Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last night of the long shift at Debra's

Yes! I made it. I knew I would but I am glad to see the day and time come. I'm off at 8am and on my way to have a great day with Uraeus, the twins and Lynette. I need to get some good rest because I'm sure it will be a long day. Sidebar, I can't find my cell charger anywhere so hopefully I left it at my mom's place.

Again, I need to get some rest. That's the only hard part about the assignment at Debra's. She's great to get along with it's just the lack of sleep. I start changing her every two hours from 6am to midnight. I'm tired usually. But right now I'm not tired. Now I'm excited. Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house...

Dear Therman (from journal entry 7-27-11)

Often I think about how we used to talk when we were both in the house in Georgia. You at the table and me on the kitchen counter. About nothing. About everything. We always made it deep. We always made it nothing. In my mind some days, I'm back there with you. Talking about everything and nothing. Walking to the bank, Publix, shopping for the month at WalMart. Picking you up and dropping you off, being picked up and dropped off at the Greyhound station, at the airport. All of it. Recently added to my collection of memories was us catching the train and bus from Alan's funeral in Long Beach this summer.

Because we are so much alike, roamers of the land, collectors and tellers of stories, we knew the face to face moments wouldn't last long. But thank you. For every word of advice, every conversation, every dollar bill, all of the information about politics I wouldn't know anyway. I am glad to know you as family. Honored to call you friend.


At Debra's day 4 (from journal entry 7-27-11)

Debra's friends from San Diego came to visit. They stayed for about two hours and now they are gone. I had Debra open the door for them when they came. They liked that and she seemed to enjoy their visit. She has had her lunch. She is changed and now taking a nap. I will try to get some rest myself and then read and work on the show for Saturday.

I got off the phone with Lynette about thirty minutes ago and we are so excited about taking the boys to the beach on Friday. I think I'll even get in the water.

Dear Jaha,

Put the pen and notebook down and don't pick the book up and go to sleep.

Dear Uraeus (from journal entry 7-27-11)

When I was growing up I used to overhear grownups and grownupish folks say "Don't let your mouth write a check that yo ass can't cash."

I was born a storyteller so I found the phrase catchy but I didn't really really know what it meant in real world terms. On the playground it meant, "if you keep talkin' smack, you gon' git yo butt kicked after school (at recess, at lunch, whatever)."

Now, in the real grown up world I see how wise that statement is. In the world of right and wrong, if you knowingly do something "wrong" ask yourself if that wrong is a wrong you can cash. Meaning, is that wrong a wrong you can look the offended person or people in the face and completely and honestly say "I did this or that."? And then stand there without blaming someone else or defending your actions. If you can't, you are not ready for that wrong.

Before you answer whether or not you are ready to walk into a wrong, remember how tricky and greedy the ego is. The ego will tell you that you are ready to own up to it and take responsibility for it. But don't listen to the ego. There is a voice inside of you that knows when you are lying, knows when you want your truths to be lies and knows when the lies you tell yourself are really true. That voice inside of you knows you. It's up to you to know that voice.

Now keep this in mind, there is absolutely no wrong you will ever get away with. Ever. But knowingly committing a wrong you are not brave enough to own up to will only produce more wrongs you are not brave enough to own up to.

This of course is not your permission slip to seek out wrongs to do in your life, rather a guidance, if you will, on taking responsibility for the wrongs that you do.

I love you

At Debra's day 3 (from journal entry 7-27-11)

It's 10:26am and I'm at Debra's on day three of this shift. It's been going well. She has her yes moments and no moments. So do I. Mostly I'm winning the battles I need to win. I had a funny moment yesterday. Her friend Reese called and asked to speak with her. Often Debra doesn't like to talk on the phone. Sometimes not even to her brother. She will usually accept visitors but the phone is a different animal with her. I explained that to Reese and we decided to give it a try anyway.

Me: Debra, it's Reese Handler on the phone. Would you like to speak to her?

D: (whispering and shaking her head) No, no tell her I just left.

Reese and I had a light laugh about that. When we hung up I laughed harder.

Well, Reese called back today and I was glad Debra felt like speaking.

Where the stories come from (from journal entry 7-26-11)

People often ask me how I come up with the stories I come up with. My truth is that I don't come up with them at all. I just listen. The settings change but I close my eyes, or not, and a woman is sitting (or standing or walking or working or...) next to me and I write down what she says. Old, dead, southern women love to tell me their stories. They trust me to tell them how I got them. I am honored to be chosen. Over and over.

The day I saw a man haint! (7-26-11)

She went down there anyways. I tole her not to go. With all the mangos spread over the floor like they was she shoulda undastood like I undastood but she say aint no haint gon tell her who to love and be happy with and who not to.

Ax me a haint know more than me an' her both know put together. I saw him when he slapped the lemons on the ground and the mangos fell. Yes you heard me right. It was a him! And I saw him with my own eyes. I tole Mama an' she tole me to come on in an' take a cold shower an' rub blessed oil on my body so don' nothin' happen to me.

You know it's true don't you? If you see a woman haint with long hair and a hat on then she just comin' to explain a dream to you that you cain't undastan' or she gon tell you some good numbers or special colors to paint your front door or something that's kinda good.

If she don't have no hat on and she got short hair then it mean that somebody is tryina do you harm an' she a tell you who it is and what to do.

Carole Ann say she saw a haint one time that was a woman who had one long pigtail and one short one and she was wearin' paints and no shirt but I don' believe that. Mama say Carole Ann family always was a fib.

But now if you see a man haint then you gotta listen to everything he say and do it word for word. Then you gotta go home and take a shower and smooth yoself in blessed oil to help you remember or something will happen to you. Don't nobody know for sure if it's something bad or super bad because everybody always do like the man haint say.

Man haints don't usually show theyselfs but if anybody see one then they real real lucky. I saw one. He didn't come to see me. But I saw him just the same. Me and Lacy Grace was runnin' 'round Mr. Peter's market. We was just runnin', runnin', runnin'. He tole us to stop all that runnin' but we didn't pay him no mind.

Me and Lacy Grace both had turned ten the month before that. She say now that she was two numbers she could wear some grown up lipstick on her face and have a boyfriend if she want to. Her mama didn't say so, but she say so. Lee Robert ax her to come over past the field and meet him by the big trees and give him a kiss since she was old enough to wear lipstick.

I tole her Lee Robert don' know nothin' about tellin' her to meet him nowhere and he just turn ten years old four months before us hisself. She say Lee Robert tole her he love her in Sunday School an' she was gon sneak off an' give him a kiss in the field.

Everybody know that a kiss in the field is badder than a kiss behind the school or the church but she say she wanna field kiss with Lee Robert. Say she was gon leave when we left the market.

That's when we saw the man haint. Only us saw him look straight at Lacy Grace and point his long skinny fingers an' say she bet not go lookin' for no field kiss an' take her tail straight home. Then he slapped the pile of lemons but it was the mangos that fell. Mr. Peters was standin' right there lookin' straight through the man haint but he thought it was me and Lacy Grace knocked 'em all down with our foolishness. But it wasn't our foolishness at all. It was the tall man haint with no hat and no hair. Mr. Peters didn't believe us. He said we both was a fib 'cause ain no man haint gon waste his time comin' way down to see two fasstail girls.

Lacy Grace ran outta there fast as she could and I look Mr. Peters in the face an' I tell him I wasn' no fass girl an' we did too see a man haint. Lacy Grace was already gon toward the field and I took off too. To take my shower and tell Mama.

Banana bread (from journal entry 7-26-11)

It's 11:04am and I'm on day two of this shift at Debra's. I'm about to take an early nap. She just laid down, took a muscle relaxer and so will probably be sleep soon. I have been sleepy for the past few days. I gotta get it together.

As usual, I changed Debra at 6 this morning. She doesn't like to get up early and I don't like her wet. She let's me change her at 6 as long as I promise I'm not getting her up. I wash, change, dress and get her up at 8. This morning we made a deal that if I let her sleep until 9 then she would get up and get in the shower. I more than halfway knew she wouldn't stick to it but 9 sounded good to me too.

At 9 of course she thought it was too early to get into the shower. Before I washed her I had the idea to make some banana bread. All of Clara's banana talk probably stuck in my head. I used three bananas that turned soft and brown and put them in the baking pan after I lightly greased it with butter. I mixed the bananas with a cup of wheat flour, two eggs, a little sugar, butter and a cup of milk and put it into the 350 degrees preheted over. It smelled good cooking.

I got Debra ready for the day and she got up by herself and into her chair. As she sat I made us spinach, cheese omlettes, toast and juice. The bread was still smelling good and rising.

