I’m out of my mind, staying up until now. I have not been to bed yet. I’m thinking about so many things, and a lot of them have to do with food, music, my life, and finances. This was supposed to be a lengthy, reflective post on what I’d do if all those spam mails I get all the time were real. What if all those people and European banks had millions waiting for me? What would I–some Brokey McPoverty dame from the Southside of Chicago do with all that cash? Would I empty out my Amazon list, would I make smart investments, or would I turn into a freak of nature, stashing huge wads of cash all over the house in a hoard-like fashion?

I’ve heard stories about people like that–money changes them, but not so much for the better.

A lot of my writing heroes have become millionaires. Or, at least have enough dough for Prada sunglasses and Nars lip tars and glosses. Folks constantly say that money doesn’t buy them happiness, but let me be very honest–if I could skyrocket into my writing career, reach people, do what I love AND kick Sallie Mae and Great Lakes in the butt, I would be very happy. I would march to both offices in person, throw a bag of money at somebody and be like “y’all can’t bother the kid no f*cking more!”

I would be very happy to donate money to my uncle’s church, pay off my dad’s bills, and invest in all the cool companies that pretty much run the world. However, isn’t that material happiness? AH! Nichiren Buddhism strikes again! So early in the morning. I suppose it reminded me of a discussion meeting that happened some time last year, when we talked about relative happiness, and absolute happiness. (it took a minute for me to remember what it was, lol. I KNEW in my heart it was there, but the words were failing me.)

Relative– That kind of happiness that comes from money and material things. It comes, it goes. Always in transition. Fleeting, moving, might be here today, might not be here tomorrow!

Absolute– Longer lasting happiness. Nothing and no one can take it away from us. Comes from internal transformation. In the discussion, we went over absolute, and defined it as an emotional-type feeling from doing good for other people. In other words, perpetuating kosen-rufu.

Believe me, it would be a blessing to come up from where I am right now. However, what I’m doing right now is just as important. It’s MUCH more important. What is money, materials, and riches if my soul is not at ease? What is a fancy house, cars, and an Amazon wishlist if I still don’t like who I am? I can be debt free but still not like the person I am. Wouldn’t that be bonkers? Wouldn’t that make the windfall very hard to celebrate? There would always be something missing.

It would also be very lonely to have all those things, and not have someone to share them with. As sticky and sickening as it sounds, I would like to have a family someday. I’m pushin’ 30, and let’s face it–sooner becomes later, later becomes a regret. I think I’ll fight that part tooth and nail just to prove I’m worthy of a husband/wife, and some kids. I’m not a Susie Homemaker, but I think I’d make a pretty great wife and mom. I’d love to share the fruits of my labor with more than just myself, other fam, and community.

I think moments of reflection allow me…any person…to see where they are, and what work still needs to be done. What parts of selfishness still linger? Where do I still need to change and grow? Lots of places! Inside, and out! Those are things money could probably speed up, but time and wisdom create a much more organic progression.

(although tbh, I would LOOOOVE to donate a big ol’ fat check to the SGI Pride Parade committee, and have a sparkly, fabulous float!)

Gifts of Love

When I came out with my new-ish tablet on Monday, Sada asks me where/how I got it. I explained to her that it was a gift my father gave me as a sign of gratitude. At the time, I was sans-tablet after a fiasco with rolling over on my dearly departed TMax. Knowing how much I liked that one, my dad decided to sprinkle some kindness and gratitude seeds on yours truly last year. He said to me “because you’ve been so great with your grandmother, you can get another tablet.”

So, I went to Sam’s Club with him and tried not to break the bank. I’m spoiled, yes, but I also have a good head on my shoulders. I know not to push all the buttons in the elevator car. I explained to Sada that it was a gift for taking care of my grandmother and being there for her. This, of course, went over her head. “That doesn’t sound like a good reason,” she said. Commenting that the gift made no sense. What was so difficult about my grandmother that warranted a gift?

Believe me, the musings of a 15 year-old child boiled no potato in my near-thirty pot. I knew she was looking on the outside in. She hasn’t spent extended amounts of time with my grandmother to understand our journey. Instead of explaining it to an uninterested child, I decided to wait and reflect on it here.

First and foremost, I don’t need a gift to return the love and care my grandmother gave to me. She became mother when I lost my very own. She put up with a lot of crap my crazy self did as a child. I said and did a lot of stupid things, but she held on to me. She licked the wounds of time with my step-mother, and gave me a semester of education when funds were low. She always had a room and a meal for me. She always had a smile, a hug, and a kind word. She sewed for me, cleaned for me, and pretty much decided to take me in when she did not.

So, once she started showing signs of Dementia and Alzheimer’s around her early 70’s, things began to change. Her frustrations and sadness made her a different person for a while. It shook things up as we had to learn (as a family) how to navigate. My father worked hard to find her help. He worked with his sister in TN to talk things out. We adjusted for her like she adjusted her life for us. It was always a selfless effort. It was all for love.

