Where the sad stories come from

I’ve been posting for 16 days of activism, well reposting really, pieces from here and from the other blog, I’ve been posting the stories and poems that I feel best exemplify not just the issue of violence against women and girls, but the feelings that they inspire in the people around them. I’ve been posting because, well, like most everyone I too have been hit with the economics of the day. I’ve been ill in the midst of it, not with THE virus but other stuff. You know you live in a brick house long enough and something may break. But that isn’t the point here, none of that is.

What the point is, is that someone asked me where I find all those sad stories. Where do I find the inspiration to write all that pain and suffering, all that gut wrenching. I didn’t really realize how many sad stories I really wrote. I didn’t realize their volume when compared with everything else.

What I know is, that those sad stories, while not my personal stories come from a place of trying to understand, I guess. Trying to understand those feelings, because the feelings are real. The hurt and sorrow are real, as I watch others go through it, as I hear of others going through the trenches of these soul wounding sagas. The feelings are as real as my own struggles, though not in these situations but in ones that scar and/or fester just the same. The stories are a vehicle for the feelings I think.

A way to make sense of all the crazy around me and mine, about the things that keep me up at night, about the uncertainties of joy and the steadfast knowledge that while life may go on, the pain of it stays, it shapes who we are.

An author I once read, said that pain is life, from birth to death it is all pain. The pain of leaving your first truely warm place to come into the cold hard world, the pain of scraped knees and minor ouches that make us learn how best to take care, the pain of heartbreak and disappointment that teach us how to plan and love carefully, the pain of age that brings wisdom. Its all pain and in my mind expressing it is just another part of life, just another thing to unburden ourselves of…but I digress.

The stories come from the places of pain, and love, and compassion, and wanting to reach out but feeling like there is nothing I can do. It comes from helplessness, it is a way of deriving strength, of finding comfort, of blowing off steam, of leaving some of the baggage on the page and walking on to the next hurt a little lighter and ready to take the blow.

The stories come from life, my own and those around me. From deep conversations and casual interactions, and everything in between. They come from the heart.

Dear WordPress

Tonight I’m at an utter loss. I’m lost because I have no idea what to do with all this uck. I don’t mean to burden anyone meandering by me, by oversharing, but then again why not? If you’re meandering by and chose to click why should you not be rewarded with the ability to laugh at my pain.

So here we go….

  1. Have no clue what I’m doing with the blog anymore. There was a time when I was all caught up. I wanted to write and be read and I still do. I’m just not sure. Somehow I can’t get it out of my head that I really need to stop kidding myself. There was a time when it was like clockwork. I would sit and after only a little coaxing inspiration would come. Or at least my fingers would flow, kinda like they are now and something legible would come out. But Now? Now life just feels full and while I long for this type of interaction, (I honestly feel l’ve lost something by neglecting it.) I have no clue how to overcome this, what do I call it? fear? Maybe? I don’t know. I don’t wanna talk about that anymore.
  2. Work. I honestly felt like going straight to bed at the mere mention of my day job. Isn’t that cliché? And I am not coming here to blame it on new norms and pandemics, because to be honest this block predated that by eons, or what feels like eons.
  3. Imposter syndrome. Who am I? Who am I to think that I have anything to say, about anything, about anything that matters? Who wants to read that, see that, who cares? What’s worse is that of late I’ve made great friends of the backspace button, of the delete button, of any button really that gives me the choice to return to a state of silence, of having done nothing, or having said nothing.
  4. I have lost the will to fight the troll army, because that is what it is, at least on the other sites, its a read to rebut kind of culture, a be more audible and flashy no matter how trashy your opinion might be. It is a stuck in my own head and not even a little willing to step into another perspective, and who the hell am I to challenge that? And why should I spend so much of my spirit trying? Maybe the blogosphere isn’t like this, maybe I’ve spent too much time with my bitter, jaded peer on Mr. Zuckerberg’s invention, maybe I’m bringing baggage where it doesn’t belong. Problem is that I don’t feel that confidence any more. Not really.

So help me out, gimme guidance. One sentence, one word, a sign. A swift breeze blowing from the east that smells like inspiration.

