I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Archive for December, 2014

Lady J’s Christmas Reflections: The “J” is for Jerk.

Christmas The way Christmas is often celebrated sucks.

I had to word that carefully. As a Christian, the marking of the Savior’s birth is a pretty big deal. I have no desire to be blasphemous or flippant about it. It’s merely that all of the hoopla surrounding the observance – for me – doesn’t serve the purpose of celebrating His
birth. Forget about the supposed commercialism of the holiday and how some are up in arms about “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas.” “Oh, woe is me, a store is trying to sell more things!” That’s kind of the religion of business, no? I’m talking about familyism. And friendism. It’s y’all who ruined Christmas.

Let me tell you how.

A quick look through my previous posts will illustrate that I am fairly adept at expressing thankfulness for the blessings in my life throughout the year. Yes, of course there are times for me personally that make me reflect upon these blessings more than others, but it is definitely more often than the last 6 weeks of the year. So all you jokers come along, “Hey, it’s the holidays! I miss you. Let’s grab food/drink/swim/bike/run/whatever.” I am not in some black hole, inaccessible the first 10 months of the year – unless Coachie has me there, but even then I still get phone reception there. I get a little time to relax from work and all of a sudden because the Savior is born you want to blow up my phone. Quite frankly, if it is important for me to talk to or spend time with you around this time, I would have done so on stupid October 3. I’m not saying I’m above losing touch with important people. I’m just saying that I’m probably better at staying in touch than you are. 🙂

Then I hear the still, small voice.

“Hey Joan. I came because people are imperfect.”

I then am forced to take the time to reflect upon my own imperfections. Indeed, I am a thoughtful person, and one of the things I hate most is wronging someone unknowingly because it reminds me that I cannot be in control all of the time, even when I think I am. As good as I am at expressing my gratitude throughout the year, I will never be perfect.

I pray that in years to come, I am able to find both the solitude I need to strengthen my relationship with Christ and with others. Love is patient, wrote the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. I’ve got a long way to go.

Merry Christmas!

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See all this melanin? I STILL got pre-checked by TSA. Racism must be dead: Part Two

So, I went to Jamaica and ran. The trip was exciting to me from the get go, y’all. I looked at my boarding pass and saw something I had never seen before: Pre-checked by TSA! Pre. That seems important. As I walked toward security, I noticed that there was the line for the proletariat and the line for pre-checked. Friggin’ sweet. I was through the line within moments instead of wondering if I was going to make my flight. Ah, the good life.

If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone, right? I mean, I AM darker than a brown paper bag. If you see “Lady J” on a flight manifest you probably won’t think ter…see. I don’t even want to finish the word because I want to be pre-checked again. I know y’all are watching, WordPress. Of COURSE the government doesn’t screen people based on race, sex, or religious affiliation. Because people are fair everywhere, right? Especially those with power.

I found it ironic that soon after I was in the air, I watched the video of Eric Garner’s death in sheer horror. Apparently, selling loose cigarettes warrants paying with your life. I say this is ironic because I know with great certainty that like my amazing TSA pre-check, that would not happen to just anyone. There are classes in this country that are simply more privileged than others. Who is the most uncomfortable with this? The privileged.

It’s like the feeling I got today when I was getting my nails did at the salon. My tech and I come from VERY different backgrounds. I am definitely more Hilary Banks than Florida Evans and the tech was talking about not having earned her GED. I don’t want to pat myself on the back for not having pat myself on the back, but I will say this – I understand that many things were in place for me to be able to achieve what I have. The vast majority of those things were completely out of my control – the family I was born into as well as the way my parents raised me. Yes, I absolutely have free will and I’ve made some pretty good choices. The environment was set up for me to do so. It is by God’s grace that I am where I am. If tech were to say to me, “Lady J. I could be where you are if I had had the opportunities you did,” what could I say? “Probably.” You know what I wouldn’t say? “Where you are is your fault.” I don’t have enough knowledge to say that. However, I DO know enough to know that I, Joan, am incredibly blessed.

Why is it that many who purport to follow Christ have such a problem admitting they benefit from things over which they have no control? I thought when you accept Jesus into your heart you acknowledge that there’s no way you could receive grace and mercy by your own doing. You know why some people were less disturbed by the video of Eric Garner’s death? Imma tell you why. Because some people KNOW it will never be them or their child whom the police would kill like that. And it’s not because no one else’s child is above selling loose cigarettes.

Those of you who insist you have everything that you do because you’ve pulled yourselves up by your own bootstraps seem to take for granted that you were given shoes in the first place. Not everyone gets Pre-Checked, y’all.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

And perfect eyelashes, apparently.

 

The muzik teecher hoo whishes she sang gooder: Part One

Sic. Sic. Sic sic sic sic.

There was this one time I wrote about wishing I had a nicer voice so I could, like, totally wow Jesus with it in church each Sunday. I mean, why shouldn’t I be golden-throated? This music teacher has received thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of training over the course of her life. That means I should be able to sing any note in any song, regardless of whether I’ve heard it, immediately, amirite? Really, that’s the whole point of going to church – to prove that I’ve earned the Master of Music that puts a few extra bucks into my paycheck. Worship. Meh.

