I can be an

I can be an asshole.

I need to remember this fact when I am interacting with others.

As I have looked over a matter I went from I can be an asshole to being an asshole.

I will play nice with the other children on the play ground; keeping in mind that I can be an asshole.

 

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Doonie

 Sitting here unwinding…all thoughts lead me back to you.  So much I remember, the little things…

 You/Me

Smiling at the realization that your coworker knows I exist in your world.

Thoughts of you make me smile. 

The way you thank me for simple things.

 Everything about you feels so natural to me.

 To say to you; I love you.  The words do not fit.  I feel so much more than love. 

 I like you as a human being.

 I enjoy your touch; the kiss; the breath; the glance; the thought of you.

 I once said to someone; someone I loved so deeply; someone so insignificant now. 

“I want the male version of me.”  I meant it when I said it…and now in this moment I have You. 

 You are so chill, such a human of deep thought without judgment, with such a huge heart. 

  Loving, caring, sensual, magnetic, thoughtful, giving.

 I know what I have with you, too lose you would not simply hurt me it would leave me void of life, air, a pulse.

 I will be sweet to you, for I know no other way than to give to you that which you give to me.

 You are me, I am you; We are that missing piece of each other. 

 To say you complete me is vague;

 You.

The fall

Have you every fallen, and the impact not hurt?

Nope; me either.

Some falls hurt less than others.

Sometimes we can break the fall,

Sometimes we brace ourselves for the fall.

Sometimes we can roll on the impact…it still hurts.

Some falls will have you laying in the rocks unable to move for a moment easing self up, shaking inside.

Other falls allow us to jump up survey the damage, brush self off and keep moving, yes.

Feeling the pain, seeing the scars, watching the blood drip; the soreness, the hurt the morning after.

Why the fuck would you fall in love when you can walk into it?

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As the Sun Rises

I walked into the meeting, paused for a moment scanning the room to locate an empty seat.

A voice said, “Hey you.”  I felt his tone; glanced down in front of me; saw the look in his eyes.  I felt one of the four brick walls surrounding my heart crash to the ground…the smoke made my weak.  

I smiled. 

He moved his briefcase from the seat next to him motioning for me to sit next to him.  

I exhaled as I sat back; relaxing into this feeling of complete ease.  

He put his arm around me drawing me closer to him.  Almost whispering in my ear, “I love your hair.”

The chemistry strong undeniable–the ease of the conversation that followed.

Our exchange of glances; eyes sparkling; getting lost in his grand piano smile.

Exchanges of calls and texts. Such laughter sharing life moments.

Time passed.

I woke one morning remembering those that I have been forced to love from a long distance.

The brick wall suddenly built back now surrounded with a moat.

The Elephant In The Room

An Open Letter to The Media, The Police Department, and The American People

The Nation cannot, will not heal until we address all the issues that the Media, The Department of Justice, The Educational System, and Americans keep sweeping under the rug.

Each time a minority is killed by a Peace Officer in America the Department of Justice and the Media blame the human being that was murdered—equivalent to blaming the victim of rape.

Within each police department across America there is bigotry.  As long as Peace Officers are allowed to remain in positions that allows them to possess a gun on their hip and a badge on their chest the issues of mistreatment are going to remain.  As long as other Peace Officers knowingly remain silent; their superiors knowingly allow the bigots to have contact with the public; all of them are guilty of not upholding to the Oath they swore by!  All of them.  Do not blame the Union for helping the bigots keep their jobs.  Fire them.  As the racist officers in California were fired.

Media outlets report bias facts and opinions…they go as far to interview people that will not say anything against what they are reporting.  Just this day I heard someone on a news program state “We do not need to talk about slavery after all that was over 100 years ago.”  This thought process is another part of the problem.  We have to talk about it because from the beginning of slavery till this day, systems have remained in place so that White Americans thrive while so many other groups of people do not.

I understand that people do not want to address the issues in America because it makes people uncomfortable.  Black people do not want to talk about slavery because of the miseducation of it, because it is embarrassing.  White people do not want to talk about it, because well, “Some of my best friends are Black.”  “I was not there so why should we talk about it?” “It was so long ago.”   Those are excuses.  The reality is that it is difficult to talk about, to accept, to deal with.  Not dealing with it is not going to make it go away.

None of us can heal until we have leveled the playing field, none of us can heal until we stamp out bigotry and institutional racism.  None of us.

Many people love to bring up black on black crime with each murder of a minority in America.  No one mentions that when a Peace Officer is murdered 68% of the time it is at the hands of a White man.

As children we spend our entire school lives learning about White America, yes, there is Black History month; something I find insulting.  Yes, it is insulting—Black History is American History!  Whites have spent a lot of time and money making sure that what was taught in schools were White people facts.  To deliberately leave out all the facts makes White History his story not the truth.

Many of us know the statistics of those incarcerated in America, the new slavery system.

Written within the 13th Article of the Constitution by the Forefathers that were slave holders themselves.  I realize those incarcerated committed a crime, just as I know that Whites receive lessor sentences for the same crimes as well as worse crimes.

