each other exclusively with in the first month of dating, or so we said. We started having great sex and when I refer to great sex I am referring to the sex that makes you forget of your size. Fellas and Ladies if you have ever had a size issue or body shaming issue and you were able to have sexual relations that made you totally not focus on your insecurities or focus on what position you can or cannot get into you find yourself in a position of opening yourself up and allowing your usual guard to be taken down. This was such an important thing for me... someone who encouraged me to take off my shirt during sex and demanded I be fully exposed and fully me and who knew the weight I carried on me physically and emotionally. I think this was one of the factors that made me fall all the way in.
This man loved music so much and would introduce me to new artists I never heard of and would buy impromptu tickets for us to go see them live. This was someone who wanted to shower me with gifts and not the other way around.
This man loved to cook and my fat ass will never complain about that. I wasn't the one cooking for a man I liked and trying to entice his affections with a well cooked meal, just the opposite. I was receiving a plate of food.
This man met my parents and got along great with my father, in fact we went on vacation with them. Something I thought I would never do in my life.
Within the first two years this man proposed to me. Funny story I sent him a picture of the ring I would want if he ever thought about such a thing as proposal. He received that pic the very day he was going to actually get the ring to surprise me with. The funny thing is he went to a jewelry store and happened to find that exact , ring and the person who sold it to him was named David. He was willing to propose to me and declare this to all his family and mine.
These first two years were bliss. My notion of love was all of the above.

It was the next 5 years that I questioned what had led me to that exact place with this man? What was I asking for when I did that ritual? What had I released into the universe not just in my words but in the undercurrent of my energy? It was the desire to be seen and be on someone's arm for pride sake. Yes I had thrown the word Love in the mix but based on an idea of what love looked like instead of what love is. How could I have known? I had up until this point not experienced any love, but Oshun/God brought me what I ultimately asked for.

It started with invalidating everything I had. Let me buy you a new CD player because yours is old. It was a disguised gift wrapped in satin ribbons and bows of judgement.
Having moved into my apartment after a subletting "incident" with his place, I noticed all my things I had needed to be changed or his accepted and used. I tried to cling to the things that felt familiar and were fully operational but I was told I was being immature and sensitive.
When disagreements arose and I would voice my annoyance or my feelings, he would storm out slam doors and shut off emotionally and communicatively. I was left abandoned in a room unsure if I can or should follow, in fear that at any moment I could be alone and unpartnered.
The intimate interaction ceased as he one day told me he would no longer play a versatile role in our exchanges leaving me to be the sole one to be on the receiving mode of his affections. There was no regard for what I felt about it or how it related to us, but the decision was made. I took back what power I could by telling him he would only get sex when I wanted then because I was not going through all the preparation required for gay sex. He was therefore on Booty rations. Yup that's right, Booty rations.
I noticed I began to grow tired very quickly and in turn in fear of not fighting or seeing his upset I would rather stay silent and avoid all of it.
This led to me being put in a position of almost no opposition. I had not strength or will to fight. I had no voice. The once strong, "I wish a mother fucker would silence me and try to control me!" was grossly silent and bound in the fear of loneliness.
My singing voice had totally changed. My once high and clear voice had become raspy and much lower as I lost the range I once had. None of the things I could do on a good vocal day were available to me. I was betrayed by my own damn voice. I took no notice or realization that my singing voice was only mirroring my figurative voice which was no longer being used to express itself...myself.

This was the start of some very heavy feelings, guess which voice reared its ugly head in full volume? Just guess which voice reeked of Creep and was back to remind me of those same kind of questions which had no definitive answers but left me feeling just as hollow and empty when I had to answer them or attempt to?

My voice at this time was lost, it hurt to try.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Unconditional Love #52essays2017 week 12

It was 15,000 years ago when Man domesticated dogs. The dogs have since then been bred and modified to best serve mans aesthetic pleasure or desire to have an unconditional companion. I think most experts say that most people fall into two categories, cat people vs dog people. I grew up with dogs through every single moment of my childhood. They were the fist loving interaction I had that encapsulated affection and the expression thereof. Despite my love for the canines there was always some trauma that left me bereft.

When I was a child we had Pebbles she was our Chihuahua that my uncle bought from a crack had for I believe $20 bucks. We also had a Doberman mix named Olly. I believe Olly found his way into something poisonous and died somewhere in my 4 years of age. Pebbles, however was the little ball of affection. Her small rounded head her large ears and her fearlessness of anything and anyone. She moved with us from Astoria, Queens as into our Brentwood, Long Island home.