By the time we finished breakfast the bread looked done. It was good! It was flat though. I don't know what happened that made it rise so full then fall flat as a thick pancake. That's what it taste like. Like a sweet banana pancake bread with a crust. Maybe for lunch I'll put some in a small bowl and heat it up and put some whipped cream on it.

So the banana bread went well. I'll figure out what to do to keep it nice and fluffy. But for now we have a nice little dessert.


Ah ha! I talked to Lynette and told her abut my bread. Baking powder! Apparantly I was missing a tea spoon or two or baking powder and she said I should have mixed the wheat flour with white. Although the next time I make it I will try t do it without white flour again and see how it turns out. Maybe tomorrow. And perhaps I'll add shredded carrots, zuchini and walnuts.

At Debra's. Day 1 of long shift. (from journal entry 7-25-11)

It's 4:44 and I'm at Debra's today. Actually, I'm scheduled to be here until 8am on Friday morning. This is the longest straight shift I've been scheduled for. I don't have my computer with me so I can't get online. Shoot. Staying positive through Friday. Uraeus and I will go school shopping and go to the movies and things. Looking forward to that. He's back in Palmdale with my family. At the moment he's probably playing video games with his cousins.

The cat was missing. Well, cats are never actually missing. The cat was out of sight. Chuckie. I knew he wasn't outside because I made sure the doors were shut and locked. He wasn't in his usual sleeping place and so for almost three hours, Debra and I walked around looking for Chuckie. Under beds, behind bookcases, in showers. Nowhere. The occupational therapist was here and after she left, Debra and I sat outside on the patio and then who should come scratching on the screen but Mr. Chuckie himself.

I'm at peace today and am getting prepared for a long night and week of writing. Creative writing. Stories. Poetry, music, essays. Something. I love the blog and all the journaling and freestyle but I have other writing muscles to work out. Well, I'll just see what comes out this week.

The noise in my head is at a very low ripple. I had some things on my chest to say and had an opportunity to let it out and release to the person it was directed to and that created more room than I even imagined. Thanks for the opportunity and my willingness to take life up on the gift.

I am breathing and am thankful that I can see stories everywhere.


It sounds like Debra's friend is leaving. Hopefully I'll be posting soon. And not about my clients and diapers and cats and work shifts.

At Clara's again (from journal entry 7-24-11)

I'm at Clara's again today. It's 7am. I have plenty of energy today. It was great going to my mom's last night and spending the evening with Uraeus. We talked, laughed and he shared some new comedy episodes with me on youtube. I shared some things with him on youtube also. I showed him a video of some of the students being interviewed in Norway. I was sick about that. Our children need to know that the world is not that big and that there is nowhere that is way over there. Anything that happens anywhere in the world is happening in our own backyard.

He stood above me at first. I sat at the desk at the computer and as the young man spoke, the young man who was about the same age as my son, Uraeus watched and listened to him speak and slowly sat his almost fourteen years big ole self on my lap. And he wasn't heavy. He was my son. And so was the young man speaking, way away right next door in Norway, my son.

That wasn't the only situation that had me in tears yesterday though. Amy Winehouse passed away. What a precious gift to the word. Wow. My pen. This prophet pen. I meant to write what a precious gift to the world and wrote word instead. And she was indeed. A precious gift to the word. She sang her stories as richly and as truthfully as a human being can sing her story. And that voice. I am too lazy in the moment to work for words to describe her voice. That touched me. Here.

Clara is sleeping on the couch. I have my feelings about her sleeping on the couch. I don't like it. My first impulse is to judge the caregiver from last shift for not putting her in her wheelchair and pushing her back to her room then putting her in the bed. Yes it's hard work. But it's hard work from me too. Yesterday I made her breakfast, lunch, dinner, gave her a bath, changed her diaper every two hours from 7a to 7p, cleaned her feces and urine a million times and did the laundry. Not to mention listening to everything I need to know about bananas. I acknowledge that getting her back in the bed is hard work. And? I should be more understanding though. I wasn't here last night. She was. And sometimes Clara won't let you move her. I do get that. I'm more frustrated here sometimes than I allow myself to admit. The thing about the couch though is that I don't want the couch to become the new bed. The place where she stays for a week until I or maybe another caregiver moves her. I only know what goes on here during the week through the notes because I'm usually at Debra's during that time. But enough about last night.

I pray that this will be an easy day with Clara. Yesterday was pretty easy. Stealing moments to write about it helped. Did you read the last blog entry, Therman? Do you remember the nurse I was talking about? The one at the hospice in Georgia?

Clara is talking in her sleep again. That makes me feel weird a little bit. Hearing her sleep words. I meant what I said about that yesterday. That is so private. It's like walking in on someone wiping themselves in the bathroom or something.

Almost my whole check last week went to my rent. You know how it is moving into L.A. apartments. That and the fact I had to pay full rent and utilities in my old place in the same month put a pucker my finances to the tune of my phone being off this whole week, until Friday. That's cool though. I'm in my place, the car is running well and I have the hours I need at work and Friday is coming. And everyone who needs to reach me has my client's info. Of course that list is very short. My son, Lynette, D, my mom. Everyone else can find me oline. Go Facebook! Go hotmail! Go yahoo!

And Red Stories is this Saturday! Yes! I'm always uber excited about Red Stories. This month Shay Fresh is featuring with me. Also Brad said he was coming. I'll send him a message tonight to see if he will get on stage and tell a story. I know he has plenty. Other than Brad as a surprise hopefully special guest, I think I'm going to keep Saturday night to just Shay and me on stage. I've got to do some more promoting this week.


Just looked at the paper. Front page: Norway. Amy Winehouse. I can't stop reading.


I just gave Clara her bath and noticed that the scab on her leg that I reported yesterday is very bloody today. Also reported a bruise on her right arm that was and is bleeding. Expecting nurse today. She said this morning that one of the caregivers squeezed and twisted her arm and that's how her arm was injured.

C: 85 people killed?! Good God!

She just read the headlines in the paper. She is sitting up now on the couch with her tray of breakfast, juice and coffee.

What I really feel for with the elderly who live alone are their complaints of abuse going unrecognized. Clara is constantly accusing me and others of stealing from her, lying to her and hiding things from her and I know that I am not abusing her in any way. She has said really mean things to me and has greatly gotten on my nerves. I have never, however and would never abuse her in any way. Of course though, I can only speak for myself. Now I don't think any of my coworkers would abuse her either but I can't say for sure because I'm not here. I walked into the room once and Clara was lifting a lamp above her head. I caught her and took the lamp before anything happened, but what if I walked into the room a minute later? Her head would have been bruised and I would have been the only staff on duty and her story probably would have been that I hit her on the head. Or something like that. I don't like being under 24 hour camera watch when I'm at Debra's but I sure understand where her family is coming from. Also it protects me. If Debra ever said I did this or that to her we can always go to the tapes.


I called the agency and reported the bleeding bruises.


C: 85 people?! Can you believe that? Do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes.

C: I have to go now!

Me: Ok.

C: It's not gonna leak?

Me: No.

C: Can I sue you?

Me: You can try.

C: (laughs) So what ever happened to Zsa Zsa?

Me: I don't know.

C: Boy, they sure hushed that situation up, didn't they?

Me: Sure did.

C: Whatever happened to my lamp? (The one I saw her lifting above her head. I took it and put it in her back room.)

Me: I think Helen (her niece) put it in your back room. She said it wasn't working.

C: Well how would she know unless she was trying to keep it for herself?

Me: Hmmmm.


Me: Who twisted your arm right there?

C: I don't know what she looked like. And I certainly wouldn't want to accuse the wrong person.

Me: Certainly.

C: But she used such foul language. Don't you know anyone you work with who uses such language?

Me: No.

C: Blond.

Me: Excuse me?

C: She was a blond.

Me: Here is your medication.

C: Oh, I haven't had my medication in so long. So this one is what?

Me: For calcium.

C: And what is this for?

Me: Stool softener.

C: Put it in my mouth?

Me: Yes.

C: And this one is the same thing? Two of them?

Me: Yes.

C: Then why aren't they working?

Me: Oh, they are.

C: How do you know so much?

Me: I clean it up.

C: (laughs) Then you would remember that. (pause) Oh, look at that! 85 people! Can you believe that?

I have to move the paper. She asks for it often if it's not right there next to her and if the front page is not on top then that caregiver is stealing from her. Today I will risk being the theiving caregiver because I don't want her to keep reading that story. It was hard enough for me to read it. And I don't want her to keep saying it out loud.