The music education that I’ve received not only entitles me to some rights (yes, my dislike of Justin Bieber means more than the average civilian’s) but also comes with some responsibility. No, I don’t have to sing perfectly in church, but you’re probably not going to see me there sporting a “Certified Music Teacher” t-shirt either. I understand that certain things are expected of me because I am a formally trained musician. Not only should I be skilled at playing instruments and singing, but I am also expected to be able to share that knowledge in a way that is most likely to encourage learning and retention. If there is a piano at a party and someone who took lessons for six months because mommy said starts playing heart and soul, they will get all the claps. If I sit down and do the same thing, I will get some funny looks. Why? Because more is expected of me. This is not something about which I should complain. The horrendous spelling in the title of this post should not come from a teacher of any kind. Why not? Because more is expected of me. It is my job to set an example. I embrace it and walk humbly.

I say the above to say that it puzzles me to read things to the effect that people seem to care more when civilians, regardless of alleged crime committed, are killed, than when law enforcement are killed. I will always be more upset when the police screw up than when a criminal (not saying those who have been killed are criminals!) does because guess what? That’s what criminals do. They commit crimes. They are doing their job and doing it well. A policeman killing someone wrongfully is always going to be more unjust because of the responsibility of the badge. The life of the criminal is not worth more, but the screw up of the cop is more significant. Why is this so difficult to understand? Don’t parents lecture older children more harshly because “they should know better?”

My heart breaks for the families of the two officers that were killed on duty in New York. My question – why aren’t more people upset that this dude killed his girlfriend as well? She didn’t swear to serve and protect so to hell with her? A lot of these jokers shouting “All Lives Matter” don’t seem to be too concerned with hers. Why are the people who chant this seem unperturbed by young black men being shot for absolutely nothing? Perhaps it’s like Animal Farm where the pigs eventually confess that while four legs are good, two legs are better…

Now THAT – is sick.

 

More than any other musician. Yeah, I said it.

More than any other musician. Yeah, I said it.

We run tings; tings no run we! Race Report

I think it’s quite appropriate that my race report for my 10k at the Reggae Marathon is coming 8 days later. Normally, I have them up within 24 hours. Jamaicans aren’t exactly known for their promptness. I feel I’m representing my people well.

That being said – this was one of the most well-organized races I have ever attended, which I was most definitely not expecting. The race started at 5:15 AM, and I had turned on my Garmin and corralled myself in the back with my mother by about 5:10. I was sitting on the ground doing a bit of stretching when I heard an air horn. I looked at my watch. 5:15. I looked ahead and saw people take off. Legit. I walked toward the start with my mother, turned on my music, and started running as I crossed the first timing mat.

Bob Marley’s “Exodus” was playing as we started. I grinned as I appreciated the appropriateness of the song. It always feels amazing to be part of the mass exodus toward glory that is the start of any race. Off went my own music. At the beginning of the course, the road was lined with people holding torches and cheering us on. A band of steel pans was playing for us just around the bend. This music is pretty sweet. Each time it would fade, I turned on my music, but I found myself having to turn it off and on to hear the awesomeness the race organizers were offering me. You read that right. I had no choice.

Like Coachie said, I was there to have fun. My goal was to run no less than a 12 minute mile, and that I did. I sang along to the best songs. I paid attention to my angry left foot. I passed incredible scents as I ran along the main road where the resorts were preparing food for the day. “Singing – good. Stopping for jerk chicken during the race – bad.” I do have boundaries, even for my fun, you know.

The race was just an out and back course. I saw the chute where we had started and I began to pick up my pace. I crossed the timing mat and looked at my watch. “5.8 miles…weird.” New rule: if someone isn’t handing you a medal or bottle of water, don’t slow down. Thankfully, I created this rule right then so I didn’t lose any time. A bit ahead was a sign that read, “10k turn around, half and full marathon straight ahead.” “Thank God!” I shouted. I wasn’t terribly fatigued, but I had free beer and bacon waiting for me. I pushed for the actual finish line, feeling strong and happy.

“We run tings, tings no run we” is a Jamaican saying. It essentially is a reminder that circumstances can’t control us. I am elated, beyond the breakfast and booze, that I did not allow what I had scheduled previously (a full marathon) to dictate what I did because that would not have been good for me. I went to Jamaica and had a blast. If running a 10k at 1:12:46 is my rock bottom, by God’s grace I’ve come a crazy long way in the last two years.

Rasta runner.

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Like, I totally have to get over my boyfriend.

Get over (v):

To accept and embrace his presence in my life while completely quieting any foolish voice in my head.

Read more about the voices below –

To know me since my late twenties is to know someone who has been extremely focused. Focused on growth in my career. Focused on being a pianist. Eventually focused on triathlon. But it’s pretty much been the Joan Show. I thought it was a hell of a show. Wit, an interesting cast of supporting characters, enough drama to keep it interesting. What else could I need? This show could go on forever. One superstar is sufficient.

