Need I Say More?

November 13, 2009

nano_participant_redSo, the mad ashe.selah comeback and re-org is still on hold, while I crank out words faster than the government cut checks to Haliburton during the Iraq War.  My first ever ever NaNoWriMo is in full effect.  Last week, I was above quota.  This week, esp. having celebrated a birthday yesterday (yayah!), the newbie is down 4K words.  But that’s ok.  I’m on vacation, and I’ve got some me time to try and put a dent in 10K words by the end of the weekend.  Ooh she’s so ambitious lol!

Anywho, I’m having a ball, I think.  No, I am.  I haven’t written this many words in the two years of deciding to write a book.  There.  I said it…don’t shake your head lol.  It’s been part content, part analidity (I made that word up).  My internal editor is a wicked perfectionist, and I’ve been ruthlessly mocking her – dangling participles in front of her sneering eyes, hanging the moon in previously sun-filled scenes.  She’s going crazy, but she’ll be okay.  Like the story goes – December is for editing…that’s when I’ll let her out to play.  Right now, output is all I need to care about.

Speaking of which…back to my 17K present, in search of the 50K finish line.  Love to all, hope you’re doing well :)!

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preopBlood pressure.  120 over 80.  Weight. 156.  Darn 30 is now darn 6 :).  Smoker. No.  Alcohol. Twice a year count?  No. Drugs. No.  Chronic disease? Diabetic. No.  Stroke. No.  TB. No. Chronic pain. No.  Acid reflux. No. Heart murmur. Heart disease. Heart attack. No, No, No.  Std. HIV. No, No.  Asthma. No.  High cholesterol.  Thyroid problems. Blood clots. Ulcers. Seizures. Arthritis………

The cute PA with the baby face checked off a laundry list of No’s for pre-op.  She finally ended the form with, “You’re a very healthy woman”.  Her smile was geniune.  Maybe it was me that projected the question in her eyes…”what are you doing here?”

I’ve been very blessed…thanks be to God!  Hearing those words made my soul smile, so grateful to say No to sooo many diseases others deal with on a day-to-day basis.  I have no clue.  But, her words sparked not only gratitude, but reflection.  The mirror of my past, and thoughts of my now. The journey that brought me to that very chair in the hospital room, discussing patient history, anesthesia options, and having blood drawn in case I need some during surgery tomorrow.

Never experienced serious illness before this journey.  The dis-ease they’ll remove symbolizes the dis-connection from pain and depression.  By the grace of God, we are strangers now, no longer intimate friends.  

Moms tried to refute my argument.  Probably a loving petition to take myself off the hook.  “Well, there are many people who haven’t experienced traumatic events…and they develop disease.”  This may very well be true.  But, I believe we underestimate the traumatic effects that prolonged anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, stress, and the like have on our bodies.  How do we respond and manage traumatic events?  The cells in our bodies aren’t hard of hearing, and they respond to every thought we have in our minds. 

I was researching psychosocial/psychological stress and its effect on health.  Stanford U has a very engaging site about stress & health…check it out.  Looks like the same physiological stress response early humans had while running from predators, is the same response modern humans have for taxes, divorce, or even public speaking.  The only difference is, when the predator is gone, our bodies return to a state of rest…we release the stress response.  Not so for stress in our daily lives.  Why do we keep the heightened state of madness going, changing, increasing?  Could it be cos our minds are so advanced, creative, imaginative now…that we’re smart enough to keep it going, foolish enough not to turn it off?

For me, this concept magnifies when I think about women.  We are creators, no?  The very essence of creativity, the center of life lies within us…our womb.  And when it comes to fibes, this goes triple for African-American women for some reason.  What happens when we carry seeds of unresolved hurts, pains, trauma…extensions of stress?  We do what we do naturally — we create!  We give life and bring forth chaos in our bodies. 