The kitchen sink is stopped up so I've been washing dishes one by one in the bathroom sink. It irrated me that the dishes from last night were still here. She just left like the dishes were going to do themselves. That's cool. I won't be here tomorrow. Although I wish I was going to be here tomorrow. Debra's case is a 24 hour case and I much prefer going home every night than sleeping somewhere else days at a time. The 24 hour cases are getting played out for me. I don't want to cancel them now because I need to get caught up on a few things. Plus I want to be a few months ahead on my rent and I want to give Uraeus a lot more.

I need to sleep. I don't remember the last time I went to sleep and I didn't have to get up early the next morning.

Me: Let me change you.

C: Well, in a minute, if I decide to let go of what I'm holding onto.

Me: Let it go, let it go.

C: You think I should?

Me: Definetely.

C: Well, you're the boss of these things.

Me: (thinking) I am the boss of shit.


It's super quiet in here. She's sitting on the couch reading the paper from cover to cover.

Dear L.A. Times,

Thank you for your thick Sunday editions. Seriously.

I was so sleepy a little while ago. I drank some coffee and dozed off a bit right here at the kitchen table. The quick nap plus the coffee helped.

What pieces am I doing for Red Stories on Saturday? Why isn't Uraeus answering his phone? Did Lynette go to church today? Am I losing weight, 'cause these pants feel kinda baggy? Is there any more wine left at the apartment? That table is dusty over there. I better wait until she goes to sleep though. If I start dusting, she's gonna want me to mop the floor and paint the walls and retar the roof. I wonder if Aquiah posted a new entry in her blog. It's really good.


C: Help! Help! Help!

Me: I'm right here.

C: Would you open the window to let some fresh air in?

Me: Sure.

C: Can you believe that man walked in and said "You're gonna die"?

Me: That was so sad.

C: Turn on the television so I can see the news.

Me: Ok. Let me change you.

I changed her and she was only slightly wet. I guess yesterday was bm day. Cool. Changing her also gave me an opportunity to put the front page under the stack of papers.

C: What ever happened to Zsa Zsa? You know she had her right leg removed.

Me: Yeah?

C: I think she called the papers and demanded that they not say anything about it.

Me: You think she has that much power?

C: Oh sure. And the media respects her and they will do what she says. And also she's very rich you know.


C: Do I have a diaper on?

Me: Yes you do.

C: I did? I'm asking if I do now.

Me: You do now.

Yesterday Clara told me that she and her husband were divorced when her son was only four. She said she remembered standing in front of the judge.

C: He had a bit of a problem with alcohol and it never got better. You know, someone asked Oprah why she never got married and do you know what she said?

Me: No.

C: She said she liked her privacy. That's what I will say if someone asks me why I didn't get married again. I like my privacy. I did all my own work you know. All of it.

Me: Yes I know. That's great.

Dear Uraeus,

Every day of your life, make sure someone else's life is better in some way. That is how you have a great life. That is what matters.

Love Mom

C: Hellooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Do you like that picture?

Me: Yes. It's beautiful.

C: I bought that picture from Barker Brothers and it was on the floor. Do you believe that?

Dear Uraeus,

Make your life bigger than yourself.

Love Mom

With everything going on in the world, who I am in this moment, a caregiver sitting on Clara's couch talking about the picture on her wall, is not so big. If big or small is really a measurement at all. If important or irrevelant mean anything at all. But because of who I am in this moment, a caregiver sitting on Clara's couch, discussing the picture on her wall, a painting I am not particualarly imprssed with by the way, Clara is not hurt. She has someone to listen to her. This is my opportunity to cause somebody's moment to probably be better than it would have been. Or at least my opportunity to have my life, my moment, be about someone else.


She is still sleeping.

I talked to Lynette and was glad to hear that she had a good day at church.

Called my mother and Uraeus was with her. They went to church together and afterwards they went to Sizzler to eat. Mrs. Clinton was in the car when I called my mother and it reminded me of when I was my son's age spending time at church and then to eat and then to take Mrs. Clinton home. Mrs. Clinton was my grandmother's friend and she makes me think of my grandmother. I look at her and wonder what she would be like now. She passed away June 97 and Uraeus was born November 97. Mrs. Clinton ate at Sizzler with Uraeus in my grandmother's place.

Lynette called and may take Uraeus with her to pick up the twins from her father's house in Laguna Beach. Lynette and I were pregnant at the same time with our boys. The twins were a month premature so they were born in October. I used to babysit all three babies while Lynette and her husband were at work.


C: Help! Help!

Me: I'm right here.

C: What time is it?

Me: It's 4:30.

C: Well why am I up so early?

Me: It's 4:30 in the evening.

C: What day is it?

Me: Sunday.

C: Well, I didn't even go to church?

Me: No.

C: You know I'm English.

Me: Yes I know.

C: They were the first ones to abolish slavery you know.

Me: Really?

C: Oh yes. The English are good people. Very liberal. You know Jesus was liberal.

Me: Hmmm.

C: I go to an Episcipal church.

Me: Yes I know.

C: Not one of those churches where they scream at you. Where you brought up in the church?

Me: Yes.

C: Episcipal?

Me: No. A Baptist church.

C: How could you go to a baptist church? I wouldn't touch a baptist church with a ten foot pole! All that screaming and hollering at you. And they are so conservative. No, that's not good. You should talk to your minister and ask him what he thinks about the baptist church compared to the episcipal church.

Me: Ok.

C: What's your minister' name?

Me: Henry Ford. (of course he passed away in 87)

C: I don't know him. I was just trying to see if he was a leader or not.

Me: (thinking) He was more of a leader than you will ever know.

C: Can I have coffee?

Me: Sure.

C: (while I am in the kitchen) How can anyone be a baptist? I wouldn't touch a baptist church with a ten foot pole.

Awwwww! I have the best friends! D said she was sick of not being able to reach me and turned my phone on.


Less than two hours to go.

C: You know, I think because I'm accustomed to going to church on Sundays is why the time is all thrown off in my head.

Me: That must be it.

C: That was good soup. Thank you.

Me: You're welcome.

C: They sure make weak coffee here though, don't they?

Me: They sure do.

C: Oh my goodness! 85 people!

They are talking about the massacre now on the news. How incrediblly sad. Those were children. I should be making coffee. I have to unfreeze myself to make coffee important right now. This is just horrible.


C: Help! Help! Help!

Me: I'm right here.

C: I'm having a bm.

Me: Ok.

C: Well, help me do something about it! I haven't had a bowel movement in a whole month you know.

Me: Well, you had three yesterday and two today.

C: Well, that's what you say but I've been having bowel movements a lot longer than you have and I know a thing or two more than you do about the topic!

Me: Ok.

C: Well?

Me: Well what?

C: Aren't you going to give me some good advice?

Me: What would you like me to say?

C: Well, you could say "just push it right along and keep helping it as it comes."

Me: Ok. Do you want some water?

C: Well, sure. Everyone needs water. Don't you even know that?

Me: Ok.

C: Help! Help! Help!

Me: Clara.

C: I'm slumping too far down in the couch. Stand behind me and pull me all the way up!

Me: One. Two. Three!

C: Whew! Thanks.

Me: No problem.

C: You're so big and strong. I can see now why they selected you for me.

Me: Wow.

C: Oh boy! Nothing is more tiresome than lying here doing nothing.

Me: Nothing more.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sad face me

Amy Winehouse

My day at Clara's

Today I'm at Clara's house. My new least favorite client. I read the notes from the other caregivers since I was last here last Saturday. It looks like she's been giving everyone quite a time.

I'm feeling good this morning. After I left Debra's yesterday morning at about 8 I went to Palmdale to pick up my son. We spent a little time in the house laughing with family and then headed down to Los Angeles. I haven't been in my new home since the 15th, my first night there. It felt great walking in with Uraeus. My roommate D, Lynette and Laura came by later. My three girls! We laughed and had a great time and they all loved up on Uraeus. They have all known him since he was very young. Lynette has known him since I was pregnant with him.

Uraeus loves comedy. We went into the backroom and watched old comedy videos and I enjoyed listening to him laugh. I remember my aunt/friend Val saying that she wanted to raise boys she could be friends with later. I feel that way. Uraeus is a person I could be friends with. He is someone I can laugh with, talk with. At his age I am giving instruction and discipline. And we still find plenty of time to laugh. We still talk. I like where he is growing.

I feel free this morning. We woke up early because I had to take him down to Long Beach and then be in Los Feliz by 7. We left L.A. at 5:30 but I still feel very awake. Very ready for the day. Things are good in my head. Things are good in my life. I would like more time to hang out with my son but the time we are spending is quality for sure. I get off tonight at 7 and we will spend another evening together and start over tomorrow when I'm scheduled to be back here at Clara's at 7.