In this time we had acquired an Alaskan Malamute we called "Lobo" on the account that he looked like a wolf. He was a crazy dog who hated being contained by fences and would often attempt scaling the fence and was successful a few times. He also tried to hump any living female dog he encountered whether they were in heat or not. We all loved Lobo, but one day upon coming home he was just gone. We couldn't tell if someone came in the yard while we were away and took him or if he successfully scaled the fence and ran away to some dog "haven" where he spent the rest of his days happy. (Once can still dream)

In the interim we had found a Doberman on our door step one day. She was affectionate and hungry. We just had lost Lobo and we still had left over dog food. We fed her and watered her and when no one claimed her we took her in and named her, "Dutchess." She became our new love and quickly fell into the family fold. She was very protective and intimidating and was a natural alarm system when visitors approached the house. She would lay down and place her head down when we had stopped to pray, which was often in a house of Jehovahs Witnesses. The only issue, we had to keep her away from Pebbles. Pebbles the first fierce Queen of the Sosa household was not to be usurped by a dog 5 times her size. No one ever told Pebbles she was a small little thing, she was grander and tougher than any Doberman that could ever enter her space.

One day I was super tired and I had went into my parents room to lay down for an afternoon nap. The room had been empty because usually we would place pebbles in there when we let Dutchess have roam of the house. After waking I got up and hazy from sleep I walked out my parents room and into the kitchen where my parents and some of my siblings were sitting chatting. Everything happened so fast, Dutchess hopped up form her bed in the kitchen ran towards me and it was too late before I looked down and saw pebbles was just stepping forward from between my legs. it was all to fast Pebbles let out a growl but Dutchess grabbed her with those Doberman jaws. The next few seconds I could only stare and hold my breath as I saw Pebbles play the part of a ragdoll in the throws of a death shake that large dogs and wolves only do to kill smaller pray and or render flesh from a fresh hunt. I don't remember how they got Pebbles out of Dutchess's mouth but I watched in further horror as pebbled tried to gain balance and walk but could not as it appeared Dutchess's front canines had impaled our precious Pebbles head and caused some major brain damage. We all were in tears and Pebbles took her last breaths in front of us and Dutchess went to lay back down as if her territory was now claimed. The raw survival and brutality of the animal world is always existent no matter how much we may intend to domesticate.
Dutchess had mated with another male Doberman and gave us a litter of 18 puppies. Who knew Dobermans came in so many colors. We had Black Dobermans, Red rust colored Dobermans, Blue silver Dobermans, and the rare Fawn Sandy colored Doberman. We sold all of these rare dogs and somewhere in the mix my mother and brother decided we should breed the dogs. Pick the best sire of the litter and find other Dobermans of various colors and create contracts with the owner of the Bitch and or Sires of the other Dobermans. From this point on we were used to having puppies in the home, seeing mothers through their pregnancies late at night or the resuscitation of puppies who may have been birthed in distress or who seemed unable to draw their first breath with ease. We learned to bottle up formula and bottle feed the runts of the litters or the puppies the mother rejected. We even had to aid a whole litter who suffered from respiratory problems due to a condition of the blood the mother Ruby, a red Doby from one of our litters had developed. It was the night we failed to save 6 remaining puppies and had to bury them in our back yard in the wee hours of the morning. I remember feeling so powerless at not being able to help these puppies after having successfully helping other litters into their new lives.

The Doberman breeding soon became too much. My mother was not in the spirit of continuing on this mission and my brother picked it up instead. He wound up finding a way to breed White Dobermans the rarest of them all. He also took up dog training and would train the dogs to react upon command. Often I would dress up in a padded suit and he would sick the dogs on me and would call them off in german commands. He extended his training to Rottweilers and German Shepherds which he would sell back to the Suffolk county police.

IN this time I was getting older and like most young teens I wanted something of my own. I wanted my own space, my own room, my own clothes, my own style, and my own pooch. It was at this time a woman we knew had found a mid size Staffordshire Terrier who was wandering the streets of Brentwood. The story was she may have escaped form some local resident who may or may not have fought dogs. The evidence was that her ears were chopped to the smallest nubs. This was explained to me a way for other dogs to not get to bite at those sensitive ear flaps if the dog fought. When I first laid eyes on this pitbull, she stole my heart. Its like we saw only each other in that small span of time we were introduced. She ran to me like she had always known me and I quickly through myself to her level and let her nuzzle close into me. Reassuring her that I was not dangerous and very much friendly. MY parents watched with smiles, but I saw that look on my mothers face that held suspicion about the breed of dog. At this point in the 90's Pits were only known for dog fighting and mauling people. I convinced my mother my responsibility factor and how much I would walk and feed this dog and they agreed as long as she got along with the dog we had at home, Apollo.

