Thursday, October 30, 2008


I'm not single. I haven't been for almost two years. This is an extraordinary thing to me, considering my romantic life previously involved not the best sort of people. I love the person I am with and I believe they love me too. To be able to say that, once again, is amazing. I am so happy to have a person that compliments me so well. But what I saw this past weekend is more than I can properly describe.

Saturday, two of my friends, that I've known since high school, made a commitment to be with each other for the rest of their lives. Truth be told, I have other friends that are married. I've even been to a wedding before, but I was twelve at the time. Being so young, I didn't fully grasp how awe inspiring such a moment can be. Now older, and I hope wiser, I was moved to tears to see them "take the plunge."

There was a moment, at the beginning of the ceremony, where one reached out to the other. One was shaking and trying not to cry, cracking jokes to break the tension, making all of us laugh. The other was steady, calm. They were two pieces of a puzzle, balancing each other. That's love.

At one point during the weekend of events, the video camera made it's way to me. I tried to give my best wishes to the couple and express how happy I am for them. Of course, it came out a garbled confussing mess.

What I wanted to say, which didn't make it out of my mouth, was how much they inspired me and gave me hope for my future. I know only a part of what they have been through. Only they can really know it all. But, from what I have seen, it makes me believe love can be strong and steadying. It can be the ledge on which you jump from and the soft earth on which you land. It is there when you need it and there when you can enjoy it.

So, I guess this is a roundabout way of saying congratualtions to my friends, warmest wishes, thanks for the fun and funny photos, and I wish you the best of life and love for all your days.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This Liberal Loves America

It is less than two weeks before our country decides who its new leader will be. Yet, all I keep hearing from one political party's candidates is talk of "pro-America" and the "real America." Now it's my turn to give my views of our country.

I love America. I have no problem saying that. I love America. It has faults. It has problems. It is not, by any stretch of the word, perfect, but I love America. I was born here. My parents were born here. Their parents were born here. I am and will always be an American.

However, no one's family lineage originated on this soil. The Native Americans were the first to live on and nuture this land, but they migrated over the Bering Strait from Asia hundreds of years ago. Christopher Columbus recently brought Europeans here freely, and my other ancestors here unwillingly. Some individuals fled their old lives. Some sought a new life. To claim that any one race or people have supreme right over this land is simply wrong. Like it or not, we are all Americans. This land belongs to all of us.

Having said that, there are so many things about my country that infuriate me. I often find myself wanting to hit something, the frustration overwhelming me. That's why liberals are so passionate. We know what this country was founded on, and we see the potential it has. Yet, we do not live up to what our ancestors fought, sweat, and died for so long ago. What would they think of the America of today?

We have systemic problems in our country. There is no comprehensive education to deal with race relations in our schools. It is the elephant in the room everyday for millions of children who don't understand why someone doesn't like them or why they are suppose to hate another. There is no universal healthcare to treat all of our ills, not just those of the wealthy. People's lives are being ruined because of the wrong roll of the dice. Cancer consumes not just a body, but the lives of those around it. Guns are used "to protect and serve", but are so often the causes of harm. You may teach your child to hunt deer, but someone else is teaching there child to hate and kill. And when someone else can dictate what can or cannot be done to my own body, forcibly, I find myself nausiated.

I love what America stands for, the symbol it gives to the world. This is a place where you can start again. This is a place where all are welcome, supposedly. This is a place where anyone can make it. But what does it also say to the world when one of our presidential candidates, a man who may become the leader of our country, is vilified everyday. He is the target of racisim. He is the butt of jokes. He is in the sights of someone's scope.

And, to add insult to injury, police units in "urban cities" are refreshing there forces on riot control. Win or loose, they believe us folks are going to cry out. How little they know of the true feelings of African Americans in this country.

I want only the best for my country. But these past few months have brought out the worst. It is time for the people of this nation to unite, not divide. It is time for there to only be an us, no them. It is time for this to truly be the United States of America.

Monday, October 20, 2008


For the past year our country's economy has slowly spiraled downward. The effects are everywhere and the impact has been felt by many, just not me.

As 2007 ended and 2008 began, my cousin Ella was diagnosed with cancer. That wasn't a good day. I remember sitting in the exam room with Ella and my mother. The doctor gave my mother and me the preliminary news, away from our cousin, before he performed any biopsies. A CAT scan showed there were masses in her lymph nodes and all over her chest. "Don't tell her yet," he said. "Let her have a good Christmas." I had to lock eyes with my mother to keep her from crying. The official diagnosis came a few weeks later. It was widespread and would require aggressive treatement: rounds of chemo and radiation. Thinking back on it, a meeting like that changes the path of your life forever.

