CNF: The Making of a Home

When I was seven I had a hard time keeping my markers to myself.

Everything about this new foster home was different than the other places I’d been. When you step out of the car, you are met with the arch admired only by weddings and those who want to show their best clamoring vines. It stretches over the main path and allows only the skinniest to get by without a scratch. Up the cement walkway and knocking on a bright red door came next. It opens and a fork in the layout shows an immaculate living room to the left. 

It’s a blue room, a color for royals and steamed throw pillows, that elongates the house with a mediocre fireplace and small shining figurines lining a brick mantel. A small den sits in the corner of the room. To the right, a dining room holds a large wooden table, a minimum of five chairs and a large china cabinet. Yes, filled with china no foster kid wants to break. Be wary of this room, it gets even the most obedient children in trouble. It’s dressed in a swirling rug of red, browns, and yellows. Splitting the rooms, a steep skyward staircase leads to three rooms, a master bed and bath, and two smaller bedrooms with a connecting bathroom to the right. 

Back at the fork, going through the dining room will lead you to a small ranch style kitchen with it’s small window sink, fridge equipped with lock to keep out wandering hands, and a sun room (built five years in the future) that leads to the back yard. Going halfway through the kitchen, you could turn left and meet the rest of the house. A living room, where the foster kids can gingerly play video games and a out-of-tune piano, a small half bathroom, and a set of stairs leading down, down, down, to two more bedrooms, a living room for the older kids, a large pantry and laundry room, and home of the spikets. You know, those spiders that look like crickets that jump as high as your waist if you startle them. 

It was too perfect. Too together. Everything needed to be dusted and cleaned and vacuumed and I, not a clean or dusted or vacuumed tiny person, knew I wouldn’t fit there. So I did what every foster kid wants to do.

I made a place for myself.

I took my markers and I drew on the walls. I drew on the pillows. I drew on the pristine glass tables and the thick windows. I drew on the stairs and I drew on the railings. I drew on the ceiling, above my bunk bed, and I drew on the floor by the bottom bunk. I drew in the bathroom and I drew in the kitchen. I drew on the wall outside by that thorny rose bush. I drew on the stones that go round to the backyard. I drew on the wooden fence that falls apart every few years. I drew on the base of a bush near the corner of the yard and a big tree that took up the front. I drew on the leaves of the flowers near the window sills. I drew on the linoleum of the kitchen floor and the tile that lined the back-splash. I drew on the curtains and I drew on the carpet. I drew on a plate that I hid in the china cabinet for four years. I drew on the mail in the mail drawer and the metal where the mail dropped. I drew on it all.

And then I was settled. Nothing was perfect and neither was I. 

 

31 Days of Introspection: Week 3: Relevant vs Irrelevant Information

Heya,

So…the oddest thing to think about is the fluidity of life. My thoughts from one week to another. The way things change just by a few well  timed words. It’s all incredulous and I’m in awe at how things turn about.

From last weeks summary, I remember an emotional rant about perception and deleting my Facebook because of my inability to externalize the opinions of others. This week, my guy and I were out on our upstairs porch, him standing with one hand tucked in one pocket, the other balancing a thick cigar between two fingers, and I, sitting on the roof with my knees pulled up close to my chest, two boxes of matches jammed between my sock and the edge of my sweats, my cigar dangling from my fingers.

We chat about life. Our goals, as if we aren’t already aware of each other’s aspirations, and any emotional hindrances from the week. It’s not until rain starts to patter on the porch, chasing us inside, silently down a flight of stairs (so as not to wake baby Naomi), and onto our screened in porch that we get to the meat of it all.

This is something we regularly did, him and I, before Naomi was born. It wasn’t just cigars. Often times we’d go out to hookah lounges, or our favorite cafe that serves hookah, and we’ll spend hours entwined in each other’s legs, our thoughts mingling. This night, we discuss minimalism and how I’m on this new journey of decluttering and keeping only the things that “spark joy” and how he’s a natural minimalist and doesn’t even know it. He tells me how appreciative he is that I’ve taken this huge leap to make our house more of a home. That it’s safer for Naomi to scramble about on fawns legs because I’ve gotten my shit up off the floor and gotten rid of piles of useless, unread books. There’s a compliment in there somewhere.

Our convo, now that we are in the throes of Our Time, turns to what he calls Relevant and Irrelevant Information. I tell him how I want to delete my social media. How it all just makes me feel like shit. Why do I need justification? Why do I need people to “Like, Comment, and Subscribe” (Blah blah blah)? Why can’t I just get on and happily watch cat videos without thinking no one cares about me? That no one loves me? That their opinions cut so deep without them saying anything? And yes, we are long since working on my aforementioned abandonment issues from childhood, but this is a deeper level of questioning. This isn’t just the want to understand. This is the want to change.

