Category Archives: Growing Up

Man Child

 

man_child_blog

The Man Child slept. Haphazardly strewn on sheets askew and pillows too soft. It was the sleep of adolescence, carefree and untainted. But just beyond the window pane a light flickered, and then it happened. Not all at once, but slowly it crept in sweeping past the old lamp post on Browery St. The still balmy summer night heralding it’s coming like a light house in  fog beaconing an ocean liner. The thin reedy songs of the cicadas were hushed as it rolled in leaving in it’s wake the sweet scent of honey suckle and lavender, with touches of apprehension mixed with fear and mystery…

 

photography credit: moi

short story: moi too

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Virginia Bama Tells a Story

Raki wasn’t always cool. I speak of myself in third person to show how far I’ve come. But lest I forget, the following will always bring me back to earth. A few weeks ago I found a cassette tape of a 13 year old me telling a story that I’d made up. I had just moved from southern Virginia to the DC metro area and had not yet begun the arduous task of eradicating my accent. Listen and be amused.

http://theoriginaldavid.com/Shakiras_Story.mov

(if the link audio doesn’t work try the direct link HERE it takes a second to load, but sit tight…it’s worth the wait)

Are you done laughing yet? This tape surfaced right on time, and turned into an afterschool special. Dave is growing up and as much as I appreciate his eccentricities, being a teenager in a society that is telling kids to grow up too quick and act too cool way too soon, makes it difficult to instill in him to just be cool with who he is (everybody else can kick rocks). I get frustrated with some of his insecurities mostly because I’ve been in his shoes and understand what he’s going through. Telling your kids that you “get it” works sometimes but this tape gave Dave a real life peek at me at his age. I was awkward, friendless, the new kid, totally out of place and telling stories in the closet to amuse myself. Of course when I let him listen to it he laughed a lot, critiqued everything, then wanted to hear it again. Thankless but worth it 🙂

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My Grandma: Whoopins and Apple Pie

Grandma

You see those forearms and powerful hands in that picture? They have wielded cast iron pans, switches, and have snatched a head of my hair with equal force and accuracy. Today would be my grandma’s 90th birthday. I miss her dearly. My grandma was the only person I’ve ever verbally acknowledged as “Ma” she raised me. She was a woman of steel, with old school values that while I was growing up I couldn’t appreciate and thought were prudish and restrictive. My grandma was not the kind of person that one would call “warm” or doting, she had a steel resolve, she worked tirelessly. I can remember nights seeing her come home after cleaning the houses of Jewish people. She did what she had to do to be sufficient. She was as hard on me as if she was the one who had bore me. Our relationship was more than I can put into words. She made me polish silver, she taught me how to make apple pies, she taught me how to do nurse corners on the bed, she made me go to school dressed as a “music teacher” for career day when I wanted to be a gum shoe (neither can be easily depicted in costume). She taught me how to make a mean bowl of Cream of Wheat and how to fit more than three pancakes in the pan at once. She taught me how to work with my hands. I often look at my hands, and see hers. They’re not soft and dainty, they’re rough with memories of callouses and wrinkles that gather around too large knuckles, but they remind me so much of grandma. I was laughing the other day with my coworkers as I shared memories of how my grandma would make us sharpen our pencils with knives (good in a pinch, but only if you want a square lead). She had a knack for making due with whatever she found around the house…see below illustration

Grandma Taught Me

When my grandma passed away. I was by her bedside and as soon as she left this earth i left the hospital and drove 4 hours to get back home. I had made that trip twice in less than 24 hours. On My first trip we thought she’d had a turn for the better but within hours of me making it back to northern virginia from the hampton roads area, the news was dire. The drive was eerie because I felt in my heart that my grandma was going to be leaving soon. Those hours were very lonely, my son was asleep in the backseat, I actually saw a pack of cougars on the side of the road. I couldn’t process that even as my eyes told me what I was seeing my mind wouldn’t believe. When I got back to my grandmas bedside I was able to be alone with her.  I held her hand. I told her things. i told her everything that i’d done that she wouldn’t be proud of. i didn’t tell her about any accomplishments. I told her how much i had messed up my life, and strayed away from the person she had raised me to be. I needed to let her know. I whispered things directly into her ear so that she would know that I loved her and all that she had taught me. I honestly can’t wait to see her again. It’s an assured knowledge that I have deep inside that I will see her soon and for me, that day couldn’t come soon enough. Miss you Ma.

 

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I So Purple

Survival Kit

Survival Kit

Or Isopropyl if you insist. Earlier while wickedly enjoying pouring half a cap of peroxide on my sons cut foot (it burns so good) I began to think back to all the times I was in the same exact position as a kid having banged myself up in some way or another and being forced to sit on the toilet seat whilst my gradmother either poured alcohol or peroxide over my latest boo boo then perfunctorily painted it purple. Did you guys ever get the purple treatment? To this day I have no idea what the purpose of that was, and I doubt I’ll Google it. I’m going to just take it in faith that my grandma knew what she was doing…and do the same thing with my youngin, which brings me to my other ponderance; am I  grandma worthy?, is the generation beneath mine grandma worthy? My grandma taught me a lot about home remedies and “making do” to the extent that I feel confident enough in my spice rack, pantry, and medicine cabinet that my family will neither go hungry, nor lose a limb if push comes to shove. How about you guys? I think about the younger generations and how they need more grandmas, real gangsta ones that’ll give you a whoopin and bake you an apple pie all in one Sunday afternoon. I think about my grandma often, she raised me and next month is the anniversary of her passing. You guys will get to know her too through 30and11, Grandma Dot was a key character in  some of my most triumphant and EMBARRASSING coming of age stories and of course it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share the best of them with all of you! Stay Tuned!!