Grandma is not an invalid. She is not “out of her mind”, either. It boils down to two things–how she interprets things, and how her memory is. Her personality is fine. She has a hobby, she has rituals. (She also insists on sweeping all the time, which is sooo bad for her back!) We adjust for her comfort. That’s all it is. The gift–that was something extra. Without it, I would still be doing all I do for her in the Summer. I would still be cooking for her and turning to Jazz stations so she can sew. I would still do her hair, laugh with her, drink all the wine, and badmouth crappy singers on TV.

To be honest, I did feel bad for a few seconds. Then I realized Ms. Sada had no idea what I’d been through. Her concerns were still in the land of clothes, boys, “situations”, and pop culture. Discussing mature ideas with a smart ass (she gets in trouble for her mouth all the time!) would be like trying to control the ebb and flow of the sea with my two fists. Besides, her relationship with her own grandmother is unfortunately rocky. Maybe she doesn’t “get” it because she’s never been in that situation before.

Not ever family relationship is a good one. I feel so blessed to have a grandmother who loved me heart and soul. Which is why I don’t mind doing anything she asks. I might be a little grouchy or tired sometimes, but I still get off my behind and try to fix her problems to the best of my ability. If she itches, I scratch. If she needs to “find the clicker”, I find the dang clicker. If she wants to heat up her lunch, it’s done. There are no conditions–if Ellen Amelia wants it, Ellen Amelia gets it.

My gift was a token of thanks that will last in this lifetime. What my grandmother and I share will burn bright. It’s an eternal flame of family love that will never die out. I know, it sounds so cliche and sticky-tacky, but it’s how I feel. She was freshly retired, and could have done anything in this entire world. She decided to take care of me. No questions asked. I was hers. So, it makes perfect sense why I got the gift. Thanks for giving my all, for caring, for “putting up with those moments”.

Besides–I can show her clear pictures of cats and birds when she’s here. She LOVES looking at pets on Instagram. 😉

Writer’s Chair

Sitting here on my last morning/day of freedom, I’m asking myself why I keep writing about certain things. Why I keep talking about certain things. Why? Opinionated people say things like “keep that to yourself”, “[insert site here] is not a diary”, and “how do you cope in real life if you’re like this online”?

I found writing to be a powerful coping mechanism to document my journey. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I also examine the very ugly. I speak up, I put it out there, I don’t think of the consequence. There have been consequences, healing moments, and new friends. There have been spies, enemies, and folks who just…stare at you. I write to cope, to get things off my chest. I write to get things off my head. I write, so that when I look back, I can see who I was in that moment. I learn from things. I have moments of wisdom and clarity. I have to rush to record my findings.

I have been this way before I became a Nichiren Buddhist, and it never had a “thing” or a title to it. In discussion and study meetings, I’ve come to find that being a Bodhisattva of the Earth, you learn and accumulate and come to realize with great depth all the time. You piece things together, you see why X and Y lead to Z. Or, in my case…why V was led to D and J.

I have to let go of the idea that I look like a fool to exes who may be watching. Let them watch! I’m sure they already talk (if they remember me.) and talk aplenty. My job isn’t to hold a glass to the wall and see what they think or feel. I’m not asking them how I feel. I’m not asking anyone to tell me how I feel. I’m understanding and growing as a person. I will never ever be done growing. I’m 29, and I barely know who I am in this moment. It keeps changing.

I probably will be a “crazy cat lady” who hoards collectibles. But that’s not my calling. That’s a label usually secured for those of us who’re just peculiar in this lifetime. We don’t quite fit in, we’re a bit obsessive, but we are brilliant people. In some way, we are ever so brilliant. I write for these reasons. Coping, clarity, journey collection, learning, and quirk. I want to love, to live, and be a happy person just like anyone else in this life. It just so happens that I write my you-know-what off at every turn. If not here, my poetry blog. If not my poetry blog, my tumblr. If not tumblr, somewhere.

Someday I will depart from it. On that day, I will either be complete as a person, unable to type anymore, or dead. My writing is the voice that is usually very quiet in the real world. I’m a silent person. I make just enough noise to let you know I’m here. If we’re cool, then yeah I probably don’t shut up. I’m probably wacky without an off button. That means I trust you. I’m loose, I’m free, I’m a comfortable bunny.

Anyway, I asked myself the question I’m sure everyone who has ever been in my life wanted to know. It started out with a scented diary from Jewel-Osco. Progressed to slam books, notebooks, DiaryLand, LiveJournal, Xanga, Blogger, Tumblr, and here. I’ve tried not to write. It builds up like a liquid waiting to burst. It itches me to the point where all of my body darts for a source of creation. There are probably letters rolling around in my bloodstream.

Maybe people think I write to be callous. Or, a gossip. Or, to just tell everyone’s daggone business and tell all my business because I’m a lonely soul with no friends. Had I more friends, I’d still write. Things like that don’t change my desire to write. Things like that aren’t why I write. I feel what I feel, I try to get it out. How simple and complex is that?

It is 5 in the morning. What am I doing? Awake, writing. Looking forward to the rest of my life, and the person I will become. Imperfect, strange, possibly very annoying. But….somebody out there is waiting to love me. Events are waiting for me to get there. Life–good, bad, strange, wonderful, erotic, neutral–is waiting for me.