He flicks the ash from the end of his cigar and turns to look at me. I don’t know if it shows in my face, as I gaze back at him, but I need to know. “You can never change the perception of others,” he says. “It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Their opinion, negative or positive, is just that. Their opinion.” I nod but my mind wanders and I think about all the “branding” lessons I’ve learned in business and how it makes a difference when showing “yourself” to clients or employers/employees.

What he’s talking about is different. “If you knew someone didn’t like you, Jade, you’d want to know why…” he knows me so well. I’d have questions, internally at least. “I don’t want to know why,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Even if they were  to tell me, what would I do with this information? I wouldn’t change myself to suit their needs. So why?” This -another thing we discussed at length- might make him sound arrogant but as someone who knows and loves him I can tell you, he is not. But that sentence right there tells you how much I care. What he was saying made sense to me though, or maybe it’s because we have a bond. He cares what Naomi thinks, I think, and the opinions of his parents but there’s little else that can shake him. I’m strong like that, but definitely not in the area. I care a little too much.

Later, when our cigars have burned down and I’ve had to pinch the lip end of mine with both hands so as not to burn my lips as I drag, I tell him an experience I once had with perception. “I once had this girl tell me she didn’t like me because I was too happy. Seriously, she was mad because I always walked around happy for no apparent reason.” Now, this was before the pregnancy losses, before the attack in college, before adult life chewed me up and spit me out again. I had a rough childhood. An angry one, and in that sliver of between time that was the last two years of high school, I had gotten to a place where optimism and light were my unspoken motto and she stomped all over it.

“So…” he flicked his cigar again, “ what did you do with that information? Be less happy?” He had that sly, sideways look. With one corner of his mouth tilted up and one caterpillar-like eyebrow raised.

“Right?” I smiled ruefully and handed over the scorching hot butt of my cigar. I folded my legs beneath me and tilted my head at him incredulously. Because I’d never thought of it that way. Yes, I always remembered that mantra that force into you as a kid ‘be who you are’ and ‘it’s okay to not be liked’ but I never took ownership of my own feelings in the matter. Responsibility of the part I played. I did dim my light for her. I remember seeing that chick in the halls and feeling like I couldn’t smile. Like I couldn’t be happy.

“See, the problem is that people aren’t honest with themselves. Be honest, Jade. You want people to like you. You want everyone to like you. Most people do.” I wasn’t offended but I did feel attacked. Damn, Bear (my nickname for him).

“Well,” I said. “It’s not that I want everyone to like me.” I took in a deep breath and he lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t have a problem with people not liking me! I don’t! I just…want to know why!”

”But it’s not Relevant Information,” he said. He went on this long monologue about how Relevant Information is the Information you get that you can actually utilize. Mostly from those you genuinely care about, and vice versa, and secondary players in your life that still affect you- like a boss or mentor. It’s constructive criticism. It’s when people build you up. It’s kudos. It’s even when someone is giving the harsh truth that might make you WAKE up, ask the hard questions, or the feedback that pushes you to strive harder toward your dreams.

“Irrelevant Information”, he says before taking a long drag on the remnants of his cigar and expelling slowly, “is all that information from the unimportant people in your life that you can’t use. it’s the opinions that serve no other purpose than to bring you down.” It’s what that girl said about disliking me because I was too happy. Was I supposed to dim my light? Why did I? What did I gain from that except heart ache! What did she gain except satisfaction — then she probably promptly forgot who I was. It’s the information from people who aren’t a part of your life, they don’t matter.

Now, it’s not to say negative information is always irrelevant. Like I said, if someone says something that does hurt you, but it pushes you to work harder, be stronger, move higher, then that is Relevant Information. It’s all crazy and feels like common sense, but me thinking of it in this way was like a light bulb moment. I was finally able to just let go of all the old friends, the sordid past and start over.

Keeping those people around will harm you, destroy you, dim your light. I realized I didn’t need this repeated social hiatus- not for this reason at least. I just needed to change my circumstances. I needed to change the audience. Get back to what my social media intention is really about— why I use it in the first place.

Minimalism. Declutter, not Deactivate.

I went from around 530 Facebook friends down to 32. (seriously? Old high school classmates that didn’t even like me back then and don’t talk to me now? Random people I met and never connected with again? Hundreds of people I’m dishing my soul out to and expecting them not to trample on it? Yeah. No.) I kept only the people I felt I truly wanted to keep. Then I deleted a few dozen more. As my guy suggested, join groups you like and the people who are into those topics will fill your page. It’s kind of like keeping the things that “spark joy” only…virtually.