Fishing for comfort

In response to photo-fiction 33

phoneRm

“Give me two reasons.” I heard the shudder in her voice, she was trying not to let me hear the tears. She was being dramatic, like always. I told her as much.
“Please.” asking in that quiet way she had. The way she had each time she did this, each time I fell for it and indulged her fishing for compliments. I rolled my eyes and hung up. Not this time. I wouldn’t be sucked in. This was not my circus, I needed to get her off my back.

I woke up to 15 missed calls. Hell, when she wanted attention she really knew how to get it. Thank god for silent mode. I turn on the news, and there she is. Cute and smiling, confident. I drop my coffee mug. She was just being dramatic. Like she had been a million times. A million times she had called me in the middle of the night fishing for comfort. Looking for reasons to stay in this life.

Not this time.

First impressions

Unknown

Jessup rounded the corner in time to see a chair erupt from the plate glass window in the front of the address he had been given. The restaurants’ refugees invaded the quiet street. The former customer of the establishment clambered over each other and the shards of broken glass still decorating the window frame to get away from whatever it was that started the commotion.

Outside the group of three militiamen who were ambling along the other side of the street, chatting good-naturedly stopped and gawked. Jessup skidded to a halt. Too late, as one of the three pointed in his direction and gave a holler. So much for doing this quick and easy.

Luckily the confusion from the eatery was infectious. The few erupting patrons had become a mob of confusion as those trying to flee, clashed with those trying to run closer to see what had caused the ruckus. It was easy for Jessup to get lost in the fray, and find himself in front of the broken window.

The empty frame held a perfect picture of what misinformation and fear could do if delivered the right way and in the right amounts. The young militiaman in the establishment looked just about to piss himself as he faced down the source of the fray. A boy, no more than 15, sitting at the remains of a table, palms outstretched in surrender, looking just about as afraid and stupefied as the man who was screaming and pointing his weapon at him.

Jessup saw the potential for an ugly situation to turn hideous when he saw what had the militiaman crapping himself. The boy’s hands were on fire. More accurately, angry red flames danced across his palms. The boy, his eyes a bright cerulean, glanced back and forth in fearful awe between the end of the pistol and his flame covered palms.

The man kept screaming, even as the boy tried closing his fists and opening them. As the child tried shaking the hands, as if he were trying to extinguish the flames. Jessup saw the moment the man with the gun let lose his bladder and a bullet, and he was launching himself through the window when he saw bright blue eyes widen in shock and fear and then narrow in morbid determination. The bullet had gone wide, hitting nothing but a bottle of something oily and fragrant on the shelves behind the counter, but the flames now covered the whole hands, they had turned white and emanated a heat that Jessup could feel twenty feet away.

‘If they are going to shoot at me, then I must fight,’ the eyes said. Jessup, if he were having a civil conversation with the boy would have given him about 50 reasons why fighting with the man-boy, who now smelled of rotten onions and ammonia, was a bad idea. As it was they were in the middle of a potential war zone, with a mob forming and a veritable army on the way and there was no room for civil conversation.

Jessup leapt through the frame of shards and copied the boy’s submissive stance. He faced the boy but addressed the excrement soaked man-child quivering too hard to shoot either of them.

“Hey,” the boy just trembled in response. “You think pointing that thing at him is helping?” This time the boy offered a whimper and a squishy plopping sound emanated from his trousers. Jessup wasn’t sure if he was trying to suppress a laugh or a gag. “I would like to think putting it down would be a good idea.”

The gun clattered to the floor. Jessup now faced the boy.

“Hey kid.” Frightened eyes turned to the newcomer, one flaming palm also followed the motion. “You got a name?” Frightened eyes turned to the newcomer and the determination shifted focus. The man-boy took the chance to make a mad squishy dash though the agape restaurant door, but Jessup had no time to pay much attention.

“No name is fine. Do you know how to turn those off?” Jessup gestured at the hands, but his peripheral vision showed him that the crowd was looking less civilian gawker and more paramilitary by the second. Scared eyes shifted to the crowd, widened and then looked at Jessup. The boy shook his head no.

“First time this happen to you?” Nod Yes “Alright, so I’m here to take you somewhere safe. Would you be willing to do that?” Wide, scared, uncertain eyes just kept shifting from his face to behind him.

“Do you know what they will do to you?” Another nod, and tears misting up the corners of confused, wide eyes. “Kid you have the advantage, you have those, I have me and my wits and an order to get you to safety.” More staring, a mist became a dam, threatening to burst. “If I was looking to hurt you, I would have tried already.” The flames receded to the palms and returned to their original red. Not angry, these were flames of fear.

