Pointing fingers

Sometimes I find myself sitting with my face resting in one hand, 3 fingers bent against my cheekbone, my thumb under my chin, and my index finger stretched across my cheek, with the fingertop resting right next to my ear.

As soon as I realize the position I’m in, I correct myself. A small but significant correction. I bend my index under my chin too. Why? That exact same position reminds me of my father. He used to sit like that when he was drunk and his mind was racing. Nobody knew what was going on in his head, but I knew, if he would sit like that, with his finger stretched across his cheek, trouble was about to happen.

The very moment I realized this is imprinted in my memory. Very vividly. Like a snapshot. Very sharp, clear image. Not a moment that took long. I don’t remember what came before it, nor what exactly happened next . I just remember the breakthrough, the AHA-moment.

When we were little and we went somewhere by car, I would sit in the middle on the back seat, with my brothers on the left and the right. I was like a barrier to prevent them from fighting (eventhough that didn’t stop them). I also had the best view on the road ahead. And the front seats.

It was a sunny day and if I remember it right, it was a grey car. I was probably around 7. I don’t know if we just left to go somewhere or if we were on our way back. I know that my father was drunk. My mom annoyed. They started bickering back and forth. Tension was building up. My brothers were there, but it felt like it was just me in the backseat, staring at my dad.
I was scared for what was about to come. My heart started beating faster. My muscles tensing up and I subconsciously start to breathe a bit more quiet. You know that feeling, when you are watching a movie and the plot is about to unfold? The music builds up and you are sitting on the edge of your seat, anticipating what’s about to come. That might be the best way to compare it. Except this wasn’t a movie, but every day life for me. I didn’t choose to pop this movie in, I was born in it.

They kept snarling at each other. All of the sudden it got quiet. I looked at my dad. He was slightly leaning to the right. His elbow against the window, his forearm stretched out alongside of it. His left hand against his face. 3 fingers bent against his cheekbone, his thumb under his chin and his index finger stretched across his cheek, with the fingertop resting right next to his ear. Like it was pointing out the danger of what was going on inside his head. And I remember thinking:”That’s it! He always sits like this right before a fight breaks out!”

I leaned back and pushed myself against the car seat a bit more than usual. I wanted to sink in it, disappear in it. This was not a good sign. Did my brothers see what was about to go down? How bad would it be this time? Maybe if my brothers would just start fighting now, my parents were going to forget about their bickering-on-the-edge-of-becoming-a-full-blown-fight.

I don’t remember anything after that revelation. It was a valuable lesson though. Growing up, I learned to observe people, as a survival skill. Read the small changes in body language, voice intonation, even pattern of breathing. It told me when to escape to my room. Pretend I couldn’t hear anything. Silently crying when the pillow over my head did not block out the sounds of screaming and yelling, the accusations, the beatings, the breaking of plates and glass, the pain and frustration being released as a atomic bomb. And then I would cry louder. Scream. The sound of my voice was more comfortable than the sonic picture being forced onto my vivid imagination.

I moved out when I was 19. My father stopped drinking almost 8 years ago. They are older and calmer now. It’s more than 20 years later, but I still correct myself when I sit like my father sat that day in the car. It’s intruiging how little details can trigger a whole series of memories…

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How did you meet?

No matter how long people have been together or how troublesome their relationship might be, whenever you ask them how they met, a smile will appear. They will look at each other and you can see them reminisce together. Usually the woman will tell you the story. You know, women have a better memory for romantic details. The man might tell you: we met in the park. The woman will tell you the weather of that day, where exactly in the park, why she was there, who she was with, what he was wearing, why he caught her eye…

Usually when the guy tells the story,the woman will correct him. Probably more than once. And as she takes over, he’ll sit there listening to her, looking at her, then looking at you to see the impact of her words. And for a moment, the both of them are right there again, transported back in time, meeting each other for the first time all over again. You can tell by the softer look in their eyes, how they sit up a bit straighter and lean towards each other just a bit more. A special moment in time. The first one they shared together. You can tell that they are still exited about it. They might no longer be exited about each other, but that specific memory still gives them that warm fuzzy feeling.

I love hearing these stories. They are unique. Different every time. And it’s remarkable, but a lot of times the way people meet will define their relationship.

Things are a little different now though. Our grandparents probably met through friends, on a fair, through family,… something close to home. The world in which our parents met might be a bit broader. But nowadays, people meet through the internet, dating websites, tv chats and what not. You no longer have to bump into each other to fall in love.