Already I need to breathe. Clara is being...herself today. She is sitting at the breakfast table going through everything on the table accusing the caregivers of not giving her her medications and everything else she can possibly think of to complain about and accuse.

C: People today don't seem to want to read. Weren't they taught to read? Technology isn't good for anything today. What is this?

Me: It's the gift card for your groceries.

C: But it says I owe $32.98. I didn't know anything about owing Trader Joe's $32.98. How am I supposed to know I owe Trader Joe's $32.98?

Me: You don't owe them $32.98. That's a gift card. We use that card to get your groceries. $32.98 is how much money is left on the card.

C: Well how would I know that if I'm the one who has to go and get the groceries? Who am I supposed to make the check out to? I don't even know if that's the correct amount.

(And so on.)

C: I need to have a meeting about the suppositories and such that aren't being given. I have a new card here from DMV and it expires next month and it's not quite that yet.

I talk when I can but mostly I let her go on. I haven't been here in a week and she hasn't been out of bed in a few days. Mail is lightly stacked on the table and she is going through each item.

I gave her her morning medication. After she took her medication I went to the restroom.

C: Helloooo! Helloooooo!

Me: Just a minute, I'm in the restroom!

C: What!?! Whaaaaaat!?

Me: I'm in the restroom!

C: Well, bring the telephone in here when you come out!

Me: (sitting next to her) What do you need to call the doctor about?

C: Because I took the wrong medication and I need to let the doctor know.

Me: You didn't take the wrong medication. I gave it to you myself.

C: Well I feel it burning in my throat.

Me: Then here, drink some more water.

C: But it says here that this is supposed to be stool softener and I swallowed it and now my throat is burning.

Me: You're supposed to take the stool softener by mouth.

C: No you're not! Who would put stool softener in their mouth? Call the doctor! Call the doctor!

Me: See, look. It says right here.

C: So you think I need some more water?

Me: Yes.

She drank the water and we are on to the next topic of the day. She is reading the newspaper so there will be many topics.

C: Do you wanna buy a three bedroom condo with a pool in Pasadena for only $380,000?

Me: No, thank you. I have a place to live.

C: Well, I'm not reading it to you for you to buy. I'm just keeping myself informed about what's going on everywhere.

Now I'm thinking about how I'm going to remove the phone from the table so she won't get any other ideas about calling anyone else.

This is cool. I never write this much while I'm with her. It helps. There is other work to do and eight more hours on the shift to do it.

I'm watching the ABC kids time on television. The Emperor's New School is coming on now. I've never seen this before but it looks silly enough for me to keep it on. It is a change from the Law and Order I would be watching if I was with Debra.

I gotta get her away from the table because now she has the bottle of stool softener in her hands again. I anticipate her next move will be to either open the bottle or look for the doctor's number again. But then, she looks deep in the paper still.

Ok Jaha, get up. This blog entry is going to get boring fast (if not already) if I keep sitting here with my notebook and pen in my hand.

Yawn. That's me. Really yawning. Already my head is dreaming about next Friday being off and going school shopping with Uraeus and to the movies. And maybe skating. We haven't been skating in a while.

This cartoon might be too silly for me.

Seriously Jaha, get up.


Haaaaa. She's so funny. So when she's irritated she asks me to call her friend Mary so she can talk to her. Mary has a caregiver too and when they are on the phone together they talk bad about their caregivers. Interesting because neither of them would be able to talk to each other if the caregivers didn't make the call.

C: Helloooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Where are my cushions that go to the sofa?

Me: These right here?

C: Well those are cushions aren't they? They cost over a thousand dollars.

Me: K.

It's almost time for lunch. I don't know what that will be yet though.

It's interesting you know (I've got to find a better word than interesting) how the people in charge of our most intimate care get treated so disrespectfully. I'm not just speaking of Clara here, but of her and all of my clients and everyone who needs someone else to wipe and clean and care for them. These are the people many of them choose to speak to as if they (we) are nothing.

Take Clara for instance, she speaks so badly about Mexicans. "What do they know about cleanliness? Why would I ever eat anything they cook?" Her verbal attacks on Mexicans are super harsh. Yet who does she think most of her caregivers are? Mexicans. I wouldn't be surprised if when I leave she talks about black people worse.

I was talking to a coworker recently and she told me about

C: Do I have a diaper on?!

Me: Yes you do.

C: Well I'm doing it now. Wee wee.

Me: Ok.

She was telling me about one of her clients. He's one hundred years old and white. She (my coworker) is a a Mexican and full sized woman. That sounds crazy. Like there are half sized women. Anyway the woman she works in the house with is a black woman. He, according to him, can never remember her name so he calls her Herculeus. Wow. One day he called for her and said, "Hey Herculeus, where is my coon?" Yes he did.


I just came from the laundryroom downstairs and immediately cleaned Clara, washed all the feces off of her buttocks and put a new pair of "briefs" on her.

She is sleeping now and looks so peaceful. I wonder what she dreams about. Is she back in Paris, her mother's hometown? Is she in San Francisco, where she grew up? Is she dancing with her son who passed away at only twenty-seven? Fought in the Vietnam War. Lost to agent orange. She talks in her sleep. Words I can't make out. I don't try. Words said in someone's sleep belong to them. Even if you are there. The are not your words. I may not like Clara sometimes, but I am decent enough to not hear her sleep words.

Hey Therman, this is for you because perhaps you are the only one who ever reads my blog. Remember when we were in the house in Georgia and I worked at the hospice? Remember the nurse I used to tell you about everyday? The mean one. The one who used to be so rough with the old woman with all the bed sores. I thought about her today. Silently I said a prayer for her. As if any prayer is ever silent. But I said a prayer for her and patients in her care. The staff in her charge. The people who share working space with her. I don't know why, but I did. I wished peace and ease for her.

I was there. I know how it is to be around

C: Are you making a grocery list?

Me: No, I'm not. Would you like me to?

C: Yes, put pasta sauce on there.

Me: Ok.

I know how it is to be around that much death, sickness and pain. As caregivers, we take that in. Too often we wear it and carry it with us where we go. I have God. I have you. I have friends, my son, my family, merlot. I have art and poetry, photography, laughter and Red Stories.

I prayed today that she has someone, something that feeds her. That gives to her.

Just four hours left.

C: Is that a grocery list you're writing?

Me: No, it's not. Would you like to write a grocery list?

C: No. I was gonna say tell them to get graham crackers.

Me: Those are graham crackers you're eating.

C: No it's not. I know a graham cracker when I taste one and those are not graham crackers. They are something else. Did they change the recipie? Are you sure those are graham crackers?

Me: That's what the package says.

C: The package says that? I am an old old person and any old person knows what graham crackers taste like. They must have closed the original company and started a new one. You say those are graham crackers?

Me: Yes.

C: Those are like a mix between a regular cracker and a graham cracker. Certainly not a full complete cracker. Where is my mail?

Me: I gave you your mail. There it is.

C: All this mail?

Less than four hours to go and I'll be leaving Los Feliz and going to Long Beach to see my favorite person in the world. Uraeus.

When he was a little boy I used to say that to him every night.

C: Did you read this about bananas?

Me: No.

C: It says that bananas are rich in potasium. A banana will keep your heart healthy and strong and they will sinch the amount of salt in your body. So if you've had too much salt then eat bananas. It can alter the course of aging by eating bananas. They keep your mind healthy and your body slim and vigorous. Did you hear that?

Me: Yes I did, thank you.

C: Well I've always known that.

I used to put Uraeus to bed and say "Who is my favorite person in the world?" And he would say "Me."

C: A banana a day will reduce sodium. I've always known that bananas are the healthiest vegetables.

Me: (thinking) I thought bananas were fruit.

Now Uraeus is taller than I am with his deep voice and big hands and long feet. Hairy legs and fuzz on his lip. And still my favorite person.

Uraeus was taking some things out of my trunk last night and my new landlord came out and gave him my mailbox key. He came upstairs and said, "You know, he looks partially like Uncle Therman and partially like Uncle Herman." I didn't notice before, but he does. My observant son.

So, I did a lot of writing today. And a lot of work and the day was easy. I need a massage. I'm lifting Clara too much for my back. It's a strain on my back every time I change her and especially when I lift her from her bed to her chair. Then from her chair to the couch.

C: Helloooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Can I do a bm in this diaper?

Me: Yes you can.

C: Hellooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: Are you interested in hearing something?

Me: Sure.

C: (clears her throat) It says that a banana a day can reduce sodium and cholesterol. It is one of the healthiest things you can eat you know. It's very good for you. Just one banana a day can do that much.

In about ten minutes I'll go downstairs and get the laundry from the dryers.