That wasn't a good night, either. As the murmurs of recession and sub-prime started, I sat on the floor of her apartment in my bedroom, my back against the bed, tears kissing my face. I was suppose to be getting ready for my job's holiday party. Needless to say, my fun was subdued. I disguised my hurt well from my coworkers, and tried to dance my pain away. But I still had my sorrow at the end of the night.

The middle of winter brought less work for me, a fact that should've bothered me more. But I found myself floating in an emotional bubble. Yes, I worried about my finances, but I worried more about getting Ella to all of her doctor appointments and treatments. It hurts to note that, at times, I did breakdown. Never in front of Ella, but to my close friends I talked about my financial worries. I never wanted to put her through that. Who was I to talk about paying off my credit cards when she was fighting for her life. I would've taken on double that debt to keep her here, but that's not the way life works.

Ella died May 15th, the height of spring, when life was blooming. Work was up. I had been paying all her rent by then, and I had received my stimulus money. I used it for moving expenses and trying to clean out her apartment.

Since our economy has gone from bad to worse, my financial life has steadily improved. I received my first two insurance payouts as homes were being foreclosed on. It is an odd, raw feeling receiving money from the death of a loved one. It is possible to have survivor's guilt when you never had the disease. It is possible to feel bad about receiving money for merely loving someone.

Because I missed out on work to help care for Ella, I was low on funds during the time of her death. The first two insurance payouts saved my year. I paid off my credit card debt, loaned my mother some money (she had helped me with Ella's bills in the beginning of the year), and paid my first two months rent. I was okay.

Now, when our stock market sunk to a five year low, I received my last insurance payout, more than the first two combined, from a policy I didn't even know about. At first, I was scared. So much money on one seemingly fragile piece of paper seemed unreal to me. I hurried to deposit it, irrational fears of theft or distruction overwhelming me.

Now that I am more than financially secure, everything is put into a peculiar perspective. Two of my closest friends are getting married. I've blocked out the event days, not caring about missing some work. In fact, work has slumped again. Recession woes will do that. But I've just not cared.

I have a huge lump of guilt in my throat. Why am I okay when others are suffering? Why is my life soaring because of the death of a loved one, someone who was akin to a second mother to me? Yet, I have equally realistic notions about my life. Okay, work is slowing. Since I'll be losing out on hours, don't spend as much. I'm researching private health insurance in case I loose my benefits through my job. I'm making myself write, as evidenced by this entry and the other ideas I've written but not fully conveyed on paper. I've got to start somewhere.

I cannot let my built in worries about work, money, and how people view me take away from the opportunity I have been given. This is the first time in my life where I have financial freedom. It was paid for with the love of my cousin. To squander this would be unthinkable, reprehensible, and just not me. Too many people are scared about their financial welfare right now. I'm just not one of them. This was the last gift Ella gave me. I will not waste it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Surprise (part 2)

On a Friday afternoon, towards the end of August, I received a phone message from a woman who worked at my cousin's employer's Death Benefits department. In her message, she said she needed to speak to me, and could I call her back by 5pm. Unfortunately, I was working, and was unable to reach her before then. As luck would have it, the Monday following this call was the same day I went in for dental surgery. (I needed all four of my wisdom teeth removed.) As my significant other drove me to the surgery, I gave the lady a call.

It seems she had been trying to contact me for some time. First, she tried Ella's mother, who said she didn't know where I was, and had no number for me. Then she tried looking through the phone book. She found my mom's home address, but the number she dialed was my uncle's line. At some future point in time, I will better explain to you just how out of touch he is. For now, I'll just say he's not all there, and told her he didn't know my number. He didn't bother to mention my mother was in the bedroom across the hall from his, or to give the representative her number. In a last ditch effort, she sent a letter to the house for me, asking for my current address and phone number. Hence, the call.

The reason the representative wanted to speak to me was that I was the sole beneficiary for yet another life insurance policy. It was through the company and I knew NOTHING of it. Also, I was to recieve the stocks in her 401k retirement account. When combining the two, they were double what I had already recieved. I found myself shocked and sad at the same time. I thanked her for her efforts and for the news. After I hung up, many curse words came out, as well as a prayer and thank you to my cousin.

The icing on the cake came after my surery. I received a call, while happy on percosets and ice cream, from the representative from the cemetary. Yes, that was the day I found out I didn't owe them any money, and my uncashed check was being mailed back to me.

The best way to describe that day was the intersection of blessings and karma.
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