Until each American is treated with the same respect, the same opportunities, the same treatment there can be no healing of people in America.

People have the audacity to blame the President.  Let all of us look at ourselves; for anyone that has witnessed bigotry, bias, or any other injustice and said nothing—you are just as guilty as the person that did the deed.

 

 

Respecting The Blue Shield

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Each officer across the nation takes an Oath:

On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust.

I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.

I will always uphold the constitution my community and the agency I serve.

 The moment any police officer anywhere realizes a fellow officer holds any bias toward anyone for any reason you have disregarded the Oath you took.  It is your duty as an officer to hold your Blue Shield Brothers and Sisters accountable for their bias, bigotry, homophobic, or racist hearts!

“If you see something you should say something,” refers to YOU first.  How can any of you turn a blind eye and believe you are doing your job when you allow a bigot, homophobic, or racist to carry a gun and a badge? What is happening in America will not stop until you hold yourself and your Blue Shield Family responsible! 

 

Absence

Absent at the first step taken, favorite bedtime story, removal of training wheels, first emergency room visit, first lost tooth, first day of school, the plays, chorus, open house, parent teacher conference, driver license, homecoming court, prom dress, graduation, first love–heartbreak,  college chosen, first job, first promotion…first anything, second everything.

Absent at birthday, holiday, happy day, loss of granny, gran papa, favorite uncle, best friend–always absent.

Leaving the child with the question.  “Why am I not good enough to have your love?”  Leaves a child with a broken part of themselves deep within.

It was said to the absent parent, “Children of absent parents are much better off when the absent parent is dead, at least then there is a legitimate reason for the absence.”

Unconditional

Love…You ever love someone that doesn’t, didn’t love you?  If you are comletely blessed you have no idea of the emotion of what I write.  Often people fall in love with the moment. With where they are, with what they believe they need, what they are mssing; love.

Step back before you step forward; do you feel fear?  Are you suddenly overwhelmed with emotion?

It is not love; it is the moment that you are standing in…a feeling over everything…a feeling of being complete..a feeling…want; desire; yearning purpose; life…

Step back; wait; feel; wait some more; ask yourself why?   Why?  What’s got me feeling this way?  My current situation?  My past?  What I believe I need, want in my future?

wait…

Step back; ask yourself, “Why?”  Look for the truth of the matter.

Is this what “I” want, need, dream of, desire?  Is this a quick fix?”  Will I feel this way later?”  “Will this grow?”  “Why is my heart feeling this way?”  “Is it my heart at at all?”

Will we wake up in 4 months and realize this is not love?  Will we wake up?  When this comes full circle will either one of us realize this is not love?

Do not move quickly, do not move on what you are feeling in the momet…move to the drummer inside you, realize the difference in your personal drummer, the other’s drummer, life’s drummer…find your voice.

Live through your drummer….your’s is not what you think you hear, not what someone else hears…

Feel your drummer..actually feel it.

 

 

 

We got babies over here

Jayne slid into driver seat of her 2015 white Lincoln MKZ, plugged her iPhone 6s Plus into the USB, selected  R.H.R.’s CD from her play list, added her destination to her GPS, put on her seat belt, took the ponytail holder out of her hair; checked the time on her two carat diamond studded Bolova, started the vehicle, opened the panoramic roof, and pulled out of the airport parking lot headed towards her new home along Kalanianaole Highway; a 23-minute drive.

The feel of the trade winds rushing though the open windows was exhilarating, Jayne exhaled. In her excitement she turned right instead of left; the traffic light ahead of her changed to red. Jayne looked around then smiled when she saw the marina.

marina1357 otherThis would make a great photo shoot Jayne thought. She looked around for the street name to make a mental note when a rusted chain linked fence surrounding a vacant building caught her eye.  The fence ran the length of the block on the main street then wrapped around the corner down the side street. The sign read Dead End. Blue tarps and tents tied to the chain linked fence, lining the sidewalk as far as Jayne could see.

A rusted five-pound coffee can sit on the sidewalk with a sign leaning against the side of the first tarp. It read, “I am a veteran; any amount of money you can spare will help, thank you, God bless.” Next to the blue tarp stood a red tent.  An old woman swept away leaves and picked up paper out front. A younger Hawaiian woman stood on the sidewalk brushing her toddler’s hair back into a ponytail.  Two other small children were racing down the street.

The sound of car horns jolted Jayne. The red light was now green. IMG_7679Jayne pulled off—the sun no longer bright and warm against her skin, the trade winds felt thick. Jayne pulled out of traffic into a gas station, parked and turned off the car; turned off the music.  Jayne sat there in silence; her mind racing. She had been on the island several times for work over the last couple of years, but she had never seen anything like that. Jayne grabbed her red Prada Galleria bag off the floor next to her.  She mindlessly walked down the isles of the gas station, headed to the refrigerator section  and bought a bottle of Fuji water. She leaned against her SUV sipping the water and gathering her thoughts. She took a screen shot of the GPS, then headed home.