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Letter to Me from My 9 year old self. Don’t Judge Me

me in the window

Yes, I did actually break down and do the “write a letter to yourself” thing. I usually think those types of exercises are a little sappy, but I did it anyway – it was a low moment in my life.   The way I did mine was to write a letter from my 9 year old self to my 30 year old self, does that make sense? Here goes… (note* my first name is Rakiyt, aka Raki, but growing up most people called me Shakira, my middle name)

My 9 year old self to me at 30:

Hey Raki it’s Shakira. I’m here in Norfolk. I can’t wait to be you. I want you to know I’ve watched everything you’ve been doing for the past 21 years and I want you to know I’m not ashamed of you.  I think you’re doing great now. I never thought we’d have a son but I’m happy he’s here.  I forgive you for your mistakes. I forgive you for making our path to greatness so hard. It’s okay. I love you anyway. I’m so happy we still have our sense of humor. You know we’ve always been a tomboy. I’m writing to you now from our “thinking tree”! Remember the big tree in the front yard? Well I climbed up here today and I see that you’re struggling. I saw what happened to us this week. I can’t believe someone would treat us this way. I’m just a little girl and I don’t really understand too much but I know I wish we had someone to stand up for you and It’s really scary knowing that I’m going to be in your position one day, but we’re fearless. You know we are. It’s going to be better. Please make it better for me. It’s lonely here and I see the path I’m going to take and I just need to know that at the end of it we’ll be happy. 

 

 

 

I wrote this on May 1st 2012 and just found it while going through old files on my computer…and you know what? I don’t think it’s too lame, I actually am happy that I found it. At almost 2 years later, it reminds me of where I was mentally at that time and how OUTRAGEOUSLY WACKO DIFFICULT CRAZE BALLS INSANE things got just one month later…and how the Crazy Train just steam rolled right on through to 2013. I promise I’ll write more about 2013 soon, …. matter fact I promise I’ll write more period. I miss you guys 🙂

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Is This The Little Boy I Carried?

A Cake fit for a Being

A Cake fit for a Being

Well, this is what happens when you let him decide what goes on the cake. *sigh

In a few short hours I will be mother to a teenager. Y.I.K.E.S. We held his birthday party yesterday, saturday because Monday would have been too hectic.  There will never be another moment like this, literally, he’s 13, and I’m the converse: 31… and it’s 2013.  It’s just a cool little coincidence, and if I played the numbers I’d play 13,31,13 in that order. I still can’t believe my kid is a teen, and I feel like he’ll probably go to sleep, and out of spite grow an inch tonight so that he can be taller than me in the morning just to prove a point. The past year was pretty tough, this time last year I was in the midst of trying to abate a nervous breakdown and losing the battle.  I’ll tell you guys more about that later, but now I’d like to take a few moments to extoll the awesomeness that is David.

David rides around the neighborhood in snow boots and shorts, on a vintage BMX Mongoose bike with a bow and arrow strapped to his back wielding a 2 ft long Nerf sword. I love that about him because he really is a kid who does what he wants and doesn’t let pretense keep him from enjoying himself.  He still gets excited about stuff, he’s not “over it” as so many teens and preteens are these days. There’s an awesome sense of wonderment that I wish I could preserve in him forever although I know that, along with his estimation of my coolness, that too will begin to fade in the years to come. I just pray that he knows that no matter what, I love him with a vulnerability that’s hard for me to comprehend. That’s what parenting really is, it’s vulnerability, it means loving another person so much that self becomes secondary.  I’ve learned a lot about the resiliency of this kid, he’s surprised me with his maturity and tenacity even as I sit here watching him repeatedly stick his finger into a container of slime making it expel pitch perfect fart noises (the sloppy kind).  I took for granted the roundness of his face, and almost missed the sharpness of his mind. A fact I should have noticed years ago when at an early age, drawing on his superior sense of reasoning and observation: Dave posed the question:  “Mom, do I have utters?”

I could really go on and on about the joy my boy brings me. He makes me happy though not in a dependent way that can be sappy and is sometimes an unfortunate consequence of single parenthood. Yeah, he can get on my nerves and frustrate me to the point where I need to take a time out, but thankfully, those times are rare.  I delight in him and enjoy being his mom and wouldn’t want him to be any other way.

Happy Birthday Dave!

