Wednesday, September 9, 2009



I am 42 and one day today! Hurrah!! Me and the SFC spent the holiday weekend as close as two people could be without being a conjoined twin or impregnated. While my Dad took the weekend to visit HIS family and see his Mom in Arkansas, she did get a chance to meet the collection of miscreants that blunder through here. And we did go out and have brunch with Hutch, which went very well.

No real gifts ... unless you want to call Skye 'friending' me on Facebook a gift, and I do!! I looked at every post she put up on there, and I am really hoping that we do get a chance to hang out together. I thought about surprising her, but there is more possible that could go wrong that could derail things.

It is hard to believe that only two days ago, my girl was here and I had her in my arms. The Fly Skimmie was in town and she called during the weekend as well. We had a long conversation about this and that, and the upshot of it all was that she was like, "What are you waiting for?"

There are some issues with the 'unfriendly, Friend of the Court' that I have been dealing with while I have been home. That is the primary reason that I was even here and not out west. The issues have been dogging me since the last full year of my time in the 'provincial town I jogged 'round'. But there is something about multi-layered objectives that I get twisted around. I remember thinking if Mookie had helped me out when I asked for her help, or if ...

... if my Aunt had balls, she'd be my Uncle!

I was telling the Fly Skimmie about how empty I was feeling, and she told me that whatever it is, go on out there and if you have to fly back, then that is what I we would have to do.

'We', being a reference to my SFC and I. And that is what cinched it for me. It was already in mind that we should go on and throw caution to the wind, anyway. Maybe in October, early November, I am going to go east. That will be that. Hanging around here is like waiting for 'things' to happen. Like coming back home.


As to my actually birthday yesterday, it was a 'little bit of this, and a little bit of that'. There are other things on my mind and those outside forces always get conspiratorial with other pieces of stuff in my thoughts and become animated. Mentally I felt better than I did on Monday, when I not had to let my girl go. I also had to be left 'here', in my Dad's house where the inmates were running the asylum.

I haven't bothered with designating all the characters that spin through here. I can't even recall the names I had for the little niece and nephews. There are too many young people who come in and out with what are to me, very loose connections to other family members. Though I am the oldest son, I am very much the outsider here.

Coming home on Monday, the house was not only teeming with people, but a 'mucking fess'. I barley had time to put down my bags before me & the SFC went back out to purchase some basic cleaning materials. The kitchen looked like it hadn't been cleaned in the three days I hadn't been home. There was a cute, adorable puppy roaming in the house ...

... which I found intellectually and spiritually troubling. There are children that go without the attention and involvement that they need to flourish, the kind of things that make the underclass self-sustaining when children have to do without it.

The parellels between the puppy and the children aren't lost on me. The same reasons that the puppy shouldn't be here is the same reason that the kids and the teens are going to track in the muck of being poor. No hope for anything other than the instant gratification of what is at hand. Like the little children and the puppy, the teens have no way to concieve of a 'future' beyond the now.

And that 'now', is measure by things like the next big party or dance contest. Of when someone hopes that they get something given to them. It could be money or a job with a very low ceiling, and that ceiling could be because of their inablity to maximize the chances they have been given. 'Should have done better in middle school', since they are already in high school. And Hutch himself will admit, you really have to almost WANT to fail a grade in a Detroit High School ... and given the embarassingly low graduation rates, you have to think that is what many are doing (but that is also a segue into a different conversation).

I put the stuff in the kitchen and went to my room and spent the last couple of hours with my girl. Didn't talk too much about that stuff going on downstairs. I knew that I wasn't cleaning up. How the hell does crap like that happen? The mindset of urban poverty is one that I will never understand and find totally unacceptable. Unlike rural areas where the networking to find support is stretched gossamer thin, if you really want to do better here, even in empty Detroit, you can.

Looking around, I wonder why there is so much time spent essentially doing nothing, 'Groundhog Days' of being poor. How do they live like this? And yes, I am separating myself from these kids and their parents. It pisses me off because I know that their parents, for instance, the little kids Mom who was sitting amid all the dirty plates and refuse, knows better. Her Mom is a little older than me, and she did know raise her up to be so slovenly. So what the hell is up with that?