“Turn left onto Kalanianaole Highway, your destination will be on the right,” the GPS instructed. Jayne stopped at the gate entered her security code and smiled as she watched the white wrought iron entry doors slide open. She left her luggage in the laundry room then paused in the doorway of the den to appreciate the curved staircase made with iron balusters.

Jayne headed to the lanai, slipped off her ivory and grey Prada sneakers and laid down on the blue chaise lounge allowing her head to sink into the pillow. She clMaili Beach sunset 1 foto (2)osed her eyes and listened to the waves of the tide roll into the beach then back out.

It was dark when Jayne opened her eyes. She had been sleep for hours. The flight from the East Coast had taken eleven hours. Groceries would be her first priority in the morning.

Jayne strolled into Safeway grabbed a red cart, put her reusable bags in the basket, her grocery list on top, then scanned the store for the dairy aisle. Jayne searched the refrigerated shelves for her favorite brand of orange juice. As she reached for it her arm stopped in midair—the price affixed to the shelf read $12.99. Jayne stepped back and looked at the rest of the price tags on the shelf. They were all the same give or take a few cents. She rolled her eyes and sighed. “I am not paying $12.99 for orange juice,” speaking out loud.  Jayne’s stroll turned into a slow walk as she pushed her cart down the aisle headed to the produce department.

The bright yellow letters outlined in red over the tomatoes read, SALE! As she approached the Roma tomatoes she frowned, removed her head phones and laid them on top of her bag “$5.99 a pound,” Jayne sighed a long sigh. “This is not a sale!”   A woman with blonde hair, bright red lipstick, wearing a white maxi dress standing behind her giggled. “You are new to the Island,” she asked. Jayne shook her head, yes. “You will get used to the prices, darling,” she spoke with an accent. “I had the same experience when I started coming here, that was 25 years ago.”   Jayne responded, “I refuse to pay $5.99 for a tomato.”  This time the woman laughed and extended her hand. “My name is Alyssa, I am from Queens, New York.” Jayne shook her hand, “It is great to meet you Alyssa.” “I’m Jayne, from Brooklyn.” Alyssa smiled, “We are family!” Alyssa pulled out a pen and paper, “We must get together for lunch I have a condo in Waikiki.” “I am headed to a friend’s this morning for breakfast.” Alyssa continued, “If you want good prices on food you must shop in China Town, but go early.” “Most of the shops close before noon.” “Parking over there is hell—Lower Manhattan style, darling.” Alyssa smiled again. “It is cheaper to eat out if you know where to eat, I will teach you when I have time, I better run I don’t want to be late.”

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Alyssa was right—Lower Manhattan China Town on the Island of O’ahu. The one way streets, looking out for the pedestrians, and trying to find a parking space—so New York.

Blocks away from China Town Jayne found a parking space. There was a park on the corner; Aala International Park. Jayne could see China Town in the distance. She headed to the walkway that snaked through the park.  It was early spring the trees were in bloom, playground equipment for the children and large open spaces with park benches throughout. Suddenly Jayne was overcome with the foul smell of urine. She held her breath and picked up her pace. As she got closer to the monkey bars she saw towels and clothing hanging over the bars to dry, a couple was sitting on a bench nearby.

Cardboard was in a pile and tied with rope it laid in the grass alone side several plastic grocery bags. A man sleeping, a woman sitting across from him, a pile of cardboard underneath her, in one hand a brown paper bag, it was rolled down neatly and hugged a can, a cigarette in the other, she smiled at Jayne as she rushed by. Many people were sitting in the grass, some gathered in a small groups talking, others off to themselves; a few engaged in conversation with the wind or an imaginary person sitting next to them. At the end of the park people were sitting on the concrete walls that surrounded the public bathrooms. There was a small hill just beyond the edge of the park, a canal at the bottom–Nuuana Stream.homeless camp honolulu hawaii Jayne remembered the tents and tarps on the dead-end street. Jayne forced to stop at the corner—oncoming traffic. As Jayne reached the other side she said out loud, “This is not my problem.”

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Finally home after a long work day, Jayne flipped the channels until she found the local news. A brunette with dark eyes was reporting; with a tone of seriousness and a look of concern she said, “Tom Brower, The State Representative,   was attacked  by a gang of homeless people while walking though one of the camps.” “He was taken to a nearby hospital,  and later released.” “Representative Brower states he is not going to press charges against his attackers.” Jayne turned off the television, showered and got in bed. She laid there remembering the dead-end street  and the top of the hill of the canal by China Town. They are all alcoholics, crazies, and drug addicts she thought, and drifted off to sleep.

Jayne woke at four twenty-three a.m. The story of the homeless attackers still on her mind. She searched the internet for the story, mapped her route, put her camera batteries in the charger, went through her morning routine waiting for daylight.