I want my social media – my feeds – to be about Books, Writing, amazing places Traveled, and philosophy. Instead of my hiatus I’m re-tailoring with honesty in mind.

Week 3 Summary

Since you stuck around after that whole thing, thank ya thank ya. I’ll keep my summary of this week brief.

I met up with the Black Moms group for my area yesterday and it was amazing. I really feel like I might have found a community here that can help me and provide fun events that aren’t so solitary. I met several cool women with age variety – and a surprising amount of twin moms. We sat, had tea and cackled over all things culture. I definitely want to make it a point to attend more events in the future.

It really sucks not having a laptop. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do the business, writing and editing, university work, and freelance work from my IPad. If anyone wants to gift me a laptop, I’d love it. I’m laughing but boy am I serious. Har har har. We’ll figure something out eventually. We always do.

I’ve read almost 118 books this year. My goal was 100 due to the baby and switching universities. Most of those were in the second half, and a ton of that can be thanks to audio books. I use Overdrive which is a free app you can link to your library card. Oh man, I’ve read/ listened to so many in the last three weeks. Y’all should check it out.

Lastly, I’ve been keeping the apartment clean!!! Yaaaaaas! I’m so happy because now that I’ve made it into this routine I can clean so much faster and so much easier. I’m loving this minimalist life and I know I still have more to get rid of but the hard work is done.

One more week of Introspection, guys! Then I’ll spend the last 3 days of December reflecting over the month. Cherchez La Vie is the last Sunday of the month. That’s the real holiday, I can’t wait to look over the last 6 months and set goals and plans for the next 6. Things are turning out better than I thought and I’m feeling like a better, mentally healthier, and lighter person already.

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments your thoughts, goals or aspirations. Are you a minimalist? Interested? Yogi? I want to know it all, let’s chat.

 

Good Readdance,

Jade

To help me with my writing skills, my guy suggested that at least 50/100 of the books for 2020 have to be in a genre other than Romance and Detective/Mystery. Game on! I’ve already dug into science fiction a lot this year and I’m ecstatic about it, taking any and all suggestions!

31 Days of Introspection: Week 2: Social Media Hiatus

 

Answer my question in the comments to help me decide! 

 

Heya,

This Second week of 31 Days of Introspection has been so up and down. Great things and also crappy things. A destruction of my computer, my realization that I have  no real close friends, the joy of seeing Naomi grow and the upset at books being destroyed.

I do feel like I’ve made a ton of progress emotionally. The apartment is much better now as well. I’ve donated over 1,200 books and gotten rid of so much clutter. The sad thing is that I got the dates mixed up and I put everything out on the curb too early. I used a donation pick up service and we woke up the next day to find everything still there. It had rained the night before and all of the books that we’d set out were damaged. So the whole “they’re going to a good place” ideal is gone. My precious books didn’t go to a nice place. They won’t be enjoyed by some happy family. I didn’t do a “good deed” because all the books I’d collected over the years, and gazed at on my shelves, went to the trash.

So yeah. But at least my place has less stuff. Unfortunately, having less doesn’t fix my “messiness” and I’m struggling to keep things straightened. I know some people say you’ve got to clean as you go. I try so hard, but what ends up happening is I work work work, then I take a break, then work work work, and things get messier and messier. Then I am overwhelmed at that point and I don’t want to clean. Anyhow, I’m trying to get better and some days everything is together and some days it’s like today: work shop things everywhere.

So one of the crappy things that happened this week is the destruction of my MAC. I was holding Naomi and trying to feed her. Was sitting at the table and doing the whole breast milk from the refill bottle into empty drinking bottle and Naomi, happily and with a highpitched squeal, kicked out. The refilled bottle spilled on the Mac and the rest is history. That was a few days ago. No more YouTube videos, no more recordings for audio books, no more…no more a lot of things. I actually had to remove the “Lined” option for my journals for a day until I could create a new template using my IPad. Ugh, this is all just horrible.

So, apparently, it’s not worth it to fix my computer. I took it to the Mac store. They looked at it and they said it would cost $700 in order to fix it. In order for me to get a new one, or a Mac Book Air it would cost me $1100. That’s bullshit! How is it that expensive? That’s just crazy. I digress. I’m going to have to do everything I can to use my iPad for everything: university work, the business dealings, watching TV and anything else. I’ve never had to use it for all that stuff before so I honestly don’t know what all it can do. I’m just sad about it all.

ANOTHER great thing…NAOMI CAN CRAWL!!! OR at least…throw herself forward. It’s absolutely amazing to see her growing and progressing right before my eyes. She’s so beautiful, so luminous. Sometimes I just watch her, trying to discover things, trying to put things in her mouth, ew, and just…living. It’s all so amazing.