“Just don’t point those things at me, Ok? And I’ll get you out of here.” Jessup looked at the door to the back of the room. Actually he looked through the closed door, he knew his own eyes probably now blazed blood red, while he was using his abilities. The boys, eyes were wondrously wide when Jessup again focused on him. Jessup saw the core of flame in the boy, he saw the way it blazed and gutted, the flame mirroring the boy in uncertainty and fear.

Jessup motioned towards the door, and the boy took his que. He extended his arms out in front of him and allowed the red flames to spurt towards the door; the door simply parted and removed itself from their path.  Out in the alley through the smoldering doorframe, there were no souls to be found.  As if the mob in the front of the establishment had sucked all the living things out of the city immediately around them.

Jessup didn’t bother to ponder at it, he just ducked them around the alley and towards jetty at the end of the roadway. He splashed the boy with the cool water of the harbor and flung him, smoldering and confused into the dingy.

 

 

Lil’ Johnny

downloadWhen I was a student-teacher one of my facilitators used to forever give us scenarios with the fictitious trouble maker Lil’ Johnny. It was a source of great amusement and I must say it helped to spice up her class.

We all had, of course, had a Johnny before. And we had all pretty much already come to the conclusion that Lil’ Johnny was a kid with issues. Hey, who doesn’t have issues in this world today? Why would we think Lil’ Johnny was any different?

The problem, though, seems to be that 7 years after laughing and role-playing and scheming strategies in that classroom, I’m now faced with a culture that is almost completely alien to the one presented to me in that room.

I find myself daily in a classroom that wants very much to look like this. giphy (4)

It seems like instead of having one or two Lil’ Johnny. I’m faced with 45% Johnny’s and even some Lil’ Janes to compliment them. Which makes me feel like my classroom is

giphy (3)

It’s not a great feeling returning to the staffroom feeling like you’ve just starred in a scene from some world war 2 movie. You know the ones where the men are cornered in the trenches and can only throw the occasional grenade out and hope it hits the right target.

It’s ‘noice’ to imagine that all those fancy strategies like “Ignoring unwanted behavior” and “calling on the student once” or my personal favorite” waiting for the class to settle itself” etc. etc. etc, are always the answer. Unfortunately, they aren’t. Unfortunately they seem to be completely inadequate in the face of some of the cultural and social problems we have in the Caribbean classroom today.

(Yes, I’m singling out the Caribbean classroom because I feel like it is sorely neglected in the field of modern psychology, especially given all the pedagogues who lecture and self promote but do precious little to help us to establish the psychological base that we can work off of to better aid our students)

It’s enough to make a girl…rxf3oLt

Alas, that isn’t the answer either. Sigh, what is a girl to do? It was during a guilt trip my youngest tried his very best to lay down on me, that it occurred to me. A genuine, authentic eureka moment! Empathy as a classroom management tool!

Hold on, relax. It’s not as messed up as it seems.

I started with the class with the most and most outrageous set of Lil’s. I set up the class to do a cooperative learning exercise. Each group got an objective, an outline of their content and time to plan. I watched and listened, maybe cackled a little as some elaborate presentations were planned. Skits, lectures, song sessions, you name it, they planned it.

Then came the presentation day. And boy, did my babies put out. Some of them performed some works of educational art. I loved it, and for each act of greatness, there was an act, by the Lil’s spread among the groups, to disrupt the wonder.

Little faces turned to me in dismay, little hands were thrown up in exasperation. Until the biggest Lil in my class stood up and delivered a speech for good behavior so inspirational that even I was taken aback. Dude!! something might even have gotten stuck in my eye.

After class, a few of the Lil’s cornered me. I was made to listen as they said things like “Teacher wha mek dem sooooooo rude?” “Teacher ah so you feel every day?!?” “Teacher me sorry bad jack.” “Teacher nar do it again, me cyan teach nobody again.”

I chuckled, it was fun. A little revenge, a little life lessoning, and the next week even though there were some minor disruptions I never had to look at anyone like this…

tenor

I find that with a little heavy complimenting, and a few sweets my classroom is a bit more civilized. It’s not pristine, I didn’t solve anyone’s life angst, but our learning environment might just be a little more heavy on the learning.

 

And for that maybe I might spend a little more time thinking of that class like this…

download (1)