Oh Apollo.. Apollo was a fawn Doberman from the first litter Dutchess ever gave us. He became my fathers pride and joy, and my brothers as well. My brother had trained the dog exceptionally well. When we bought "pepper" my new pit bull baby home we introduced her to Apollo through a fence. They did not take to each other. Apollo puffed himself up, the ridge of his neck and back raised in threat and growls from somewhere deep in his throat. Pepper stayed put and remained alert her stance solid her stare firm. She did not back down at all but just stood her ground unafraid and willing to take what he was going to give. My brother having observed dogs in such close proximity having trained them he viewed himself as somewhat of an expert. He decided the fence allowed too much of a barrier and would not give them the actual opportunity to smell each other and interact. I thought it a horrible Idea and I was so scared to have lost this dog I already imagined spending so much time with. THe gate was opened leashes were placed on both dogs there circled each other and mock played and then the interaction of sizing one each other up because tails wagging and the two began to play fight. We all breathed out in relief.
Pepper became my best friend she cuddled me and would gentle take my hand into her mouth and place my hand in between both her paws and lick at my hand as if that was her way of holding me like perhaps she would with one of her puppies, if she were to ever have one. This dog was the sweetest dog I had ever encountered or had within our home she was docile and loving. She slept in the kitchen on her large dog pillow a few feet away from Apollo.

It all came to a head. My brother had bred Apollo with another Doberman bitch and the litter produced some beautiful fawn Dobermans. Two were left a runt we named Kojak and his brother I named Caramon. They sat I our kitchen in a large crate away from Apollo who was threatened by the two small but male pups. One day Apollo really feeling himself decided to urinate all over the cage and small puppies, a display of his dominance over his territory. Apollo was an asshole, it was plain and simple. He was like the Grumpy old man you knew lived with you but you put up with because the whole family accepted him. In my younger years Apollo once growled and cornered me to try an intimidate me. He was a 120 lbs Doberman, I decided my crazy out matched his and so I took the broom from the corner and lit that ass up. That was the first and last time Apollo tried it with me ever again. The air was off that day, there was tension in the air but I could not tell what it was or where it came from. One of the dogs had started to bark and it set Apollo off he ran towards the cage baring his teeth, to meet him was Pepper whose maternal instinct for the two puppies was in full effect. Apollo did not take kindly to her challenge and decided to attack her. This was my worst nightmare happening right in front of me. A large 120 lb Doberman and Pepper, a 75lb mid sized Pitbull fighting with all their gusto I had no other choice but to jumped in the middle trying to break this up. I grabbed them both by their collar trying to hold them apart, I paid for it with a thigh that was bit up in the confusion. I will not go into detail as even writing this causes me to tear up, but that day I was traumatized at the state of both dogs as they were finally successfully separated. They were torn and tattered, I was not given the time to really process what happened because I had a appointment that day to get my braces removed. It should have been a happy day for me. After the orthodontist office I got home only to find that Pepper was gone. I asked my parents where my dog was and they broke the news to me that they had dropped Pepper to the nearest pound. I remember time stopped and my heart just beat dully in my ears. I was in shock, my baby, my friend whom I spent nights and days cuddled with and shared in long talks as I walked her around the neighborhood.. she was gone and worse I had no say in it. I had no chance to say good bye. My last memory of her was her face bleeding and ripped open from a fight with a Doberman my parents decided to keep due to how long we already had him. The only expendable pooch was the newest one, mine. I cried and wailed and asked, "WHY??!!" in my best Nettie from color purple impression. I demanded answers I never got and I just eventually lost the will to ask any more questions.

Caramon was sold and Kojak, the runt of the litter was still around. Unfortunately he was about the dumbest dog I ever seen. He was the dog that you threw food too and he sniffed around like he just barely smelled it and couldn't find it, he would run into the wall unable to stop his momentum. I couldn't do him.. I opted to research Doberman rescue and get him in their care because I couldn't love him fresh off of losing my Pepper.

In a small window, another dog had made its presence in my life. Her name was Crystal, she was a brown and white spotted pit bull. I cannot remember where this dog even came from, and on a swift mission to come off of my loss of another pitbull I convinced my parents to allow me to keep her. Guilt, I played on their guilt. I told them about the hurt and loss I experienced with Pepper. Me and Crystal clicked like to long lost friends this was instant love. Crystal was way more energetic of a terrier than Pepper was. She was the runner and the chaser. She was my energetic baby. Here came the drama... New neighbors moved in. This was a black family who were cool but had the worst BEBE ass kids to grace this world. Those little bad ass children would torment my Crystal when she was left in the yard to run. They would throw water balloons at her or push sticks and toys through the fence taunting the poor pit until she chewed up all they placed through the fences holes. This caused her to develop a mistrust and negative disposition towards children and anyone black. When my parents decided to sell their house they suggested I find the dog a home. I cannot get into the specifics of this either but the dog wound up in my sisters care in an apartment in Manhattan.. from yard to confined elevator spaces... to this day my sister claims a woman took Crystal to a "farm" where there was plenty of room to run...
"the farm" yall, the "farm"..

