Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sticks and Stones

As the cold steel doors to the coal bin were heaved open we watched in awe. Most of us gathered around the twice a week ritual like morbid curiosity seekers surrounding a satanic ritual, simultaneously frightened and fascinated. The well-known sound of the coal laden dump truck rumbling closer was an invitation for me to edge my way through the other children up to the front of the crowd.

To us this was not about heating. Our young minds conjured up images of untold evils taking place in the bowels of our apartment building, led by …the coal men. Blackened with coal dust, they scurried about the underground corridors filling us with unfounded fear whenever they approached. Nearing the front row of the mob, my nose caught the faint but familiar odor of the black dust mingling with their sweat. Looking up, I stopped. Behind a boy half my size, I was now close enough to reach out and graze the shovel in one of the coal men’s hands. I took comfort in the fact that however small, that little boy was a barrier between me and the soot covered workers as they unhooked the chains and began raising the truck bed.

We covered our ears during the thunderous roar of the rusty truck bestowing its gift of gleaming, ebony rocks. Within seconds the gaping mouth of the coal bin had swallowed every last morsel, save a few scattered crumbs, which one of the men quickly shoveled into the opening. As the doors were sealed the empty truck seemed to heave a sigh of relief as it left. The other children raced back to their interrupted playing and I ran to reclaim my throne atop the coal bin doors, whereupon I had ruled my kingdom prior to the invasion of the coal men.

It was then that I was overtaken by a boy obviously intent upon overthrowing my reign. Beaten to the throne, I indignantly demanded that he get up, after all I had been there first. At which point he began chanting something about moving feet and losing seats.

“Shut up!” I interrupted

“Make me!” he dared.

“I don’t make trash, I burn it.” I retorted

“No wonder you’re so black!” he yelled, “At least the coal men can wash off the black.”

“I’m not black,” I gasped, insulted at the thought of being compared to the much maligned coal men.

“You’re colored.” He challenged, holding his pale white hand up to mine in contrast. With those words his coup was complete as I ran crying home to Mama.

It was ironic that my first conscious encounter with prejudice happened in the midst of my own unconscious bias, arising out of my fear and ignorance of the coal men. Wrapped up in the rude awakening that I was different from so many of the children in our military complex were lessons in the pain of bigotry, the acceptance of self and others regardless of our differences and in the futility of the childhood adage “Sticks and stones will break my bones…” you know the rest.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Big “O”

Another one of life's scintillating paradoxes...sex can trigger a migraine and an orgasm can relieve one?! So, let me get this straight, in addition to sex, stress and certain foods are also triggers. I know I'm stressed. Who isn't? There’s one trigger. Add bananas, which I absolutely love (yep, a trigger food), ooh covered in chocolate (you got it, another trigger), followed by a marathon romp in the hay and I have a migraine?

That leaves me with just two choices then. I can give up sex and foods that I love and become a ravenous nun (just kill me now) or I can live with the daily migraines and remain a chocoholic sex fiend. 

Decisions, decisions! Sex or chastity? Gluttony or starvation? Is it me, or do those choices appear to have some sort of biblical implications? Since migraines are already Hell and it would be Hell giving up my favorite foods and sex, it seemed as if I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. That is until I happened upon this crazy contradiction. 

I actually discovered the secret curative powers of the orgasm quite by accident during sex and only because I wasn't willing to demand coitus interruptus just because my head felt like it was going to explode. Such drastic measures would necessitate the headache being worse than the sex was good. That's never happened despite some excruciating migraines.

I'll have you know that I'm not alone and therefore not a freak, not certifiably anyway. Almost half of the women surveyed in a study at the Headache Clinic at Southern Illinois University got complete relief from a migraine after the "Big O". 

The more I learn, the more I like this treatment, especially when compared to prescription drugs. I can see one side effect though...drowsiness. That shouldn't be a problem because I'm not in the habit of driving a car or operating dangerous machinery immediately after knocking boots.