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So, in the beginning of this month I decided to take a social media hiatus. Last week’s summary was about how low my Twitch (the amount of times I itch to get on social media) was. This week you’ll be disappointed to find that I broke my hiatus. At first, I was upset about Google and their mandatory security practices, and needed to vent and I, admittedly, felt annoyed at myself that I broke my promise to myself. Then I thought “hmmm, well I’ve already broken my promise. I might as well go ahead and go all in”. Bad idea. I know. What I discovered is that no one cared. Cares. No one missed me. No one wanted to talk to me or wanted to reach out. No one remembered me or thought of me, that I could tell. In the spirit of honesty, because that’s what this month is all about, that’s one of my greatest fears. Being forgotten. Not being important. It stems from my deeply rooted issues with my childhood abandonment- fostercare, child abuse, and all that jazz.

So, when I noticed that most of my notifications were those “____ people commented on a photo/post you are following” I broke down. Not literally, there were no tears or complaining to my guy. NO posts filled with shade, “wondering” where everyone was. There was just silence. I felt numb. Resolved. This was a part of the reason I knew I needed to take a step back from social media. Other people shouldn’t be responsible for whether I feel important enough. Guess that’s the issue with replacing a true human connection with an artificial and electronic one. It kind of reminds me of the months after my daughter Iris Giana died. I was so alone, even my mom didn’t care, didnt call or reach out to me, even though I almost died. It was…distressing.

That being said, I  know what I’ll do at the end of the day. I’m resetting everything. I’m possibly making a my business FAcebook. I’m going to keep my Instagram and Twitter but I’ll limit my usage of them to over just a few hours a day. I’m letting the past go. The funny thing is that unless people read this post (is anyone really?) no one will know. I’ll just slip away. uGH. I wonder why this makes me want to take a deep breath and meditate.

So, was breaking my social media hiatus in a rushed need for my druglike fix worth it? Yes…and no. Yes, and no. But mostly yes, because I learned things.

 

So I’m thinking about becoming a pescatarian- with the exception of bacon, of course. I’m really wanting to try new things. I’m just bored with the same hubbub. The only thing is that fish is soooo much more expensive than chicken, beef, or turkey. Do you know any good pescatarian dishes? have you ever tried this lifestyle? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

This week I downloaded a business app that will train me in skills every small business owner needs. It’s called Primer and it has great examples and animations so that anyone can learn. I just finished 2 lessons on branding and plan to do the marketing and advertisement lessons next.

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One of the awesome things I did this week is watch a ton of videos on product photography. I then went down to Lake Eola and took over 140 photos. Then,  because my computer is down, I had to take a trip to the library to upload everything. It worked out, if only because Naomi loves books, and I will be making changes to my shop as soon as I can. One of the best things in my entire apartment…my DSLR.

I’m also adding these new mini notebook sets to my shop. I’m really excited about it all. I feel like this will all work out. Everything will be ok. Be…just fine.

 

Happy Readdance,

Jade

31 Days of Introspection: The Stats

Heya,

So I wanted to go ahead and give the stats for my December schedule for 31 Days of Introspection. I want to take a week to focus on each of these topics. I plan to take one of my own journals and fill it with daily ponderings about the topics. I am really going to try to focus on healing from my past traumas and moving forward into 2020.

Details:
Hiatus from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Yoga or meditation daily (Working out doesn’t count!!) Decluttering and getting rid of EVERYTHING that is unnecessary by the end of the month

Writing more essays for my creative nonfiction book based on my life/childhood

Donating or selling discards: DOES IT SPARK JOY!?
Find time to read

I plan to use one of the notebooks that I make and sell in my etsy shop TheElyzabethCo for my daily thoughts. I haven’t decided which color or page pattern I want to use but I’m really excited. Usually I leave them for my sales so I don’t have one of my journals, in the new design, for myself. It’s weird but this has made me so happy. Gotta use your own product right?

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To help me stay focused on my own journey I plan to post every Saturday, summarizing the week.


Introspection Schedule:

Week 1: (Dec. 1- Dec. 7)

Confidence – Self Doubt and Esteem

Week 2: (Dec. 8- Dec. 14)

Goals – Career and Life

Week 3: (Dec. 15- Dec. 21)

Hard Topics – Loss, Fear and Regrets

Week 4: (Dec. 22- Dec. 28)

Relationships – My Little Family and My Role as Mom

3 Remaining Days: (Dec. 29- Dec. 31)

Reflect over the last month

 

 

Jade

 

Let me know below if you plan to join me on this journey!

CNF: I’m Not Afraid of Water

Note: I just wanted to preface this and say that I’ve capitalized certain pronouns for a reason. However, I didn’t want to explain to remove the effect until after it’s been read. 