Moms asked me the other day, “Do you want to win?”  Health, peace, joyous life…insert any prize into the blank.  She’s never been to college, let alone read the Stanford U findings, but funny how they agree substantively.  After my resounding “Yes!”, she says, “Well, the battle begins in the mind.  Negative thoughts are like birds…you shoo them away before they land, don’t give them time to build a nest…that’s more than half the battle won.” 

Lord, help me to be smart enough to LET your mind be in me, and LET the beautiful birds of truth, love, purity, goodness, honesty, fairness, and praise dwell with me always.

Until soon….

asheselah

But What About Me?

May 7, 2009

So, I’m nearing the end of this book, right?  The novel’s reaching a heart thumping pace.   I’m gobbling the pages, rooting for characters…will he?  won’t she? — totally absorbed like a nosy bystander, wishing they’d ask me what to do next.  Ooh wee…this is good.

A chapter ends on a solid high note.  The making of a happy ending.  Eight more pages till the end.  The protagonist WILL overcome…I can feel it.  I couldn’t have written it any better.  The words just fit.  The flow was natural.  And then, before you know it, I’m wiping a tear from my cheek.  What the? Where in the world did this sad emotion come from?

Grief?  Not this time.  Fumes from too much overtime…nah.  Anxiety about surgery in 2 weeks…could be, but don’t think so.  After an honest look in my heart…there it was.  I actually heard the thought.  “Why won’t my book flow like this?  What about me?”

A wave of jealousy?  Maybe envy sans malice?  I dunno.  Whatever it is, it ain’t pretty, doesn’t feel good at all.  For a moment there, I got side-tracked.  Slathered in writer’s block and frustrated, I became reluctant to see my own well-being outside the light of another’s good fortune.  When really, the truth of my own intrinsic value can only be revealed in the Light of my own path and purpose.  It’s soo easy to be distracted when we look on another person’s paper.  Funny.  My answers won’t work for you…and vice versa.

This little episode reminds me of my kids.  When you praise one, the other pines, “but what about me, Ma?”  The loving mom replies to son or daughter, “you don’t have to say ‘what about me’.  Son’s/Daughter’s praise doesn’t take anything away from you and your goodness.  Actually, you could add your goodness to the situation by being on the inside of praise….Don’t stand on the outside feeling mad and jealous.  It’s much more fun to be happy for your bro/sis.”

Bunch of crock LOL?  Painful Truth?  I know the latter is the best attitude to have, and the truth never needs a cosignor….But what about those times when it’s a challenge to join the praise party?  You want to be happy happy joy joy, but maybe it’s something you worked so hard for, yearned for, would die for, and another’s rocking it hard?  Wow.

For me, it goes back to path and purpose.  It’s crazy.  When we sneak a peek at someone’s paper in this test called Life, we never can see every answer, can we?  Most times, we don’t know WHAT it took for someone to be who they are, where they are, or have what they have.  I have no idea what it took that author to birth her book.  And you know what?  When I’m published, vice versa :).  Everyone has their own process.  The hard part is trusting it…timing and all.  When I look back at the moves and whines of my selfish self, I have to admit it…I usually see the greater good in the end and am so thankful that things did NOT go my way… and grateful that the Creator kept me on purpose…despite the tantrums.

What about me?  I’m not forgotten…just in my lane, learning and growing as I go through my motions….

asheselah

Driving home from work is when I decided.  “Today has to be the day.”  Not tomorrow, not next week, not cos I’ve been too busy…ain’t a lie, but no more excuses will do.  Today, Today!!

No matter how much he looks like him, acts like him, sounds like him…no matter how much he brings up that name (“No, I don’t know how they’re doing…I don’t keep up with them much.”)…It was time to see him.  Today, today, today!!!

So, I called him.  Voicemail.  Every inflection in his voice screamed Daddy.  Funny.  The sound was unusually pleasant to my ears…no urge to hang-up and run lol.  It’s getting better, it’s healing.  “Hey Unc, how are ya…listen, I wanted to come by and see you tonight…call me back and let me know if it’s a good time…Love you!”

