Got vice?

Lately when I am not bemoaning all the shit going down in my life or working hard to stay cool. I have noticed that it’s no longer acceptable to have bad habits or vices. One especially does not wish to let the world know they have any vices if they are a parent because good gravy parents must be perfect. We must model exemplary behavior lest our progeny be doomed to a lifetime of good psychotropics and an even better therapist.

So what brought this on you ask? Well yesterday when I was waking up and checking in on some of my good time-wasting sites online, the issue was raised of how many people would admit to eating fast food on a regular basis?  I actually saw someone say that fast food is so reviled that people would sooner admit to smoking rather than admitting the Colonel calls out their name with some crispy chicken, or even better that the smells at McDonald’s occasionally lures them in, come on you know the fries smell good. I swear every time I go past a McD’s for a moment I think french fries!

Now it would have been easy for me to dismiss this as internet rambling until I thought about my personal circle of friends and at this point I feel I must admit that yes I do have a vice. I am an on again, off again smoker. I quit for some years, life gets rough, I light up again. Most people until now have no idea that I battle the butts, because I don’t smoke around others for the most part and that includes, my house, car. at the job. you get the picture. By virtue of the fact that everyone gives smokers the stank eye keeps me in line. And before anyone feels compelled to lecture me, save it, my mother died of lung cancer. I know what can happen if I don’t get a hold of this vice. On the other hand I am human and humans are weak no matter what we think, we all have our weaknesses that we cannot avoid.  For some people its gambling, food, drugs, shopping, even love one of the purest of emotions can be stretched to vice if its excessive. I am a big fan of life in moderation.

So now that I have outed myself completely and fully (believe I have hinted as this in the past) lets talk about the fact that in my immediate circle of real life peeps just in Maine, I have about 4-5 who are also undercover smokers. Except for one person, they are more undercover than me, to the point their partners don’t even know they occasionally hit the butts. One of these folks is 50. I don’t know about you but why the hell at 50 is one hiding any habits? Why? Because people look at you like you are crazy if you admit to having a  vice.

By the same token I have been in spaces where admitting that I occasionally feed my kid fast food was met with an icy glaze. Um….I said fast food, not rat poison. Look, some of us have become so damn high and mighty we forget to just be. Seriously, just be in the moment and not feel the need to put value or judgement on people or things.

So what about you? Do you have any vices, habits or weaknesses?

What do we owe them?

I have been unusually quiet in this space even by my own standards, I wish I could say it was strictly because it’s hot as hell (global warming is real, we had tornadoes in Maine last night!!!) but truth is I am bogged down with family issues. This is one of those times when maybe I am about to share too much of myself in this space, but the truth is for me letting things out is often healthy. So here goes.

Right now as I type this, my remaining parental unit stands on the brink of homelessness. I am talking the odds are high that tonight he will sleep on a bench or in a shelter. I wish I could say it was because he is a super asshole but really he is not. No, he is just an aging hippy turned preacher turned widower yet a man who instead of planning chooses to live on faith. Long story short when the feds decided to play games with the extended unemployment benefits, my Pops got caught up in that mess. It’s been a month since he last received an unemployment check and living in a rooming house where rent is due weekly this is real bad. Regular laws governing eviction processes don’t apply to him and while I have been able to ensure he isn’t starving, there is no way I can pay my bills and his damn near $200 a week room rent.

My father is a prideful man, so rather than go to his family and by my last count he has at least 9 siblings still alive, he waited a couple of weeks before sharing this news with my brother and I, neither who are in a position to do much. Like I said we are keeping him from starving and I have extended an offer that he is welcome out in my neck of the woods and I can probably pony up the cash for a bus ticket to get him out here but really that is the best I can do.

Having worked with the homeless in Chicago I am quite familiar with every shelter or source of help for folks in Chicago yet he has not wanted to discuss those options, though he did call 311 the city’s homeless prevention helpline though without a guaranteed source of income he was pretty much shit out of luck.

My heart is heavy this morning, but at the same time feelings of anger are creeping up. See, to some degree we have been here before. When my Mom was at the late stages of her battle with cancer I helped my folks out, spending thousands on rent and her insurance. When my Mom passed, I helped out even more. None of that money was ever repaid back and really it wasn’t my money I spent it was money I owed to the IRS. This is one of the reasons I have that pesky tax problem.

See, my natural instinct is to help folks but the older I get, and as my own responsibilities mount its pretty clear that I can no longer dive in head first to help loved ones because in my mind I owe it to my kids and husband to make sure their needs are met. Yet I am struggling with the very idea of what do we owe our parents? Presuming they were decent folks who loved us and raised us, do we owe them anything? Two old friends of mine admit they have always admired the lengths I have gone to, to help family but also admit they would not sacrifice their own financial futures to do so. On the surface that pains me yet deep down I am starting to think it’s true. Part of me feels like due to past help, perhaps I have set a bad precedent in helping. I have family members who assume based on silly superficial shit that I must be well off financially…um, no. I still struggle with money like many I suppose but I also know that I try to stay one step ahead and plan for shit and deep down it bugs me that others don’t.

Anyway that’s what’s up with me. Is there anyone out there that is struggling with family in need especially parents? If so I would love to hear from you.

Don’t touch me

It’s another hot day up here (when will they end?) and I have a long day since I will be taking part in a community forum as part of my job this evening. So I suggested to the Spousal Unit and son, that we have lunch at Pizza Hut since I am in no mood to cook, thanks to a summer cold, oppressive heat and work. So the family came to pick me up from the office and we hit the local Pizza Hut.

It was a good time despite the lousy food, when I suddenly feel someone touching my hair. I look up and see an elderly white woman muttering something about nice, beautiful and I just wanted to touch your hair. Wait! What the fuck are you doing? I start trying to avoid her gnarled hands like I was Neo in the Matrix, moving closer to my daughter in the booth and even putting my hand up saying “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH MY HAIR

It’s not the first time in my 8 years in Maine I have had a white person reach out and attempt to touch my hair, after all I did have dreadlocks for 5 years but this was the first time I have ever encountered someone who did not respect my desire to stop trying to touch me. For a millisecond I felt reduced to less than human status and even my husband who is a laid back man told the woman “Please don’t touch my wife’s hair” There was a second when I thought he was about to lay hands on Granny. Eventually she and her party mosey’d on with her no doubt wondering what the issue was, but damn it, don’t touch my hair.

Look, I realize seeing a Black woman with braids may be a novelty  but reaching out to touch one is just a bad idea and frankly the only thing that stopped Granny from getting her fingers broke was the fact that she was elderly.  I am still not sure if that was a great idea but hey, I was raised to treat folks with respect even when its questionable if they deserve it.

So to my fellow humans of the white hue, don’t ever reach out and try to touch a Black woman’s hair…it could be hazardous to your health.