Armed with this study and my own personal experiments, at my next headache appointment I am demanding that my neurologist write me prescriptions for the Kama Sutra and a gigolo. I can see me now trying to explain to Blue Cross and Blue Shield why those are medically necessary.

So, if participating in the glorious union of two writhing bodies makes your head throb, just remember, keep your eye on the prize. Take it from me, chances are your head won't go boom, but if it does...what a way to go!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beans, Beans, They're Good for your Heart...

He loves me…he loves me not…he loves me…he loves me not. No, I am not sitting in a sunny field of beautiful daisies, picking the white petals from their golden yellow hearts.  Instead I sit in my kitchen in front of a bowl of legumes picking out my precious garbanzo beans (chick peas) from the pintos. I pick out a chick pea…he loves me, then put it in a bowl to my left. I then pick out a pinto…he loves me not, putting it in a bowl to my right. 

My man, bless his heart, wanted to do me a favor. In the midst of soaking & sprouting some beans for himself he noticed the few chick peas left in the bottom of a quart mason jar on the pantry shelf next to the pintos. Thinking that he was helping me, he was inspired to soak & sprout those last few garbanzos so that I could make my yummy hummus. 

He loves mixing beans together, the more diverse the better in his multicultural mindset. I took issue with the whole rainbow gathering of the dried beans. Sure I liked them mixed up on occasion but most of the time I preferred enjoying the uniqueness of each bean…segregated…on it’s own. 

And now, since I presently don’t eat any legumes except chick peas I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the last of my precious beige hummus makers swimming amongst a pool of pintos. I knew in his creative mind there was some reason for his…gasp…faux pas, so I took a deep breath and asked “Why are my chick peas soaking with your pinto beans?” Expecting that he might've had a detailed dream (yes really!) about some unique flavorful recipe involving these two beans exclusively, I was surprised when he instead spewed forth this simple, pragmatic response to my question. 

“There were only a few garbanzos left so I mixed in a few pinto beans so that you could make your hummus.” 

I suppose the phrase “a few” is subjective because it looked to me like three times as many pintos as chick peas. I’ll have to get back to you on the accuracy of my observation when I’ve finished my petal…er bean picking loves me…loves me nots. Ah yes! The bean picking…a meditative and if I do say so myself a rather creative way of integrating the frustration of accepting “help” that I believed actually created a hinderance, despite my honey’s best intentions. 

The irritation I felt made me lose sight of the fact that my sweetheart “thought” he was helping me. While I would love to share that I simply took a deep breath, grounded myself, got in alignment with my higher self and thanked him, that’s…uh…not what happened. 

Oh, I did take a deep breath. Then I made a simple request that he ask me before helping me, while I yanked the zip locked bag of sprouted garbanzos/pintos from the fridge and threw them onto the counter with a vengeance rivaled in intensity only by the bewildered expression on my lover's face. "All this over some beans?" He asked, his words like a lit match thrown onto dried timber. I will spare you the gory details. 

I will tell you this, it wasn’t about the beans, nor was it about my request, it was about my focus. It took me a few moments of tearful introspection along with a little sun caressing my face, an ocean breeze drying my tears and the cardinal's soothing background music to see this for what it was.

After refusing to stifle the anger that arose I closed my eyes and asked what it wanted to show me. What I saw was me, with my heels dug in, arms folded, eyebrows scowling, jaw ridged, refusing to accept the gift that was offered to me because it wasn’t what I had asked for.

My annoyance blindsided me to the joy of a man who loves me, who was thinking of me and taking the extra time and effort to do something that was helpful, not hurtful. Now, through tears of joy I can see the help he gave me and its not about the beans. Its about the opportunity to connect to what’s alive in me, to love the anger and the understanding it brings me about myself. Its about the bowl of love that's sitting right in front of me. He loves me…he loves me…he loves me.