She found a parking space on Lana Lane across from the Porsche of Hawaii dealership. She could see tents from the car. She put her Olympus point and shoot in the back right pocket of her white denim shorts, pulled the baby blue shirt tail out of her shorts to conceal her pockets, slung her black camera backpack over her shoulder and ran across the street. Jayne’s stride slowed when she turned onto Cooke Street by Kaka’ako Makai Gateway Park.

IMG_1328A little girl with uncombed brunette hair emerged from a tent. A long pink My Kitty t-shirt hung to her knees, a blue and red beach towel draped over her shoulder; a white plastic shopping bag swung from her left wrist, she clutched clothes against her stomach. She walked past a couple of tents, stopped and waited. A taller girl in blue shorts, white Camisole top and blue flip-flops emerged from the green tent.  The taller girl also had a towel, tan plastic bag, and a change of clothes. As the two of them walked towards the street other girls in their age group joined them. Jayne walked on. She could hear someone sweeping up ahead. The sun now in her eyes.

In the middle of the block there was a woman sweeping. She had long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail with a yellow scrunchie, long loose strands of hair fell down her forehead. She was wearing a yellow sun dress with white plumeria lei flowers on it. The center of the flowers matched the yellow background of her dress. As Jayne passed her she smiled, and said “Hello.” Jayne watched her sweep the trash onto a piece of cardboard then she dumped it into the black mesh aluminum trash can lined with a white plastic bag at the side of her tent.

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Two teen-aged boys on bikes stopped in front of a large heavy-duty black vinyl tarp tent. The front of the tarp rolled up and tied off. There were several black vinyl tarps attached to each other; a back, two sides, one used as a ceiling and the rolled up one in front. Inside of the tarp there was a man standing behind a counter (it was a door placed on top of two tall wooden stools.) A boy sat on a wooden stool at the end of the counter with a bowl of food in front of him. He swung his legs back and forth as he ate. Red, blue, and green ice coolers stacked four coolers high and three coolers long  were behind the man standing at the counter. He opened one, handed each teen a can, the taller boy handed him money and they left.

There were wood flats stacked with cases of bottled water, soda, and juice. As Jayne slowed her pace, the man rushed from behind the counter came outside, smiled and said, “Good morning,” then disappeared into the tarp next to the first one—identical in structure. The next moment Jayne heard Donnie McClurkin singing Stand. The volume at a level that could be heard for blocks. Jayne stopped and looked back at the tarp. At the end of the second black tarp were five portable generators, pots and pans, three four burner hot plates and two grills for outdoor cooking, car batteries, jumper cables, and two stacks of green plastic chairs. Jayne walked on, discretely taking pictures.

Homeless Camp in O'ahu She found herself at the end of Ohe Street. A muscular middle-aged black man was taking his trash to a dumpster at the edge of the grass. Jayne approached his light blue vinyl tarps. The front was tied back to allow the trade winds to pass through to the second tarp that was open on the far end. Inside the tarps framed art hung from wire grid panels. The art spaced to divide one area from another. The largest framed art work was a picture of Jesus knocking on a door holding a lamb. Across from the picture there were three leather computer chairs. The first two chairs had red rectangular milk crates sitting between them. In a stack of four. The bottom shelf was full of CD’s. The two middle shelves housed family photographs; a couple were antique. The top shelf had books, writing tablets, and a pencil holder full of pencils and markers. The third high back  computer chair looked like it was a Herman Miller Mirra Chair, it sat alone facing the other chairs.

There was a mattress and box spring on the floor with a thick black throw rug in the middle of the tarp. His bed housed a red comforter with five  pillows all with a red  pillow sham. Against the back of the tarps were rows of jeans on hangers hung on wire grid panels. Three rows in all. Shoe boxes were stacked six rows across and four rows high, giving the jeans enough space at the bottom to hang free.

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There was a bookcase facing the bed, the bottom shelf had sweaters and sweat shirts folded neatly. The fourth shelf had t-shirts folded in rows of three stacked to the top of the shelf; all color coordinated. The third shelf housed wife beaters and shorts. The second shelf was for his boxer briefs and socks. On the top of the book-case sat a white Big Ben alarm clock with silver trim and bells, glow in the dark hands and numbers, and an open bible.

Outside the end of the second tarp there was a stainless steel step trash can, a two burner hot plate, three generators, gas cans, iron skillet, and pots and pans stacked in black milk crates. He also had a silver Cannondale bicycle locked to itself with several chains. He was walking back from the trash dumpster, their eyes met. He smiled and said, “Good morning, it is another beautiful day in paradise, isn’t it?” Jayne smiled and said, “Yes, yes it is!” As Jayne got closer to the edge of the park her nostrils filled with the foul smell of garbage. She moved quickly into the grass and half way up the hill. The girls that had disappeared out of her view earlier were returning to the camp site. Some with wet hair, all of them in fresh cloths; several conversations were taking place between them. Two of the smaller girls were racing down the hill. One of the older girls was yelling after them to stop before someone got hurt.