Even if they had that falling out thing that Mother and daughters (which IMO, is something that goes under reported in the discussions on the problems in the black community ...) do when they get of a certain age, compounded with teen pregnancy, the Mom still knows better than this. There is a Dollar Store nearby. You keep making food stuff, so there had to be $5 to buy cleaning supplies.

Yet it doesn't happen. So even if all that goes on is taking advantage of my Dad's 'open door' policy, I would think personal pride would make people pick up after themselves. Not having money is no excuse. I stay broke, but I manage to do the things that make me separate myself from those around me. Personal pride ..? Because I like to wash my raggedy clothes and cook nice meals? I find something to do with myself other than sitting in front of the television or computer, wasting time with the numbing vacuousness of their limited imaginations.

That is what being 'poor' is about. Not being able to imagine themselves beyond where they are. There are many times where I want to stop and ask what is the point of whatever it is they are doing. If when they went to sleep, what was their goals for the day. Too many people go around in life without setting an agenda at all.

Poverty is not simply about money. It is as much about how you think as well. And you can tell people that it is attitude as much as it is anything else that determines where you go in life. But it is soo hard to put into practice. I get that what people see and how they interpret the information provided them factors into what they do.


Name of an episode of 'Joan of Arcadia'. Near the end, God appears to her in the form of school sanitation engineer. In the conversation, he tells Joan that being a 'searcher' is her thing, what she does. And it brought back to mind the line that a former Free Press columnist Susan Watson called her son, 'the seeker of knowledge and truth'. I always thought that it was a good enough for me to identify with.

Another line I got from Joan, " ... I am not a photographer. I am someone just digging around in the garbage trying to find something." Is another way I guess I could describe what I am doing with this life of mine. Writing thru my momentary moods ... because I did not start this entry feeling like I do right now. I thought that I was going to talk about why the real fight inside of me is one of wanting to ... maybe I don't have to deal with that right now. Will have to get there eventually. But many times picking thru the garbage, if I don't find what I am looking for I do find what I need. At the very least something that I can use.


Beth said...

I'm glad you had a good birthday, Mark!

I sense an impatience with you. A need to get gone. You're already putting distance between yourself and others there. Does that sound a little bit right?

"Poverty is not simply about money. It is as much about how you think as well." I suspect you're right. If you can't even imagine another life, how can you make it happen? Wherever life takes you, I know you have that ability, to set goals and work towards achieving them. That's why I know you're gonna be juuuuust fine. :) Love, Beth

Senorita said...

Happy Birthday Mark !

a corgi said...

happy belated birthday Mark! I'm glad you got to spend some time with SFC and had a great visit with her; I'm thinking if I read correctly, that you are planning to head there for good in a few months? I say go for it!! if you can swing it, it seems like the best thing to do to go and make your life with her rather than continue on with the conditions and household in Detroit. I think people give up on life and get overwhelmed with it and that is why they end up in that cycle of poverty and not having a care about things, but that's just my not so humble opinion about it

take care of yourself


miss alaineus said...

many happy returns!

sometimes i think the differences between the poverty here and in other large urban areas is that we have a poverty of spirit, created from broken dreams and dashed hopes. some folks can't dare to hope for better and let repetitive failures form their defeatist attitude of 'why bother'. not everyone who falls or falters along their path has the courage or ability to get back up without help. and here, we just dont have the help.

detroit is a dog that got beat too many times and is now seething silently out of fear. this dog hates its master but has a greater fear of the unknown and therefore wont go find a better master.

and the education problem here in the city, please dont get me started. the standard of education we have here will never solve the problems of learned hopelessness and generational poverty.

fall is upon us and you are restless and ready to fly. i always felt sort of what you had described about living with my real dad. technically, i havent lived at 'home' since i was 7. going back now would find me a stranger in my hometown, a visitor that overstayed my welcome.

be well.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Glad you had a good Birthday and a great visit. Head Easy Young Man :o)

Mr.Mischief said...

Happy Birthday :)

Indigo said...

Happy, Happy Belated Birthday dear friend. I think the sooner you join up with the SFS the happier you'll be. You can feel the impatience to be there already in your words. (Hugs)Indigo

Indigo said...

By the way I'm older? NO freaking way. Umm ok, I can deal with being older. I'm under the mistaken belief I don't look it anyway. (Hugs)Indy