Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Scarlet Fever

My mother told me that I almost died of Scarlet Fever when I was three years old. I don't often think of this, only when I sense something or someone in my apartment (see previous entries below).

It is believed that those of us who almost or actually die momentarily and return from the jaws of death, come back with something extra. It is believed that we are sensitive to spirits and the spiritual realm.

I remember as a child my younger brother pulling me into his nightmare to help him fight whoever or whatever pursued him. The next morning at breakfast, we didn't speak of this. We sat silently after locking eyes, confirming: Yes, you were there. My mother and youngest brother didn't witness this exchange.

I don't know if that was the beginning of my being sensitive. It's the first time I experienced something extraordinary.

I later developed the bad habit of reading while walking. There were a few instances of my looking over and up, only to find a front bumper within inches of my knee. Was that further proof of power or gifts I brought back from the other side? Did I repeatedly cheat death or at least serious injuries on the streets of Houston and New York?

I often times know who's calling before I answer the phone. No, I don't have a cell phone or home phone with caller-ID. I pick up vibrations, see faces, en route to the phone.

When I concentrate, I can anticipate, as if there's a dictaphone in my head, what someone is saying. I don't do this often because I don't want to people uneasy around me.

Sometimes I'm able to see into a person's home while speaking on the phone or Internet. I freaked someone out years ago when I described the type and color of pants, the chair, and the lighting in the room. Here, too, I receive vibrations and/or images.

I was able to see into Wolfsong's house in Texas while we chatted online. I saw a bulky wooden table with a slippery surface that a creature would slip and slide across. The table was handmade and shipped overseas by her father. The creature was her cat. I saw plush, thick curtains in this same room. I saw a computer stand or console. I saw her curly locks. I've never physically seen Wolfsong, but I've felt her presence spiritually. She picked and sent me a clear crystal with male energy, wrapped in tissue paper, snug in a little wooden box. I keep the box opened, crystal exposed in my home office. I carry the crystal from time to time in my pants pocket on days when I'm feeling low and at odds with myself. Wolfsong's told me she's seen things through my crystal. She's warned me of things and people here in New York.

I can be skeptical, but there are things that have happened in my life and apartment that I can't explain. I've felt the presence of evil in my bedroom, as it tried to sit on the edge of my bed. I raised my upper body and commanded, "You better get on up outta here!"

I need to decide what I believe and don't, but in the interim, I've a ghost to get rid of.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

My mother woke me eighteen minutes earlier than my birth time this morning to sing Happy Birthday as she drove to work in Houston.

I don't feel older today. Should I? My granny's eighty-two this year. She has a few ailments here and there, but usually in good spirits.

After Mother's phone call, I slept until a good friend prepared breakfast for me before heading out to brave the temperature that was anything but spring today and this evening.

It was a laidback day of walking, talking, and wondering why we've yet to secure an agent and publish book while sneering at various jackets and thumbing through the first few pages. We were not impressed. We were pea green with envy. If they could get a book published and on display, what's stopping us?

I bought No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe from Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Celebrated Birthday!

Yesterday's entry wasn't too far off the mark. After what felt like a panic (anxiety) attack, I dressed and headed out with my granny cart to shop for food and party favors.

Prior to leaving the apartment it felt as if something or someone was blocking my exit. I've disclosed to a few people that I had (have) a ghost in my apartment. I sensed that he died in this apartment and hasn't resolved to walk into the light. He's not malevolent, just lonely and stubborn. I sensed that the African American male died in his fifties of a heart attack.

This may sound very infomercial or psychic friends network, but I tested my theory with two people. The first was a healer here in New York who does Automatic Writing wherein she connects on a higher plane while a client asks questions. She sits at her laptop and transcibes answers to a client's questions. One of my questions or cloudy areas was the feeling that I didn't reside here alone (not counting the cats and tropical fish). Flash forward: The force, spirit, confirmed through this mystic that there was a presence in my apartment and that I would have to overcome my fear and reticence if I ever wanted to rid my apartment of him. I have a printout of our session for the naysayers out there.

The second person to confirm and actually help on a spiritual level was a shapeshifter from Texas, Wolfsong. She's a mixture of Native American, Chinese, and Hawaiin. She's able to travel through the eyes of animals to distant places. While we were chatting on an instant messenger, she traveled to the apartment to out-ghost the ghost. I know it to be true because it was one of the few occasions my oldest cat ran from the kitchen to my home office at the opposite end of the apartment. She'd seen something and fled to me. Wolfsong had entered the apartment and described what she saw as she looked around.

Please, no one call a therapist or medical doctor. I've still my wits about me. I've not gone off the deep end. She's told me things that only I or my family could have known. There were no slight-of-hand parlor or carnival tricks. She told me of health concerns back then that were true. She told me about a protection mask that prevented her from seeing things here in my home office. I was drawn to this mask years ago while on vacation in the Dominican Republic, along with a sarong. Or perhaps the mask called out to me?