A group of women of various ages had gathered in the park at the bottom of the hill.  Some of them were sitting on blankets, others were standing; waiting for the girls to join them. Jayne stood there and watched the winner run into her mother’s arms almost knocking her down from the impact of her speed. They hugged. Jayne could hear the mother scolding her daughter for running down the hill. The little girl, “Oh Mommy I won, I won today,” she continued to laugh.

Breakfast time

Milk crates in various colors were stacked against the back of the tents. Each girl hung her towel over a section of a milk crate. One of the towels had the words The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows written in blue on it. A group of boys started walking towards the hill. Each of them with a towel, change of clothing, and white or tan plastic shopping bag in their hand or thrown over a shoulder. Jayne walked through the middle of the park. As Jayne passed the women, each one  acknowledged her with a cheerful “Hello,” smile, or nod.

There was a couple sitting at a park table across the street, they spoke to Jayne as she approached them; the woman white—in her early fifties, the man, Latino about the same age. She said, “Good morning!” “How are you today?” Jayne used the opportunity to ask if she could sit with them for a moment. Jayne introduced herself and extended her hand. The woman introduced the man, Oliver, and then herself; Fiona. As Jayne removed her camera backpack and placed it on the bench next to her Fiona said, “Did you get some good pictures this morning?” “Yes, I believe I did.” Jayne responded. Fiona continued, “We’ve been watching you all morning.” A little surprised, Jayne said, “You have, why?” Oliver spoke, “A new face, and no belongings other than your camera bag, are you a reporter?” “No,” Jayne said. “I am a photographer.”

Oliver studied Jayne’s face for a moment then said, “We figured after yesterday we would have reporters and more police over here, is that why you are here?” Before Jayne could respond Fiona said, “We moved here from California over a year ago.” “We were having a hard time keeping a place in California.” “The landlord kept raising our rent.” “The woman at the housing office told us things were better here in Hawaii, so we used our SSDI checks to buy plane tickets.” “SSDI checks, what is that?” Jayne asked. Oliver responded, “Social Security Disability Insurance.”

Fiona continued, “After we got here our social security benefits were cut in half.” “In California our income was $2,299.00 a month.” “They put us on a waiting list for housing too.” “Said people with children would get housing first.” “We been here 18 months now, the woman in California lied.” Jayne’s head turned toward Fiona. “It cost more to live in Hawaii than in California, why would they cut your money?” In unison they said, “They said the state of Hawaii does not pay that much.”

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Fiona went back to her story. “I have been homeless most of my adult life.” “My mamma put me out when I was 15 because her boyfriend was trying to have relations with me.” “I ain’t got no other family so all I could do was live on the street.” “When I turned 16 I got a job working fast food.” “I was doing okay too.” “Me and two of my coworkers moved into a studio apartment together.” “I kept saving my money and working, I was going to be the manager some day.” “Then one day I fell on a count the floor was slick from grease.” “I was hurt bad.” She raised her shirt to show Jayne the scars on her back and right side from the surgeries. She went on, “I got addicted to pain killers, couldn’t stand for long periods of time anymore and I couldn’t pay my rent so I had to go back to living on the street.” “Then I met Oliver.” “He got me to stop the drugs.” “He helped me get SSDI too, Oliver is a veteran.”

Oliver spoke, “We been together 20 years now.” His weary brown eyes glowed when he looked at Fiona. Fiona grinned from ear to ear, she had no front teeth upper or lower. Her finger nails were long, uneven, chipped, and caked with dirt underneath. Fiona has long blonde hair and green eyes. She stood about 5’5”, and skinny as a rail. Fiona was wearing one of those cheap tourist t-shirts, (you can buy 9 t-shirts for 20 bucks at most of the tourist shops on the island.) It was red with an iron transfer that said, Hawaii in the black brush script font, a pair of non-designer black gym shoes with a pair of jeans, the thighs frayed, the white strings blew with the breeze.

A younger white woman was walking by. Fiona stopped talking to greet her and asked her how her mom was feeling this morning. She stopped just long enough to update Fiona and Oliver, said she had to get back then disappeared into a tent in front of them, it was off by itself.

Homeless Camp in O'ahuFiona then turned her body to face Jayne and lowered her voice. “Her mamma just returned from the hospital, she dying from cancer and needs to be in hospice, but won’t no place let her daughter come too, so she came back here to die.” “They been homeless a long time.” “How did they become homeless?” Jayne asked. “Her daddy died, wasn’t no insurance money to bury him, wasn’t no money left for her and her mamma.” “When Simone was in 10th grade her mamma got sick.” “Simone got a job at a Times Supermarket.” “It wasn’t enough to pay all the bills so they ended up on the street.” “Simone’s mamma didn’t know she could get SSDI or public housing.” “Simone didn’t finish school and now she won’t work because she got to take care of her dying mamma.” Tears began to fill the wells of Jayne’s eyes. She cleared her throat. Fiona caught her breath. Oliver patted her hand. They sat in silence, then Jayne asked,“Fiona, are there a lot of families here?” She looked over her shoulder and said, “See those tents going up that street, we call that Family Hill.”  “We try to keep all the families close together and in the middle of the camp, most of them take turns watching each other’s children while they at work, looking for work, go to a housing appointment, the food pantry, or to use the shower up over the hill.” “The street behind it in both directions full of families too; we call it Family Alley.” “Four or five mamma’s will go over the hill early in the morning to shower.” “We go in groups so we can watch out for each other, then the girls, then the boys and they dad’s.”