Last but not least my last dog was a rust colored Dachshund named Teesa. She was a result of my Ex surprising me with a puppy. She was my little baby girl and I was gonna be the best parent to her... this resulted in me breaking up with my boyfriend of that time and having to find a place to live. Having a Dog was not making that process any easier and I made a tough decision to find her a home with someone else. I got her a home with a pet Psychic and Astrologer in Long Island, named Jane. She was mourning the loss of her Teacup Yorkie who dies after a ripe old age of 20 years. After two years she was looking for companionship and Teesa found a home with her. I visited the first 3 times as was prompted by Jane who encouraged me Teesa would always be my baby and a new home and owner did not change that. Teesa was renamed Lucy. This hurt me too much to see her and have to leave her, I think I felt how perhaps some parents feel when seeing their kids with a step parent. I couldn't handle the sadness and so I left Teesa in her new mothers hands and moved on with life. There is not a moment I do not see a Dachshund and get a little sad.

I am thankful to all the dogs I was able to have in my lifetime and the joy and affection they allowed me to experience but I cannot at this point think dogs and I just will not mix. I can have interaction with them by visiting friends with dogs. I can catch a brief glimpse of old nostalgia with mans best friend.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

To have and to Get #52essays week 11

I was always taught the differences on the need and wants by my father at an early age. He made a point to draw a full diagram an idea he got from a psychiatrist I had to see no a trial error by school mandate. Once he got a hold of this diagram he got creative and decided to damn near point out every single thing in the house and/or in my room that I had the "luxury" of utilizing in which were all privileges and wants. The needs were the main top necessities he was required by law to provide me with, which were a roof over my head, access to education, food, and general wealth by way of pediatrician. Looking back at his methods I appreciate the Petty he embodied by such displays, anything to drive the point home. And trust and believe me you are very tit for tat and petty-licious when you can claim Cancerian zodiac sign as your own.

The emphasis on bare necessities caused a shift in my desires to attain anything for myself that I would want to have. I convinced myself I did not require certain things and therefore did not need to get them. This had effected my wardrobe of all things in a particular way. I would never get more than a pair of jeans or shirt depending on the sale at the time and if I did I wore the hell out of those jeans and shirt until seems popped and worn holes formed from constant washing. I would never get more than one pair of sneakers but wear out the one pair very well until seems busted and tongues talked, before I even considered buying a new pair. It became a mantra, if I came upon something I wanted.

"Do I really need this"

The answer to follow would be, hell nah. Off I would go with no purchase made at all in my favor.

The above paired with low self image, even when I did have money I felt fear to purchase some things. I would be shamed to by certain food in public, things like chips, or candy, or Entenmanns cakes. I just convinced myself someone was watching me and judging me on how I eat which reflected my weight. When it came to clothes I had this love hate relationship with fashion. Nothing I liked would fit me. It was very clear in the world of fashion that I could only dress in limitation. There were no options for me so I avoided so many stores many of my friends shopped at.

It was not until recently when I my partner had encouraged me to go into Guess, a store I never would even dream of shopping in and who hardly ever had anything that fit me unless it was socks or a watch. I have recently changed by diet and incorporated some exercise into my life routine and as a result some weight loss has occurred. I saw this beautiful light gray jacket that could be my light-wear jacket for when it gets warmer. While my Boo was perusing the store giving me much time to kill, I braved the dressing room and mirror and tried on the jacket. IT FIT! It JUST fit, but it fit! I know a few more pounds off and I could rock this thing.

It was not until then a grand epiphany hit me.. I never bought anything I considered too stylish because I assumed it didn't fit someone like me. I was no the Ambercrombie and Fitch looking type, I was by no means fitting into Calvin Klein anything but I had set up a feeling and mindset of unworthiness around my fashion which on some level defined my look. How crazy is that?! The things we bring over from childhood and allow to stick in our brains.

I will be rocking some of these in the near future and feeling thick and cute. This is a necessity. My partner who is a professional shopper, encouraged me to not forget that we work hard and we bust our ass and there is nothing at all wrong with investing in ourselves and our desires. Look at his Guru ass! Appreciate him for it.

Well since then I have bought shoes I would never wear and I been trying on clothes with wild abandon and zero Fucks. I am challenging every thought about myself I can identify as untruth.

Until next time guys.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Parents process #52essays2017 week 10

I had always been a responsible child and form the age of 15 started working immediately in order to somewhat pay my own way. I would make $275 bi-weekly and I would offer my parents at least $100 of it. This was to curb the ultimate parents declarations of "You got money for that?" or "As long as I'm paying for you things I will get you whatever I see fit." This allowed me to buy my own clothes with my employee discount since I worked in retail. I was also driving as early as permit ready, and was trusted with the second car we owned, a white Ford Taurus.I would drive this car to work despite me having only a drivers permit. After being employed by the hospital shortly after, I was further independent with how used my money to support myself. . Once My parents left to their new home, and I stayed behind living with my aunt and family I was left the car under the condition that I pick up the insurance payment. I agreed and was able to keep the care to use and maintain at my own leisure at 18/19 years old.