Dear Clara's family,

It's not that I don't enjoy watching and listening to infomercials all day. Hey, I like to stay up on the new juicers as much as the next woman, buuuuut, maybe think about gettng basic cable for your aunt. I think she would be much happier being able to watch, I dunno saaaaay, Law and Order around this time. Think about it.

Thanks. Have a nice day.


Gotta go get the laundry.

C: Hellooooo!

Me: Yes?

C: I have to have a bm! Can I go in my diaper?

Me: Yes.

C: Are you sure?

Me: I'm sure. You can go. Let me know when you are finished.

C: Hurry! I don't want to soil my pants. I'm going now! I'm going now!

Me: It's ok. It won't leak onto your pants and I'll clean you when you finish.

C: Well you have more experience then I do I guess. I don't think I'm going to have a bm, just wee wee. I can't seem to have a bm today. I don't think I'm getting all my medication. I didn't even get any today!

Me: Yes you did. I gave it to you.

C: Did I take it?

Me: Yes.

C: Ok.

I cleaned her feces, changed her diaper and dressed her.

C: I just don't seem to be able to have a bm. I don't know what's wrong.

Me: You just had a bm. For the third time today.

C: Well you say that but I don't know how much.

Me: Two small ones and one big one.

C: Oh yeah. Well, that's good.

Ok, Judge Joe Brown is on and there is a black defendant being sued by his white ex girlfriend/children's mother. The defendant is wearing a bunch of jewelry and telling the judge his reasons why he hasn't been able to pay back the plantiff.

I'm waiting for Clara to say something about him. I know it's coming.

Surprisingly, no comment.

It's 4:12pm. Let me fold the rest of the laundry.

Ok, I need to change the channel. On this case the plantiff and defendant are both white so she probably won't make any comment but still there is way too much drama going on.

Quiet time. Folding clothes. Judge Joe Brown.

C: (groaning)

Me: What's wrong?

C: Well what do you think is wrong? Everything is wrong. I'm trying to have a bowel movement and I'm hurting.

Me: What's hurting?

C: Well, the concern over not having had a bowel movement all this time. Get my doctor on the phone! I want some results around here. Do you think it's all in my head or something? A person is laying here trying to have a bowel movement and it's just very serious.

Me: Ok.

C: And I keep on asking and asking and asking! Will someone get me a wet cloth so I can wipe my face and put some makeup on?! Hellooooooo! Is anyone there!

(Now watching George Lopez)

C: I don't wanna watch something as silly as this. I'm sure you're not watching.

Me: What about this?

C: Well of course. That's I Love Lucy. That's a very good program. She died didn't she?

Me: Yes.

C: What about Zsa Zsa?

Me: Ummm?

C: Did she get her legs cut off?

Me: I don't know.

C: I never heard anything else about it. I think she got her legs cut off but she is so vain and rich that she called the people at the paper and demanded that they not tell anyone. I think that's what happened.

Me: I think so too.

C: Well sure. You know a woman like that doesn't want people to know.

Me: Oh sure.

C: Hellooooooo! Are you there?

Me: Yes.

C: Well would you put my eyebrows on and make them even?

Me: Sure.

C: Well I can just feel that that one is too low. You have to follow the bone structure you know. They have to be even you know. And not too heavy you know. I don't need dark eyebrows on with my complexion.

Me: How's that?

C: (Looks in mirror) Well it's too low. They don't match. Well just give it here.

Me: You need a new eyebrow pencil.

C: Just do it lightly. I don't need dark eyebrows. See, now I need a new eyebrow pencil. That's because you don't fix it after you use it you know.

Me: Of course.

C: (Putting on foundation, lipstick and mascara) Ummm, hellooooo! Do you have an extra eyebrow pencil?

I Love Lucy is over

C: They don't have any good programs like that anymore. Can you open this one up? (Her blush)

Me: Sure.

C: So you only have one eyebrow pencil, huh?

Me: Yes.

C: Oh, I have a lot of them at home. (She is home.)

I Love Lucy is on again.

C: They don't make good programs like that anymore you know.

The clothes are folded.

C: So what will you have for supper?

Me: Well, I'm going to go home for supper, but someone will be here soon.

C: Oh you live somewhere?

Me: Yes.

C: Oh that's good. Well it was sure nice of you to come over.

Me: Oh no problem.

C: Well I wasn't discussing if it was a problem or not. I was just saying it was sure nice.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Winding down

Ahhhh, another long work shift is winding down and I am chillin'. In my own way. Do people still say chillin'? I am trying to write and create and work on some new material for Red Stories coming up soon. Debra is comfortable watching Burn Notice (which I am finding to be pretty cool).

Ok, dang. Just when I was about to get into some kind of writing groove in comes this cricket or some kind of bug/creature. What the...It's not jumping or flying, it's like, walking. It has the longest whiskers or something. See, where is Chuckie the cat when Jimmy the cricket is around. He's sleep that's where he is. He's laying up in Debra's lap watching Burn Notice. I'm not really one to be afraid of bugs really but it's still messing up the flow. No I don't usually know what I'm going to write or type about when I get started. I like to just let the thoughts flow but a blog about a bug in the room is not how I wanted to end the night. I don't want to kill it, I just want it out of here. Uga muga!

Now it's hiding behind the bookcase. Hellooooo. I see you!

I'm an idiot because I'm dedicating this blog to the bug.

Ok, so my son always tells me I turn everything into a "life lesson" so here goes. Seriously, it just came to me. Look at how much time I am dedicating to something so small. A bug. It's not as big as the nickel on the floor it just jumped over. And here I am using all this energy to kill it, hunt it, find it, look for it behind the bookcase. A bug that perhaps is just lost. Only wants food, water, shelter for the night. A bug is a threat to me?

From this perspective my actions and thoughts are silly. That must be what we look like to God. Stressing over bugs. Over money, time, friendships, enemies. Crying over bugs. Over work, love, hate. Dying over bugs. Over politics, religion, words.

Dear Chuckie (Debra's cat)

I'm going to kick your ass if you shit on the living room floor again! I know that you are waaaay toooooo spoiled to be a cat, and you are used to me laying on the couch in the living room or keeping the bedroom door open where I sleep so you can meow in my face. Last night I closed the door because I didn't want to you to bother me. And this morning you shit on the floor! Really! I don't know if this is cat for "Fuck you" but you don't want it with me. Maybe you were mad because there was no food in your little cat tray. Well, buddy! You shouldn't have eaten it all yesterday or you should have just waited until the sun came up and it was refilled. Get it together, Chuckie!


Sooooo, a few months ago I was on the bus stop on Manchester and Normandie in Los Angeles. I saw a guy in a white (small car) wave at me. I waved enough to acknowledge his wave but also to say "I really don't know you, please keep it pushin'" so of course what did he do? Make a u turn and come and talk to me.

He got out of the car and on the outside seemed to be a nice enough guy. Nice enough meaning at 2:00 in the afternoon on that busy corner I felt safe enough to have a conversation with him until the bus came. He told me that he thought I was beautiful and he just had to turn around and whatever whatever whatever. He made a joke, told me his name and reached to shake my hand. When I shook his hand I could feel how small I was next to him. He was a big guy, that gentle giant type. Friendly, attractive, you know. Now a handshake between friends is short enough but a handshake with someone you meet on the bus stop should be even shorter. Joke, friendly, handsome or not. So after the second and a half my hand was in his I pulled my hand back.

He smiled and held my hand tighter when he felt the pull. He tried to be witty but still held my hand. Not long. Still seconds longer than I said was ok. I thought to myself, wow, we aren't even fighting, we are laughing and I can't get away. What would happen if we hugged and he didn't want to let go or worse, having sex, or really in a fight?

As women, we tend to think about safety a lot. For good reason. Now, to him, he was probably just joking around and meant no harm. But I listened to that voice in my head that told me to pay attention to those few seconds my hand was in his and my pull was declined.

I spoke about this to a friend and asked if I was trippin'. If perhaps I was making more of those seconds than was really there. After all he was a very big guy and was just joking, flirting (with my hand in his). "No" she said. "We have to listen to and pay attention to signs like that. Think about it, big guys know that they are big guys and are usually over sensitive about not making a woman feel threatened. Especially a woman they just met." I agree.

As he left he said, "Awww, come on. Let me take you out. See, my name is James and your name is Jaha. Don't that sound like we should go out?" Uhhh, no. No it doesn't. After he left I called my friend Deana who is always teasing me and telling me to "Stop meeting guys outside. They crazy. And really don't meet guys at a bus stop." Well, that was a few months ago and since then I have a car. Of course, two weeks ago I met a guy at stop light who I think really was crazy. But that's a whole nother post.