Creative Non-Fiction:

I’m Not Afraid of Water

 

“I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper to myself and bend my knees. There aren’t any bugs or leaves in the water, that I can see, and yet I search and search. Procrastinating, as usual. I’m afraid, even though I know that The Sky’s the Limit summer camp is one of the safest places for me to be. I know that no one will hurt me here. They would have no reason to come here.

They, the caseworkers, always came too late anyway, I felt. They always showed up after I’d already been hit, or kicked, or burned. They always wanted a status update after someone had already pushed me or pulled a knife or held me in a grip so tight, I couldn’t breathe. You might feel like my anger was misplaced. They could save me. They could use their pen as a weapon and fire it in my defense. I’d be able to leave the wandering hands, the wandering eyes, and I would be safe. 

Yes, you might come to that conclusion, but I didn’t. It’d been so long since I was able to trust anyone, if I ever could, and I know I would rather they be as far away as possible than to have them near with their false promises. Even I, at twelve years old, knew what weight someone’s word carried. There, standing at the edge of the pool, I wondered why no one ever gave their word to me and kept it.

***

 As the boat pulled us through the water, I stare up at clouds shaped like animals and flowers. The sun winks at me from behind them and I smile in return. Even at six, I know the sun brought happiness, healing and warmth to the soul. I close my eyes and let the serotonin roll over my skin.

 The wind is heavy, here in the back of the boat, and I think if only a bigger gust would just take me away. I think maybe if I step up on the small boat seat, the plastic rocking beneath my tiny feet, the wind might hear my thoughts and whip me up into its arms, taking me away from Them. 

 “Hey,” His voice exclaims behind me, as if He read my thoughts. She yanks me away from the edge and my eyes fly open. The hardness in Her eyes, devoid of love, makes me flinch and shrivel into the small life jacket strapped too tightly around my tiny waist. 

 “Do you want to go back?” She spat the words out through tight lips. I stare up at her, imagining fangs emerging from behind them. Venom dripping from their tips as She would bare Her teeth at me. She gives me a hard shake, “Do you?” I move my chin slightly and She nods. “Good, now sit down and stay there until I tell you, you can get up.”

 I scramble across the boat on unsteady legs and climb into my plastic chair, it’s one of those seats that holds a storage area beneath it for valuables or things that need to stay dry. Wallets and the like. It’s supposed to lock in place, but He’d messed it up somehow and it never closes quite right. 

 I peek a glance at my brother and his face is turned from me, I could see from the set of his shoulders that he was angry at me. That I almost ruined our day. Either that or he was desperately trying not to look at me in case he gets roped into my disobedience and They make him ‘sit down and shut up’, too. Any thoughts of him wanting to protect his little sister, went out the window. I’m not ‘little sister’ today.

 I stay there, in the chair, using my peripherals to look at the lake around us. I know I can turn my head and look but I’m afraid. I’m a heathen, They say. An animal unable to resist my instincts, and I know it’s true. Sometimes I get so angry I slam my hands down on my thighs until they sting. Sometimes, I’m so mad, I scratch at them until they bleed.

 So, I know if I turn my head to look, I won’t be able to help myself. I’ll get up, wishing the water of the lake would take me up and drown me – not really but my imagination is vast, and I could see it the water filling my mouth and pulling me down, down, down into its dark arms. I know She’ll just stop me again, grabbing me tight until her nails dig deep, breaking the skin. Little beads of blood would appear at the punctured skin. It wouldn’t because She loves me. She would stop me because my death would be hard to explain away as “You know foster kids, they’re just so reckless.”

***

I’m standing in front of the pool again, having moved closer to the shallow end, taking a deep breath in and expelling it out through my open mouth. ‘I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper again. Duh, I’ve gone camping. “But that doesn’t mean I can swim, stupid.” I know it’s dumb, pretending I can talk to myself, but it comforts me. I am, after all, the only one that cares what I have to say. 

“Just get…in,” the last word is yelled as I’m picked up and I feel tight arms wrap around my waist, I see it drawing near, the deep end. Ten feet of deep blue water. I shake my head and thrash, elbows and knees bending and jerking spastically. I’m small, although I’m twelve, and my brother is so much bigger than I. Long lanky arms and long lanky legs to match, he’s pretty enough to be a model, everyone says so. I don’t care about that, I just want him to put me down, and he does. 

My head whips so fast as he catapults me into the air. As I’m falling down, down, down, I look up at the sky but it is not a friend to me. It’s clouds do not pillow my fall and I slip away from them. My legs pull in tight, not into a cannonball, into fear. I hit the surface of the water, but I don’t not see the pool. I see the lake.  

