You Are A Hot Mess! (Introspection piece)

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The other day my family was getting up and ready for the days activities. I watched my fiancée take the last pair of draws from the dresser  (“draws”=underwear.) I felt bad because laundry is one of my chores. We share the household responsibilities. I made a silent oath to head to the laundromat before work.

When I got there, there was a woman with a plastic caddy. It had disinfectant wipes, bleach, detergent,  fabric softener, and dryer sheets. She wiped down the folding table with the wipes. While she waited for her laundry she put a minimal amount of makeup on. When her laundry was completed, it was immaculate. It was drop off service worthy. She smiled with pride and carried her laundry to the car.

I thought to myself, “When did I stop folding panties? When did I start throwing socks into the bag and praying a match would be found?” I used to work retail. I KNOW how to fold clothes. I know how to make them look beautiful with limited wrinkles.

When did I become a hot mess?

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There is a car wash I like to frequent  (when I have some extra cash.) A petite hispanic man is the guy who welcomes you when you come in. He smiles a bright genuine smile with one gold tooth. Then he says, “Hola angel!” He gives you your ticket and he moves quickly and with exuberance. One night I was passing by on the way home. I noticed him getting on his bicycle.

I thought to myself, “Would I be able to be that professional and kind? Could I take such good care of peoples automobiles when I don’t have one of my own?”

When did I become a hot mess?

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On Saturdays I like to go to Zumba class at the gym. It is so much fun! It’s a good way to let loose. My Zumba instructor is fantastic! She looks like Jessica Alba in the movie “Honey.” She has so much energy! She is always smiling. She seems to organically LOVE what she does. She always remembers peoples names. She gets in front of you and dances with you when you are beginning to become exhausted.

I watched her yesterday and thought, “How sensational it must be to get paid to do what you love. What a blessing it is to be able to dance for a living.”

When did I become a hot mess?

I think I know the answer.

I became a hot mess when the innocence of being bedazzled by brilliant simplistic intrinsic happiness was stripped from me. Children are so happy when you get them a 50 cent sticker from the vending machine. They love a new movie or ice cream. It can literally make their day. That was stripped from me. You have to make an effort to regain that. Sometimes you will make the effort and it will go unnoticed. It may seem trivial to others. You have to keep trying. You have to believe that what you say and feel matters but somehow prevent it from defining you. Every interaction is an opportunity to change someone’s life…especially yours.

Today was hard for me. Knowing the amount of effort I invested will put me to sleep (that and Tylenol PM.) 🙂
Seriously though, I think know that effort and the redefinition of innocence will give life some new seasoning. It will make challenges easier to swallow. It will make me less of a hot mess.

By: Shaun Nickens

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Nachos and Cheese [Cold Sweat Series]

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I walked in and I heard music. It was faint but it wasn’t gospel like I expected. It was all melody, all instrumental, no words. He said words complicate things. The floors shone. They weren’t wood. They weren’t marble. They weren’t glass. They weren’t concrete. You could feel something solid under your feet but you couldn’t see anything. It was like walking on water.

When I saw him I was surprised. He was thin. He was small. He was wearing a Polo t-shirt and some linen shorts with white slippers embroidered with the initials “J.C.” He said, “I heard you had some grievances. Come sit with me.” When I looked in the direction He was pointing in, I immediately knew where I was. There was the loft bed my parents bought me when I was 14. My old karaoke radio was on my old dresser with my old word processor on my old desk. There were roses from my dad on my desk and a looney tunes tweety bird figurine.

We climbed the ladder to the bed and He sat at the head and I sat at the foot. I didn’t hesitate. I said, “What’s going on? !”

     Why am I on a constant uphill battle?
     Why do the rich get richer and the
     poor get poorer?
     Why is there war?
     Why do babies die?

He sighed in exasperation. He rolled his eyes and sucked his teeth. Then he kicked his slippers over the bed and replaced them with gold leather moccasins with his first initial engraved on the sole. He waved his hand over his head and his cherry wood locks transformed to a baldie. I stared in amazement. I reached for his head subconsciously but he politely bobbed and weaved out of my grasp. He said, “No one touches the fresh cut. Not even my mom.” Then he said, “What do you really want to know?”

I didn’t know what to say.

He took out a bag of tortilla chips and salsa con queso and he said, “Let’s bond a little. What do you really want to know? What keeps you up at night? Like I know you have a good heart, I made it! But I know you aren’t stressing over war and poverty.”

My palms started to sweat.

“Okay, why did my sister die on July 4th? She was so young. I often wonder what she would be like as an adult.”

He finished the chip in his mouth. He said, “I needed her here. Her strength, her curiosity, her innocence was too good for the world. I needed her here…sorry.”