During this time of figuring out myself,I had played moments of my coming out over and over. It fueled a deep seeded rage I had that I was so powerless and cared so much what my parents thought of me. It would be another two years of me only seeing my parents once a month as I would have them off an envelope full of money for Geico. It was short hellos, how are you's and swift goodbyes as we were genuinely comfortable around each other. Even at the time of writing this I cannot remember if it was my discomfort of their lack of acknowledgement over one of the most emotional wrecking experiences I had at their hands or that I interpreted their nonchalant behavior as a going through motions to patronize me. All I know is I dreaded going to see them and all because the interaction was so inorganic and felt like there was always a pink elephant in the room dancing point in a pink and black polka dot Tutu with a tiara made of marshmallows and rhinestones that we would never look at let alone talk about.

At the time I believe I was 20/21 yrs old and I was dating someone who told me I needed to see one of his favorite movies, Torch Song Trilogies. HONEY!!! I am an Old Gay at Heart and this movie blessed me to the core. The most poignant scene for me was the ending scene where Harvey Fierstein mourns the loss of his lover, Mathew Broderick. His mother played by Anne Bancroft was heading to her husbands grave to pay respects, and Harvey had it in his mind to also go and mourn his late lover by doing the jewish mourning prayers a wife honors her husbands memory with. She huffed and puffed and went back home to his house where she stayed as his guest. His mother not understanding or acknowledging her sons relationship as existent let alone something to mourn, turns on him and in turn he defends himself from her verbally as he justifies his relationship not just with his late lover but with himself and his mother. This was a moment where he confronts his Mother and best friend turned attacker when he exclaims to her the words that changed my life forever.

"Look ma IM gay. I don't know why I don't think anyone does. That's what I know, I know as far back as I could remember back before I knew it was different or even wrong... I know you rather I was straight. IM not! Would you also rather I lied to you? My friend Ed, he would never dream of telling his parents. Instead he cut his parents out of his life, and his parents wondered why. Why is my child so distant? Is that what you rather? You want to be part of my life I'm not editing out the things you don't like. .. Theres one more thing you better understand. I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture and even pat myself on the back when necessary. All so I don't have to ask anyone for anything. There is nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone that can't give me those two things has no place in my life. You're my mother I love you, I do.. but if you cant respect me you have no business being here."

BABY!!!!! I am still HOLY GHOST BUCKING in my living room as I write this. A ball of emotion as this brilliant dialogue did what art is supposed to do. It stirred and built up such an emotion in me that I was invigorated to do or say something to shift my situation. I could not know what the shift would do or the outcome it would inspire but I knew I had to say something to the dreadful silence of the unsaid. I was carrying too much anger, and shame that I desperately tried to block out with some of the good things in life I had found about myself.

I was in a show at the time, Seussical the musical and I was headed to rehearsal and took advantage of the long travel time to call my mother and have a real conversation. I felt all the emotion in my voice as I asked my mother if she thought our interaction for the last few years was authentic and or normal. She tried to feign ignorance but I would not stand for it. This was going to be a real conversation no masks, no faking of the funk. I for once stood in my power and reminded her (much like Harvey in his EPIC Dialogue) that I was happy and experiencing many things in my life that I would love to share with my parents and loved one and I also been through hell in many other areas of my life that I would never be able to share with them and it hurt me to the deepest parts of myself. I told her I refused to edit my life for anyone and that all I needed was love and respect which all I ever offered them in my existence. I reminded her that what her and my father did was atrocious and there were may other things said and did that I hated and would never agree with, however I found the ability to love them beyond that and embrace who they are and at this point in my life I needed them to do the same. If they could not then there was no need to further talk or interact and I could simply mail them any further payments. This broke her open and she shed tears and apologized and I received her pain. I was open and cracked myself the emotions pouring out of me and leaving a void of which I took whatever my mother in her mutual vulnerable state was willing to share.

She explained to me since holding me in her arms as a child she felt the overwhelming love only a mother could feel. I was the only product of her happy marriage with my father and her regret was not being able to give him even more children after myself. She reminded me how happy my father was to have a son, because his brothers all had daughters and the Sosa name was left with m to pass on. She further explained that throughout the yeas of supporting me best they could as a youth they could not help but envision my graduations, my courting of a nice young lady, my marriage and then the gift of grandchildren and hopefully the little black baby my mother always told me she hoped and expected me to give her. She told me there were many times when she knew I was different than she cared to admit and how I would help pick out her outfits and my exceptional taste in doing so, or how sometimes if men came around that even she found attractive how I would become nervous and bewildered ot how they say in the south, "Caught the vapors." She explained to me that to find out I was any other way than what was planned for me or expected of me it was like a death or sever transition that was just too much too soon. It left her feeling angry at herself. Did she do something wrong? Was there something she did that made me this way? Would I end up being the lonely gay man she always encountered in her life, devoid of a loving partner or sick with some chronic and fatal disease?