*** 

We’ve released the anchor and the boat is rocking in place. My brother has removed his shirt and his small bird chest peeks out from between the straps of his life jacket. He’s turned away, back to the scenery around us, or maybe just away from me. I want to get up from my seat, to lean over the edge and feel the water on my fingertips, but She hasn’t said so yet.  

Him, Her, and my brother are getting the fishing poles ready. A small white bucket of squirming worms sits at my feet. Hooking the bait is my job, my punishment, but what they don’t know is that I love fishing. I like to see that worm fly in the air and bring me back a nice little fishy. I like to see the pulse of the gills as it sucks in air instead of water. I just don’t realize how morbid it all is.  

One after another I’m handed the poles until I receive mine. I don’t put a worm on the hook, just tap, tap, tap at the sharp edge with a fingertip. 

“You can get up, just stand there for a bit, let us get going first,” He says, His voice quiet as to not disturb the fish. 

I hide my excitement and turn to the water. Lifting my pole, I pretend to fish, whipping it back and forth with my hands. It was made specifically for a small child. It’s tiny pink reel and lever fit perfectly in my hand. The pole’s long rod is pink with extended silver eyelets that held the line in place. I swing it back and forth with gusto. It snaps silently, thin line slicing against the air and this time it snags. I yank it forward a split second later without thinking.

A howl fills the air and I turn around so fast the pole almost smacks against the lip of the boat. My brother is doubled over, grasping at the fleshy space between his neck and shoulder. My eyes fill with tears when I see the blood between his fingers. The red against his soft brown skin is a stark contrast and I’m confused. I look quickly to the line hanging from the end of my pole. There, just at the tip of the large hook is a small piece of bloody flesh. 

Everything seemed to move at once. She went to my brother, snatching up at towel on Her way. Venom once again spewed from Her lips. The man came to me, hatred in His eyes. He speaks but I do not hear what He says. I can only feel the fear building in my chest, freezing me in place. With one hand, He snatches the pole, with its fleshing prize, from my hands. With the other He grabs me under one shoulder. His meaty fingers dig into my underarm, His thumb pressing against my clavicle and I’m off my feet. He tosses me, like a rag doll, into the air and my jaw snaps shut. 

 For a moment I wonder if the wind has finally granted my wish, if I’d float away on pillows of clouds. Then I’m falling down, down, down until the water breaks my descent. 

I go under, as you initially do, the life jacket unable to win the battle against gravity. My arms and legs flap as I’m helplessly trying to right myself. The emptiness beneath me threatens to pull me under. I wonder if my brother would mind, if I let it take me. My fight against water ceases and I go down and down. Then I feel something, a fallen branch maybe, scratch against my leg and I panic, kicking at it, at anything. The life jacket finally does its job and my head is propelled above water. I sputter, expelling murky lake water, my eyes burning from the strain to stay open and alert underneath it. I bow my back, anything to keep from tipping side to side. 

*** 

I open my eyes under the pool water, the chlorine stinging at the corners. I try to stay calm. I’ve been here before, but I thrash a bit, unable to control my limbs. Remembering what I’d seen the other campers do, I make like a frog. Kicking my legs out and bending at the knee. With my arms, I push the water down, down, down hoping the momentum will keep my head above water. It does.  

I take a deep breath and dive my head under. I move like I’d seen swimmers do in the movies, pushing my arms in front of me and then back to my hips, kicking my legs up and down. I felt the air on my heels as I kicked, though I was sure all of me was supposed to be under water. My chest burned as I tried to hold the air in. Finally, there it was, the side of the pool. I grasp it like a life line and pull myself up. 

My brother’s there, whooping and hollering, excited he taught me to swim, I’m sure. “You did it,” he yelled. I’m angry. How had he forgotten? How could he forget?I’d never forgotten, I think. I will never, ever, ever forget the lake

 *** 

I sat, bent at the waist, with my chest touching my knees. Taking in small breaths so as not to bend further, I pray to the sun, ‘Bring back the warmth’. My teeth chatter so hard I think I might grind them to dust. My feet are starting to go numb, if this is numbness, as the circulation is being drawn from my legs. Sharp knife like stabs run up and down my legs and I wish I could rub them away. My fingers twitch but I’m afraid They’ll see me. 

After reaching in and effortlessly yanking me from the water, the man had thrown open the plastic seat. He’d revealed the small storage space beneath it and gestured to me. “Sit. Now.” He growled the words out, barely contained wrath seething just beneath the surface. Small for my age, at six, I was able to fold myself down. My heels brushed the bottom of the boat, the seat of the plastic chair drug into the back of my head. The metal top of the storage box dug grooves into my lower back, causing bruises that will one day save me, us. He’d thrown something on top of the seat. I can’t see what it is but it’s heavy, with every rock of the boat, as we sped toward the dock, the seat digs deeper and deeper into my back.  