But The Lord be like “Heavenly Heh Heh Heh. Imma throw you something you weren’t expecting.” I was expecting to go out on a date or two with some joker and enjoy a night out that wasn’t related to work or triathlon. I was NOT expecting to meet someone who would draw me to my knees and praise God for His grace and blessings. I was expecting to be able to continue my life as it had been going, which was great, and now I cannot, which is bloody fantastic.

It’s also fantastically hard to admit it as well as articulate it.

I’ve always struggled with asking for help. I don’t even know which blog post to which I can link because I’m fairly sure all of them are variations on the theme of “I’m uncomfortable being vulnerable.” Now there is this amazing person who says I may call him mine who makes me want to share everything. You people are going to be so happy for me because you love me and it’s terrifying. What if I mess it up? What if he messes up and I have to kill him? What if I regret typing the previous sentence in case I actually do have to kill him?

Worst part? I am much happier dealing with these hypotheticals because it means he is here with me. He is worth it to me to work to conquer my stupid fears and ego. Because I…luu…luuu…shiiiiiiit I LOVE him. He has become way too important for me to screw up something beautiful because of my foolish pride. Everyone close to me sees how much happier I have been, and though this is a post about humility I will say am PROUD to say that I was already quite happy. I can admit that indeed, I am much happier and want to stay that way.

So I’m trying not to freak out. Because, this:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭25-34‬ NIV)

I can totes hear Christ being like, “Lady J don’t worry ’bout yo’ man, neitha. I got him. I gotchu. I should be first in y’all lives anyway. Stop trippin.” In Aramaic, of course.

Ugh. All these songs on the radio are personal for me now. He’s got me wondering what’s harder; a full Ironman or childbirth. His fine Greek ass is like feta – it makes everything betta. I used to wonder what would go through the minds of chicks who didn’t seem to be able to do anything without their boyfriend or husband present. Maybe some of them (not gonna lie, some of you are probably weak) are both strong and humble enough to understand that it’s okay to need someone to do things.

Damn. I know I’m pretty neat but this dude. He’s neat as hell. Got me tryna do even better when I thought I was doing a pretty good job. Well-played, Lord. Well-played.

Also – thank you, Lord. Again. And again. I’ve been tithing but I know you won’t mind if I put “Adonis” in the memo on the checks.

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Re: All Y’all, Noise, and Music

2014 is not ending at all like I thought it would, and for the most part, this is a fabulous thing. Since Augusta, I’ve had to continue dealing with this humanity business of mine and the fact that I need a break. I had signed up for Miami Man and didn’t do it. I had signed up for the Reggae Marathon and am doing the 10k tomorrow instead. My brain and body (especially my foot) say these choices are prudent but it is still difficult not to feel like a quitter. I strive to be a woman of integrity and want my word to have meaning, so it hurts me when I’ve said I will do something and do not, even when it is for the best.

Meanwhile, I am fat (relative to my fighting weight) and happy as hell. I’ve realized that where I messed up was not in choosing not to do something I said I would but simply refusing to accept not understanding that peaks and valleys of training and racing are natural and healthy. I’ve said since I started working full time that the academic calendar suits me because of its clear seasons and it helps my brain. Why wouldn’t running and triathlon be similar for me?

Alas. January 1 is coming. And quickly.

While I look forward to being lean (I’m always mean) again, it means I’m going to have to listen to a lot more noise. The noise comes from y’all. Don’t get it twisted – y’all are making plenty of noise now, but I’m keeping my distance because I can, hence my fat happiness.

So – what does Oxford have to say about noise?

A sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance.

Das right. It comes in the form of insecure statements PROBABLY not meant to take down anyone else and usually about one’s self, but it is most definitely unpleasant and causes disturbance. My least favorite noise comes as unsolicited advice; I have a Coachie for a reason, I’m on it.

I’ll give y’all this, though – some of you aren’t making noise, but music. My favorite definition of music was given to me by one of my college professors: “Organized sound and silence.” We all have musical tastes and biases and what technically falls under this definition of music we can hear as noise. I am definitely guilty of this on occasion. Sometimes, one of you jokers is doing nothing but sharing and because of what’s going on inside of my head – my own doubts and fears, I hear noise and try to escape.

2014 has been a game changing year for me. I am finally starting to understand that excellence and imperfection must coexist. I have begun and hope to continue some amazing relationships. Finally, I have gotten better at assessing the difference between noise and music. And man, does this musician need music in her life – as encouraging words to inspire me to keep going and growing even when I think I can’t anymore. Even when I think everyone around me is so far ahead of me that I wonder how it’s possible that you respect me. Especially when I may behave like I resent you – but that’s just me making my own noise to attempt hiding my fear.

For now, I will put my feet up in this lounge chair and raise my glass (of water, there IS a race tomorrow) to all of you who have been music to my ears. I hope I have – and can – do the same for you!

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