As my mother began to speak to me I also remembered a quick and important conversation I had with my father who at one point before I came out, which was spurred by his inability to see me as anything else other than a child. He told me to be patient with him and my mother as they only knew me for the last 17 or so years as their child. I was dependent on them for everything adhering to all their rules and structure and that for me to just one day be grown enough to think and do for myself was not something that just automatically uploaded into their psyche. They needed time ot process this and then act accordingly.

It was then I realized this whole experience while mostly centered on me was not entirely about me. This was a part of the coming out I would never fully understand or empathize with as I was not a parent. I did not know this particular loss or process and only knew my own in relation to the event. It was then something softened in my heart for my parents, this was the vulnerability that led to honest conversation that I needed. I needed to know they felt something during this process and that it was as monumental as what I felt I endured.
Compassion took over and from that moment on me and my mother as well as my father started mending our relationship to the fine place it is.

Below is the clip and the conversation really picks up @ 2 mins and 16 secs in.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Gods Silence #52essays2017 week 9

It was right after I came out to my parents. I have to say my parents because other than my sister my parents were deathly afraid of anyone finding out the shameful secret. I did share this information to the very few I could express myself freely with. Luckily I had select friends whose parents and them kept me loved and supported through these times. Its not that I could not process what they were doing as kind and/or necessary but the desire for me to have that from my own parents trumped any appreciation I could revel in.

This was the worst time for me and God, who in the Fuck was this God?! Terrible one! Killer of first borns! Plague bringer! Was it him who printed out my AOL conversation? The same God who when I lost my retainer for 3 days checking every pocket and drawer searching for in despair because my parents threatened for every day I could not produce the retainer I would be punished, only to find it in the pocket of the pants I had checked several times before? The God who made me this way?

This was the renewal of deep seeded depression and old insecurities that already infected me. It was some time later my mother told me she would find me as a young child in my room by myself or when I was alone and thought no one looking, crying and staring off into the distance. She would ask me what was wrong and I would respond with, "You don't understand. There is nothing you can do." When she would press me I would withdraw further into myself for days on end. I had to be reminded of this as somewhere and somehow I blocked this all out of my mind. I can only imagine that I knew I was different and I also knew it could not come to light without me feeling the scathing consequences. Seems I was right.

This led me to late night conversations with God. I hated him for all I was and all he allowed me to go through, and yet I had no choice but to turn to him in my times of need as was inculcated for me to do. I now can imagine the odd and damaging dynamic where the abused have to rely on their abuser for something due to circumstance and life positioning. In the contemplation of this relationship between me and God it was apparent that I was in an abusive relationship. He was emotionally unavailable and never answered when I requested of him his Divine aid. Surely he read my heart and new my desire. Countless nights haunted with insomnia, my ears wet from tears who ran their course as I laid looking at my ceiling. My eyes puffy and red spent from crying, my nose raw from blowing, my throat dry from incessant pleading for God to make me straight. To make me normal. What response did I get? Nothing. Silence, bleak and daunting met me these evening reminding me of my loneliness.

One night in one of my most earnest tear shed request from God, the Silence thundered and resounded. Stillness was present, this state of in between in which all things stopped. Time was not a factor. MY past and future did not exist I was left with me and only me in the present moment. In this moment I heard a voice, it was feminine. Deep with wisdom and yet light enough to ease my fears enough for me to listen. The voice spoke into my mind, rivaling the silence just moments before.
"God cannot and will not answer you. You ask what God cannot nor would not give. You ask him to make you normal and you make you different than how you are. God already declared all that was made, 'Good'. He has no answer for you and yet that is the answer. Gods silence is your answer."

This thought rocked me to my very core. I had been imploring God for something I could never have. I was left feeling like the kid who kept asking the parent for something that the Parent made it apparently clear the child could not have nor would they provide. Yet I expected a different answer, some how I wanted mountains to move, thunder in the clouds with loud voices and doves, I wanted cherubims with flaming wings and swords to reveal a different truth. That something was wrong with how I was and needed to be made differently. I believed this lie, all this time I had hung on the word of what others told me or showed me I was. I believed I was shameful, disgusting, unworthy of anything worthwhile.

God did not have a hand in my anything, or did he... Was the printing of my online conversations a push in the direction of me coming out? Something I would have avoided and continuously endeavored to live a double life in fear of being found out?

Was this the voice of God I heard moments before, this beautiful female voice? Was God a She?

It would not be until years later I understood the importance of Stillness and listening when in that space. What I did learn from that day forward was that shame was not something I was willing to carry. Not over my orientation which I could not change if I wanted to. Which I couldn't choose if I had tried. I was to start living in the notion and wonder of being me. Not that I knew who I was but By Golly I was going to find out without fear of anyone trying to dictate how I should feel or be in this life.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Coming Out #52essays2017 week 8

Realizing at a young age I liked other boys was weird. It was weird because while I knew what I was feeling felt natural and so strong, I also knew I could not share it or talk about it to anyone. Interestingly enough I had people around me who made fun of anything that was not Masculine enough to be defined through the lens of a societal norm as well as harsh criticism. Throughout the years I fantasized about if my first kiss would be with another boy, although the opportunity arose I was petrified by the sheer actuality of it and instead kissed my good friend sister instead. I had crushes on boys I may have went to school with but I knew all I could ever do was give them dap in passing and prove my "masculinity" to them by being able to walk the walk and talk the talk to whatever extent would leave me passing for acceptable.