Later, no one fetches me from the boat. The ride back to Their home is spent alone, in the wild of the wind, at the mercy of the highway. I wonder if other cars can see me. If they would save me or if they would point with stubby fingers and laugh at the poor little black girl with no hair and a funny accent. If they would say ‘ha-ha, ha-ha, no-body wants-you’ in the singsong voice I often heard on the playground once kids found out I was a foster kid. If they would turn their head away and so as not to see me, just like my brother did. 

Even once we reached Their house, a small off-white building with red borders, no one came to get me. They get out of the truck and escape without me. I had possibly gone to sleep, or maybe I passed out, because it didn’t feel like I’d been in the boat that long. My legs did though. The sharp pricks had come and gone. From the knee down they hung like logs and I couldn’t feel my toes. I tried wiggling them but it was like trudging through mud. I couldn’t tell if they were actually doing anything.

 My brother comes to get me. I hear him clambering into the boat with his bony limbs. He lifts the seat from the clutches of my back, and I look up at him. He had put his shirt back on, it hung just two inches below his belly button and I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know much but I knew that his skin wasn’t supposed to show. He was a boy. Boys didn’t wear cropped tops, their shirts hung like sheets almost to their knees. I stifle the laughter, seeing the way his eyebrows were drawn up and together. His mouth was tight. I’ve seen that face before.

 “I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I say, or whisper, and he nods. Then he sighs. Now, I can’t tell if it’s pity there, or anger, or frustration. I take in a full breath for the first time in what felt like days and flinch. It hurts to breathe, hurts to move, hurts to think. The marks on my legs hurt, I can’t see them, but I feel them burn as I unfold myself. As I put my feet down on the boat and then my little girl weight down on my feet I hiss. My toes won’t move and, as I shuffle across the boat’s floor, I roll my feet from out to in, careful not to add pressure. 

“I’m sorry,” I say as my eyes tear up due to the pain. We carefully climb down from the boat. He nods again but doesn’t turn back to look at me. He leads the way to the house, and I trail behind him on fawn’s legs. 

The door is there before us, the hinges rusted and crooked, the dilapidated wood covered in a chipped bright red paint. I think of the blood from my brother’s back, the blood I’d seen on his fingertips, the blood on my fishing pole’s fleshy prize. It’s an ode to pain, mine, his and Theirs. I wonder if I’ve received my full punishment or if the other side of the door holds more pain. I wonder if the bruises will ever heal or if I will have a permanent mark. I wonder if Rosa, our caseworker, will come to save us this time. If she would come in time. I look at the back of my brother’s head as he slows his gait but stays before me. I wonder if this is when he starts hating me, because I know he will, just like everyone else. 

College Semester Spring 2018

Wow!

That’s going to be my word for today. Wow! Making the decision to finish my degree was one of the hardest I had to make this year. I knew that it would be very time consuming, that trying to find another job that works with my school schedule would be next to impossible and it’d cut into my reading time! But who cares! I’m so glad that I did it! I have learned so much in the last few months and it really makes my inner nerd jump with joy.

This semester I took three courses, all flex. I knew that I had a shorter amount of time during this semester (10 weeks vs the normal 16 weeks) and everything would be a bit tight. Due to that, I wanted to take a smaller amount of classes as this is my first semester back in 6 years.

I took a math course, new student course and intro to philosophy. I had one of the best math professors ever! He spent 30 years (if I remember correctly) teaching young students and used the techniques he learned to help us grasp mathematical concepts. He was so funny, honest and understanding. I wish I could take my next math course with him but he only teaches that one level. Darn!

New Student Experience is one course I can gladly say is over. It wasn’t hard and I didn’t hate it, it was just pointless. The New Student course is the one where you ‘discover yourself’ or learn about the campus amenities. This is something I could’ve learned in orientation. The fact that I had to take an entire semester of this is ridiculous. It didn’t teach me anything and was just another one of those courses that eats your money.

My Philosophy course was fantastic! My professor was great and it taught me a ton of new things. I learned to ask all sorts of questions, about God, society and impressions of others. I loved it! A few of my posts I’ve written here were directly because of my excitement! I’m actually taking more philosophy courses and believe it’ll help me hone my writing! Yes!!

So this is finals week and I only have a math exam left. Last week! But then the next semester literally starts in two weeks. I will be taking my last math course, general psychology and fundamentals of speech. I went on rate my professor and researched all of my professors first. Who knows? Hopefully they are as good as I read! Will update when school starts back up!

Happy Readance,

Jade

P.S. I’m getting a degree in English and Philosophy

 

Hearing From You! My favorite people!