But one day, you will meet. Face to face. In real life. In the same area, the same place, the same timezone. And when people ask you how you guys met, you will look at each other. You will reminisce together. And the both of you will smile.

No room for a single mom

The family as a cornerstone of society. A  nice principle. Unfortunally the term ‘family’ seems to be pretty unflexibale when it has to be a cornerstone.

People used to get married young, have kids, and stay together until death did them apart – literally. They might not always been happily married, but there was a time when divorce was taboo.

Things change. Now the term ‘family’ can mean anything from married-with-children to a commune of friends to being just one person. It’s been like that for a while. And it still functions pretty well. Unless  you are a single parent.

Let me explain myself. First of all, nobody (but a few exceptions) chooses to be a single parent. Whatever the reason might be why you end up being a single parent, I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t something you planned for yourself. Raising children isn’t easy (and certain people should think twice before they have kids, but that’s a whole other blog entry). Raising them by yourself is twice as hard. You have to be mom and dad. Good cop and bad cop. Provide for your children and still find time to be there to actually raise them.

Life is expensive. If you just have one paycheck and two children, like I have, with no money coming from the dad whatsoever, you know that you live from paycheck to paycheck. Counting and recounting to see how you’re gonna make it to the end of the month. Which bills can I pay and which will have to wait? If the kids need new shoes or a winterjacket, you will either have to save for it, or let a bill go unpaid. You’re denying your children certain things (trips to amusement parks, going on vacation abroad,…), but you work hard to raise them the best you can and give them all they need. They might not have the luxury that their schoolfriends have, but they are happy nevertheless.

But there’s more to life than the financial part. Have you – as a single parent – ever tried to find a house (without social services helping you out)? I don’t know what it’s like in other areas, but where I live, it’s close to impossible. What if you want to educate yourself so that you can find a better job, have a better income? Going to school full time is pretty much impossible: school is expensive. Plus you will have to find a daycare/babysit for your kids, which adds to the expenses. Sure, there are enough adult schooling opportunities in every city, with all kinds of different subject you can learn. Very interesting and motivating. Until you check both price and class hours. Yup, you’ll  need a babysit.

Well, then let’s try something as simple as picking up a hobby such as swimming. Which is pretty inexpensive, right? So that shouldn’t be a problem…. Think again.
In my city, the swimming pool is only open for the public between 6pm and 8pm. Between those hours I’m cooking, washing, preparing schoolbags, helping with homework and putting kids in bed. Sure I could take my kids with me to the swimming pool in the evening, or during the weekend. But I won’t let them alone in the water, not even in the playing pool for the toddlers. So I won’t be able to get a work out by swimming the amount of lenghts I want. What’s the solution? My family and friends live far away. So I’d end up paying for a babysit. Again.

Oh,why – instead of complaining – don’t I take my babydaddy to court and make him pay child support?
Well, everybody’s situation is different. But for me, there’s nothing to gain there. No financial gain, no emotional gain, no support. It’s just not worth the stress, time and money I’d have to spend. I prefer to make it on my own, rather than to be dependant on a little bit of money that I might – or might not get every month. It’s pointless. Trust me.

Like I stated before, it seems like there’s no room in this society for a single mom. Or a single dad. Even while there should be more to life than the financial part, as a single parent, it seems that the financial part is the only thing that’s being thrown back in your face over and over again.

Luckily it takes more than money to raise children into responsible and respectable adults. So yeah, my kids might not wear the latest fashion, they might not go on vacation to Spain every summer vacation. But my children are smart, well mannered and appreciative. Which can’t always be said about kids that grow up around a lot of money. Just my two cents…

Haters

Being active in the urban music scene, I’ve been witnessing this ‘Love Your Haters‘ trend. As far as I can tell, it’s coming from some rappers in the States. And we all know, if rappers in the States say or do something, we better copy it – if we wanna be cool. (That’s a sarcastic remark, in case you were wondering).

I personally think it’s a sad tendency. I do get the whole haters-are-jealous-of-what-I-do/who-I-am/what-I’ve-achieved idea behind the trend. And I do understand that hate is an extreme form of love. Don’t worry, I get it. But it still makes no sense. Just like using the N-word to avoid people using it against you. I understand the motivation behind it. But using a curse word to define yourself? That’s ignorant. At least, that’s my 2 cents.

I would assume that people – especially artists – would prefer to have more fans than haters. I’d think that they’d be happier with people who admire what they do… That those are the people they are doing it for. Fans are the people who make you, who support you and stand by your side. Haters are the exact opposite.