Funny enough it was a young girl I befriended and her sister who gave me my first exploratory experiences and journey into sexuality and mutual pleasure. However, as mentioned in a prior essay the intimate reaction while beautiful and honorable left me empty and devoid of any connection. I was fully engaging in sexual relations with whomever I could and it only fed a desire in me to want more and more. This turned into anonymous encounters with random boys my age group or men who exceeded that age range. This anonymous world allowed sex to occur whenever how ever but little else. I didn't realize at the time I was using this momentary mutual desire to feel validated as a sexual being. Just the idea that someone picked me, or wanted me and enough to allow me to interact and participate with them. It sounds odd but it was the one moment where I did not bare the weight of feeling like the odd man out. The outsider looking at everyone else having what I felt I never could or would.It wasn't until my late teens that I was given the opportunity to meet other gay boys and men whom I could interact with on a sexual and friendly manner.

It was not until I had to come out to my parents that my world turned upside down. This was the day of AOL chatrooms where one could get a CD of free hours and trial time periods where on could interact with others all over the web with like interests. I had entered these gay chat room and flirted with men some of which were twice my age. We exchanged quips, laughs, and most of all sexual innuendo filled conversation that one could obligingly call "flirting." To this very day I cannot tell you how this happened, but the why was a apparent. I had had a half online half phone discussion with a 41 year old man who lived in Florida. He saw a pic of me and thought I was actually good looking, some thing I was not used to from random encounters where I felt any man would look at you a particular kind of way if horned up enough. We had proceeded to talk about our interests in music, and performing arts, for literature, and of course sex. A long detailed online conversation about how well we both enjoyed oral sex both giving and receiving. Well this exact conversation for some strange reason wound up printing out on the printer without my knowledge.
Not too far in the future, perhaps later that week I came home from high school and my father was in the kitchen. As I walked by he spoke at me, "Go upstairs to your room. You and I have to speak." I got nervous thinking perhaps I forgot to do some chore in the house he must have repeatedly asked me to perform. When my father came up the stairs and entered my room, he tossed a folded bunch of papers on the bed that separated us on either side of the small room. When I grabbed the paper and opened it up seeing my screen name and the other gentleman, I broke into a sweat. My stomach turned in nauseum, and I slowly looked up. My father was so upset but worse, the disappointment dripped from him in tandem with his sweat. He reminded me he was a man of the God and how I was raised. He explained that God, him and my mother did not raise no faggot and that I was no longer welcomed under his roof. I felt bereft and abandoned just then, where could I go? Would I have to ask around if anyone would take me in? If my own parents did not want me for being gay and I was their own child who else would even want me. My father in his anger when he found the letter, had called my sister who was living some distance away explained to her the circumstance by which I had to leave his house. This felt like a further betrayal, while I loved my sister dearly by way of nostalgic memories and general principle of family relation, we were not close by any means. Separated by several years and her moving out early from our house, I was Ashamed yet another party new my business and secret. My sister came and spoke to my parents and they directed her upstairs to my room to brief me on my departure to go live with her. I in no way was packing any bags I was too in shock at the reality that my parents kicked me out of my home. The only volumes across her visage. She said few words but they impacted me greatly, "How ya holding up?" I broke. I crumbled and I cried my greatest and deepest tears. Of all the things to come out of her mouth I didn't expect such sympathy and consideration for me and my feelings at this moment. She consoled me and told me what she would moments after leaving my room repeat verbatim to my parents.
"David, I love you. You are my little brother and I will always love you and support you. Nothing is wrong with you. Sure I can take you from here and put you in a school district somewhere else. The issue is... this is where you life is. This is your home and no one is going anywhere if I can help it." What magic words she used in reciting this to my parents I will never know but they worked. My father came up and told me he talked to my sister and decided it was not the best move but he did tell me that I had to talk to the Elders (leaders of the congregation) and tell them about the life I had been living.
Feeling choice-less and powerless I reluctantly agreed and the next time I went to church I looked around and realized this may be the last time I see these people under the pretenses that I was normal and accepted amongst them. I had to look around and see the face of my peers, some of which were school mates, adults who knew me since I was six years old and elders who led the congregation that I had respected and loved on some level. Post the service I was taken to the back by my parents and told to explain to the elders what I was and for how long. I was mortified I did not know where to start. Was this like confession of the Catholics? Was I supposed to tell them all the sexual acts had performed on both women and men alike? Was I just to tell them I was gay, as if that was the end all be all? I honestly do not remember exactly what I said or how I communicated the point across that me and men was what it was, and I could not repent about it because it was above me. This was not a choice but a natural inclination, an instinct that was with me from the beginning. The Elders did as I suspected they would they took to the bible to tell me how wrong I was in this area of my life, but I had access to the same scriptures and rebutted their admonishments with a few key scriptures I thought that explained love supersedes the trivial nonsense of who one actually loves or is attracted to in a consensual manner. I was made aware that I was to not speak to the rest of the congregation and I was to be announced as someone who was stripped of any titles I earned as an active member in the congregation and while many would not be made privy to the nature of my separation they would still know I was marked as "inapproachable" and "unrepentful." This was a sock and shock to my whole system. I had been actively attending this church with these people since I was 6, in ten years of building relationships and in some cases spiritually going through the motions I was being dismissed in mere minutes.
Later my mother bothered and hurt by all this recent news, lashed out in the worst possible way. Before I can tell you what she said or did I would have to first explain why it would hurt so much when she she did.
Me and my mother were like best friends. At birth after 36 hours of labor I had went into distress and died for a short amount of time and was resuscitated shortly afterwards. A Preemie by three weeks I was born small, nail-less and put into an incubator. My mother had formed a bond with me like no other. Some of my constant childhood memories is us at home as we played Crazy eights, Rummy 500, Gold Fish and War with decks of cards on our free time. My mother was good to come with a pen and pad and play Hanged man with me. We spent so much time watching shows on tv and movies and laughing about so much. I was the youngest I was home more than my siblings who were always out and about in the world being teenagers. Being the youngest I had to also learn how to cook at a young age. My mother a type 2 insulin dependent Diabetic would often get low blood sugar in which her behavior would change drastically and verge on violent, scary, or faintish in which a coma was not entirely out of the picture. I was trained at a young age to find something highly dissolvable like a mint or candy, or even juice which would spike her blood sugar much faster than most other things. Another sure fire thing to do was to get her to eat, which also helped to raise sugar. Worst case scenarios there was a special syringe in the refrigerator I was to use in the event she fainted and or became unconscious. I also new how to draw insulin into a syringe if need be and remove any free air before injecting as well as extracting blood from her fingertips to place on strips and run through her glucometer. This was all by 9-10 years of age I learned this. Many times I cooked my mother some eggs and toast or some rice and pan fried pork chops and I coerced her into sipping milk with sugar stirred in or juice if we had any.
So imagine my dismay and hurt when one day coming in from home, I walked into a silent kitchen. I greeted my mother kissed her cheek, of which she looked straight ahead and did not acknowledge my presence let alone return any affection. I figured she was still upset at what happened at me coming out. I chose to ignore and keep on moving, perhaps retreat to my room and avoid seeing my parents so miserable. As I walked out of the kitchen to leave what I heard stopped me in my tracks.