Back to yesterday. I couldn't move from my seat to begin cleaning, rearranging furniture, and stuffing items into bags and under the bed, out of the way of guests. A wave of emotion swept over me. I just knew there'd be hell to pay if I forged ahead with the small dinner party. I've overcome the desire for large scale parties in my budget-sized apartment.

I prayed. I had to fight whatever it was that was ailing me and/or my apartment. I looked at my candles with blessing oil from a local botanica purchased a week before. I inhaled and smelled the lingering sage incense bought days before from yet another botanica in Spanish Harlem. I would wage war against this pesky presence and have a dinner party despite his contrary intentions.

Walking out the door, I breathed deeply. First major hurdle overome. Stopped off at discount store and bought a white and purple candle, no blessing oil. I made my way downtown to grocery store one, back up to wine store, on to grocery stores two and three.

Over my proposed budget, I returned home with granny cart filled to the top, store bought birthday cake (sounds of my mother shrieking in my head), and set up transforming the apartment into a party atmosphere.

Second flash forward: Jorge arrived to help clean and calm my nerves. Once the apartment was in good physical shape, showers out of the way, we set about dicing, chopping, and cooking. At 8 p.m., not one platter or dish was set. I reasoned that people refuse to show up at the scheduled time because they don't want to look desperate or pathetic. No one was here at 8:15, 8:30, 8:45 p.m., but I continued to chop, dice, stir. Jorge did his best to distract me. His plan was that we'd eat the food, watch a movie, and then go walking if no one materialized by 10 p.m.

Pause. Benedetta arrived at 9 p.m., and Jorge shot me a look: see, now, relax. You are loved. A half-hour later Luisa from my fiction critique group arrived, followed by Tanyika.

I bought and prepared too much food in that southern cook by sight, smell, taste, and you know folks will eventually eat.

I am grateful for the guests who showed up: Benedetta, Tanyika, Hadiza, Luisa, Jorge, and Tyrone. It was in fact a small dinner party. We talked about religion/ceremony, movies, overcoming fears, and whether there was actually a female Pope.

Last night's gathering will go down as a success. I harbor no ill-will nor will publicly ridicule those who RSVP'd and called with last minute lame excuses, nor those who didn't have the courtesy (decency) to call. Life's too short to hold grudes. I consider myself fair. I'll invite everyone to my next Sunday Gospel Brunch in a month. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Anyone want a slice of birthday cake and ice cream? We were engrossed in conversation, food, hot spiced apple cider, and African rum, that I forgot about bringing out the cake and ice cream. I'll take the cake to my GED class this coming Tuesday as a reward for those who took last week's cumulative exam.

I joked with Benedetta and Jorge about my doing the same thing to those who didn't show up to the dinner party as Melissa Sue Anderson did in Happy Birthday To Me.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Birthday Party Planning & Shopping

I'm sitting here with a shopping list in hand, on the way to various grocery, retail, and specialty shops. There's always anxiety when hosting a social gathering, doubly so when it's your own birthday party.

Second-doubts try to creep into the brain. Will everyone who RSVP'd actually show up? Will those who didn't RSVP show up unannounced?

I've had sucessful birthday parties in the past, but with each passing year, the preparation can wear on the nerves. I used to celebrate with other Pisceans here on the East Coast, but that tradition disintegrated after a few years. One person relocated to Oregon, another moved to Florida to start a sandwich shop, another one was just too fabulous and preoccupied to slum uptown, away from his other fabulous downtown types. The most disappointing were two female singer/songwriters who I thought we'd always be together, eventually rising to some semblance of artistic and cultural note.

I think of Bryce, a former Army brat, who warned me not to get too attached or caught up on friends and friendships. People come and go all the time in life. Share and enjoy the moments at hand.

I am grateful for another year alive! I am grateful that my Granny Gums celebrated her 82nd birthday on February 7th!

At last count, I'm expecting fifteen, perhaps sixteen guests tonight. Friendships and acquiantances can be strange. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to come tonight. (The official birthday is March 20th, not the 18th).

I had originally thought to hop on a commuter train or Greyhound bus this weekend. Disappear to parts unknown with my laptop to work on my next short story that's due midnight next Thursday.

I didn't celebrate last year. I didn't want to go through what I'm feeling right now: anxiety. I was told I was stupid by a new friend for not celebrating my birthday. This same friend hates to celebrate his birthday, and would prefer it go unnoticed.

My mother sent me old Polaroids and dated pictures of my first, second, third, and fourth birthday parties in Houston. Back then, I didn't have the adult pressures of planning and executing a birthday party. The pictures show a smiling toddler in the arms of my mother and other relatives. There wasn't a shortage of guests in my family - we easily numbered twenty or twenty-five back then, plus all the neighborhood kids.

I'd take my mother's expertly decorated homemade birthday cake and planning right now. I'd rather someone else be in charge (and ultimately responsible for the success) of the birthday shindig tonight.

I'm hoping for the best.

If the party is a bust, I will hop on that aforementioned train or bus, head to a small town, try my hand as a fry cook for a weekend in a truckstop or diner where the waitresses call everyone sugah or hon, while looking disinterested as the pen scrawls across the order pad.