Homeless Camp in O'ahu

Homeless Camp in O'ahu

Surprised, “The city provides showers for the homeless people?” Jayne asked. Fiona laughed. “Just over that hill is the beach.” Public parks and beaches have bathrooms and shower stalls, you know for the swimmers and surfers or whatever.” “That’s why we stay close to the beaches or parks—at least we can shower every day and we can fill up our water jugs when we can’t buy bottled water.” “The city did bring over a portable toilet, they come clean it every day too, but that’s one toilet and there’s hundreds of people over here.”

Jayne pulled herself out of the slouched position she  had fallen into and said, “It is my understanding a lot of people are homeless because they on drugs or alcohol.” Fiona cut in and said, “Don’t forget the crazies!” Then Oliver said, “This is a family community.” “If we know you over here because you got a drug or alcohol problem, we make it known we do not want you here, we don’t need that bad element—it’s babies here.” “The drug addicts and alcoholics stay over by China Town where they can beg the tourist for money.” “We back here trying to survive and stay out-of-the-way of the police.”

Homeless Camp in O'ahu

Oliver paused for a moment, “Listen, most of the people over here hardworking law-abiding people.” “Many of them have jobs.” “There are many reasons people came to lose their homes.” “Some loss their job because the business closed and the unemployment check wasn’t enough.” “Seven families over here because the owner died, left his properties to his greedy daughter, she sold the properties and the new owner raised the rent, some here because they mate left them for someone else, taking half the income with them.” “It’s a family with five kids living over here because the dad got hurt on his landscaping job, he couldn’t work any more, the landlord raised the rent, so they moved into their SUV to save enough to move, then the wife got fired because she wasn’t getting to work on time, trying to get the kids to school from over here, now they stuck.” “Some here because they were one paycheck away from being on the street and the one paycheck ended.” “It’s a lot of reasons people become homeless.” “Some here are veterans, like me.”

Fiona added, “Its people over here working three jobs, saving to get the rent, security, and application fee, it takes time…it just ain’t enough.” “When our money runs out for the month I go beg, Oliver can’t go, people won’t give him money because he’s a man.” Jayne asked, “How many tents are here?” Oliver spoke. “At the end of May it was 198, see those three tents over there?” “They just showed up yesterday, but the last time I counted we had 219 tents.” “See all the people starting to gather in the park, the county going to bring all of us a hot lunch soon.” “The shelters don’t have enough beds and those that do want to force you into a drug or alcohol program just to sleep there at night and sit through their classes during the day when you don’t have a problem other than no job.” Jayne sighed, Oliver and Fiona sighed. Jayne said, “I was watching the news last night a State Representative was attacked by a gang of homeless people over here.”IMG_1319

Oliver and Fiona laughed out loud. Oliver said, “He lucky we didn’t string him up for supper,” “They said a gang of people,”  Oliver laughed again, “It was two of the teenagers that recognized who he was.” “He’s a mean man, he was walking down the streets with a video camera in his hand, pointing it in people’s faces, and talking.” “He the same man that came through here a while back with a sledgehammer, took all the shopping carts, he tore a lot of the tarps down, and had a garbage truck trying to take all of our stuff, told us he didn’t want us in his ward, we should move to the other side of the island.” “The dirty bastard.”

Fiona said “Oliver we best be getting across the street before the truck comes so we can line up otherwise we won’t get a lunch.” The three of them stood at the same time, Jayne thanked them for talking to her. Fiona said, “You can come visit us anytime, you welcome here.” Jayne thanked Oliver and Fiona, crossed the street back into the park and over the hill towards the bathrooms. Jayne used the GPS on her phone to measure the distance from the homeless camp to the bathroom…it read 0.5 miles.IMG_1446

 

A Lesson

Last week I logged in to Facebook to discover that an old friend’s brother passed to the other side.

I thought about my three siblings.  A part of me would pass with them. A lot of me would hurt, a part of me would rejoice, a lot of me would me angry, a part of me would not care, and a part of me would feel nothing.

Proud of each of them;  disenchanted with each of them, and missing two of them but no longer close to any of them.

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Loosing Everything

After acquiring all the material possessions I felt I deserved and needed for a comfortable home; then getting comfortable with all these earthly possessions, I met someone.

Within a few months he insisted we live together. Since I was renting and he was purchasing it was only practical that I move in with him.

We were happy; growing as a couple, and growing a business. Life was good. As I settled into this happiness he began to change.

I began practicing tolerance.

One week shy of three years I decided I could no longer be tolerant of his bull shit. I packed my personal things and moved out.