Not five minutes later, he calls back, “Ayye, couldn’t get to the phone in time…what time you comin’ by…that’ll be great!”  You know, one of the most beautiful, inaudible sounds in the world, is that of someone smiling through the phone :).  He couldn’t wait.  Neither could I.

If there’s one thing my Mama taught me growing up, it’s manners and respect for the elderly.  So, there was no way I was gonna show up to Unc’s house empty-handed.  Call back.  “Hey Unc, you need anything from the store?”  “Ah, yeah baby, I’ll give ya the money for it…a dozen eggs, a bag of potatoes, and some Cola.”  I thought I’d play around with him a little.  Knowing full well, I asked, “What kinda Cola?”  “Well, Pepsii Cola..what else?…I like it ice cold.”  We laughed.  Just like his younger brother liked it..ice cold with the ice frickets in it, Daddy used to say.  Before we hung up, as if caught off guard by the kindness, he gave me a big, “Girl, I Love ya!”

See, Unc is 81 going on 30.  A true hustler and Macaroni Tony from back in the day.  Just call him an old G.  You could never tell him he ain’t got it anymore….even though he really hasn’t seen it since, well, you get the picture lol.   Unc is still all swagger…got pep in his step, and loves life.  Says his secret is vodka and pretty women.  Let him tell it during our visit, “I neva did ugly, neva liked it…If my money got ugly, I’d throw it away!”  LOL!!

You never know, when you just decide to Do It…what will actually come out Of It.  We laughed the entire evening, but the highlight of the visit was flipping through his oooold photo albums.  Wow.  I’ve never met or seen many people family on Daddy’s side, being the rolling stone he was and all….but that day, I saw for the first time in my life — My paternal Grandma and GrandDad.  Oh the stories, esp. about my GrandDad — night club owner in the 30’s, with some pretty interesting connections *wink*.  I plan to hit on some of the highlights in the book…scenes straight out of a Bumpy Johnson movie….

But, I wanted to share this…maybe for nothing more than to read my growth.  The so-called rock and glue of the family left everyone behind when Dad passed…total disconnect…even from his twin, Unc.  After a little over a year, it’s getting easier now…and I’m very grateful.

So, what was up with today, today, today?!  Well, let’s just say nothing jolts you into tying up loose ends, making mends, stop putting off today for tomorrow, stop talkin’ and get to doin’…Nothing suffocates procrastination and excuses — quite like Death.  God rest my co-worker’s soul…

asheselah

The Love You Need

November 3, 2008

Well folks, it’s been a loooong six month wait.  A wait that ends this week with round 2 tests at the doc’s.  I’m in cool spirits, with confidence in the Love I love…. 🙂

—–

Krystal watches her from the waist up.  A trepid view of her at work between two knees. Gentle was good, painless divine.  Determined to interpret every wrinkle in her forehead, every squint of her eyes, she gave Krystal nothing to wrap her wits around.  Not until that moment.  The moment that shattered silence into a million pieces on the exam room floor.

Somehow, even before the first word left the doctor’s lips, Krystal knew.  After today, she would never be the same again.

Life had taught Krystal many things.  When it comes to words…the ones that warm the ears, prick the heart, and rock the soul…sometimes the position one is in, at that moment, heightens the very intensity and relevance of the words spoken.

Snapping off the left, then the right latex glove, Dr. Harmon smiles and lays it on her.  “Mrs. Ashe, you have got to make sure…you get the love you need.”

As if all the air had been sucked out of the room, Krystal couldn’t breathe, let alone speak.  How do you respond to something like that? “Okay” seemed inadequate, almost juvenile.  “I will” felt utterly ridiculous.

“…the love you need.”

Like reams of Polaroids scattered in her mind, Dr. Harmon’s words were worth a thousand pictures.  Nine hundred and ninety-nine of them told tales of toil, near hits distracted by attractive counterfeits, scenes of searching for even the slightest resemblance of love — neatly packaged with Krystal’s name affixed to the label.