Tee hee hee! I went to the DMV in Compton to get a new license and when I took my picture the clerk said, "Baby, I know you want yo green eye shadow to show, but you still gotta open yo eyes." Loved it.

This was my post yesterday on Facebook and I opened my inbox today and someone I went to high school with found it necessary to tell me that I don't even have green eyes, I have light brown eyes (which I don't, they are dark brown, but anyway). Normally I wouldn't have responded but for some reason I did. I kept it simple but explained that eye shadow is makeup above the eyes.

Really people, before we go out of our way to correct people on small things like green eyes or eye shadow or things so little, to people we don't really know, point at yourself and say "Really?"

Good morning / Red Stories

Good morning friends and family. It's 5:56am on this beautiful what is it? ummm Thursday morning. This is my last day of this shift at Debra's and I am up sitting on the bed. I opened the blinds and I can hear the birds chirping and am looking out at the beautiful and plentiful trees. I love Pasadena. I am loving my life today. Loving myself today.

Red Stories is coming up! I'm always excited about that. The show is going so well! The show is the last Saturday of each month. This month the feature is Shay Fresh! She will be sharing work from her new book, BLACK LOVE and sharing plenty of stories as well. And of course I'll be there too! I'm looking forward to the show for many reasons but the one that pops out the most is that I'll be reading with Shay Fresh for the first time. We have never worked together. Of course I've seen her work but we have never shared the stage. Shay is also a photographer and painter, remind you of anyone? Sooooo, since we share creative expressions we will have an art show an hour before the show starts. So come out if you're in town. And if you're not in town then come and visit!

The show will be Saturday, July 30 at Vibrations 2435 Manchester Ave., Inglewood, CA 90305. The art show starts at 6p and the poetry and stories will begin at 7p. There is a $10 cover and remember to bring some extra scrilla for Shay's book, BLACK LOVE, and for art and other product you may want.

See you there!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dear Jaha

Remember how all day you couldn't wait to get back in the bed? Well, turn the computer off and go to sleep.



New love writing (from journal entry July 6, 2011 / 9:57am)

I'm trying to write a new love poem because that is what I am feeling these days. The lines are coming out of me but they are so corny. But that's ok because that's the kind of love I want. A corny love where we say "I love you" too much. Leave notes on pillows, share reading glasses, bake biscuits on weekends and finish each others sentences on the refridgerator with the magnetic words we bought together at The Learning Center. That kind of love. Where we drive the long way from Los Angeles to East Oakland playing the ABC game with the freeway signs. (And I win mostly). That kind of love.

From Julia Cameron - writer

"We all get the God we can relate to." I read that statement in her book THE RIGHT TO WRITE, and loved it. There is so much I can say about that. But I won't.

Writing creates room (from journal entry July 5, 2011 / 10:36am)

I'm at Debra's watching a Law and Order marathon, one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy Law and Order with Debra. I think she enjoys it as much as I do.

She is laying in her bed reluctant to be anywhere else. I am sitting next to her reluctant to move her. Writing helps. Writing forwards procrastination, moves reluctancy. Writing creates room in my space, in my head. Helps me see what things there really are to do.

I'm working at Debra's until about 8:00 Thursday morning. We have work to do. Work with her memory. Her legs. Feet. Hands. We are progressing. I saw this episode of Law and Order before but that's ok. Right now it is preferred. Time to write without focussing on one of my favorite shows with my favorite client. The time and space to write is needed.

"Mr. Waverly, Mr. Pratt, I am dismissing all charges against you. You are free to go." Damn.

In the God hour (from journal entry July 5, 2011 / early in the morning)

Right now I'm Debra's home. My Pasadena client. I notice often I refer to my client's by the city they live in more than their names. Anyway, I'm in the quest room of her condo. It is early in the morning. I don't know or care exactly what time it is. But if I had to guess I would say it is somewhere around the 3:00 hour because I am wide awake and heavily and happily inspired to write. My body knows my God hour.

God hour. I heard a friend say that and it stuck. Oddly I can't recall which friend said it or if he or she was truly a friend at all, but the phrase God hour, I remember.

Right now, in my God hour I am writing because that is what I do. To connect to myself. To connect to God. To create room in my psyche. To honor myself. To remind myself that this day existed. To let someone know a thousand trillion years from now that I existed and I named my world by putting my thoughts, however grand or petty on the page, on blog, on a wall, in a notebook I bought from Ralph's before work yesterday.

This is what I do. I put pen to paper and I let out what's inside. Whatever. This is how I begin my writing time. This is my favorite writing. My freestyle writing space where it all counts and none of it matters. Not really. It only matters that words are coming from my brain and through this pen and onto this paper. This is my favorite poetry. The words and thoughts that just fall out.

If I had to teach a class on writing, this is how I would begin. Everyone take out your notebooks and write. But writing classes are deeper than that I guess. I guess. I don't suppose I'll ever know. Any real class on writing can be best taught by instructing the students to get in touch with themselves. How can you write without knowing yourself? How can you describe the beach, the dog, the sea, God, your daughter's nappy hair without knowing your relationship to those things, people?

The less afraid you are of your own truth, the better the writer and human being you are.

Meeting Titus (from journal entry July 4, 2011 / 11:21am)

Thursday night I was at the gas station on Crenshaw and Adams and a man approached my car and asked if I would let him wash my windows. I told him I didn't want the windows washed but he could pump the gas if he didn't mind.

While pumping the gas he began telling me the abridged version of his story. Former contractor, something happened, hard worker, bad luck, good luck. Now living under a bridge. "You're so beautiful, queen. I wish I still knew how to flirt. I would talk to you more if I did." I thought about how handsome the man was. About my age I'm sure. "I wish I knew you ten years ago." He said. As he spoke, I imagined who he was ten years ago. Maybe I would have given him my number. Maybe we would have dated. Maybe. But Thursday night he pumped my gas.

Inturrupting our conversation came a man in his mid to late fifties, well dressed, sporty car. "Ey! Ey! I'm on my way to the car wash to wash my cars. I'll bring 'em up here for you to wash. Stay here."

Titus, that was his name. Titus began to clean my windows even though I told him that was ok. He said that a barber down the street had cut his beard for free so he had to give something to someone else. While washing my window, I heard him talking out loud. Not to me, just out loud. "Ey!? Ey!? Don't interrupt nobody sayin' 'ey! He don't know who I am. I don't care about how many cars you need washed." I felt sorry for him. Not for Titus, but for the man. The man with multiple cars and bad manners. That man. The man who couldn't see Titus.

I gave him all the change in my car and the bill in my purse along with a plastic change holder I bought and never used. He appreciated it. All of it. As I started my car to leave he prayed for me. Out loud. For my safety, protection. He prayed for me. Titus bowed his head, closed his eyes and prayed for me.

Who's to say

Debra and I are watching NCIS. She is laying in her bed and I am sitting on the brown leather chair near the patio doors with the swimming pool in my view just over my shoulder. It's a good day. Debra and I had and are having a good day. I will start preparing her dinner in about thirty minutes.

I like these entries. Where there is no drama or nagging negative thought pulling me to write. Just writing because I do. This is how I like life. Just living it because I do. Not constantly fighting through one hard situation after another.

The show is over now and I need to change her. I'll be back.

Debra is so funny. When I finished cleaning and changing her I brought her a cup of cranberry juice. As I walked toward her I asked her if she wanted juice. "No, thank you." She responded. Which is odd because she usually does. I said, "Oh, I guess I don't know everything." She laughed and said, "no, you can't, but you sure try."

Debra's cat, Chuckie is laying on the floor behind and partially under the chair I'm sitting on. This is the first cat I've ever been around this long. I don't usually trust cats. I'm scared of them in a way. To me, they always look like they are going to jump up and scratch me and then walk away like nothing happened.

I interviewed Journey Johnson about a year and a half ago on this blog and we talked a lot about cats. I told her what I just mentioned and she said that cats that come into your life act like you. They do what you would do. Perhaps. Very interesting when I think about it. I've never seen a cat jump up and scratch anyone, they just look like they would.

People have told me that I look mean. These are people who have never seen me so much as hurt a fly, but to them I look like I would. Hurt. I judge and get judged. I judge and have been judged incorrectly. But who is to say incorrectly? I don't that I won't do what others judge I would. Likewise, I don't know that a cat won't stretch his claws and scratch. For now, I'll keep my distance from Chuckie.

Why we remember what we do

I was in the fifth or sixth grade and my sister was in the second or third and we were at a slumber party for our cheerleading squad, the (mighty)Vidars. We were all at Tonya's house and the next morning my sister left her clothes on the bathroom floor. Tonya's mother asked whose they were in a voice that we know that the owner was gonna git it.