"You disgust me. Everything about you disgusts me. I cant even look at you without seeing a dick in your mouth and a cock in your ass. I wish you would have stayed dead when you were born. You are a waste of an investment f 17 years of my life. You think I didn't know you were bring a faggot in my own house. I found the sex toy in your draw. I knew you've been using them on yourself. Your fucking disgusting!"

I didn't feel the sadness I was my mothers child as feisty as they come and I had a retort on my lips as I released the following, "No mom you disgust me. You are nothing but a little girl afraid of life. Such an adult and you cant handle that I like boys, or as you know men. I must have gotten it form somewhere, probably you. I guess what really is sad about you is that you never loved me, you pretended for 17 years to give a shit about me and now you realized that was all based on one thing. Who you wanted me ot be and not who I actually am. SO the only one here disgusting is you."

I must have shocked the shit out of her because I did not feel the lethal tug from behind I would have expected for opening my mouth and talking back to my mother in such a manner. In fact I walked away and up to my room without any attack from behind signaling that I had crossed some line that did not fly in any Puerto Rican household. Everything became a blur after that, I remember something in me opening up and cracking straight down the middle. I was left open and exposed, and yet while tears flowed continuously I can honestly say I felt nothing. This was a numbness I never experienced in my life. Was this a natural chemical defense of endorphin that coursed through my body to avoid pain? I knew I was hurting and what was said devastated me, how could it not? And yet it was emptiness, as if my body reacted to what sadness would do to it but I was not there in the moment.

A day or two later as I read a book up in my room I heard wailing, such a grief stricken painful cry that I thought surely someone was dying. MY mother weak dragged herself on her stomach hands and knees up the stairs. her tears leaving a streak of regret on each step as she slowly made her way up. She apologized and asked forgiveness and In all the words she needed to get off her chest I could not hear any of them. I went through the motions yet again, got up and hugged her, consoled her through touch and silencing her mourning. Yet I felt nothing, I looked down at a stranger. I might have well been consoling anyone who fell and hurt their knee. I was left devoid of emotions, but I had a void the likes of which needed filling. That's in itself is a whole other essay.