I asked, “Why don’t I feel beautiful?  Why can’t I see what others see? Why didn’t I get a high round ass…”

I stopped and became flushed with embarrassment. Did I just curse in front of Him?

He laughed heartily and snapped his fingers. A golden toothpick appeared and he picked his tooth with it. Then he snapped his fingers again and it vanished. He said, “Its cool. Proceed…”

“Why isn’t my skin flawless? Why can’t I just wake up perfect?”

“Has it ever occured to you that you are perfect. That everything you want to correct, I purposely placed meticulously just the way I wanted it. You waste so much time trying to be something adverse to what I designed. Frankly it pisses me off!  Just relax. You’re good.”

Then I said, ” SOMETIMES I feel like I am stark booty butt naked, standing in the middle of the street, painted neon green, screaming and people just drive/walk past me. No one looks. No one tweets what they saw. Invisible. No one flinches. Why does everyone save their ‘I love you’s’ for funerals? Why do people wait for occasions to buy flowers? Why don’t people write letters anymore? Why are we so social but completely disconnected????? Its like standing in a storm bone dry. Surrounded by people but no one connects. We’re too busy. We’re too vain. Too busy with selfies and gossip about celebrities we’ll never know.”

I was screaming.

He stopped eating.

He said, “Eat because I don’t want you to say nothing.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

He was funny. I kinda always knew He would be.

He said,” SOME People have always been ungrateful ungrounded and ungodly. However,  what you’re describing is different. You’re describing a self centered nature. Not to be confused with selfish! They are just absorbed. Too absorbed to see your love,  loyalty or friendship. You’re not exempt by the way. You’re thinking of what you need and how you feel. How do you know there wasn’t a time when they felt the same way and YOU dropped the ball? A call you missed. A visit you never rescheduled, you just cancelled…”

I tried to speak but he politely offered me more dip and said, “Eat.”

“There have been fires, floods, and other sacrifices.”

He showed me the scars on his wrists. He showed me where he was beaten.

“Look for the rainbows. Look for the cycles in life. Wait for the up after the down. Wait for the downhill where you dont have to petal hard, you just coast. If you can’t run down the hill, then just roll but keep moving. I don’t give up on you so you can’t give up on yourself. Forgive. You have to forgive. Forgive the flaky people who never showed up. Forgive the broken promises. Forgive divorce. Forgive addiction. Forgive mistakes no matter how ugly they are. Forgive the things you can’t forget. Let go of the times you zig’d when you should have zag’d. Forgive abandonment. Free yourself from cowardice. Accept loss. Fill the void with hope. Everything cycles. Pain is received and pain is inflicted…”

I began to cry. I whispered, “Please stop.”

He continued, ” The truth cuts with a jagged knife. We can be very self righteous. We can be selective and relative about black and white situations and try to make them gray. Our opinions of people are a glass menagerie but we heavy handedly and clumsily handle our loved ones. We hate what we don’t understand. We flee from the thought that we possibly deserve everything we get.”

“PLEASE STOP” , I yelled.

I jumped out of the bed. Frantically looking for the exit. I always imagined this conversation would be different. I felt alone. I felt misunderstood.

He followed me. I was running. He was walking. I ran and He chased. Most of my life I was chasing answers and He was running from me. He hugged me and said, “This is what you wanted. Why do my brothers and sisters get so frantic when I am giving them what they want?”

I said,  “Can I leave?”

He said, “You have free will.”

As I waited at the gate for the access code to exit, I sobbed silently.

He whispered , “I feel so alone. I feel so misunderstood.”

The gates closed behind me.

By:Shaun Nickens

The Piscean

I’ve always loved water.  Maybe I like it because I’m a Pisces.  Had a great day today.  Couldnt help but notice the blades of grass that were slightly damp from the brief stint of rain we had this afternoon.  Water has a calming, purifying, therapeutic way about it.  Its unlike any other element.    Dug this poem up from 1:32pm August/3/2004

Enjoy… 🙂

The Piscean

Waves from the discontented overwhelm me

I swim towards my former self

I cry but no one can see my tears

I try but my efforts go unrecognized

I keep swimming, for the struggle

seems to be my only purpose in life.

The current is so strong

and my weaknesses are becoming evident.

I escape the dangerous paths of predators

though my greatest conflict is person versus self.

I want to live above the dark murky water

With my own eyes, may I see the bright light that all of the free world is familiar with?

What is it to be free?

Is it to lay lifeless in hope for a re-birth?

Is it to be forced to breathe under the surface of clarity

and digest discord?

No.  It is the voyage of self-exploration

the buried treasure is within.

-SMN