Beyond that batch of madness, one Polaroid remained.  The first one ever taken.  Still under-developed in a film of dark grey, waiting patiently to be fanned and shaken.

“…the love you need.”

Krystal didn’t need her legal training to see it.  She clearly recognized the inherit assumptions supporting Dr. Harmon’s statement.  Get the love I need?  Heck, do I even believe the love I need exists?  And if it does, does it cry out for me, does it need me as much as I need it?

As if her thoughts had echoed to the grave, Krystal could hear Grandma Josephine, as clear as the days she sat in her Big Mama chair with her light blue house dress, rubbing her feet together.

“It?!  Chile, donchu mean Him?  If you believe in God, you believe in Love.  God IS Love, baby.”

Somehow, even before the first word left the doctor’s lips, Krystal knew.  She would never be the same again, not after fanning and shaking the first and last Polaroid.  Krystal realized — her last and only real hope had been waiting first in line.

(c) 2008.  Ashe.Selah

You Didn’t Write That

September 19, 2008

So, I’ve got this pet peeve, right?  Doesn’t matter if I’m at the job or at home.  But since I spend most hours of the day in front of a computer, the likelihood of someone picking this peeve is rather high.  Hear me good…Do not, under any circumstances, stand behind me reading my screen…geesh!

I don’t know if this comes from my days fighting micro-management in corporate America, or from my Mama’s ever-knowing, all-seeing eye (took me years to realize she was watching me sneak goodies from the fridge through the reflection in the breakfront LOL!).  Which brings up another thought, maybe because I’ve lived so cloak & dagger, super secretive, I always think I’m under the microscope.  Hmm.

Anywho, this pet peeve has been the catalyst for some interesting moments, to put it lightly.  I’d lash out, feeling someone’s glare creep up the back of my neck, and promptly ask with as much attitude as I could muster, “May I help you?”

Well, I’ve been trying to take a mini-chill pill on this thing lol, and one day, even though I knew hubby was reading my screen….I just let it happen.  {Feeling my own head} What?  When he was good and done, he says, “Who wrote that?….you didn’t write that!”  Laughing, I replied, “yes I did!”  He walked away with his lips tooted in the air.  That meant two things.  One, “stop telling them tales” LOL!  And two, “who is this woman?…this is not the woman I married”.

If anyone has had a front row seat to my 180, it’s hubby.  When I tell ya I’d never had a desire to write or read, he’s the loudest voice in the amen corner.  And while not all aspects of life change are easy or without challenges, I’m having a ball exploring this new love of writing and reading.

Hey, it was only a rough draft of a few intro paragraphs, my character beginning her search for answers, but…..You wanna read my screen too?

If God made another vegetable rich in iron on the third day, He hid it from my Mama.  All I knew was that this stuff rhymes with feet, and that’s exactly what they tasted like.  Feet.  Feet soaked in vinegar. Wet feet that left big pink footprints on every other food on the plate, if I let the juice run.

Cole knew it was true.  Sitting across from me with his uneven fro and half-formed smile the moment Mama sat his plate down.  He wouldn’t even look at me.  Partly because he knew I had a silly grin on my face, fork-mic in my hand, and I was just dying to make him laugh.  He’d be in big, funny trouble too.  Cole could bust out laughing at any table in the city of Orlando, except the avocado-green formica and chrome dinette located at 2075 Mercy Drive, subsidized Unit #106.  Especially when Mama had just presented a nutritious, gourmet meal, rich in iron, on a food stamps budget.

I could tell he wanted to politely excuse himself from the table, take a trip to the only  bathroom in our apartment, and pull a somersault out the broken window above our toilet.  It occurred to me too, on a separate occasion.

But, like any big brother setting a good example, he graciously said, “Thanks, Ma” before Mama’s fingers even released the plate.  We both better had.  See, it was better for us to offer speedy thanks, than to appreciate Mama off beat to the battle cry of “Whadya say?!”

“You’re welcome”, Mama said without slowing down, or even looking back at Cole.