Questions!
I’d love to hear from you! Comment below! Please answer any of the questions below or feel free to ask any of your own.

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What do you like to read?
What’s your favorite genre?
Do you like to write? If so, what?
Have you read any of the books I’ve reviewed? New or older posts?
What books would you like to see reviewed?
Do you like the posts not related to reading and writing? If not, what would you like to see?

Jade

Happy Ending’s Day!

So, I don’t celebrate any holidays. Not any traditional ones at least. I hate most of them due to past experiences or downfalls. I just have stayed away from them in general. On the other side, I do want to celebrate something annually to keep me looking forward. Thus a few years ago I devised my own holidays. Two days a year I reflect, remember, acknowledge and make goals. Two days a year I take time out to congratulate myself for the things I’ve accomplished, feel sadness over loss or regrets and make plans for the next six months. I do a little exercise, a little yoga, and drink a lot of water to purify. I chose to use the middle of the year, June and the last Saturday of the month. This year Midway’s Day was June 25th. I also take the end of the year, December and the last Saturday. This year Ending’s Day was December 26th. It seems silly but if you ever celebrated it with me you would understand.

Today we reflect on the last six months. So, as some of you might know, I’m going to school to become a Stylist. This has been more so an undiscovered dream of mine until now. The weird thing is, with the way I grew up, everyone always felt like I was this selfish person and maybe I was. Maybe I was stuck in my own little world of anger and hurt. Maybe I was a selfish child, most of them are. But somewhere, in my mind, I’ve always thought one day I would help people. I have always dreamed of being a writer. An author of amazing adventures to take my readers to different worlds with different problems outside of their own. I still have that dream and I fulfill it every time I finish a new novel. I then had the passion to be an Architect. I wanted to help design shelters and homes for those unfortunate and unfortunately for me, the lack of funds put that dream to a screeching halt.

Then I spent some time floating in the world of working to survive. Holding down a job because it meant I had the luxury to eat steak, go out with my closest friend and buying whatever I wanted. Then after a move to a new state…driving 18 hours to move, I floated for a time in savings. I met the love of my life (WARNING- mushiness) and settled back into working. After tragedy struck, I had to have something to pick myself back up, to keep me moving and I’m still trying to do so. My guy encouraged that I check out Aveda. He’d noticed my inability to stop watching hair videos, my constant advise and frustration that others wouldn’t listen to me because I don’t have a license and etc. He threatened to harass me about it until I at least made an effort to look at the website and I did.

I fell in love with Aveda almost instantly. I loved the photography of the webpage, the honesty and philanthropy of the mission and what the company stood for. Surprisingly, I also loved the fact that there are private owners.  I watched all the videos on the website, I watched the testimonials and the Youtube stories of Aveda students (good and bad) and I was hooked. I made an appointment to tour the school right away and I knew I wanted to go as soon as I stepped in. My main reason I could give…it was clean.

I knew that I wanted to make people happy. I wanted to contribute to making someone feel confident, sexy, gorgeous and at their best. I also have purely selfish reasons (:D) of making art out of someone’s hair, being able to look at a masterpiece of color and shine and saying that is mine, learning all the different cuts and bringing my own spin to a modernized one length triangle. I just…am so ready!

Now that it’s “winter” break, I am taking the time to enjoy my off days even though I’m still working. I just made up and ordered new business cards. I cracked open my textbook early so I can be ahead of the game when I start the next phase. I am starting to recruit models for a photo-shoot I want to do so that I can enter and attend the Beacon Awards in Las Vegas this summer.

I’ve also thought of the relationships that have transformed or ended in the last six months. I think of those I am no longer friends with or family I no longer speak to due to disloyalty, dishonesty, to me realizing that I’ve been used or treated poorly, to the ones who stopped talking to me because I moved away, to me realizing that I was the only one making an effort to keep our friendship/relationship alive, to me outgrowing them as a person, to them outgrowing me as a person, to those who judged me and those who trashed me because of my miscarriage. I think of my guy who I love and hold close to my heart. He has been so supportive of me. To those who held my hand during my grief and those who gave me encouragement to move on and hold my head up. I reflect on growing and soothing my soul.

That seemed so down and sad but to pump things back up: I am so ready to continue this new part of my life and I will be sharing it as I go along. I have a lot on my plate what with the book review blog, writing my new novel, my natural hair and Vlog life Youtube channel and keeping myself sane at work while learning new coloring and cutting techniques at school but I can do it. I have always been a strong person and with my new motto and mantra I will achieve all the goals I set out for. I’ve loosely set goals for hair growth, for retaining school knowledge, for losing weight and being healthy and de-stressing for the next six months!

Thanks for being apart of my reflection day!

“IF THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED…CHANGE THE PLAN.”

Jade