Leaving behind most of my household possessions; I had not put security on myself financially.

I decided I would rather sleep under a bridge on the ground because I knew I could not stomach one more day of his smile(so fake), his kiss(made my sick to my stomach), his touch(made my skin crawl); I loved him but I no longer liked or respected him.

I left; I felt as though I had lost everything.

Yesterday I sat on the bed going through clothes bins I recently retrieved from my daughter’s place.

As I sat there cutting up the clothes of my children and grandchildren to prepare to make quilts I realized I had lost nothing.

All of the things I left behind I can and have replaced.

What I could never replace; the clothing I collected and stored as the years passed and my children grew into adults. The laughter, the tears, the successes, and the growth of my children is remembered in the fabric.

As I cut a t-shirt I was grateful for the awakening; grateful for the lesson.

Opposites Attract

They hang out on a regular basis. The time together is appreciated and valued; an appreciation for what they have in common and what they do not have in common.

It has been expressed more than once that there is a desire for a more serious relationship.

They have little in common.

Something that is pointed out each time the subject comes up. It is always stated, “Opposites attract!” The response is always, “Yes, they do but opposites do not stay together.”

Yesterday they were hanging out enjoying the rain and the jazz. Again the subject of a serious relationship came up.

This time questions were asked.

“When are you going to change your diet and go back into the gym?” The response, “I do not need to I am going to have a surgery for my weight issues.”

Response. “Surgery for your weight issue is not going to correct the issue; it’s a quick fix to a bigger problem; your diet. Until you change your diet the weight is going to be a problem.”

The response, “I can’t change my diet.”

A long deep sigh followed.

Then a statement of fact followed, “Another difference between us; you are always telling me what you cannot do while I believe I can do anything.”

Life as a New Yorker

Had a late meeting. My client hailed a taxi for me. In Brooklyn there are few yellow or green taxies more car services.

I got in and gave him the address. We pulled off. After four blocks he asked me what I usually pay. I said, “$15 plus a tip.” He responded, “I cannot take you there for less than $20.00.” I looked around. No longer in the area to hail another car. I responded, “Huh.” Which means you just pissed me off. I took a deep breath and released it trying not to draw my sword. He began a conversation. I said, “DO NOT TALK TO ME.” He turned on the radio. I listened to my voice mail messages. Then returned a call to another client. While on the call he was polite enough to turn the music down. Actually he did it to hear my conversation.

As I ended the call we were just feet from my place. I said, “Pull over before you pass my place.” He pulled over and said, “You live in that building?” I responded, “Yes.” As I pulled a $20.00 from my pocket and handed it to him. He said, “Let me give you your change.” I responded, “No you keep it, it’s obvious you felt the need to cheat me; by the way you might as well call it a night because you won’t make another penny on this shift, punk!” He said, “No I was wrong I thought it was further away.” I said, “No you did not, you thought you had a sucker riding with you.” “You waited until you had me in an area that does not have taxies in it.” “Sir, you are a jerk, enjoy the rest of your evening!”

I crossed the street and unlocked the door to my building.

Lesson of self

Two hours ago I settled down at my desk to work. Positive attitude, positive energy flowing. The phone rang. I smiled so the caller would feel my joy.

Within four minutes I got annoyed. After five minutes I was pissed. 30 seconds later I was angry. By the time seven minutes rolled in I was ready to draw my sword and take the caller’s head off. We ended the call. I tossed my phone on the bed, mumbling to myself, “There is a difference between being hard headed and being stupid!” I walked out of my room feeling rage.

Suddenly I caught myself and said, “I prayed not more than 30 minutes ago to accept those things and those people that are what and who they are, please give me the wisdom and peace to know the difference.”

Instead of allowing the stupidity of another’s actions to throw me off my game, I put my things in a bag–all my quarters, my singles, and my camera; took the stairs four flights to the ground floor and out the building. I held the door for someone entering.

Took my camera out, and shot a piece of nature. By the time I walked across the baseball field to reach the other street I had calmed myself.

Standing at the red light I saw more of God’s beauty and captured a few more shots. Went to the bank, made my deposit, then back on the sidewalk seeing even more beauty on this windy 48 degree spring day. I took a few more shots then found myself taking the long way back to the apartment. I realized as I shot that I am in control of me. As long as I remember that I am blessed with an open mind.

I cannot, I should not get angry with one less fortunate. I need to embrace that person with love, hand them over to God and move forward so I can maintain a clear head and a close to pure heart.

I remain a work in progress.

Play nice with the other children on the playground of life. Do not get angry, do not get even. Hand them and you over to God.

Good Friday in Manhattan

A homeless man laid on the ground against a gray concrete building in the City. It was 37 degrees this morning. He was sleeping, suddenly his body jerked hard wakening him violently. He sat up and started yelling, “Get away from me.” “Get away from me.” As the passersby moved to far end of the sidewalk, he motioned wildly with his arms and hands, still yelling, “Get away from me!”