“Thanks, Mama!” I said, as she zipped around the table with my plate of white rice, one fried chicken leg, a square slice of Jiffy cornbread, and a battalion of beets. Cole slipped me a subtle nod of approval.  Apparently, my verbal appreciation beat Mama’s expectation of an on-time delivery.  Two points for me.  Though, by the looks of my pink rice, Mama had let the juice run.

…continued (c).

Inspiring Words

August 24, 2008

They had always been inside of her. She just never knew when or how to get them out. Actually, she didn’t even know if she wanted them. Words. All shapes and sizes. Telling the tale of a traumatic childhood, and the treacherous road she came over (overcame) to reach survival’s side.

Then one day last month, we met each other.

Being an “author-in-residence”, I try my best to support the newly published. Those who have crossed the burning sands in my horizon *smile*. It was my first book reading. An intimate gathering at an upscale restaurant/club to celebrate the release of a friend’s book.

When I walked in, I saw her (let’s call her Tina) sitting next to another lady chatting. Tina was sophisticated, yet unpretentious. A naturally beautiful woman who didn’t need the touch of red on her lips to brighten a room. Her smile sufficed. She wore her silky black hair in a ponytail; sunglasses on top of her head kept any stray strands neatly in place. I didn’t make out the Asian and African-American cultural mix, but I’d see it clearly before the night was over.

I greeted my author-friend and made my rounds around the room…giving hugs to those I knew, introducing myself to others (folks, this is a miracle in itself…me? I’m workin’ it step by step. I digress). I briefly introduced myself to Tina…nothing major, just a hello.

The evening was wonderful, my friend’s book a hit, the live music oh so lovely.

Somehow, Tina and I were some of the last supporters to leave. She came up to me.

“So are you an author, too?” I smiled and told her I was working on the manuscript..no ETA for the book as of yet. “So, what is your book about?” Now, this question always gets me, because I haven’t really ironed out my 1-minute pitch yet. How can I describe my book in a sentence or two? I made up something quickly.

“My book is about a prominent female attorney, who after some pretty embarrassing bouts with anxiety, begins the process of memoir therapy…and let’s just say, the secrets buried beneath her pages aren’t very pretty.” “Wow, so is any part of the story yours?” I allude to childhood trauma, how the character, like many of us, is a wounded big-little-girl. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but before you know it, we were trading signals, secret verbal codes, and confirmations that our real lives had some strange similarities.

“I would love to wrap my truth in fiction like you. My mother just passed, and I kinda feel like I can tell the story now.” “You’re kidding, my Dad just passed [a month after your mom], and I couldn’t fathom telling my story while he was alive.”

We went on and on, had a bite to eat with my author-friend, we all talked some more (off subject). Tina was going to ride home with my author-friend, but she asked if I could take Tina home. Realizing she was on the way, I gladly offered.

On the way to her house, I listened to this wonderful woman’s story…surviving incest, resulting pregnancy, abandonment from her family, reuniting with family….Ahhh!!! I couldn’t believe the story, or our similarities…but then again, I could. Tina expressed how hearing my story inspires her even more to tell hers, perhaps a historical piece detailing the culture clash and romance between Asians and American soldiers. However she chooses to use her words, one fact about our meeting rocked me more than anything….Here I am…novice writer, fresh out of hiding myself, inspiring words in a beautiful woman old enough to be my mom…Tina was 60 (doesn’t look a day over 45)….and still emotionally impacted by events in her life.

Tina and I talked last week for the first time since our meeting. She shared things with me…could count others who knew on one hand. She is so on fire lol, so compelled to write *smile*. We’ll do coffee soon, meet up with our laptops, have some writing sessions. Hubby commented to the effect, “…get ready, girl. All the hell you went through wasn’t just for you….they’re coming….the ones God had in mind while He was working on you…”

I really don’t know what I can offer Tina…how or even IF I can help…then again, sometimes all you need is a little encouragement from someone who’s been to the same/similar hell…and back. Probably means more than the world to her…like it does to me. Ashe.Selah