When Roshann came to get her clothes Vickie spanked her right there in front of all of us. She slapped her butt and my sister cried. Slap slap slap slap. The damage she caused to me watching my sister get humiliated and abused like that was so great. And it was abuse. And that's just the damage to me, what about my sister?

I remember being angry with myself for not stopping it. For letting it happen. But I was a child too and can finally forgive myself for not being an adult at the time.

Memories. They pop up when we are ready to use them as lesson. When I witness others being abused in any way makes me sad and sometimes mad at myself. Probably because they trigger this memory.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Journaling as therapy

Today is Tuesday, July 19, 2011 and it’s 8:54am. I’m at Debra’s condo. When I got here at 8, I got the report from Cindy, the caregiver from the last shift. She told me that they had a rough few days. Debra apparently didn’t want to cooperate with anything and cursed Cindy out. To top all of that, Cindy said that last night she (Cindy) was sleep on the couch and Debra (who never gets out of bed alone) had not only gotten out of bed but walked over to the chair next to where Cindy was sleeping and was staring at her when she woke. “She just sat there looking at me, girl! Pattin’ that cat in her lap!”

Already with me Debra is in a good mood but unwilling to do anything she doesn’t want to do. Doesn’t want to get out of bed, get dressed, take a bath. I washed her up and changed her briefs while she was in bed. I started her breakfast, two boiled eggs, one half orange, one toast with butter and coffee. I’ll give her her medication in a few minutes. Debra is returning to her old self I think. Her self before her fall and memory loss. She is able to do much more physically than she has been able to since her fall. I want us to have a good three days together. Hopefully we will.

I’m back. Had to take a break to work but here I am again. It’s 12:29pm now, Debra is clearly having an, I will do what I want to do day. It’s ok though. I’ve noticed that she is cooperating best when I am away from her. I asked her to fold a stack of towels for instance. I sat them at the end of her bed and asked her if she would fold them when she got a chance. I waited in the room and listened. She was quiet while the television show was on (some show on the USA channel). I listened for the commercial to end and I came out. The towels were done. Each exercise was the same way. Fine with me.

I’m feeling pretty good today. I had a long day yesterday. A long good day though. I got off work at 8am from Ms. Brenda’s house in Altadena, then drove about forty minutes south to Long Beach, then to the tire shop to get a new tire. Then to Bakersfield, a four hour trip north to pick up Uraeus (yay!). Then to Palmdale (my favorite part of the trip). I so enjoy rides and conversations with Uraeus.

Uraeus is on break from football practice and will be with me. I am scheduled to work today, Wednesday and Thursday with Debra, so my plan was to take him and spend the day and night with him and my family in Palmdale and come to work from Palmdale this morning. Which I did.

We all had a good time yesterday. They enjoyed seeing him. He is taller and more beautiful each time they do. My Aunt Pat is my favorite aunt. That’s where he is. Being loved up on by her, my uncle and cousins. I wish I could be there today and experience the day in his face. But I’m working and I know he’s well. And thank God for cell phones. Also today he will be running around with my cousin (who is also a good friend) Merle. He’s in good hands. I still miss him.

It’s hot today. That’s not a complaint. Just an observation. Another observation is that since I’ve been journaling in my private journal I haven’t been waking up with angry thoughts. My private journal? Yes, my journal where I allow myself to be as free as I want to be. And beyond. It’s the journal where I don’t censor myself. I allow myself to be angry if I want to. And sometimes I do. I allow myself to be angry without judging myself. In my daily life I find myself immediately cleaning up any negative statement. Which is not a healthy way for me to be.

It was last year about this time when xxxxxxx and I broke up. Actually the end of August will be a year. Anyway, I don’t remember his words exactly but I do recall my response being, “So what? That was that moment! What, I have to be positive every single moment and if I’m not it’s a problem?” To which he responded, “I guess so.”

Don’t get me wrong here, that I am not “positive every single moment” was not the reason for our breakup. Even mentioning it that day was just an excuse. It still stuck.

But in my journal, my private journal that I don’t publish, I say what I want. As viscously as I wish. As lovingly as I want. Since I’ve been journaling this way, the noise has calmed in my head greatly. Besides the purpose of calming the noise, journaling helps because my pen reveals things about me sometimes I wouldn’t notice otherwise. And I publish on this blog because…I do.

It’s tiring, the part of me that is cheerleader to as many as I can be that for. Especially those closest to me. I was that for Willie. His cheerleader. To a fault. My fault. Every argument must have landed as a threat to the vision he had of himself. I don’t know. But at the end of that day, we were through. For good. Thank God. I didn’t get on the plane going back to Georgia with him and that was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself and my life. Neither of us were too broken up about the breakup. I wasn’t and I don’t think he was. His ego wouldn’t let him be. Besides, his relationship card was already full enough. As narcissists are, when you no longer fit into their lives (their lives that are all about themselves), or at least, when they don't see what else they can take, then poof.

I sat there and couldn’t believe the words that fell from his mouth. But I could. I believed every word. “I want a woman who has some health insurance so I can get on her plan.” Blah blah blah. After five years on and off, that was the relationship I was most ready to say goodbye to. The lies and the level of betrayal that I found out later is what hurt. Deeply. The truth fell on me like buildings. This lie, that lie. I am trying not to be too specific in this blog only for the sake of his daughter, who may never read this blog but if she does, doesn't need the intimate details of his foolishness. What also hurt was that he is and will always be so completely caught up in himself to see any pain his lies, cheating and betrayal caused. I’m much better now. Time heals much. I do feel sorry for every woman who has ever and will ever cross his path.

Wow, talk about revelations. I never know how the journal entries will end or what will come out. I have noticed though that whatever comes out is ready to come out. And that I am ready to deal with it.

It’s 2:01pm and Debra is absolutely refusing to get out of bed today. At least for right now. I don’t want this shift to be a repeat of the last caregiver’s shift, soooooo, I’m taking care of her needs and backing off as much as I can.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Things that make me go BOOM (from journal entry 7-17-11)

Today is Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 7pm. I am at Ms. Brenda’s house in Altadena. If you haven’t guessed it by now, no, Brenda is not her name. I’m sitting on her couch watching Law and Order. Yes, I like Law and Order at the end of the day (and the beginning and the middle).

I have just given Ms. Brenda her dinner (well, not just, but an hour ago). Baked tilapia and cabbage, cranberry juice and two cinnamon graham crackers (her favorite snack). Ms. Brenda is usually my least favorite client. It’s not her. It’s me (and ok, some of her). I feel like I’m walking into a landmine when I come into her home. Her beautiful home. With white carpet, crystal, China cabinet, plants, garden. Her home is filled with emotional booby traps I fall into sometimes and get triggered. Ms. Brenda is ninety-nine years old. Sharp, walks on her own, uses the toilet (the one in the bathroom, not the one I bring in to some of my clients).

Ms. Brenda is a black woman. An old black woman. She is my grandmother and the old women at church. As I was writing church here in this black and white composition notebook with a red pen. I accidentally spelled church, chuch. As I scratched out chuch I realized that those are the old black women to whom I am referring. The ones from chuch. With their wrinkled brown fingers pointing at me because I “forgot” to wear stockings. Because my shoulders were showing, my hair nappy, my whatever whatever. Breaking me to fix me. Thickening my skinny thin skin. In the ways they knew how.

I often felt awkward. Being told who I was, what appearance was acceptable. I always knew that I would be a writer. I always knew I had a voice. Sometimes I felt that my writing was the safest place for me to use my voice. I could scream as loud as I wanted, “Back off! I love you! Stop touching me! Let me wear what I want to wear! It’s my hair, so what if it’s nappy! It’s beautiful! No, I don’t want to get my hair pressed! I can wear plaid and paisley if I want to! So what if this song does not mention Jesus!” I didn’t feel emotionally safe enough to say those things out loud. This seems a long way off topic from Ms. Brenda, I know. It is, but not really. Just ride, dear reader. Please ride.

I was probably nine years old when my grandmother and I were loading the bags of groceries into her brown station wagon in the parking lot of Alpha Beta Market on the west side of Long Beach, California. She closed the “trunk” and walked around to the driver’s seat and started the car. I was standing at the door pulling the handle to open it when I felt the car moving. As my grandmother backed the car, I started to scream. I don’t remember the words. Probably “Wait!” Maybe “Don’t leave!” Mostly my memory recalls the tears and a scream.

She backed up a little. I ran to the car. She laughed. The grandmother belly laugh. She backed up. I cried. Repeat about two more times. I’m not talking more than maybe a few feet and not even a few minutes. I don’t remember the time. I didn’t care about the time or distance. I remember, I cared about wanting to get in. Mostly it mattered that she laughed. That there was a moment I felt unsafe. A moment I screamed. A moment I called out. And it was funny.