After a few moments he reached behind the marble pillar he was using to shield his face from the street and pulled out of fifth of SMIRNOFF vodka. It was a quarter full. He took a swig then slowly screwed the top back on it, gently put it back in it’s hiding place. When his hands could be seen again he removed a Newport 100, and lit it with a black bic lighter. He sat in silence taking an occasional drag from the cigarette. Again, he started jerking his arms and waving his hands for the imaginary person to leave his space. He was speaking in a volume that could not be heard beyond where he was sitting on the ground against the gray building. Just as suddenly as he started jerking his arms and waving his hands he stopped. He finished his Newport and flicked it towards the street.

At least one hundred people had passed by him on the sidewalk by now. Many not looking in his direction at all. A young blonde haired male with black earphones looked at him with disgust as he passed, slowing his stride as he got closer to him to get a better look.

A man in a navy blue wool hat and matching parka strolled down the street. He was carrying a metallic blue stainless steel water bottle in one hand and a brown paper bag in the other slowed his walk as he approached the homeless man. He stopped and smiled at him, handed him the brown paper bag, bid him a good day and walked on. The homeless man looked in the bag then placed it on the outside of the marble pillar. He reached behind the pillar to retrieve the SMIRNOFF bottle, took another swig and put it back, again with a Newport in his hand. He sat and smoked in silence.

People walked up and down the block some rushing to work, a few carrying gym bags, others walked holding a dog leash, their dog at their side. A woman in a mink, a man in a navy pea coat using a blind person’s cane as his guide.

A small girl wearing a pink coat, white scarf, colorful beads adorning her braids looked into her father’s eyes as they got closer to the man, neither said a word. He handed her something. When they got to the man sitting on the cold ground against the building they stopped. She handed him money that was carefully folded in her hand, tears in her eyes she said, “I love you.” The homeless man said nothing as he accepted the money she held out to him. The father fought back his tears, they walked on in silence. The little girl looked up at her father and smiled. He took her hand and they walked on down the street.

The homeless man turned to watch them until he could not see them any longer. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a stack of folded bills. He unfolded his money exposing 20’s, 10’s, 5’s and one dollar bills. He unfolded the money the girl with the braids handed him. He separated the five dollar bill from the single one, put them in their proper place in his stack and put the money back in his pocket.

Just then another man walked up and handed the homeless man a large iced coffee from Starbuck’s and a straw and walked on without a word. The homeless man discarded the white paper from the straw beside him on the ground took a big sip then placed the iced coffee on the window ledge above his head.

As I sat in the warmth of the car ten feet from the homeless man I looked closer at his clothing. He was wearing brown and white suede sneakers not worn or dirty other than the heel of the shoe where it rested against the sidewalk. He had on black socks, a pair of black jeans, not worn or dirty other than the dirt acquired from laying on the ground. He had on a black sweatshirt that appeared to be dirty from laying on the ground as well. His hands were ashy from the cold dry air of the morning.

I looked at the clock on the dash of the car as I turned the key in the ignition to warm the car again. It was 8:50 a.m. I had been sitting there since 7:08 a.m. waiting for my friend to return from her early appointment. The homeless man laid down, crossed his his left leg over his right leg. He rested his left arm over his forehead, and his right arm across his stomach. Five feet away from the homeless man a stopped with his dog so he could pee and take a crap on the sidewalk. The homeless man never moved.

The street of passersby began to get quiet as it was now nine a.m. Those that did pass him speeded up their pace as they got closer to him. A jogger in black running shoes with a white and neon green top flew by the homeless man. He turned on his side shielding his face from the sun and the passersby. He began to tap his foot as if he could hear music.

I saw my girl friend come around the corner. Time to put my paper away and get back in the passenger seat.

Arrogance of Man

Walking back from the post office with a song in my heart and a twinkle in my eye a man stopped me and said, “If we were in my homeland I would take you.” I stood frozen for a moment processing what he said to me. I responded, “That line may be effective for you with some women, but not this woman.” “You need to thank God this is not your homeland because five seconds after you put your hands on me you would be telling Jesus I said Hi.”

What is wrong with men that they actually believe we find flattery in them wanting to bed us?

Most straight men would have sex with all of us…each time I say this to a man he’s never attempted to say, that is not true.

Selfishness versus…

Someone said to me today, “I wish someone would give to me the way I give to others.” I responded, “It does not work that way.” “As long as you are giving because you expect something in return, you are not giving from your heart but from selfishness.”

I was having an MRI done. When the tech finished she said, “I kept looking at you and looking at your chart, I kept telling the others this birth year is wrong.” I laughed. “No, it’s correct.” She said, “What is your secret to looking so young?” This was a great moment to sell her my skin care line. Instead I said, “Give to others from your soul, in pure love, give because your giving is needed.” She said, “your eyes sparkle, you look so innocent.” Again I laughed, “There is nothing innocent about me, I am pure in that I deal from the love within me or I deal from the evil that is within me.” “I prefer to show love, when it is not accepted I walk away.” I rather people not know me as evil.”