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Curated Cartoonage because Saturdays Suck

Let’s face it, saturday mornings suck for kids. I think all 80s babies will agree, we had THE BEST cartoons EVER! It’s pathetic how much joy I get out of lauding this over my son. I’ve come to realize that those of us lucky enough to have really grown up in the 80s cherish our childhood like no other generation. It’s like a badge of honor, Fiercely defended! I’m sorry, if you were born in 1983 you can’t really claim this distinction unless you had a bunch of older brothers and sisters or cousins…because you really didn’t start forming lasting memories until around 1989. (I’m sure there are some exceptions). I’ll give you guys my entire theory on 80s childhood soon, but not just yet, that’ll come in another post. Anywho, It’s saturday morning, and what’s on tv? TRASH! As I flip through the channels with my requisite bowl of Cap’n Crunch (berries on the side, cuz I’m grown) I see hmm, spikey haired kids throwing dragon balls and cards at each other, I guess they’re battling, singing vegetables, and dancing dragons! WHAT IN THE HANNA BARBERA IS THIS MESS!  Thankfully there’s youtube. I’ve put my son on to some of my favorites, and I must say he’s all the better for it. Here’s this morning’s line up, in no particular order.

Remember:

 I lied, there is a particular order that only applies to Fraggle Rock. Fraggle Rock will ALWAYS be first (and Batman The Animated series will always be second). Fraggle Rock is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE show ( It’s not a cartoon but whatev). I’m not going to expound upon my love of Jim Henson here…because I’ve already done it HERE on my tumblr. 

Fraggle Rock

Duck Tales

Jem

Gummi Bears

Kidd Video

I’m going to attempt to curate a saturday morning cartoon playlist every saturday because it’s important that I do this for the greater good!  To all my fellow parents, and future parents please share your childhood with you kids, believe me they’ll love you for it.

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Crying in the Car is For Wusses

cryoutside

I went outside. I went even further than outside, I went outside and got into my car and cried my eyes out. Crying sucks big time especially when you’ve been trying to hold it in. Crying sucks even more when you do it in the car while it’s snowing outside. Why was I crying?  It was out of sheer exhaustion with life. I’m trying to hold a lot together, my business, my home, my son, my sanity. I feel like i’m failing at all of those things.  I had a meeting with a well respected veteran in the fashion industry today and he reviewed my brand and gave me his very direct opinion of my work. It made me want to give up. Half way through our meeting I wanted to pack up and leave but stuck it out because I needed to hear these things. I asked for this but that didn’t mean I had to like it. My skin is no where near tough, let’s just get that straight. I’m extremely sensitive on the inside, I try not to let it show but today was just too much. I didn’t just cry, I wept.  I had come face to face with the reality of my circumstances. You ever look around one day and notice that the carpet is threadbare, your sweaters are moth eaten, and the paint around the windows is peeling, when only just the day before everything seemed alright? That’s the feeling that over took me today as I sat in my car with my disconnected phone, and the last $3.00 I have to my name.  I wondered what am I doing?  What have I done? This is not the life I signed up for and why have I pushed and worked so hard to be in this place? I want to write more about this but right now I just can’t because my head hurts from crying like a sissy in my car.

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mid-life M.A.S.H

M.A.S.H Game

M.A.S.H Game

‘Member dis? We used to play M.A.S.H. (mansion, apartment, shack, house) back in the day. The limo was obligatory up until somebody realized that rich and famous people don’t actually own stretch limos. I also kinda remember playing this by myself and putting my 4th grade crush in the husband column then finagling the results to make sure he was chosen.   I decided to take a trip down memory lane two nights ago. I thought it would be fun. It wasn’t. It was actually stressful and depressing. I could only come up with two fantasy husbands, the housing situation was a bust too. I finally just started putting whatever, but this little exercise got me thinking about my current mental state. Am I really that jaded with life, that I can’t even dream about the unrealistic future or have I…dare I say it…lost the magic and grown up? I feel like the adults in the Polar Express that couldn’t hear the bell ring because they had stopped believing in Santa Claus. As I’m writing this I’ve figured out exactly who’s to blame!!! My financial advisor!!.. well he’s not “mine” per say but it sounds good and really grown up when you place ownership on a financial advisor.  I went to go see this guy more as a return on a previous favor, than because I needed advice about finances that I don’t actually have. That meeting was like a 2 hour long game of M.A.S.H. seriously, only we didn’t stop at houses, husbands, and cars, Mr Northwest Mutual added a few other columns like, Debt, Retirement homes, Insurance, Current Expenses and a whole host of other headers that bit by bit chipped away at the gold leaf I’d thinly layered over my very real, very impoverished state. This real life M.A.S.H was more like SQUASH. As sobering as it was to go through the intimate details of my life and future plans (or lack there of), it was an experience I cherish and have recommended to all of my friends. I realized that reacting to life instead of directing your life is not a good pattern to fall into. My advisor was amazed at the simplicity of my needs, while it was something to laugh about it made me realize that I’d stopped dreaming big. That is the toll that parenthood has taken on me. I didn’t have a dream car, dream salary, dream house, or dream future beyond wanting to pay for my son’s college tuition and be able to take care of my mom. It was pathetic really, but I’m saying this in the past tense for a reason. That meeting opened up my eyes and I started to focus on the happiness factor and creating the quality of life that I’d really enjoy, to consider the possibilities and not the liabilities of life.

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