Why would you take pride in people hating you? Why would you focus on something as negative as hate to profile yourself? Does it make you feel important? Do you really care so much about those people that you want to link yourself with them every single time you talk about your haters? Or do you focus on how hated you are, because there’s no love for you out there?

I’m just wondering…

 

A life saved thanks to Facebook

Facebook is often mentioned in newspaper articles: “Man arrested because of a Facebook comment” – “Double murder announced on Facebook” – “10 reasons why you are addicted to Facebook”, …

There are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to the internet’s social networks. Whether you like it or not, the fact is that it has become a big part of every day life for a lot of people.

Today I’ve witnessed how a person put the word “social network”  to good use. Osmosis Poemz, a poet on my friend list, sent out an alert on his FB status. Apparently someone on his list had posted a suicide message. Osmosiz Poemz didn’t hesitate and prompted people into action. More alerts were sent out, there was contact with his sister and mutual friends and 2 hours later the police had found the man. He’s been saved and is now getting the help he needs.

Goosebumps…

It’s amazing how the care and concern of a stranger helped to save a life. With people using the internet more and more as the main way to communicate, sometimes we wonder if they still care. This proves that humanity is stronger than technology

Today, I am humbled…

Baaaaabyyyyy….

Everybody around me has been getting sick. The flu, colds, fever attacks. You name it, they got it. Just the other day I was thinking how remarkable it is that I haven’t been sick yet. ..

Stupid me!

Sure enough, yesterday I started getting this light itch in the back of my throat. That dry feeling that doesn’t go away  no matter how much you drink. And this morning when I woke up, I knew it.

Burning eyes, leaking nose, itching throat. Cuffing. Feeling miserable.  I jinxed myself!!

And these are the moments where you just wish you had a man in the house to take care of you. You might not feel that bad, but of course you exagerate it a little (you know how women are).
“Babyyyyyy” (in a whining voice of course) “I feel miseraaaaableeeeee” (turn the whining up a notch)

And he will take you in his arms, caress your head, feel your forehead and then kiss it, and tell you that you’ll be alright. Can he get you anything.
“No, just hold me”

The both of you know that you don’t feel that terrible. But for now, for this rare moment, you are his damsel in distress. And he’s your knight in shining armor.

Aaaaaah, love…. So beautiful…

Back to reality. My hero and saviour isn’t around right now. So I guess I’ll have to suck it up and drink fresh ginger/lemon tea with a spoon of honey religiously for a couple of days.

No matter how strong you are, no matter how well you manage on your own, not having a man around sucks 😦
Well, at least when you’re sick

Poor men

Mind games to get certain things done have never made sense to me. If you want something, be straight up about it and say it. Women in particular seem to be very good at the whole art of ‘hidden messages and disguised requests’.

Here’s a personal anecdote that made me understand men’s frustrations about women a lot more.

I used to have this friend, M, who lived in a city that was pretty far away. We wouldn’t see each other much, but when we did, we would spend the night at each others house. And we slept in the same bed. (For those who wonder, all we did was sleep, so get your mind out the gutter)
Now, M is your typical drama queen. And I’m more like a Zen master. My level of zen would annoy her. She couldn’t understand why certain things didn’t bother me, while she would be all worked up about it. We complimented each other.

So one day, M came to my house. We talked and watched tv all evening.  After a while I got tired, so I told her that I was going upstairs to get some sleep. She was still watching tv. She said: “Ok, I’ll sleep on the couch.”
I figured, since she always complained that my bedroom is too cold and since she had problems with her joints aching, I assumed that she wanted to stay downstairs. The living room was a lot warmer than my bedroom. No problem. I said goodnight and went to bed.

The next morning, M came to the breakfast table with that ‘can’t you see I’m upset, ask me what’s wrong’ face. So, being a good friend and not seeing any reason why she could be upset, I’ve asked her if she was ok.
“Why didn’t you ask me to sleep upstairs?” she snapped.
“Uhm, you said that you were gonna sleep on the couch…”
“I know, but you know I always sleep upstairs when I’m here! Even if I say that I’m gonna sleep on the couch, you should still ask me to sleep upstairs!”

And that was my AHA moment right there. The things men complain about made sense now. Here’s my friend, accusing me of not accepting her decision. I mean, that’s what it was to me. Her decision to sleep downstairs, on the couch. Those were her words. Why on earth would I think that she wants to sleep upstairs if she says that she’s gonna stay downstairs? That makes no sense.
I remember thinking: “So this is what they have to deal with on a regular basis? Poor poor men…”

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