“Now Robin, you know I wasn’t gon leave you.” I know now. But in the moment I was embarrassed. The joke was at my expense. Delivered by someone I should run to when the joke is at my expense. And then it kept being funny. When we got home it was repeated again and just as funny. “Robin so sensitive!” “Aint she?!”

I got quiet. Often. Sat on the couch and practiced my cursive. Sometimes with Ms. Brenda when I put this here or that there and see her chuckle before correcting me and hear her call me “Raaaabin” I’m that little girl again. Trying to be as perfect as I can. Trying to have the joke not be on me and knowing that it is. Again.

But today was cool with us. Really cool. I wasn’t the little girl who became too good at taking it and not having the experience of dishing enough out. Today we laughed. We shared. It wasn’t deep. It just was.
I needed good today. Yesterday was not. Yesterday with Clara, my ninety-eight years old white client in Los Feliz. I’m not with her often, but when I am, it is in twelve hour shifts. 7am to 7pm. As I said, she’s ninety-eight and white. And no matter how much she needs me to lift her. To cook for her, give her medication. Change her briefs, clothes, shoes, keep her safe. Talk. Listen. Care. No matter how much she needs me to help her live her everyday life, she forgets to be kind sometimes. Sometimes in fact, she is horribly mean.

In this moment, I don’t choose to go into Clara’s racist rants but yesterday, breathing through the nasty of her took more energy from me than I have had to muster for anyone in a long time. Perhaps she was a test of the Universe pushing all of my buttons at once. And she jumped her one hundred ten pound self on button after button.

Yesterday was my first night in my new apartment. I’m still not unpacked. I had a photo shoot earlier this week and I still have to edit the photos. By the time I got home it was almost eight thirty. I was tired. Of giving. Me. To. Any. One. Else.

I called my friend Laura and asked her to “hold a trash bag open for me and give me five minutes to dump into it.” She held it and I summed my day into five minutes and dumped it. We hung up and I felt much better. I prayed. I let it go. I breathed.

I called Lynette, or she called me (whatever) and we talked. I shared some of my day with her and in the sharing I revealed, or it was revealed to me, what I long for in a relationship. Last night I didn’t long for a man’s arms around me. My fantasy did not include how he could undress me. The sexy things we would whisper. Last night I wanted him (my him. My him I don’t know yet) to listen. I wanted him to tell me that he didn’t know what to say but that he loved me for being big enough to be there for Clara. Last night I fantasized that I mattered to him (my him. My him I don’t know yet).

This him. My him. My him that I am emotionally safe with. We will have days that are hard and we will breathe through them together. We will know each other bigger than the world outside our walls knows us. We will be bigger than our jobs and our jobs outside our jobs. I have never known this relationship. This emotional safety in a romantic relationship. Where I speak and my words and secrets aren't used against me later. He will just know when to touch my breast and when not to. Know when to lean against the opposite wall with his glass of wine (or whatever) while we use our words, our hearts and ears and energy. To know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Work. Relationship. Writing. (from journal entry 7-4-11)

Today is Monday, July 4, 2011. Independence Day. Not my favorite holiday. The fireworks make me sad. The booms and sparkles, the pops and poofs make me imagine families, women, elderly, men, children, animals in countries where bombs are going off. Shooting out, falling down. I imagine the frightened faces prowling for housing, scrounging for food. I imagine towns blown up. Dreams, parties, lives ended. I don’t think of America’s independence. I think of them. The nameless and faceless who are living this life, right now. Booming and popping every day. At our hands. America’s hands. But then I am a writer, a poet, a mother. A rememberer of yesterday. A soft spot carrier for the under militaried.

I am not sad right now. I am in a good mood, which has a definition that changes moment to moment. It is 9:33 and I am at work and like I said, in a good mood. Which right now means that I am not thinking of any particular worry. My Facebook me does not like to admit it, but somewhere not too deep in my mind is a worry about something. I am my mother’s daughter. But for now there is no concern being featured in my psyche.

I work as a home health aide. My client’s needs vary and my work with them depends of course on the need. Often I do body and mental exercises, cook, clean, listen. I talk. I care. I don’t. I walk, empathize, laugh. I pity (I shouldn’t. I do.). I clean bodies, wipe faces, asses, massage feet, clean shit, wipe piss. I pray. When all of that is done, I care. Again. And I’m good at what I do. Oh, and I lift them. Transport them from chair to bed. From bed to commode. From front door to van. From van to wheelchair to hospital. Wherever. My friend Lynette noticed that I had lost a lot of weight since we saw each other last and said “That must be from bench pressin’ white ladies!” We laughed. But it’s true.

Today I am working with my favorite client, who for the purpose of this entry will be called Debra. It is only appropriate to change the names of my clients because I know myself enough to know that at some point these journal entries will end up in my blog. Probably sooner than later. Because that’s how I roll.

What’s cool about me working with Debra on the 4th of July is that she lives in Pasadena and I live in South Central Los Angeles (“where bustin’ a cap is fundamental” Ice Cube), where the fireworks are likely to be real or at least much more dangerous and the festivities last too long for my sensitive, poetic taste. Also the time and a half pay aint bad and neither is the Law and Order marathon. And no, she’s not my favorite client because she has cable, but it does help. It is peaceful here in her Pasadena condo community. Flowers, swimming pool, sparkle and poofless sky. Cats (too many though.)

I have issues to work out right now. As always there are life issues. I look at my bills and things to do list like a puzzle. I find space and room for creativity and breathing in “puzzle.” No room, only suffering in “problems.” I need to create some cd sales or photo shoots or art sales or something. I am working a kazillion hours with the agency and don’t want to increase my work time right now. I need a break as it is. This month I have to pay rent where I am as well as a deposit on the new apartment that I don't even move into until the 15th. I get paid on Friday and still there are needs. But thank God for Fridays and paychecks. I have shopping to do for my son and a host of other things to do that my ego is resisting being put into this journal entry (because it and I know this will soon be in the blog).

The Universe is always working everything out for my highest good. During my valley seconds I repeat that to myself. While I am trying to figure it out I know that God has already worked it out. I believe, just, Lord, “heal my unbelief.” That was from my favorite song by the Winans back in the day. No, “Tomorrow” was my favorite song by them. Anyway…

On to another subject while I have these moments to steal away and write. I’m not dating now. I’m working boocoo hours and while that’s a good excuse, the truth is I am just not interested in anyone right now. Which is weird for me because I’m usually at least interested. In someone. But, in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s best I’m not (dating or interested.) I am in the process of peeling layers off of my psychological onion. These peeled layers, I am hoping, will expose why jerks find their way into my life. But then that’s too easy and leaves me victim and powerless. Do over, these peeled layers, I am hoping, will give me space and freedom to make choices that honor who I am as human, woman, spirit, as artist.

As life is unfolding today, I am just not interested in any man I’m meeting. And I’m meeting my share. At poetry readings, at the light, on the street, at event shoots, and so on. Each one though is the one before. That’s a judgment and unfair (and untrue). (But so what.) I am older now, in so many ways. And find myself unimpressed. Find myself unwilling to impress. The idea of a man, just because won’t due (anymore). All or no thank you. I am patient and peeling. A man will come. That is what they do.

Time to get back to work.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm back!

I have been working like a mug (that's west coast for, a whole lot) and have not been blogging. Not like me. I missed you bloggy. Anyway I'm back now. Still working but decided to take a few early moments to get back in the groove. Just because I haven't been blogging does not mean that I have not been writing. Been writing a lot.

Writing as therapy, writing as fun, as joy, as release. A lot has been coming out. A lot of self love. A lot of anger. Remembering. Releasing. Ideas. One of the things that have come out of my morning writing is the evaluating of my relationships, friendships. I was doing some stream of consciousness writing and noticed that too many of my "friendships" don't have anything to do with me. Like I have these friendships in name only really where I am not being fed at all in the relationship. Occassional calls to "catch up" where they only want my business or to judge me (about whatever). Sooooo, I cleared my head, as much as I could, and let my pen flow with names of folks it's just time to take myself back from. And return to myself.

Because that exercise was so healing I ventured onto another one. Deleting numbers from my phone. I carry my phone everywhere. Everywhere. I am carrying around folks I no longer want to carry around. So, I deleted. And deleted. And deleted. And enjoyed it. Now, some of these people were not people I dislike, just folks I no longer have relationships with. And really, deleting is easier and easier with Facebook and every other way I can get in contact if I really want to. But I don't think I will.

Well, honestly I didn't expect any of that to come out. I was really just logging on to get back in the blogging groove. But, that's life. That's writing.